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Student Wellbeing 


The wellbeing of each student at The Holmewood School is highly important to us.  We address wellbeing through the curriculum as well as through therapy and daily activities.  

Click here to see our Student Wellbeing Programme 2018 - 2022


At The Holmewood School wellbeing comes first.  We want all our students to be emotionally well in order to be ready to learn.  


For students studying towards GCSEs, this will usually be no more than 5-6 subjects.  This will make sure that enough grades are given to get access to college courses in the Sixth Form, whilst ensuring a balance with therapy and life skills programmes. 


Wellbeing in the curriculum is addressed through: 

  1. Our bespoke life skills curriculum

  2. Forest School

  3. Sex and Relationship Education (SRE)

  4. British values

  5. PSHE and Citizenship 

  6. Drugs, alcohol and tobacco education 

Life skills:

Life-skills at THSL is an essential component of the curriculum with the aim of giving our young people the tools required to lead happy confident and independent lives. Each student receives a minimum of 2 periods of life-skills each week with 6th form receiving additional periods as part of a bespoke model. Teaching and learning is individualised to meet the range of each particular student's’ needs with student centred targets.Life-skills should build the 4 key life-skills outlined by the Sutton Trust (2017) namely confidence, motivation, resilience and communication. These qualities are essential to living a happy independent life with healthy relationships in both personal  work related areas. 

  There are two clear primary aims:

  1. To foster the development of each student’s independence (doing things for themselves)

  2. To show self control (learning how to behave positively and proactively without having an adult nearby).


There are currently 13 life-skills units. Each unit is accompanied by a student checklist whereby each objective is clearly measurable by both the student and teacher. It is signed off and dated when the objective has been achieved with certain number of trials. 

  • Unit 1

    • Basic Cooking

  • Unit 2

    • Budgeting

  • Unit 3

    • Travel Training

  • Unit 4

    • Independent Living

  • Unit 5

    • Community Involvement

  • Unit 6

    • Online Safety

  • Unit 7

    • Use of leisure time

  • Unit 8

    • Swimming (PE)

  • Unit 9

    • Forest School

  • Unit 10

    • My Autism/Self Advocacy

  • Unit 11

    • Bike care and maintenance

  • Unit 12

    • General DIY

  • Unit 13

    • Attending a gym


Forest School:


The Holmewood School aims to to give all students an insight into the Forest School ethos.  This approach to outdoor learning encourages children to become independent, use their imagination, take appropriate positive risks within boundaries, initiate learning for themselves and achieve success in every session. Forest School is a holistic approach to learning, incorporating student’s individuality and develops their skills for lifelong learning. It can cover all six areas of learning, including the emotional and spiritual aspects of learning where self esteem and self confidence can grow and positive relationships with peers can be formed.  Forest School explores the outdoors and the natural environment with practical, useful activities all year round irrespective of weather conditions (unless deemed to be dangerous). It develops peer learning with the adults providing support and enabling activities to take place. Student interest will be at the heart of every activity. Social and emotional development is key to our students who are all on the autistic spectrum.




At The Holmewood School, we believe each person has the right to make positive, responsible and well-informed choices about their lives. For this to be the case, effective sex and relationship education is essential. 


The objective of SRE is to help and support young people through their physical, emotional and moral development, where they learn to respect themselves and others and move with confidence from childhood through adolescence into adulthood. SRE has three main elements and is taught through the PSHE curriculum.


  1. Attitudes and values

  2. Personal and social skills

  3. Knowledge and understanding


Taught by life-skills teachers and primary class teachers within the framework of the Citizenship, PSHE and science curriculums, many aspects of SRE are an integral part of every curriculum area at THSL. It is also supported through wider school activities such as assemblies, community based education, the new wellbeing workshops and work related learning in order to support the gradual but continual acquisition of ideas, skills and knowledge in a variety of situations throughout their school careers. This supports the government’s recommendation that SRE should begin ‘well before puberty’ and suggests that it be ‘normalised from the beginning of a child’s education’.


SRE is taught across all key-stages at a level appropriate to each age-group and then individualised to each young person to a level of understanding appropriate to them. It is recognised that children learn about relationships and sexuality from a very early age, from informal and formal sources. As with all teaching at THSL, the SRE curriculum is individualised so that concepts are always taught at a level relevant and meaningful to individual students. If deemed appropriate, 1-1 teaching sessions will take place.


British Values:


British values are taught through Personal, Social, Health and Emotional (PSHE); specific life-skills units, Friday SMSC form times, SMSC cultural events e.g. Burns Night and SMSC themed assemblies. We also teach British Values through planning and delivering a broad and balanced curriculum.


The school takes opportunities to actively promote British Values through our SMSC themed assemblies, SMSC Friday form times via the votes for schools program and whole school systems and structures, such as electing and running a successful School Council and Chairperson as well as the new life-skills unit (My autism/self advocacy).  We also actively promote the British Values through ensuring our curriculum planning and delivery includes real opportunities for exploring these values including a wide range of SMSC events including charity events (Children in Need/ Halloween Ball/Winter Show). Actively promoting British Values also means challenging students, staff or parents expressing opinions contrary to fundamental British Values, including ‘extremist’ views.


At The Holmewood School we uphold and teach students about the British Values which are:

  • Democracy

  • Rule of Law

  • Individual Liberty

  • Mutual Respect

  • Tolerance (of those with different faiths and beliefs)


These British values are closely linked to our own core values (ASPIRE):

  • Acceptance

  • Self-determination

  • Positivity

  • Integrity

  • Respect

  • Excellence 



At Holmewood  we recognise that the personal development of students, spiritually, morally, socially and culturally plays a significant part in their ability to develop into successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors. We therefore aim to provide an education that provides students with opportunities to explore and develop their own values and beliefs, spiritual awareness, high standards of personal behaviour, a positive, caring attitude towards other people, an understanding of their social and cultural traditions and an appreciation of the diversity and richness of the cultures which we are very lucky to have within our staff and students at The Holmewood School.


All staff will model and promote expected behaviour, treating all people equally as unique and valuable individuals and showing concern and respect for students and their families.


Emotional wellbeing is a priority for our students and staff. An SMSC wellbeing program runs three times a week at the beginning of the school day from 8.55am-9.20am. Students choose between walking club, boxing, yoga or a specific Zones of regulation activity.  This aims to ensure every student has a positive start to the day in a way which is right for them.


The integrity and spirituality of students from other faith backgrounds will be respected and explored. The diversity of spiritual traditions will be recognised, and students will be given access to alternative views.


The school community will be a place where students can find acceptance for themselves as unique individuals and where forgiveness and the opportunity to start again is fundamental to the ethos of the school. Every day is a new day and grudges are not held between students and staff. 


Students should learn to differentiate between right and wrong. They should be aware that their actions affect other people. The whole school behaviour chart is one of the ways we teach this. Students understand there are consequences to their behaviour.  Students will be encouraged to value themselves and others and a bespoke approach is used and outlined in the behaviour management plans (BSPs). 


Students understand green, amber and red behaviours and consequences of each. Class reward systems, golden moments during Friday assembly, celebration assembly certificates and golden tickets for going ‘above and beyond’ promote and reward exemplary behaviour and provide opportunities to celebrate student achievements in this area. Personalised reward systems are used for specific students and primary students have more immediate systems appropriate to their need.


All curriculum areas should seek to use illustrations and examples drawn from as wide a range of cultural contexts as possible. This should be reflected in teacher’s planning and purchasing decisions.


Class discussions and circle time in all subject areas will give students opportunities to:

  • Talk about personal experiences and feelings.

  • Express and clarify their own ideas and beliefs.

  • Speak about difficult events, eg bullying, death etc.

  • Share thoughts and feelings with other people.

  • Explore relationships with friends/family/others.

  • Consider others’ needs and behaviour.

  • Show empathy.

  • Develop self-esteem and a respect for others.

  • Develop a sense of belonging.

  • Develop the skills and attitudes that enable students to develop socially, morally, spiritually and culturally — eg empathy, respect, open mindedness, sensitivity, critical awareness. Many curriculum areas provide opportunities to:

  • Listen and talk to each other.

  • Learn an awareness of treating all as equals.

  • Agree and disagree.

  • Take turns and share equipment.

  • Work cooperatively and collaboratively.




PSHE education is compulsory in independent schools, and valued for its contribution to an education that goes beyond academic attainment, and for prepares pupils for life’s opportunities and challenges. The philosophy of THSL is to put the needs of its students first and believe it is the right of our students to be treated with dignity and respect, just like any other children. Our teaching approach is student-centered and, although access to the National Curriculum is in place, we believe its principal focus should be on the specific needs associated with autism. 

We place a high priority on Personal, Social, Health, Economic and Citizenship Education to maximize opportunities for personal autonomy and to enhance quality of life. We believe that structure and positive intervention with built-in opportunities for change and risk-taking achieve the best results for students with autism. Students learn best when teaching approaches allow for generalization and concentrate on real-life situations rather than abstract concepts. We recognise that many of our students have very special difficulties relating to PSHE but believe that compassion, tolerance and positive intervention effect change. The culture and ethos of our school is open and non-judgmental.


Citizenship & PSHE will play a core role in the development of a person with autism. We believe that Citizenship & PSHE is a vital part of the education of our students as the quality of our student’s future is likely to depend on their ability to behave in a socially acceptable manner, have good personal hygiene and interact socially. 

In light of autism-specific needs some key points to teaching Citizenship & PSHE to autistic students can  be seen below and any autism-specific issues are highlighted within our planning.

  • make learning opportunities concrete and real. 

  • supplement teaching with visual aids e.g. videos, props, photographs, pictures, symbols, objects etc.

  • avoid ambiguous language

  • always teach about ‘self’ first, before referring to others

  • reinforce messages and provide plenty of opportunities for generalisation

  • keep language simple and use agreed vocabulary

  • be specific – provide pupils with explanations. Don’t presume they will make the link e.g. between a behaviour and emotion

  • encourage student to make choices and express their feelings

Citizenship & PSHE at THSL supports young people with autism to develop emotionally and socially, encouraging their participation in increasing personal awareness and social skills.


Learning about Citizenship & PSHE for students with special educational needs is particularly important as it helps them to develop as individuals within a wider society, enabling them to understand themselves physically, emotionally, socially and sexually and to understand their relationship with others. 


Through a successful and relevant programme of study in PSHCE, students move towards true independence and consequently display more socially acceptable behaviour. By increasing student’s feelings of physical well-being they are developing a sense of personal dignity thus providing opportunities for the development of individual personality.

Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco:


The aim of drug education at THSL  is to give pupils information about drugs and help them develop the skills and attitudes to make healthy and safe decisions about drugs, alcohol, tobacco and medicines.

To achieve this, our drug education programme via independent living unit in life-skills will help pupils:

  • Gain knowledge and understanding about the effects and risks and dangers of drugs and correct myths and misunderstandings

  • Develop skills to make informed decisions, including communication, self-awareness, negotiation, finding information, help and advice, helping others and managing situations involving drugs

  • Develop skills to manage situations involving drugs including assessing and avoiding risks, assertiveness and refusal skills and helping others

  • Explore their own and other peoples’ attitudes to drugs, drug use and drug users, including challenging stereotypes and dispelling myths and exploring media and social influences

  • Understand where to seek help and advice if they are worried about themselves or others in relation to drugs and alcohol.

  • Understand the law surround drugs and alcohol

  • Give a clear view on the use of drugs in school.

  • Provide information so that everyone is clear about the procedures should an incident occur and the approach taken by the school.

  • Give information about what is taught, how it is taught 

  • Give guidance to teachers, support staff and visitors about drug education


Teaching about drugs, alcohol and tobacco is taught through PSHE  in primary and during the independent living unit in secondary life-skills as well as through the wellbeing workshop program throughout the year by external speakers. These sessions are overseen by the Assistant Headteacher and differentiated for primary and secondary students.  

A wide range of active teaching methods are used that enable pupils to learn skills to be safe and healthy, discuss their views, explore their own and other people's’ attitudes and values about drugs, as well as learn key information about the effects and risks of drugs and practice skills to stay safe if involved in a drug-related situation. Such activities include role play, discussions, debates, case studies, quizzes, research and games. This may also take place in drama lessons.  Pupils work individually, in pairs, in small groups and with the whole class, mixing up so that they experience working with lots of different pupils in the class, as well as in friendship groups.

All sessions establish clear ground rules to ensure that pupils discuss opinions with respect and listen to one another as well as ensuring that pupils and teachers do not disclose personal information.

Wellbeing workshops which cover drugs awareness, alcohol, mental health, self harming, suicidal thoughts and addiction are overseen by the Assistant Head and delivered by a variety of specialist external speakers. It is important that all wellbeing workshops are delivered within a safe, secure and supportive learning environment.


  • Visitors are warmly welcomed by students and staff into The Holmewood school.

  • We have a wide range of community links including Sweet Tree Farm (forest school), Islington Boat Club (watersports), Saracens (rugby coaching), Footprints Life Camp (partner), Reach and Teach sports education (basketball coaching) as well as other educational establishments including Finchley Catholic High School amongst others.  

  • The development of a strong home-school link is regarded as very important, enabling parents and teachers to work in an effective partnership to support our students. 

  • Outreach services are currently being developed including an Autism advisory service and Forest School centre of excellence.


Therapies for students


At Holmewood we offer a wide range of therapies. These currently include: 

  • Speech and language therapy

  • Occupational therapy 

  • Psychotherapy (drama, music, art amongst others)

  • Reflexology

Therapists will assess students within the first term of starting at the school should a need already be identified or should they be referred by their form teacher or a senior leader. 

Debriefing after upsetting incidents is very important.  If a student is involved in an incident or witnessed an incident they should be encouraged to talk about it before they go home. Staff will be as honest as possible with their responses so the student knows what happened, why and if there will be any follow up actions.  Any member of staff can be available to debrief with a student. 

In addition to therapy and debriefing, we also have a Youth Mental Health First Aider.  This person is available for formal mentoring with students as needed. 

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