At TreeHouse School, we believe in forging strong links with local mainstream schools, to provide opportunities for our pupils to mix with their peers. Several of our pupils take part in a range of classes at local mainstream schools, and this enriches both their learning in particular subjects such as music or sports, as well as their social and communication skills.We also run a programme of ‘Reverse Inclusion’ where children from a local primary school visit TreeHouse once a week to act as ‘playmates’.
The Headteacher at Muswell Hill Primary School, Alison Squire, explained that the scheme is so popular with their year 5 and 6 pupils that prospective ‘playmates’ undergo an interview and selection process before the successful candidates are chosen. She said that the benefits for her pupils are huge:
“It teaches them skills for life: communication, responsibility and valuable social skills, as well as developing a sense of acceptance and respect for differences.” She adds: “And they enjoy it!”
The ‘playmates’ are encouraged to actively engage with their peers here at TreeHouse, and their enthusiasm brings a real buzz to the atmosphere in the playground. They pair up to push swings and roundabouts, play in the sandpit and hold hands on the trampoline, and take part in group activities inside such as obstacle courses. Some have a go at basic sign language, and interactive play such as ‘high 10!’. All activities are set up to ensure that TreeHouse pupils are able to work on targets such as social interaction - for example, responding to a peer within their group or following group instructions.