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Our approach

Supporting pupils to learn, thrive and achieve

We believe that all children and young people with autism have the potential to learn and to achieve positive outcomes. Our approach is highly personalised to reflect the unique qualities of each individual. Learning is individualised to ensure that it is enjoyable, age appropriate and takes into account the particular needs, talents and interests of each child and young person with autism. Our emphasis is on developing communication and interaction skills, increasing attention, promoting ‘learning to learn’, establishing life, leisure and vocational skills and fostering independence.

Our approach is based on our values. It is person centred and uses behavioural principles of learning to help individuals to achieve their full potential. The focus is on the individual and their learning needs. Every person is unique, and has a unique experience of the world. We work closely with the child or young person and their families to identify the things that are important to them, and use these aspirations to plan an appropriate learning programme. It is this personalised and collaborative approach which enables us to provide the highest quality teaching, learning and support.

We use a behavioural approach because every day we see positive results enabling children and young people with severe and complex autism to progress and develop new skills whilst being fully motivated and engaged in the learning process. In association with major universities and other expert partners, we continually evaluate our practice by analysing the progress of pupils in considerable depth. We draw on our experience of what has proved to be effective for each individual in order to provide tailor made programmes which match skills, needs and interests.

Whilst we believe that behavioural approaches may be beneficial for more children and young people with autism, we respect that other approaches and interventions are used to support children and young people with autism and collaborate with organisations using other approaches.

Learning in different environments

The contexts for teaching and learning are flexible; the use of a range of learning environments being carefully planned in order to give each pupil the best learning potential. Contexts may include school, a joint or additional educational placement, home, extra-curricular ‘clubs’ and the local community. Teaching and learning takes places within a school-wide ethos of nurturing relationships and celebrating progress, achievement and success.

Where possible and appropriate, learning takes places in context.  Specialist rooms in TreeHouse school further support opportunities for contextualised learning.  For example:

  • the laundry room is accessible to pupils so they can learn to care for their own clothes (eg. washing their PE kit after a run)
  • three teaching kitchens mean that pupils can learn how to prepare their own snacks and meals
  • the dentist room, including a dentist’s chair provides a simulated environment where pupils can learn how to tolerate having their teeth checked and cleaned
  • the pupil garden is an environment where pupils can learn to care for their own garden or develop the skills necessary to gain entry onto a college horticulture course
  • a family bathroom with appropriate supervision can be used to teach personal hygiene skills (always discussed with families before being introduced).

The home is an important learning environment and some skills are best taught at home or by families. For example, some families may prefer to maintain clear relationship boundaries for their son or daughter by teaching personal care skills at home; support through home visits or planning meetings at school is available when requested by families.

Frequently Asked Questions

To learn more about our approach to teaching and learning read our Model of Practice.

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