ASD-EAST discovers inclusive education centres and workplace in Northampton
On January 15 2019, on the occasion of the second transnational meeting of the ASD-EAST project, 16 partners from Croatia, Republic of North Macedonia, Poland, Belgium and the UK visited two different education centers and an autism friendly workplace in Northampton, UK.
In the morning, partners were welcomed at the brand new school Northampton International Academy (NIA) by the Headteacher Tim Marston. NIA is committed to promoting inclusion and removing barriers to learning. All its schools are supported to be as inclusive as possible, with the needs of pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) being met in a mainstream setting wherever possible.
Project partners had the opportunity to discover the facilities and discuss with the Special Educational Needs Coordinator Gemma Sullivan-Gregg and other staff members about the way that young autistic persons are supported and the different types of interventions, as well as accessibility.
At midday, partners had the opportunity to take lunch at Café TRACK, a business in the heart of Northampton that provides work for experience opportunities for young autistic people. Thomas Cliffe, director of TRACK NN Limited (the social enterprise that promotes this initiative), explained how work experience is provided for persons on the autism spectrum and how to make a workplace more aware and accepting of autism.
In the afternoon, partners did a tour of the inclusive school, Headlands Primary School with its Deputy Head and inclusion lead, Karen Smith. She explained partners its inclusion policy, support provided, types of intervention, accessibility features and other services, like specific training for parents. In Headlands, teachers provide differentiated learning opportunities for all the children within the school and make a clear distinction between “underachievement” – often caused by a poor early experience of learning – and special educational needs. This ensures that all children have a full access to the school curriculum.
Headlands counts with a 30 place Unit Provision which caters for children with severe/significant learning difficulties and social communication difficulties, including autism spectrum disorders.