Options Trent Acres School – implementing a positive learning culture for students with SEN

Options Trent Acres, Kings Bromley, Staffordshire, a special independent school for boys and girls aged 8-18 with autism and a range of complex needs including mild learning disabilities, was recently declared ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted. Trent Acres, run by Options Autism,is part of Outcomes First Group. Here, headteacher Melanie Callaghan-Lewis discusses how staff have implemented a positive learning culture at the school. 

At Options Trent Acres we provide a wide range of facilities and services for young people with complex needs at our 12-acre site – including an equestrian facility, a games area and a gym. Our school’s learning environment is highly structured and extremely supportive, with both education and clinical professionals involved in the children’s educational experience and care. Our students are supported throughout their learning journey to manage their behaviour and develop social and independent living skills for adult life – this underpins our provision at Trent Acres.      

We offer a wide-ranging, exciting curriculum which combines core subjects and therapy-based learning. The curriculum is highly effective in supporting the development of a broad range of skills and building our students’ self-esteem, with pupils studying a variety of subjects, such as music, art and geography. Additionally, our pupils are able to develop their vocational skills through subjects such as equine studies, animal care – with horses and alpacas onsite – horticulture and other outdoor education activities. Students also have access to after-school activities, including horse-riding, textiles and homework clubs.   

Our unique curriculum is tailored to meet the needs and abilities of each individual pupil, with a person-centred and outcomes-focused approach – including small group teaching in classrooms for our young people with autism and complex needs. The curriculum delivered outside of the classroom ensures our students develop social, communication and life skills. In some cases, our pupils also participate in work Trent Acres School – implementing a positive learning culture for students with SEN experience placements facilitated by Trent Acres staff and we have built links with local schools and colleges in an effort to provide further education opportunities for our pupils in the future.  

Additionally, our students are supported by a multi-disciplinary clinical team and are provided with individualised therapeutic programmes – with our staff working in partnership with professionals from health and social care to give pupils adequate guidance and support throughout their time with us. Each pupil also has a personal tutor and we place great emphasis on fostering good relationships with our students’ parents or carers, by keeping in regular, daily contact with them. 

Our staff are dedicated to improving the life chances of all of our pupils and creating an inclusive and safe environment where they are supported to overcome their sometimes significant barriers to learning. Staff have high aspirations for their students and this is mirrored by our school’s learning culture which centres on pupils experiencing success and realising their potential, with the overall aim of helping them to become positive members of the wider community.    

For more information on Options Trent Acres, visit https://www.optionsautism.co.uk/school_home/options-trent-acres/


Trent Acres’ aims for students are as follows:

·           To give young people the opportunity to learn and achieve

·           To provide a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum 

·           To determine the individual needs of all students and to devise a programme which targets those requirements and develops core literacy, numeracy and ICT skills as well as gaining appropriate accreditation e.g. GCSE, BTEC and ASDAN

·           To provide access to the National Curriculum, where appropriate

·           To help each student develop social and living skills in preparation for adult life as well as moral and cultural understanding

·           To impress on students the value of education as a lifelong process and help them to  build their self-esteem through achievement

·           To provide Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5 students with a variety of opportunities for college placements and/or work experience where appropriate.

April 15, 2019

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