The Bridge London Trust is constantly developing to meet the needs of its pupils and the local community. There was a growing recognition in Islington that there were pupils who could be better supported in a more flexible provision. As a result, The Bridge London Trust applied to open a free school to meet this demand. The Bridge Satellite Provision received approval from the Department for Education and opened as a Free School in September 2017.
The Satellite school is for pupils who will benefit from a specialist provision with inclusion links to partner mainstream schools. The school teaches a curriculum that marries both core content from the National Curriculum, mirroring our partner mainstream schools, alongside a bespoke program to address individual needs.
The school has 90 places, divided across four sites in the borough of Islington and each site will have close links with a partner mainstream school to ensure inclusion opportunities.
Whilst the provision is for pupils with autism and/or additional learning needs, pupils do not need to have a diagnosis of autism. However, many of the pupils placed at the school will present with needs predominantly related to social communication and interaction, flexible thinking and sensory processing. The aim of our provision is that all pupils feel included and accepted in order to achieve their full potential. We want our pupils to be confident, happy, self-aware and independent learners.
Rosie Whur, Headteacher
We are a school for children who have autism and are able to access an age appropriate curriculum – many of our pupils have previously had a difficult time in school with their needs not being met. We help them become resilient and independent in a safe space.
We have a layered approach to support – our ‘green’ layer is what we ensure every single child has access to and is consistent throughout the school. For example, clear expectations, a structured reward system, and visual props to help with access to the curriculum. And then we have the ‘orange’ layer for children who need more on top of that, and ‘red’ for those who need further support.
We support our parents– we help open their world and their opportunities We never give up on our pupils. They matter to us, and we look at their individual needs. We have consistent strategies for every pupil along with tailored support that reflects what each of them needs to help them self-regulate.
We don’t exclude. Ever. The work we do takes time, but it makes a life-changing difference. Children who joined us four years ago really struggled, but today they can self-regulate and articulate when they are upset or finding something difficult.
Our pupils work in small groups which helps manage any sensory overload from larger groups of children, and we teach a curriculum that marries the core content from the national curriculum, with a bespoke programme to address individual needs.
We’re always learning. Everyday our staff are learning and improving and changing their practice. For us, it is about a whole team approach, involving both school and home.
We work closely with our families to help support them on behaviour at home, helping put in place strategies that mean children can self-regulate both at home as well as at school.
At The Satellites we aim to provide an education for all our pupils which reflects the National Curriculum but which also takes account of their individual learning needs; we deliver a modified National Curriculum, which is underpinned by the Core Satellite Curriculum (CSC) and focuses on four key strands, namely:
The curriculum has a focus on developing communication skills and supporting sensory and emotional regulation throughout the day. Termly EHCP support plans are written collaboratively by teachers, with parents/carers, therapists and students to setting SMART targets. All strategies/resources are shared across home and school to support the generalisation of targets set. All key stages engage in regular trips off site to enrich pupil learning and support the generalisation of skills taught beyond the classroom. Secondary pupils take part in weekly trips off site to further support the development of life skills.
The curriculum is differentiated to ensure it meets individual needs and teaching staff are supported by the therapy team on a weekly basis to do this. Teaching and learning is supported by visual supports e.g. visual resources to support understanding of topics, concrete objects to support abstract concepts, visual timetables, visual reward systems, visual boards to support routines e.g. dressing etc. A structured approach is used with clear routines throughout the school day e.g. visual timetables in place, timers used to signal clear starts and ends to activities and lessons. Language is modified and adapted on advice from the speech and language therapist e.g. simplifying, wait time for processing, repeating not rephrasing etc.
A vital part of our curriculum is the focus given to supporting the development of the pupils’ social communication skills. The therapists support teaching staff to create a ‘total communication’ environment and pupils’ targets are worked on throughout the school day and embedded into the curriculum. Pupils also take part in up to three social communication groups each week – the school uses Talk About – Alex Kelly as a key resource for these groups which are then further adapted and individualised by the therapy team. A number of additional strategies are used to further develop pupils in this area e.g. relationship circles, social stories, comic strip conversations and event narratives. The school also offers LEGO therapy to all Key Stages for pupils who are motivated by this approach.
Alongside regular opportunities to take their learning into the community, pupils have the opportunity to access the enrichment activities – dependent on key stage – such as weekly swimming, forest schools, kayaking.