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WTT is a National Autistic Society ADVANCED service

Autism Accreditation Assessment

Working Together Team, Lincolnshire

Reference No.  
Assessment Dates  
Lead Assessor Stephanie de Vries
External Moderator Sarah Rose
Status Prior to Assessment Accredited

Section 2: Key Findings

What the provision does particularly well


What stood out as particular strengths:
There is a strong emphasis on whole school 'empowerment' rather than individual support. Staff who were interviewed from setting supported by the service consistently spoke about how much more confident they were now to help support young people, to try different strategies and in their understanding of autism.
The breadth and knowledge of autism within the team is an area of strength. In interviews staff for different settings who are supported by WTT spoke enthusiastically about the amount of understanding The Working Together Team has across all topics and were able to provide many examples as to how the team had helped them to embed strategies to support autistic young people. One person commented that the team are ‘very knowledgeable and grounded in good experience ‘
The Working Together Staff team are passionate about delivering a quality service that empowers settings and enables autistic young people. One person spoke about the vision of ‘enabling every setting in Lincolnshire to be an autism inclusive environment.’ Another person commented ‘The team are flexible, they go above and beyond and always available on the end of an email.’
The young person is at the heart of every decision. This is evident from the very start of the referral process through to supporting settings to embed person centred strategies that enable autistic young people to succeed in mainstream school settings.
The overwhelming amount of written and anecdotal evidence demonstrates that the Working Together Team is having a huge impact on achieving positive outcomes for autistic young people. A representative from Children’s services commissioning, Lincolnshire County Council, commented that’ the service has been essential in helping to reduce the amount of exclusions across the county.’
The quality and range of training, workshops and sharing good practice sessions provided by the service is of an extremely high standard. The assessment team reviewed a wide range of evidence including the training programme for 2019/2020 and training evaluation feedback forms. One person commented that ‘the services ability to tailor their knowledge to the needs of different communities is fantastic. Their training is tailored to the exact requirement of that group.’

Feedback from parents and professional is overwhelmingly positive. People clearly value the support, training and advice the service provides. Comments from interviews include:
• ‘Amazing support, best service in Lincolnshire.’
• ‘A valued key team, very flexible, they fit around the child.’
• ‘They have changed me as a person, there are no alarm bells now, I know what I need to do, they provide support and assistance with whatever I need.’
What else the provision does well:
The new referral form ensures setting are thinking and reflecting on the support they are providing before referring. Schools must describe what specific need the young person has in the areas of Communication and Interaction, Cognition and Learning Social, Emotional and Mental Health, Sensory and/or Physical and consider what current interventions are already in place. One SENCO commented that this had made her rethink and re-evaluate current support strategies before referring on.
The newly introduced Impact Confidence Scales enables the school to measure the impact of their interventions on the school’s perceived ability to support a child in their setting before and after intervention. Initial data shows progress is being made
The newly introduced Impact Child’s Ability Scales enable the school to measure the impact pf specific interventions and positive outcomes for autistic young people. Initial data shows progress is being made.
The service can clearly evidence the positive impact it is having on autistic young people, a wide range of impact assessment documents were reviewed including key performance indicators, Impact Confidence Scales, Impact Child’s Ability Scales, AET training, AET evaluations and
Non-AET feedback,
Reports are clear, concise and are well written, providing settings with a wealth of advice and concrete strategies to support young people in a wide variety of different situations. One person commented ‘thorough reports with down to earth advice.’
Since the service began in 2015 it has never received any complaints.


What the provision could develop further

To further enhance the services on-line recourse centre for parents and schools the service may like to consider developing visual/photographic resources showing different types of support. For example photos of timetables, work stations, structured classrooms etc. Examples of communication techniques that people can listen to could also be included and resources such as sensory activity cards which parents could access and use at home.

 Again, to further enhance the services support of different settings the WTT may like to consider further embedding the use of technology to facilitate on-line group meetings. For example, using tools such as Skype to offer ‘surgeries’ for professionals, a space where professional can meet to discuss what works well in their practice, what could be improved and how.
Section 3:

Section 3: Professional Development

Main approaches or methods employed by the provision in supporting autistic people
 

According to the information provided on the assessment introduction form:
This is dependent on the young person and their needs and also the setting.
SPELL is the over-arching approach. We may then bring in aspects of TEACCH, Curiosity Programme, sensory strategies (bespoke to individual needs), Social Stories, Emotional regulation tools such as 5 point scale and Zones of Regulation.


Training staff receive in these approaches and in understanding autism as part of their induction
The service has a bespoke approach to training, providing an induction training package based on the individual needs/experience of the person. If a new member of staff did not have level 1 AET training, they would be required to do this as part of their induction. A skills audit is also carried out to identify any training needs and regular opportunities are available to shadow other members of staff.


Ongoing support and professional development available to staff in working with autistic individuals
Regular performance management reviews ensures that any gaps in training are identified and addressed. During interviews staff spoke about attending various different training days including; ‘mental health 1st aid training’, Trauma informed practice
Staff are encouraged to attend conferences and meet with other local autism groups to share good practice.
Specific training and support for staff on how to communicate with pupils with an AS is available through ongoing advice, in-service training and external accredited courses.

All WTT staff are inducted into the full Autism Education Trust schools programme at all levels of training. They will soon also be delivering Early Years and Post-16 having recently added these to the licence.

Section 4: Person Centred Support

Brief description of how individual support is planned, implemented and evaluated:
The service’s ethos is to empower schools to find solutions to meet the needs of their autistic young people.
The service has a very robust referral system which ensure that schools meet a certain criteria before referring a pupils to their service.
• The setting has completed whole setting, Autism Education Trust training in Making Sense of Autism, provided free of charge by WTT.
• The child or young person is aged 4-19 and in a maintained mainstream school, academy or college.
• The needs of the young person have been discussed with WTT and a referral agreed in principle.
• The young person’s needs are within the area of Social Communication SEND.
• The young person’s needs are a concern to both the setting and family (and possibly the young person themselves)
• The setting do not feel they are able to fully meet the young person’s needs without further support. There is evidence of use of graduated approach. (at least 2 cycles )
Impact Confidence Scales measure the impact of their interventions on the school’s perceived ability to support a child in their setting before and after intervention.
Impact Child’s Ability Scales measure the impact pf specific interventions and positive outcomes for autistic young people.


Differences in Social Communication


Key outcomes identified from personal support documents:


Referral forms identify specific area of need in communication and interaction, for example one referral for states that ‘X can find it difficult to engage in verbal interactions that he has not initiated.’
Referral forms evidence the additional advise provided by WTT, in all reviewed forms the information provided was clear, concrete and specific to the needs of the young person for example suggested support strategies for one young person are ‘Limit use of verbal communication when making demands, giving instructions or explaining. Use key words only – e.g.’ ‘X…painting has finished, now it’s snack time.’, Ensure directions, instructions and expectations are positively phrased – what do we want the child to do, rather than ‘not’ do, use visual supports.’
Observation reports and meeting records identify what is working well e.g. visual supports and what is not working well e.g. support for transitions. X finds I difficult to transition onto school and between activities and what needs to happen e.g. continue to use visual support for transitions such as first/then, timers etc.


Key outcomes identified from interviews with settings supported by the service:
Staff from settings supported by WTT were able to give many examples as to how they had changed their practice to support young people with communication differences. For example staff spoke about using less language, using positive phrases such as, instead of saying ‘no’ say ‘stop’ and using visuals to support verbal instructions.
One person commented that they had introduced communication cards to enable pupils to indicate if they want to leave the classroom
One person spoke positively about the WTT ‘Upskilling me on how to reduce language and interaction when needed’.
Another setting spoke about the introduction of specific interventions to help support social communication such as, Lego Therapy, Time to Talk, Talk-About and Friends for Life.
Staff interviewed spoke about the using Social Stories within their schools. One person said that used a social story about saying ‘Hello and Goodbye’ to support a pupil who would reputedly say ‘Hello and Goodbye’. Another spoke about using social stories to support a young person to understand the rules around football.


Self-reliance and Problem Solving


Key outcomes identified from personal support documents:

Referral forms identify specific area of need in cognition and learning for example ‘x is generally compliant with and follows routines/boundaries with the aid of visual supports. However, he can easily be distracted and often requires ‘cuing in’ to expectations.’
Referral forms evidence that the best interests of the autistic young person are always at the heart of any advice given. For example advice stated in one referral form read ‘Many children with social communication differences prefer to be on their own agenda and can be reluctant to attend any adult led-activity. This is part of their development and is not a ‘defiant behaviour’. Attention and focus needs to be meaningful and relevant to them and so often must be ‘taught through engagement of activities they find motivating. Practical strategies were then given for example’ ‘Use child’s interests as a vehicle for any ‘academic’ task e.g. counting Thomas trains. These more favoured activities can be used as motivators (supported by First/Then model)’


Observational reports and meeting records identify what is working well e.g. Offering 2 choices which adult want him to have rather than several and the use of restricted choices is working well. What’s not working well ‘X was unable to wait behind others’ What needs to happen ‘develop waiting skills through something concrete, e.g. timer, how many bricks before you etc.’


Key outcomes identified from interviews with settings supported by the service:

One setting spoke about how they had now introduced a graduated transition programme for Year 3 pupils since working with the WTT. The programme starts with a short visit where pupils take photos of the new environment and teachers. The next visit pupils can participate in an activity such as a ‘treasure hunt’ to help them to familiarise themselves further with the environment. Eventually pupils build up to staying for a whole day. A map of the playground is given to pupils showing what they can do in different areas and trail journeys to school are also undertaken. Staff explained that by doing this when pupils started in September they felt less anxious, knew the expectations and were ready to learn.

Staff from settings spoke about introducing timetables, now and then boards and task schedules to enable pupils to work out what they must do now and what they are expected to do next.
Another setting spoke about how they use different strategies to support pupils to transition from the playground to the classroom so they don’t have to line up. For example one pupil goes and collects the register, another comes in earlier than other pupils and goes to a quiet area


Sensory Experiences


Key outcomes identified from personal support documents:


Referral forms identify needs in sensory experiences for example ‘X likes to spin and rotate toys and objects, this can dominate his focus and attention, x can seek visits to the toilet to engage in flushing of the toilet which he seems to enjoy watching.


Referral forms evidence that the advice given by the WTT is grounded by thorough, in-depth knowledge of autism for example the advice given in one referral form stated that ‘most children with a social communication difference will have a different ways of processing their senses. This obviously affects their behavioural responses and ability to comprehend what is going on around them’. The WTT team further advised ‘Consider creating a sensory profile for the child which will inform future intervention and provide valuable information for new members of staff in the school - identify hyper/hypo sensitivities and any activities which appear to calm’.


Observation reports and meeting records identify what is working well e.g. preparation for wearing school uniform is being carried out successfully. ‘What does X need? ‘X has sensory sensitivities for which he needs suitable adaptations. What needs to happen? If the clothing for PE is an issue, then might he ware joggers rather than shorts if this makes him feel better’.


Key outcomes identified from interviews with settings supported by the service:


Staff from settings supported by WTT were able to give many examples of how they had adjusted their practice to support pupils to access activates which they enjoy and regulate their sensory experiences, for example:


• ‘I have adapted my practice to allow pupils to sit on their heels in assembly, following advice from WTT, to allow sensory feedback.

• ‘We now have a dark den, following advice from WTT. We have also developed quiet areas in school. We now see the importance of sensory overload.’

• ‘We have a safe space, somewhere they can access at break and lunch as the dining room can be too loud. ‘
• ‘We have a fluffy blanket on a sofa, because of this his parents bought a weighted blanket which has helped with sleep at home.
• ‘We now have sensory boxes in every classroom.’
• We have now created a sensory room.
• We turn the lights off all the time now, this has helped to calm pupils down.’
• ‘We got a patch of artificial grass to help ground a student who was then able to be attentive and concentrate.
Staff spoke about the introduction of sensory circuits on the advice of WTT one person stated ‘since introducing sensory circuits children are more settled in the mornings and ready to learn.’
Another person commented that the lending of sensory resources by WTT has been invaluable, enabling them to borrow items such as, weighted vests, peanut ball and a hockey stools, to try before buying them.
 


Emotional Wellbeing


Key outcomes identified from personal support documents:


Referral forms identify areas of need in Social, Emotional and Mental Health. For example ‘X finds it difficult to share and take turns. He also can find it difficult to be in a large group and might need to be sat at a work station.


Observation reports and meeting records identify what works well e.g. use of reward charts for toileting which he helped to create so he feels ownership of it. What does x need e.g. x needs support for his social interactions with other children and he can find it difficult to wait, turn take. What needs to happen ‘continued planned activities where x needs is encouraged to turn take and share with peers.


Key outcomes identified from interviews with settings supported by the service:

One person interviewed had a lanyard with a visual showing: Green I’m Okay, Yellow I need help, and Red Angry. The person explained that the cards had been implemented on the advice of WTT, some pupils in her school had the same visual on their desks to help them communicate how they are feeling.

One SENCO said that from working with the WTT she had now introduced the 5 point scale across the whole school. Pupils are now able to self-regulate much better, they know where they are on the scale and are able to recognise how they are feeling and what they can do about it. For example removing themselves from the situation.


One parent spoke about her child being a school refuser, but with the support of the WTT her daughter is now attending school an hour a day for cookery and said she is’ liking it’.
After attending a workshop one parent spoke about how she had changed her approach towards her child, the workshop had helped her to ‘depersonalise’ behaviours and communicate in different ways for example sending text messages which the parent would not have done before.


Another setting spoke about a student struggling to cope with walking across the playground in the morning. WTT helped support the school to use a different quiet area to come into school, complete sensory circuits then access the classroom when all other students are settled and working already.
 

Section 5: Consultation

With Autistic People

Young Person’s Views are taken into consideration from the very beginning of the process. Section in the referral form to gather views of the young person ‘Important people in the young person’s life’, specialist interest. Routines, eating, sensory needs, communication, strengths What I like/don’t at home, What I like/don’t like at school, what I am good at.


Please note: The WTT do not in principle work directly with young people their ethos is to empower schools to support their pupils. In some rare cases where there is a need to gather information/young person’s perspective in order to identify appropriate outcomes and strategies for the setting to proceed with, WTT may work directly with a young person for a short time.

6 questionnaires from autistic pupils were received:
100% agreed that the support they are given by The Working Together Team is good. 83% state that staff understand their needs
17% state that staff sometimes understand their needs
100% agreed that staff listen to them on how the want to be helped


Comments included:
‘Joe is really happy with the support he receives at school and is happier to go there now. Anthony is really easy to talk to and doesn't overwhelm Joe, who sometimes struggles with new people. He is very complimentary about the interventions’.
‘Anthony was very tall and funny. He helped me at school. He talked to my teachers. He watched me at school and had a nice smile. I like him, he's my friend’.


With Families of Autistic People

17 questionnaires from the families of autistic pupils were received
65% started that the support their relative receives is always good
35% stated that the support their relative receives is mostly good
76% stated that the understanding that staff have for my relative's autistic needs is always good
18% stated that the understanding that staff have for my relative's autistic needs is mostly good
6% stated that the understanding that staff have for my relative's autistic needs is okay but could be better
59% stated that the way I am kept informed and asked my views about how my relative is supported is always good
24% stated that the way I am kept informed and asked my views about how my relative is supported is mostly good
6% stated that the way I am kept informed and asked my views about how my relative is supported is poor

65% stated that the advice I get from the service on how to help my relative is always good
18% stated that the advice I get from the service on how to help my relative is mostly good
6% stated that the advice I get from the service on how to help my relative is poor

Comments included:

‘The team are incredible! They provide amazing support and it is a to work with them. I feel like we have direction now and we can make progress towards helping our boy cope at school.’


‘Fantastic service! Always happy to help with any question/problem big or small.’


‘The WTT are amazing at what they do and give great tips to parents.’


‘As a parent I am informed when my daughter is seen by the working together team but do not receive a report on the findings. Only a few things are passed on verbally via her 1:1. I would like to receive a report if possible.’


One parent stated ‘As a parent I am informed when my daughter is seen by the working together team but do not receive a report on the findings. Only a few things are passed on verbally via her 1:1. I would like to receive a report if possible.’


Please note that it is the responsibility of the school to pass reports on to parents not the WTT. It is clearly stated in all reports that the school should share the report with the parents/carers.


Feedback from Professionals

85 questionnaires were received from professionals
93% stated that the support the provision provides for autistic people is always good
7% stated that the support the provision provides for autistic people is mostly good
95% stated the understanding and knowledge the provision has of autism is always good
5% stated that the understanding and knowledge the provision has of autism is mostly good
92% stated that ow the provision works with other professionals in the best interests of autistic people is always good
7% stated that how the provision works with other professionals in the best interests of autistic people is mostly good
1% stated that how the provision works with other professionals in the best interests of autistic people is okay but could be better


Comments included:

The Working Together Team are an invaluable source of support for our autistic pupils. x, who works with our school, is very informative and knowledgeable, offering practical, useful advice to enable our staff to support the children more effectively.

The W.T.T. provide vital support to plug the gaps in Lincs services in terms of OT advice for sensory needs and offer advice prior to diagnosis on the lengthy diagnosis pathway through paediatric services


The staff are extremely knowledgeable but are also able to communicate practical ideas effectively in a way that supports not only the child in school but so that staff feel valued and able to implement strategies. Parents are also very pleased with the support given and value the understanding of the child's needs.


With the Wider Community

The Working Together Team became an AET hub in September 2019, having been previously sub-contracted since September 2015.


The service work with in collaboration with a wide variety of outside organisations to further empower settings to develop autism knowledge, understanding and skills across the county. This is done through:
• AET National Training- Making Sense of Autism delivered to over 10,000 delegates and Good Autism Practice to over 1, 500.
• Themed training which can be bespoke to a setting or delivered centrally open to families alongside professionals on a wide variety of themes such as sensory integration, anxiety, emotional regulation etc
• modelling on-site,
• Visits to specialist settings to see good practice interventions in use
• AIM4Lincs – supporting settings to work towards/achieve the awards
• Signposting to resources and lending resources to trial.
• Autism Progression Framework
• Influencing best practice Lincolnshire through upskilling colleagues in other services, through Healthy Minds, Early Years, BOSS, Sports Coaches
• Attendance and participation in Lincolnshire Autism Partnership Board on the training and awareness group and oversight and input where appropriate on other groups
• Committee representative on the Lincolnshire Autistic Society
• Delivery of seminars/lectures to students on a variety of courses at University of Lincoln.
• Supporting at school parent groups with workshops on specific themes within autism


Training


The WTT team offer a comprehensive training, workshops and sharing good practice programme. Sessions include, sensory circuits, Aim Network meeting, open morning for professionals, AET making sense of autism, Supporting development of social knowledge, AET Early Years Good Autism Practice, Resilient Brilliant (Staff) preparing students for secondary school, Sensory processing. 4 different workshops ran in summer term 2019 including 35 delegates, a mixture of settings and families.


Feedback included;
• ‘Great delivery of social stories, has made me feel more confident in writing them.’
• ‘Good, positive, clear explanations of how to create a social story/script
• ‘Really clear and presented well
• ‘Very informative and enjoyable. Lots of good discussions
During interviews with staff from setting supported by the service comments included
• ‘The training is excellent, my staff come back buzzing’.
• ‘I now have the confidence and knowledge to go back to school and disseminate information about autism.’
• Excellent training for both staff and parents.’

Summary and Outcome

I am delighted to inform you that on the 13th December 2019 the Autism Accreditation Award Committee agreed that the Working Together Team should be given an Advanced award according to our expectations for Educational Outreach.

The team are very knowledgeable about best practice in supporting autistic pupils in mainstream education. They are committed to seeking to overcome obstacles to autistic pupils being included in mainstream schools. They recognise the importance of empowering and skilling up staff in mainstream schools. The team is established as a source of expertise in educating autistic pupils in mainstream settings and contribute to the county's autism strategy.

The quality and range of training, workshops and sharing good practice sessions provided by the service is of an extremely high standard.

Feedback from parents and professional is overwhelmingly positive. People clearly value the support, training and advice the service provides. The Working Towards Team can be considered an exemplary model of an educational outreach team that can demonstrate it has a significant impact on the quality and inclusiveness of mainstream provision across the whole county.

Congratulations again on this achievement, the committee look forward  to your continued success.

Yours Sincerely

Stephen Dedridge

Head of Autism Accreditation (South)