Blog: Kettlemere Centre, Ellesmere marks Autism Acceptance Week (28 March-3 April 2022)
As part of Autism Acceptance Week (28 March-3 April 2022) we will be publishing a series of blogs and case studies which demonstrate the work of organisations dedicated to supporting those with autism, to lead independent and fulfilling lives.
The Kettlemere Centre, established in 2014, is a SEN Resource Unit for students whose main area of need is communication and interaction. It operates as a faculty of Lakelands Academy, Ellesmere. Here they talk about their approach which supports and meets a wide range of Special Educational Needs:-
“A spectrum of need should be met by a spectrum of provision, with a flexible balance of inclusive experiences with specialist tailored support.
There are 24 places available at the Kettlemere Centre, of which 23 are currently filled. 83% of the students currently on role have a diagnosis of Autism.
The Kettlemere Centre is a wholly inclusive provision: students are on role at Lakelands
Academy, belonging to a house and form group. They wear the Lakelands uniform and
are proud of their house colours. A research project, completed by Shropshire Educational
Psychology Service, concluded that Kettlemere students feel a strong sense of belonging
to both the academy and the Kettlemere Centre which is engendered by the ongoing
support of trusted staff.
Students at the centre are offered a broad and balanced curriculum which is entirely
constructed to meet their individual needs: they all have the opportunity to access
academic learning within the mainstream academy with the support of a Specialist
Teaching Assistant. Current students are attending between 6% and 87% of a mainstream
timetable, according to need.
Interventions are a key aspect of the curriculum and are planned and delivered to meet a
wide range of Special Educational Needs. They include: outdoor education, Asdan, life
skills, social skills, self-awareness (emotional understanding and regulation), No
Worries, Lego therapy and art therapy. Students who are not able to attend mainstream
academic lessons can still benefit from being part of a mainstream school by taking part
in PE lessons, assemblies and form time, and accessing opportunities to learn important
skills for life such as purchasing their lunch in the canteen, queuing up and interacting with a wide variety of people.
The Kettlemere Centre works closely with the specialist senior educational psychologist,
meeting regularly to discuss students, their progress and to offer a solution focused
approach to address challenges.
Kettlemere has strong links with local post-16 providers and, when appropriate, students
are offered the opportunity to attend day release 14-16 programmes. Three of our current Year 10 students are attending Walford College, following an animal care course. We also
provide Year 10 students with the opportunity to take part in work experience alongside
their mainstream peers. This year they are going to Derwen College, Severn Hospice
charity shop and Dyke Yaxley chartered accountants.
Students who have often struggled in previous educational settings make good progress
at the Kettlemere Centre and there is a strong and successful alumni. Over the years, 14
students have left the centre in Year 11 gaining 67 GCSEs in total, at grade C/4 or above.
Eight students went on to college to study Level 3 courses and two studied A levels. Two students went onto Level 2 or vocational courses. Five of the Kettlemere alumni are now attending university.
Students unable to access GCSE qualifications are offered a range of alternatives to suit
their ability level and individual needs, including Entry Level English, Maths and science,
BTEC Food Level 1 and Level 2, and Asdan Bronze, Silver and COPE awards.
Staff training plays an important role in ensuring that the needs of the students at the
Kettlemere Centre are met, at every level. All staff are trained to at least Level 2 in autism
awareness and have or are attending attachment training at levels 1, 2 and 3 offered by
the Educational Psychology Service. This academic year, Kettlemere Staff have also
attended courses in No Worries, ELSA and Person-Centred Planning, provided by
members of the Educational Psychology Service. In addition, staff have attended training
in MAPA, moving and handling, safeguarding, science for TAs, Elklan, challenging
topics in Maths, Science Forum and sensory needs.
Our young people are at the centre of everything we do! We have received positive
feedback from parents who have been pleased that their children, who they had often felt
had no hope in the education system, have been given the opportunity to develop self-awareness, self-belief and an appreciation of how they can fully fit into the world, in
addition to being challenged to be the best version of themselves and most importantly to
be happy and achieve their full potential.”
‘’The flowers are just a small way to say thank you. To turn up to work is easy, to make a
difference every day takes effort. You have made an amazing difference to *** as have your
colleagues.’’ Parent 2016
‘’ The continued support and reinforcing of boundaries by the Kettlemere staff has got him to a place where he can make the right decisions for himself now. The fact that he is currently sitting GCSEs alongside his peers is something we are particularly proud of.’’ Parent 2019
‘’There aren’t really enough words to express how grateful I am to the Kettlemere Centre. In the four years **** has been attending the centre, the change in him has been phenomenal…Four years ago, I couldn’t see a future for **** now I have a happy young man, spending all his time revising for GCSEs and looking forward to going to college in September. **** will always have autism but the Kettlemere Centre have equipped him with strategies to help and manage his own behaviour and given him a sense of self-esteem.’’ Parent 2019
‘’Thank you for all you have done for *** over the past two years. The difference in him is
amazing. He is a different person to the one who started with you two years ago. You have
done amazing things with him, and I’ll never forget it.’’ Parent 2021
‘’ He is the most settled in school I have seen since Year 4. Thanks to the team for everything.’’ Parent 2022.
The Kettlemere Centre is not about ‘changing’ young people, it is about ‘accepting’ them
for who they are and helping them accept themselves and the wonderful qualities they
possess. When our young people value and understand themselves, and their self-esteem
is increased, they are more equipped to be successful in a world which may not always be
kind to them and where, sometimes, acceptance may be hard to find.
Julie Metcalf – Faculty Operational Lead