Since joining BCS in December 2014 as a part time SENCo for the whole school, my role has dramatically changed. Having been asked by Mr Moon to join the school for this specific role, I spent time with God asking Him why He would want me to serve as part of the school team in this way. I wanted to gain some vision of what He could see me bringing to the school team, families and students.

My background
I am a parent of four children, three boys and a girl, all of whom have been diagnosed with Autism. I have spent my time over many years making sure that we got their diagnosis and that they had all that they needed to access school and learning, in a way that would work for them. God has an incredible plan for each of our children’s lives and I have been determined as a parent, that despite a diagnosis of Autism, my children would be all that God intended them to be.

I have carried this same heart and vision for my own children, into the role that I have in school.

Square pegs and round holes
“God does not try to put square pegs into round holes, and neither should we.”

Trying to fit any child into a system and not seeing them as an individual, for me, goes against the heart of being an educator. We have lesson plans, school routines, rules and learning curriculums in each school day but God is always looking at the “One Child” in the midst of a whole class.

How do we reach each child and enable them to engage in their learning and in school life? As a team, the DSP staff look at each child and see how we can work with them across the curriculum and throughout the school day. What will work for them, what will not be helpful, what will support them to go further and scaffold their learning and school life experiences.

AUTISM

“The Problem with trying to fit a Square Peg into a Round Hole is not so much the time, effort and frustration of forcing the fit, but that you end up damaging the peg.”

 

The origin of our DSP
The DSP (Designated Specialist Provision) began as a result of an unplanned conversation with a Special Needs officer from the Local Authority. He was enquiring about a place in school for a child they had who they could not find a suitable setting for. The child had Autism, but their needs meant that being in a large, mainstream, Secondary school would not be a good option. This caused a difficulty for the Local Authority because they had some children, who they had no provision for and who nobody would take.

As a school, students with Autism have been inclusively supported in various ways, over our 25-year history. This has been dependent upon their needs and we have worked to provide them with an education and school life that has enabled and empowered them. This has been recognised by the Local Authority and an off the cuff comment by myself, “We could do with being able to become a DSP, so that we could support more of these students.” lead to a stream of conversations and meetings with the Head of the SEN team for Bradford and the start of our first DSP in September 2016.

The DSP – Progress to date
We started off with 5 students and 4 staff and have grown this year to 8 students and 5 staff. Going into our third year in September, we will have 12 students and 9 staff plus teaching staff. We also started our Primary DSP, Peace Class, in September 2017 with four students and two full time staff and going into our second year we will have 6 children and three full time staff.

We have become a unique provision in the city, as we are the only enhanced DSP at this level for students with Autism and complex needs.

God at the centre
Our God is a miracle working God and He is enabling miracles to happen in the lives of our students and their families. There have been many triumphs and victories in the last two years, all with students that no other school felt they could take. Each member of the DSP team has worked incredibly hard to build a sanctuary for the love of God, nurture, care and learning to thrive in the most incredible ways.

Many, if not all of our parents, when asked would be able to tell you about the wonderful ways their child has been supported to engage in their learning and make progress they didn’t think was possible. They have also seen a huge reduction in their child’s anxieties and a peace about coming to school instead of a battle. Praise God!

We must also mention our wider school community, students, staff and parents, who have all embraced our new students and the DSP. Our students have been welcomed, regardless of their level of need, across school and in all areas of school life, with love, care, compassion and inclusion. This is one of the things that we celebrate and makes BCS such a unique and special school.

Come and visit us!
We will be holding a whole school assembly on Thursday 12th July at 9am, where the focus will be around Autism. We will have a cafe and a chance for parents and friends of the school to come and see the DSP and celebrate with us, all that God is doing in our amazing school.

Sharon Horton

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