On Thursday, 19th April 2007, Raynes Park High School in Merton became the first mainstream secondary school in England to achieve the National Autistic Society’s (NAS) Accreditation Certificate. They were awarded for the work in their Access Centre and across the whole school.
The Access Centre, which opened in September 2002, is a specialist secondary base for pupils with Autistic Spectrum Condition. “The centre is open to students from years seven through to eleven, and it provides a variety of different support mechanisms to suit the needs of each individual pupil,” explains Lesley Kaufman, Head of the Access Centre at Raynes Park.
The school works closely with the students, and their parents, to promote their independence and to encourage them to have a real presence in their community; at school and later when they start college.
For the last 18 months the school has been working towards the core and specialist standards, which the NAS deem to be evidence of best practice in education in this field.
In January 2007, the NAS accreditation team visited the school to assess if ‘the practice matched the paperwork’. After a week of observing classes, different activities and speaking to students and parents the team went away to write their report and submit their findings to the Panel.
A parent of a Raynes Park High School student said: “The Access Centre team have changed the life of our son and by extension our family unit. We cannot speak too highly of the unit and the impact it has had. It is refreshing to be listened to AND understood.”
Lesley Kaufman, a former manager of behaviour and learning support, said: “The past five years have been a long and challenging journey from being complete novices to being told by NAS that we have got it right. This is an amazing achievement.”
Ian Newman, Headteacher at Raynes Park High School, said: “The Access Centre has justifiably been praised for its work over the last four and a half years. This award recognises the good practice that Lesley Kaufman and her team have developed with the rest of the school and with parents. “