Special schools - Eagle House School (Mitcham) - for pupils with a diagnosis of autism

Record details

Name of school
Eagle House School (Mitcham)
224 London Road
Journey Planner
CEO – Julia Pithouse
0845 074 2972
About the school
Eagle House School (Mitcham) is a specialist day school providing education for children and young people aged 4 to 12 with a diagnosis of autism, Asperger's Syndrome and additional complex communication, social and emotional needs. Eagle House School is independent School listed on the Secretary of State approved List of Independence Educational Institutions.

We accept children from across the full autism spectrum, whatever their academic level or personal skills. We are unable to accept pupils with complex physical disabilities. We are a family owned school and many of the staff team, including our CEO, have family members with autism.Eagle House School accepts referrals from local authorities, parents/ carers and professionals.

We operate a unique service for parents offering support from our parent liaison team who are themselves, parents of young people with autism.Parents can visit the school either through attending one of our monthly open days or through an individual appointment. Call 0845 074 2972 to talk to Lucy, our parent liaison officer who will be happy to arrange a visit for you.Local authorities can contact Louise, our admissions and transition coordinator, who will be your link person if you are considering placing a pupil at Eagle House School.

We provide a prompt assessment process and will inform you of suitability of your pupil and placement availability within 48hrs of receiving a potential pupil's paperwork.Please see our admissions procedure at www.eaglehouseschool.co.uk
Supporting children
Every pupil at Eagle House School (Mitcham) has a statement of special educational needs or a new Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). Your child’s statement/ EHCP is central to the support we offer as it will show the level of support your child needs in the classroom and any specific therapies such as speech & language therapy, or occupational therapy.

To ensure your child receives the support stipulated in their statement/ EHCP, we have very small class numbers (a maximum of 6 pupils) and a high number of adults within the class teams. Your child will benefit from being in a highly supportive environment where every small progression is recorded and celebrated.

On starting school, your child will have a baseline assessment, which will ascertain their current educational level as well as issues associated with their autism e.g. communication, behaviour; including sensory needs, social skills, independence skills and thinking and learning skills. This baseline assessment will form the foundation of your child's learning and provide the basis for their Individual Education Plan (IEP). You will be involved in the development of your child’s IEP, which we will use to establish a pathway to plan your child’s future outcomes and chart their progress. Your child will access subjects within the National Curriculum and will be set individual learning targets within each subject which will enable their academic progress to be monitored and assessed each week.

If you have any concerns about your child, their class teacher is your first port of call. They can email you or arrange to call at a time that is mutually convenient. Your child's therapists will also be happy to talk to you. If you prefer, the Head Teacher, Deputy Head or senior teachers will always make themselves available to you. Simply contact school on the main number if you wish to speak to them.Eagle House School is an independent specialist school and forms part of the Eagle House Group. If you have issues you wish to discuss at a level higher level, then you can contact CEO, Julia Pithouse, also at the main school phone number.
Assessing child progress
Our starting point for measuring your child's progress is the baseline assessment. We will ask you to be involved in this process to ensure we have a full picture of your child's needs. From here, your child's profile will be used to track and measure their individual learning outcomes, which will be monitored daily.

This information is monitored and evaluated in line with all school assessments including our electronic recording tool, B Squared, which will track your child's academic progress across the whole school year. With such extensive monitoring, we are able to see if pupils are making the expected progress. If they are failing to reach certain targets, this will be quickly identified and immediately addressed. We understand that every child is different, as are their academic abilities, their autism and as such, their progress. We therefore set individual targets for each pupil based on their previous levels of achievement and with reference to the National Progression Data for pupils with special educational needs.Additionally, each of our pupils has a Behaviour Support Plan. The class team and therapy team regularly review this plan.

If your child should have any issues with their behaviour, these will be carefully recorded onto SchoolPod, which is an electronic tool that helps us to analyse pupils' behaviour patterns. Our assistant psychologists analyse data weekly and will ensure that our pupils are improving or receiving more support where needed.
Informing parents and carers
Good communication with you is an absolute priority and we work hard to ensure that you are kept up to date with how happy your child is at school and with their progress. We do this in a variety of ways;
• the Home-School diary
• termly parents’ evenings
• end of year report
• annual review meeting
• informal meeting with you

The Home-School diary is passed daily between home and school and enables a simple, effective two-way flow of information between parents/ carers and teacher. If families have any concerns about their child, they are welcome to contact their teacher directly by phone, email or by calling the school to arrange an appointment to come in and have a chat.Formally, the school holds parents' evenings three times a year, which gives you the opportunity to talk to your child's class teacher and therapists. The Head Teacher, Deputy and senior teachers are always available at these events too.

All of our pupils have a statement of special educational needs (or EHCP) and therefore, an Annual Review meeting is held where their statement/ EHCP is reviewed. Staff who work with your child, including relevant members of the Curriculum Access Team (CAT) and sometimes other key professionals such as transition officers, attend this meeting. The in-house CA Team (Curriculum Access Team) comprises consultant clinical psychologist (autism specialist), assistant psychologists, speech & language therapists, occupational therapists and music therapist. The Annual Review Report will detail your child's progress across the year based on the IEP targets.
Progress updates
At your child's Annual Review meeting, the school identifies annual targets within key areas of personal development and prepares termly IEP targets (within the individual education plan), which we will ask you to contribute to, comment on and agree. Your child's progress towards these targets is assessed and evaluated termly; they are then updated and will be sent home again for your approval. These will give you a clear indication of your child's progress throughout the school year. While progress is discussed in detail at the Annual Review meeting, a regular overview and progress report will be available to you at the three parents evenings, which you will be invited to attend across the academic year. Your child will also receive a detailed end of year report. If you ever have any questions or concerns regarding your child’s progress, you are welcome to come in and talk to us.
If a child is not making progress
We involve you in your child's education every step of the way. As such, you will quickly be informed of any issues your child may be having and either you or your class teacher may arrange a meeting. Often a conversation between home and school can unearth an issue that may be easily remedied.

We aim to ensure that targets set are realistic, but challenging, for each pupil building on their self-esteem, self-confidence and giving them a positive school experience. As such, it is rare that our pupils fail to progress. We underpin your child’s learning and progress with painstaking monitoring, consistent assessment and effective communication with you.
Academically, we provide a general education befitting each child’s talents and follows the National Curriculum or the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and, where appropriate, ‘P’ Levels.Our pupils are taught in small groups of up to 6 pupils to a class depending on need. All pupils follow the National Curriculum, delivered at their level of ability and personalised to their needs and interests. The curriculum, which includes Maths, English, Science, Computing and a broad range of other subjects, is planned, delivered and recorded around 3 year cycle of half termly topics, ensuring a good breadth and balance. In order to meet all of our pupil’s educational needs, we design a curriculum to suit your child ensuring an exciting and meaningful experience, which we deliver through practical and visual learning. Our aim is to encourage your child to participate in class and enjoy learning, perhaps for the first time.
Adapting for child needs
We recognise that our pupils experience the curriculum in different ways. We also recognise that pupils have different starting points and we make the necessary adjustments for them in the classroom based on their statement of special educational needs/ EHCP and their baseline assessment. Curriculum planning is carried out at four differentiated levels of ability for each topic the class covers (the programme of study). Your child’s profile will inform us as to which level will be most suitable for them with each topic. Teachers develop schemes of work for each subject area within each of the 4 levels for each topic and will incorporate the special interests of pupils in to these to ensure that the lessons are relevant and motivating for all pupils.In order for your child to learn, they will need to have the ‘tools’ to effectively manage their autism.

We do this using the Eagle House Approach with the support of the CA Team, who work together with the individual teaching teams. This approach uses strategies and therapies that will support your child’s precise needs. These strategies focus on their academic and personal development looking at their communication and their behaviour, as well as their independence, social skills and thinking and learning. Through this approach they will learn to start managing their anxiety and to begin to understand how to cope with the confusing world they live in.
Teacher flexibility on child needs
Our teams are fully flexible in meeting your child’s individual needs through the following:
• each class has a fully qualified teacher, many of whom have a Masters degree or other post graduate qualifications in special educational needs or autism
• each class has a high staff to pupil ratio with at least two learning support assistants
• the CA Team, who embed the Eagle House Approach in to the curriculum
• individual or small group sessions for those pupils who need a different or specific approach, particularly for reading and writing

This combination allows maximum flexibility within the classroom. Each teacher plans and records lessons meticulously, detailing differentiated activities and outcomes in order to ensure that your child’s individual targets and learning objectives are central to their learning. Each pupil’s learning outcomes are assessed and evaluated by staff on a daily basis and this keeps their learning on track.

Many of our pupils benefit from the real life experience of going out in to the community and leaving the classroom behind. This offers our pupils fresh opportunities to practise new skills and different activities. These are personalised to develop each child's language, social communication, independence and self help skills. This flexibility is essential in order for the curriculum to remain relevant and exciting for each pupil through the different stages of their school career.
Additional support
Additional support is available for pupils throughout the school day both in and out of the classroom. In the classroom, there is a high staff to pupil ratio to ensure that your child receives the support they need to achieve their learning outcomes. The in-house CA Team underpins every class team embedding a range of therapeutic approaches, teaching methods, techniques and styles within a 'total communication' environment to support your child’s learning. This includes visual strategies and communication aids such as PODD (Pragmatic Organisation Dynamic Display, an alternative augmentative communication). This ensures that your child’s additional needs are supported and their learning outcomes are on track.

The use of alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) approaches such as PODD is now widely accepted and used as a means for facilitating language and communication for individuals with autism. We use a wide range of visual support across the whole school which benefits the understanding and expression of language for those with difficulties in these areas. The CA team works with all pupils in the school but if your child's statement/ EHCP stipulates a greater level of support is needed, then they will work with them accordingly. We have three different levels of therapeutic engagement with pupils adjusted according to the requirements of their statement/ EHCP and their individual needs at any given time.

We hold weekly meetings to discuss pupils who may be struggling and will look at raising the level of support for as long as necessary. This will always be discussed in partnership with parents/ carers.
Learning strategies
We employ educational and therapeutic strategies designed to work in combination, ensuring successful learning outcomes for every pupil. This is largely based upon their statement of special educational needs/ EHCP and their initial baseline assessment. There are:
• whole school strategies such as TEACCH
• specialist sensory equipment and sensory diets
• class and individual strategies such as our reading schemes
• class and individual strategies such as use of laptops for supporting writing
• literacy interventions such as Lexia
• individual or small group sessions for friendship, social and emotional skills
• individual pupil strategies ranging from PODD and Makaton, which support non-verbal or emerging communicators, to social communication programmes for older or more able pupils

The CA Team advises and supports each class to develop visual strategies. These are used extensively throughout the school as well as individually for each pupil. TEACCH strategies are used in every classroom, which provides each pupil with a clear approach to working in their own space within their classroom. The principals of TEACCH are:
• understanding the way young people with autism think and learn
• developing an individualised person centred approach
• structuring the physical environment
• using visual support to make tasks predictable and understandable
• providing structure to understand the beginning and end of tasks

Many of our pupils have difficulty processing everyday sensory information such as sounds, sight and smells (sensory integration difficulties) so each pupil is assessed and an occupational therapist is able to introduce personalised strategies such as:
• sensory diets (activities to provide them with the level of sensory stimulation they need)
• the Alert Programme (to help them to regulate, stay focused and organised throughout the day)
• regular movement breaks
• frequent drinks
• use of autism specific apparatus i.e. squeeze machine
• the use of the sensory room (to reduce the level of sensory stimulation)

Class teams, with the support of the CA Team, use a positive behaviour approach with reward systems creating a safe and supportive learning environment. Our assistant psychologists support pupils, who may be struggling to deal with their emotions, through offering individual sessions if required. This helps to develop a pupil’s self-esteem and self-confidence.

We offer our pupils an enhanced curriculum. This includes trips out in to the community both locally and further afield to destinations such as Mitcham or Central London. The purpose of these trips is to broaden their experiences and to practise their independence skills. We also offer PSHE (personal, social & health education) as part of the curriculum, which includes development of their social and emotional wellbeing, self-awareness, understanding of their autism and their feelings.
Meeting child needs
Your child’s specific needs will be met through them having received an accurate diagnosis and good professional assessments, which starts before they join us. Our starting point at school will be to understand your child by reading through the paperwork we receive from the local authority including professional reports and assessments. We will also receive their latest statement of special educational needs/ EHCP.

As part of our admissions procedure, we will visit your child in their present environment and then invite them to spend some time with us, which will allow us to observe them within the school environment. This will inform us of your child’s educational and learning needs and will give us the opportunity to assess what we need to put in place for them from day one. When your child comes to us, they will have a six-week assessment period where we will baseline their strengths and areas of difficulty.

We look at their current academic levels and abilities in attention, listening, understanding of language, social communication, daily living skills, handwriting and emotional well being. We also highlight any barriers to learning your child may have such as sensory issues. Your child will continue to be closely assessed through the implementation of their IEPs and individual learning objectives which are recorded daily giving results on the percentage of their targets achieved at the end of each term. Their achievements are also recorded on to:
• B Squared software, which analyses and reports academic achievements (maths, science, English, computing and PSHE – P Levels to National Curriculum levels)
• SchoolPod software (which analyses attendance and behaviour trends)
• Reading assessment spreadsheets
• Annual assessments to evaluate progress in speech, language and social communication, sensory and daily living skills and the underlying impact of their autism

We will be in regular communication with you throughout the school year so you will be updated with your child’s progress.
Access arrangements
We use our baseline assessments to highlight any areas of difficulty your child may have. If there are any areas of particular concern, this results in further assessment from our in house CA Team who employ a wide range of formal and informal assessments in order to ensure your child receives the appropriate levels input, support and specialist strategies.

The school works closely with all external agencies involved with our pupils such as social services and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS). If we feel your child would benefit from additional support from an external agency, we will discuss this with you before making a referral. Our Consultant Clinical Psychologist liaises with external professionals on behalf of children who are experiencing particular emotional or social challenges.

Many members of our staff are trained First Aiders. If your child has medical needs they will have an individual health care plan, which will be regularly updated. We do not currently access or work with a school nurse, but will liaise with a pupil’s GP regarding any medical needs if required.
Comfort, safety and socialising
We believe that helping your child to feel comfortable and safe at school is central to success with their learning outcomes and their development. We aim to provide a school experience that supports them across a broad range of skills, from participating in school life, managing in the classroom, socialising with their peers, to learning to cope with their autism and their anxiety.Many of our pupils have had challenging school experiences in the past. As such, we aim to provide them with much more support in the classroom. This includes help from a named key worker who will be additionally responsible for taking a special interest in your child’s wellbeing.

Your child will have clear structure, routines and expectations, modelled by staff and other pupils. They will also have clear achievable targets, which will be created in consultation with you and your child where appropriate, and they will be rewarded frequently to develop their self-esteem and self-confidence.All of this will go a long way to ensuring that your child feels comfortable and safe at school. We use strategies such as social stories and role play to support your child’s understanding of different social situations in a safe and supportive environment.
Social and emotional skills
We support your child to develop their social and emotional skills in a number of ways. We are a community and as such the academic year is peppered with events involving the whole school and including all of our families. Your child will become an integral part of our community along with their fellow pupils, where they will learn about each other’s similarities and differences. This is a great lesson for adapting to life beyond Eagle House School. Making friends can be very challenging for our pupils so the CA Team are there to support them with this and other aspects of social communication. They hold regular small group sessions to help pupils develop friendships and social skills and they have individual/ group programmes to help them with communication.

Our assistant psychologists support pupils to deal with emotions and provide individual sessions developing their self-esteem and self-confidence. The CA team also work with classes out in the community in order to support pupils to practise new skills. We are a diverse school and as such, your child will be placed in a class of fellow pupils who may come from a different background or culture to their own. They may also have different needs and difficulties to their own and hold different attitudes, beliefs and aspirations.

We support pupils’ understanding through our curriculum-based activities promoting their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. We work hard to help our pupils value difference and challenge discrimination. We believe that the pupil voice is very important and therefore run a pupil council with elected members who are able to effect change within the school. We are aware that many children with autism find it difficult to understand their own and others emotions. We use a range of strategies to help them to develop this understanding including explicitly teaching them about emotions, providing visual emotions boards to help them express how they are feeling and talking about how they might be feeling and how they might make others feel.
Learning for independence
Independence skills are taught across every aspect of school life and in everything that our pupils do. This is achieved through class teams working closely with the CA Team to support pupils both in and out of the classroom. Together, they develop programmes for self-help skills such as dressing, cleaning teeth, washing, toileting and for life skills such as road safety, using public transport, visiting the shops and the local library, which prepares them for going out and about with their families. If your child has little or no spoken language, we use PODD (see above) and social communication programmes for older or more able pupils.
Perseverance and resilience
Many pupils come to us lacking in confidence with low self-esteem and a sense that whatever they do ‘seems to be wrong’. They may have been school ‘refusers', have suffered exclusion or avoided lessons. You yourself may have experienced your child trying something once – an activity, a club, a skill – and refusing to ever go near it again! Perseverance and resilience are borne out of our pupils feeling secure within a safe environment. From here, they quickly learn that we do not give up so easily and will work through issues with them. Our assistant psychologists run self-esteem groups and hold individual sessions with pupils to develop self-esteem and confidence.

We also provide other activities such as pet therapy and horse riding, all aimed at boosting confidence and overcoming fears.We introduce team-building skills, teaching them how to work and communicate with others around them. Team sports are very tough for our young people but with focussed support, they can learn how to fit in and participate.

As part of our school reward system, trying their best is one of the key targets, and positive recognition of perseverance and resilience is a fundamental part of this. A number of pupils may have experienced exclusion - we rarely exclude because we recognise that this does not teach them how to manage their behaviour but merely takes them away from the problem.
We have an active policy on bullying and educate pupils through media such as our weekly school assemblies and anti bullying week, which happens every November. We also educate our more able youngsters to recognise the difference between peer conflict and bullying.

Please refer to our policy on bullying on website www.eaglehousegroup.co.uk , go to Mitcham and click on the tab for Prospectus, Ofsted and Policies.
Eagle House School is an attractive, well maintained, 16th century house near the centre of Mitcham. Pupils and parents describe it as having a welcoming and homely feel. Most of the school site is suitable for wheel chair access but not all.Our environment is carefully planned with autism at the centre. Classrooms have low arousal lighting, anti-glare computer screens and uncluttered walls. They are equipped with autism specific resources including individual colour coordinated TEACCH stations and sensory equipment. Every classroom has a range of IT resources including interactive SMART boards and access to iPads and laptops, which form an integral part of every pupil’s learning. Our occupational therapists will assess your child in the classroom and will ensure they are supplied with any equipment necessary to support them in their learning, including specialist seating and writing slopes.

There are times when some of our pupils need to have a moment alone so we have created clearly marked ‘quiet spaces’ all around the school, which pupils are taught to use with good effect. We have a sensory room where pupils can be timetabled in for regular visits. We also recognise that our pupils have times when they struggle with maintaining attention and concentration and need to expend some energy. We have a fully equipped occupational therapy gym, a ball-pit room and an outdoor sports area where they can run, bounce on the trampoline, throw hoops or kick a football around.
Accessing lessons
Eagle House School, offers a fully inclusive environment, which enables all children to access all the activities on offer. All activities are fully risk assessed and your child will also have an individual risk assessment. If the risk assessments indicate that it would be too risky for your child to access a particular activity, we will identify a similar activity in a safer environment for them. You will be reassured that your child is accessing every lesson through regular communications with your child’s class team or therapists.

If your child is failing to access any of their lessons or activities, rest assured your child’s class team or therapists will be in touch with you quickly to discuss this and identify the best possible solution which will support your child to re-access the lesson

The Home-School book will be an immediate communication tool through which you and classroom staff can exchange information. If you should like to talk to your class teacher, they will arrange a time suitable to you both either in person or over the phone. You are always welcome to talk to the Head Teacher, Deputy Head or a senior teacher by calling the school and making an appointment through our school administrator. We will always be happy to talk to you.
Who we work with
Eagle House School accepts referrals from local authorities, parents/carers and professionals. Local authorities can contact our admissions coordinator, who will provide an efficient and rapid assessment service. On receipt of your child’s paperwork, the local authority will be informed within 48 hours as to whether or not a place could be potentially suitable and available.

For parents, our parent liaison team (themselves parents of young people with autism) will talk to you about visiting the school, either through attending one of our monthly open days or through an individual visit. Whereas many schools need to turn to external therapy services, we have therapy available in school through our resident CA Team. This comprises clinical psychology, speech and language therapy and occupational therapy. Your child will receive support from these therapy services according to their statement of special educational needs/ EHCP and the needs identified during their baseline assessment. If the involvement of any external agency is required, we will discuss this with you fully before making the necessary referral.
How we work with other agencies
We work very closely with other agencies and services involved with your child including education, health, and social services. We have regular contact with your child’s local authority, via your case officer, from initial referral through to your child leaving us. Your case officer will wish to know your child’s outcomes as they progress through the school.

We are actively involved in ‘Child Looked After’ and Personal Education Plan reviews for those pupils for whom this is required. There may be times when your local authority wishes your child to be assessed by their own educational psychologist perhaps in preparation for their annual review or for their next transition. This is quite usual and we are happy for classroom observations to take place. If we identify that a pupil has mental health issues, our clinical psychologist and assistant psychologists will refer to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) with the consent of parents. A referral can be made either directly to CAMHS or through the GP, depending on local arrangements.If your child is receiving support from social services, we will tend to connect with your care manager at your child’s annual review where you will be present.

If we identify that a pupil has social care needs, we will refer to social services with your consent, using a CAF/CASA (assessment forms) depending on each local authority’s specific referral system and criteria.Most of our communications with external agencies and services will tend to take place at your child’s annual review.
Specialist services and expertise
There is a full compliment of therapies available in house. These comprise clinical psychology, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, assistance psychology, yoga therapy, music therapy and pet therapy.Referral can come either from your child’s statement or if additional needs are recognised, directly from the class team or the CA Team in agreement with yourselves.
Parental involvement
We encourage parents to become involved in school life in many ways ranging from cooking a favourite dish or directing traffic at a school event, to attending your child’s annual review or joining a parent’s social meeting to discuss the latest approaches to autism.

The school prepares a regular newsletter, which goes home to parents and details all of our new initiatives, events and celebrations, both locally and nationally. Our families are a vital force within our school and we are committed to an ‘open door’ policy. We have a dedicated parent liaison officer on our staff team who will be your first contact at the school. She will support you through your child’s admission and ensure that you are accessing all of the support and facilities to which your child is entitled.
Helping your child settle with confidence
We understand how difficult transition can be for a child with autism. When your child joins our school, they will be given a transition plan, which will be developed with your help to ensure that all of their needs are taken into account.Not every pupil will cope with starting a full timetable immediately. We will work with you to decide if a more gradual introduction to school would be more appropriate. Some of our pupils will take more time to adapt, especially if they have been out of school for any length of time or have had a difficult experience at their previous school. Some will feel extremely anxious about starting a new school. It is important, therefore, that we understand as much as possible about your child in order that we can give them the best start. You will receive information and forms to complete prior to your child starting.

The class team will send your child social stories, which will provide them with information about their new class and their new teacher. Prior to joining school, your child will normally have visited us and spent one or two days in the classroom. Our staff may also have visited your child in their current school.Once your child is with us, they may move to a new class at the end of an academic year, although this may not happen every year. If it does, their staff teams will liaise and support them to make a successful transition, through visits to their new classroom and meeting their new teacher. This will take place towards the end of the preceding school year. There will be visual support and social stories, which your child will be able to bring home. Many of our pupils move to our sister school – Eagle House School (Sutton). The admission and transitions coordinator works with both the old and new class teams to ensure a smooth changeover.

If your child moves on from Eagle House School, our admissions and transitions coordinator will liaise with the new school. Like us, other schools will tend to have their own procedure so we will always help with any requests as much as possible , in addition we develop a transition passport for all children who are due to leave the school. This provides their new school with information about them including their likes, their dislikes, their communication and their special interests in order to ensure a smooth transition for your child.