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‘Working together for a better future’


‘Working together for a better future’


(This document should be read in conjunction to the school’s Prospectus)

Document: Statement of Purpose

Date: Revised September 2010

Version: Final

Ratified by: Board: September 2010

Revised: December 2011

Review Date: July 2013

Acorn Park School

Statement of Purpose

This Statement of Purpose sets out key facts about Acorn Park School.

The Purpose of Acorn Park School:

Acorn Park School provides for children and young people with autism and either moderate or severe learning difficulties. The school specialises in helping each child to reach their full potential, academically, socially, emotionally and spiritually.

By means of an extensive system of support, care and education the children and young people are freed from many of the constraints imposed by autism and allowed to lead dignified, fulfilling and productive lives within a loving and respectful community.

^ Vision and aims:

  • To establish Acorn Park School as a centre of excellence in the education, care and training of children and young people with autism. To unlock their potential so they are able to live fulfilling and productive lives.

  • To create an environment that ensures and promotes the well being of each individual in a safe and secure setting in which they can live, work and develop their own potential.

  • To teach all children new personal, social and practical skills.

  • To develop in each child a greater understanding and awareness of themselves, their community and the world in which they live.

  • To develop communication skills and use language (whenever possible) with confidence to communicate effectively, using Information and Communications Technology and preferred modes of communication.

  • To develop the appropriate skills to participate in a suitably differentiated, broad and balanced curriculum, including the national curriculum.

  • To build on the strengths and celebrate the achievements of our children and young people.

  • To develop self-confidence, self control, independence, sensitivity and consideration for others, pride in self and in their school, and an interest in their activities.

  • To establish an effective and mutually supportive working partnership between home and school.

  • To facilitate learning and acquisition by pupils of skills that will help them in later life, providing opportunities for work experience and involvement in accredited courses.

^ Places and People:

The school is situated in a thirty acre parkland setting in a rural location close to Attleborough and Diss. The buildings are grouped to resemble a village.

Acorn Park School is registered as an independent residential and day special school for up to 90 pupils of both sexes in the age range 4 -19 of which 50 can be day and 40 being a flexible arrangement of boarding and respite. Respite will be organised in advance to allow staff to have sufficient information about the pupil to enable them to work successfully.

We are unable to accept emergency placements, as these would cause too much disruption to the existing pupils. The boarding facilities are for up to 40 pupils because we are first and foremost a school that offers residential accommodation to facilitate the delivery of a waking hour’s curriculum.

The school is non-denominational. We admit pupils from any or no faith and from all ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Children of all faiths will be supported in carrying out their religious observances. Major festivals of all religions are celebrated as part of the cultural ethos of the school.

Pupils need to be able to function in class groups of up to typically six children in each class and a similar number in each residential house. Class and residential groups are staffed on a 1:1 basis.

Referrals are made through Local Authorities (LA), Social Services and Children’s Services and all pupils have a Statement of Special Educational Needs. Funding is often the responsibility of the LA but there may be joint funding with Social Services and the Health Authority. New pupils are introduced to school following an induction programme when possible.

^ Accommodation and Services:

We have both ground and first floor training and meeting rooms for staff, parents and visitors. Classrooms are located on the ground and first floors and are allocated according to need.

The residential accommodation is in a series of terraced houses grouped around a central courtyard. Under the terms of the school’s registration with Ofsted, both 38 week and 52 week pupils may be accommodated in the same house. Children are grouped taking account of gender, age and ability.

Each house has its own dining and leisure area as well as a safe garden/play area. All of the houses share the courtyard play area which also provides access to activity areas.

The sleeping accommodation is in single bedrooms. Each bedroom has individual temperature control for the heating system and this can be altered by staff through the central control should any child become too hot or too cold and distressed.

All bedroom lights are recessed into the ceiling and lighting levels can be adjusted to allow low level lighting at night should any child require or want this.

Each house has both baths and showers to enable pupils to choose whichever they prefer. Children share bathrooms with the exception of one ground floor bedroom with en-suite facilities. Pupils are encouraged to choose clothes independently and other personal items to buy. The wearing of the school uniform is encouraged during school hours.

All corridor and external doors are fitted with an electronic locking system accessible by staff. For the safety and security of the pupils, none of whom has any awareness of danger, all doors and gates to fenced areas are kept locked at all times. There is an automated system which will unlock should the fire alarms be activated. Fire evacuation is to a safe fenced assembly point directly opposite the residential accommodation.

The movement of motor vehicles within the school site is controlled through the use of a sign-posted speed limit, enforced by speed ramps, and a one-way system to minimise traffic hazards.

Day pupils are received directly into the classroom block. They share the communal playground at the classroom area and eat lunch with the residential pupils in the Refectory. All meals are prepared on site. At meal times, pupils are provided with a choice of nutritious and appetising food. Additionally, as part of social skills work, pupils are given support and encouragement to shop for the ingredients to prepare their own meals.

Each residential pupil has an individual placement plan and Personalised Learning Plan. This is designed to promote maximum independence through a series of programmes linked to daily living and leisure skills delivered by residential care staff. These members of staff liaise with the teaching staff in the academic area in order that targets may be shared and worked on in both areas. These plans are reviewed regularly but also in line with any pupil’s LAC Review. Should a pupil achieve a target in a shorter space of time, then this would be reviewed and a new target set. A feature of our service is that educational staff are involved in the morning rise routines in each house, thereby providing continuity throughout the day.

All residential pupils are registered with a local GP surgery and a dentist. The pupils may be taken to the local surgery should this be necessary. Pupils who are 38 week residential but have a dentist in their local community should continue this registration. They would also be eligible for a yearly check up with the local Community Health Dentist as would all 52 week residential pupils. Similar arrangements are made for checks with opticians. Pupils’ individual health needs are recorded. The school also has a procedure for the administration of medication or other medical treatment which has been prescribed by clinicians such as medical practitioners. Members of staff hold current validation as qualified First Aiders, having successfully undertaken the appropriate training courses.

Speech and Language, and Occupational Therapy are fully integrated into both academic and residential education and form part of the initial assessment of all pupils. These therapists also contribute to any assessment which is requested as part of a respite care package.

There is a multi-sensory room in the residential block, which can be adapted to provide either a relaxing or a stimulating environment. Each house has its own play area with both grassed and hard surface to allow for maximum usage. The area is equipped with appropriate furniture and play equipment. All residential pupils share the use of a communal courtyard. There are bicycles and go-karts of varying sizes and types and all pupils are encouraged to learn to cycle. As far as possible, pupils are encouraged to pursue appropriate personal interests.

Academic education is carried out in a range of base classrooms and specialist teaching rooms. . All classrooms are laid out according to the principles of the TEACCH system. The curriculum offered focuses on personalised goals covering key skills, including the National Curriculum suitably adapted, communication as well as life, independence and social skills.

^ Staff and their Qualifications:

Over 160 full-time and part-time staff are currently employed at Acorn Park School. The recruitment and selection process for all staff includes appropriate checks to verify references, medical fitness and qualifications. In addition, all staff employed at the school and home hold a satisfactory Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) clearance at the enhanced level. Set out below are details of key senior staff.





Keith Cox

NPQH, B.Ed (Hons),ACE(autism)

Deputy Principal (Education)

Janet Bird

B.Ed (Hons), NPQH

Deputy Principal (Care)

John Bolton

RMA (Adults), A1 assessor, Safeguarding level 5

Operations Manager/Registered Manager

Paul Stearman

RMA (Adults), NVQ 4


Iwona Litwiniec

Overseas qualified teacher (not QTS)


Samantha Gladwell

BTEC 1st Diploma, BTEC National Diploma,

BA (Ed) Hons with QTS


Amanda Smith

Q-FDA Teaching Asst, seeking Teacher Qualification


Chris Dalton

BSc (Hons) Psychology PGCE


Iwona Burczyk

Polish qualified teacher with UK QTS


Iwona Kulakowska

Overseas qualified teacher (not QTS)


Sharyn Twigg

Overseas qualified teacher (not QTS)

Assistant Psychologist

Amy Riches

B.Sc (Hons) Psychology 2:1

Assistant Psychologist

Katie Lambert

B.Sc (Hons) Psychology 2:1



Moira Veira

Diploma from College of Occupational Therapists

Occupational Therapist

Abigail Elliott

B.Sc (Hons) Occupational Therapy 2:1,

Health Professions Council Registration

Speech & Language Therapist

Mary Farrell

B.Sc (Speech), RCSLT (member of Royal College of S&L Therapists)

Assistant Speech & Language Therapist

Emma Willis

BA Linguistics (Hons)

Assistant Speech & Language Therapist

Marina Kruger

B.Communication Pathology

A list of the number, relevant qualifications, and experience of all staff working in the school can be obtained from the on-site Human Resource Department upon request by:

(a) any person who works at the school

(b) any child in the school

(c) the parent of any child in the school

(d) the placing authority of any child in the school; and

(e) the Secretary of State, and Her Majesty’s Inspector of Schools in England.

A wide range of other professionals visit regularly and these include educational placement officers, social workers.

Residential houses are staffed according to the number of pupils and the needs of the individuals but generally at a level of 1:1 during waking hours. Overnight each residence is staffed by two waking staff supported by the team manager. Where staff are absent the school seeks to cover using bank staff, overtime and when necessary agency staff. Male and female staff are employed in the houses but due to the occurrence of Autism, the proportion of girls to boys will be expected typically to be above 1 to 5.

Each year there is provision for two full weeks of training as well as on-going training delivered during the working day. All staff will have a five day induction programme followed by further training in such areas as autism awareness, child protection, PECS, Writing with Symbols, Health and Safety and PROACT-SCIP®-UK.

Once staff are familiar with their jobs and within a maximum of 6 months, they are expected to start NVQ accredited training (QCF level 3 diploma: Children and Young People) and arrangements for this are made with a local NVQ provided; 87% are accredited at this level as of December 2011. A number of senior staff are recognised as NVQ assessors and verifiers.

Supervision follows a cascade system starting with the Senior Management Team supervising the Team Leaders or equivalent. This takes place on a four weekly cycle and feeds into the annual Appraisal system. However during the probationary period supervision takes place fortnightly.

Senior members of staff undertake Norfolk LSCB training as Senior Designated Officers. Any member of staff who either has suspicions of child abuse or who witnesses an unacceptable action must report this to the senior manager on duty. They may wish to be accompanied by their own immediate senior. The senior manager on duty must then decide if a member of staff should be removed from immediate contact with the pupils and a referral to local child protection agencies should be made. If in any doubt, staff are always advised to seek the advice of Norfolk Social Services (Telephone Number: 01953 602071). In all cases, appropriate privacy and confidentiality will be preserved for children.

^ EAL (English as an additional Language)

In a total communication environment we are able to make adaptations and modifications to our symbolic communication. Currently we have one pupil whose family language is not English. We can arrange all documentation to be translated if required.


Each pupil has a Student Support Plan, which is agreed by all staff working with the pupil and monitored by the psychologists. We have Home/School agreements, a Positive Behaviour Policy and all staff are trained in PROACT-SCIP®-UK (Strategies for Crisis Intervention and Prevention), an approved method of safe handling recognised by BILD and the Department of Health. Intervention is only used when pupils are in a situation where they are likely to injure themselves, another pupil or a member of staff. Before any physical intervention is used, a variety of de-escalation techniques are used to enable the pupil to calm down. Positive Behaviour plans and PROACT-SCIP®-UK assessments detail actions to be used on an individual basis. Working within a framework which respects personal and professional boundaries, all staff work to maintain consistent and effective boundaries for pupils to help them learn to manage their own behaviour. All behaviour incidents must be recorded on the appropriate forms in a log which will be counter signed by a senior member of staff.

All of the pupils require a very high level of supervision which acts as a safeguard against bullying. In addition, the school has a published anti-bullying policy. Play areas have been specifically designed to eliminate hidden corners so that pupils within sight of staff on duty at play times.


All pupils will be transported either by LA transport or by their parents at the start and end of each term and also at any agreed weekend breaks. Due to the pupils’ high level of need they will always be under very close supervision and each individual area of the site is securely fenced with additional fencing at the entrance. All gates in the fences are controlled by a locking system. However, should a pupil go missing from a play area, classroom or residential area, an immediate search would be co-ordinated by the senior management team member on duty. If the pupil is not found within ten minutes then the police will be informed. If the pupil is not found within twenty minutes then the parents would be informed. As soon as the pupil is found, all parties involved in the search will be informed. A de-briefing of the team involved follows. The pupil in question would be reincluded back into the activity/area they had left. All significant events are also reported to the appropriate agencies.


Pupils are admitted in accordance with the school’s entry criteria, i.e. autism with either moderate or severe learning difficulties, based on the needs of the person, the availability of an appropriate vacancy and an agreement for funding. Joint funding by LA, Social Services and Health may be agreed, although the referral may come from the LA or Social Services.

Key contract terms are that placements are reviewed after an initial period of 12 weeks to determine the suitability within both class and residential setting. Fees are reviewed annually in line with inflation, service improvements and changes in need. The placement can be terminated by any of the parties to the contract by giving one term’s notice.

^ Pupils’ Views:

The Quality of care and richness of opportunity are central to the mission of Acorn Park School. The views of the pupils are important reference points for planning and monitoring provision. Pupils are encouraged to express their views in a variety of formal and informal ways, both in the residential houses and in the classrooms.

A key worker is allocated to each pupil. The key worker will liaise with other staff and collate all necessary information about the pupil.

Regular informal discussions both in the houses and in the classrooms between pupils and staff provide a forum for sharing views. Non-verbal pupils are encouraged to express their views through the use of symbols, PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) or simple choice boards.

The pupil’s Annual Review is the formal opportunity to express views and aspirations. Where it would not cause stress, pupils are invited to attend their reviews, otherwise information is provided by staff who are familiar with the pupils.

Frequent and meaningful links with family and friends are always encouraged. Should it be required, assistance is given to make telephone calls. Staff maintain contact with families through Home/School books and weekly telephone calls. Children have access to telephones which are connected to an outside phone line.

Family visits are welcome and we have some on-site accommodation which can be booked in advance. All parents are encouraged to attend Parents’ Days.

^ Pupils academic performance:

Pupils at Acorn Park have significant difficulty accessing traditional learning, and have not accessed external testing. However all pupils have an entitlement to a broad and balanced curriculum.

Our pupils follow the national curriculum that has been modified and adapted as appropriate to their learning needs. Over the last academic year our pupils in Key Stages 2 and 3 were in most cases assessed against the “P levels”; outcomes for year 6 and year 9 for example were judged as between P4 and P8. In KS4 pupils will follow ASDAN “Transition Challenge”, “Towards Independence” with the hope that all pupils will leave our service with a nationally recognised award.

^ How to Make a Complaint:

If a pupil wishes to make a complaint:

The complaint should be made to one of the following staff:

Principal (Keith Cox)

Deputy Principal (Ed) (Jan Bird)

Deputy Principal (Care) (John Bolton)

Any complaint will be investigated without delay and the complainant will be kept informed of the progress in addressing the complaint. Similarly, any pupils, staff, family members and any other appropriate individuals involved with the children will be supported in following the progress of the complaint. The complaint will also be recorded in the Complaints Book. Any action which is judged to be necessary as a result of the complaints process will be taken within 7 days. There are visual supporting material prominently displayed around the school to aid understanding

The pupil will be informed of any decisions resulting from the investigation of the complaint. These will be recorded in the Complaints Book. The pupil will be asked to sign to say that the matter is resolved or to acknowledge the advice given if the matter is not resolved. It will be the duty of the Senior Staff Member to refer all unresolved matters to the Chief Executive.

Acorn Park School has received no official complaints this academic year.

In the academic year 2010/11 one complaint was logged, as a result of the investigation which followed, policy, procedures and practice were reviewed and amended as appropriate.

If a parent wishes to make a complaint:

Write to the Principal (if the problem concerns the Principal then contact the Chief Executive of Acorn Care and Education). The complaint will be recorded in the Complaints Book.

Within three days of the complaint being received, the parent will be contacted by telephone or letter to assure them the complaint is being dealt with.

Within seven days the parent will be invited to the school to talk the matter through with the Principal or other appropriate senior staff member. They may wish to be accompanied by a friend at this meeting.

If after the meeting they feel the matter is not resolved, they may wish to contact:

The Chief Executive of Acorn Care and Education:

Steve Page

1 Merchants Place

River Street



Tel: 01204 558038

Or refer the matter to the Local Authority, or if their child is a residential pupil to the office of Ofsted.


Royal Exchange Buildings

St Ann’s Square


M2 7LA

Tel: 08456 404040

Registered Provider:

Acorn Park School,

Andrews Furlong,

Mill Road,



NR16 2HU

Tel: 01953 888656

Fax: 01953 887021

This Statement of Purpose will be reviewed in July 2013.

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