Sunderland autism unit wins national award

Staff and pupils from the autism unit at Farringdon Community sports college celebrating winning a top national award from the Autism Society.
Staff and pupils from the autism unit at Farringdon Community sports college celebrating winning a top national award from the Autism Society.
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BEST in the business – a Sunderland school’s specialised centre has scooped a national award.

Farringdon Community Sports College’s autism spectrum unit beat off the competition to take one of the top titles in this year’s National Autistic Society’s annual awards.

The Allendale Road school was one of three finalists battling it out to clinch the award for Inspirational Education Provision.

The winners were revealed at a glittering awards ceremony last week.

Headteacher Howard Kemp said: “I am absolutely delighted for Kath Holt and her dedicated team at the unit.

“It is a thoroughly deserved award.

“The award is testimony to the care and support of our staff in the provision we give to our students.

“The provision offers not only a safe place for students but challenges them to access the curriculum and to develop as young people.”

She added: “I am so proud of our staff and our students for this recognition of our innovative work.”

The unit caters for 32 pupils with autism.

It usually has six pupils in each year group, with demand for places high. There are 19 members of staff.

Mr Kemp said: “It is very popular with parents because it has become really successful. The children make so much progress.”

The headteacher said all the unit’s students who left school last year got five or more A*-C grades in their GCSEs.

And they have gone on to further studies or found employment. As well as teaching, he said the staff also do a lot of work with the young people on developing life skills. The students also join in with mainstream activities.

The aim of the provision is to bridge the gap between special education and mainstream for the pupils.

All the youngsters in the Wearside unit have individual timetables particular to their needs.

Sensory profiles are created in conjunction with parents, to help the children cope better with the busy mainstream school environment.

The school says the ethos of the unit is very much about preparing the pupils with autism for the real world.

And they look for opportunities to help youngsters identify their coping strategies so rather than trying to avoid stressful situations, they can face them in a controlled and planned way.