Thames Valley School helps autistic students build on their strengths, learning, confidence and enjoyment. Our aim is to respond to the needs of each of our students, helping them to grow in confidence and achieve.
Each child at Thames Valley School is treated as an individual. We take enormous care to give your child the support they need to learn well and to develop their confidence and independence. Small classes, committed and experienced specialist teachers, and a wonderful learning environment all contribute to making our school an exceptional place to be.
We have the highest expectations for every child in our school and believe that they are able to achieve above and beyond what may have been anticipated for them before. We are encouraging, supportive, and always celebrate your child’s achievements. We also ask them to work hard, and help them to enjoy the success that this brings.
Your child will receive an outstanding, highly personalised education at Thames Valley School. We are specialists in autism and our aim is for your child to lead a successful, fulfilling life in society.
We will work closely with you, because we know that parents and carers are experts in what their child needs, and you will be an important member of our team. Our doors are open to all our families and we want you to feel as much a part of our school community as your child.
Please do get in touch with us to discuss what our school could offer your child. We look forward to talking to you.
- Autism specialists
- Students aged 5-16 years
- One-to-one support offered, if required as part of the EHCP
Intent: what we teach
We design our curriculum to include the best of the National Curriculum, sequenced to give students the powerful knowledge and skills they need to succeed academically and socially. Subject specialists identify the threshold concepts which pupils need to understand in depth and achieve mastery; they then select the knowledge, including specialist vocabulary which needs to be explicitly taught. Our intent is to provide the specialist autism support that pupils need to access an ambitious curriculum in which they can achieve and exceed age-related expectations, including GCSEs, in a broad range of subjects.
Being able to read fluently is a key skill which is also essential to pupils’ ability to continue adding to their body of knowledge, so we place a strong emphasis on developing this throughout pupils’ primary and secondary education. All teachers have access to clear assessment data on each pupil's ability, including their ability to read with comprehension, and teachers use this to inform their teaching. Where pupils may struggle, we implement a clear programme of intervention to support their development in this area.
In addition to the best that the National Curriculum has to offer, we have a strong personal development curriculum to help prepare young people to be active and engaged citizens in modern Britain. Working together, staff and students create a strong sense of community where young people are thoughtful, valued, and feel safe. This supportive context, together with the learning journey they embark on, helps pupils to build their confidence, develop their self-esteem and to completely re-imagine their potential.
Throughout their school day, they are supported to develop skills and attributes such as resilience, self-esteem, risk-management, team-working and critical thinking. Our TVS values (Thoughtfulness, Valued, and Safe) are reinforced and celebrated by all. Adventure Learning focuses explicitly on increasing pupil self-esteem, personal effectiveness and develops individual life skills. They are supported to understand their own personal challenges and to explore the choices and options they have to overcome barriers.
We recognise that building and maintaining healthy relationships is a challenge for many autistic people, so supporting pupils in this aspect of life is an important part of our work. Our PSHCE programme explores health and wellbeing, relationships, and living in the wider world. British Values and other social, moral, spiritual and cultural opportunities are explored through tutor time, and across the curriculum as appropriate. Our Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) programme also supports pupils with their understanding of healthy relationships, and LGBTQ+ issues. Older students benefit from a balance of taught sessions by staff and workshops provided by other professionals.
Through Religious Education, Drama and PSHCE, pupils learn to understand, respect and tolerate different cultures and traditions. They learn about different protected characteristics within the contexts of the UN Convention of Human Rights and UK legislation and explore ways to develop greater tolerance, respect and harmony within the school and wider communities.
Students receive independent careers advice and guidance and develop their employability skills through work experience and enterprise projects. They have the opportunity to explore careers through tutor time in school. We also ensure that they learn the life skills they will need to live healthy and happy adult lives, from personal budgeting to nutrition and wellbeing.
Implementation: how we teach
The class sizes at Thames Valley School are small: on average a class of six children will learn with one teacher and two learning mentors, and some children are supported individually.
In the Primary Department, the Class Teacher and team of Learning Mentors help to establish the classroom as a secure base in which pupils can learn. They also have their own outdoor space with a range of play equipment. They develop a sense of being part of the whole school community through weekly assemblies. There is a strong focus on helping pupils to develop the basic building blocks of learning, including reading and mental maths. Science, Computing and PSHCE are taught as discrete subjects. We carefully plan opportunities to support children to generalise and apply their learning, across subjects and into the wider community.
In the Secondary Department, we aim for students to benefit from a secondary model of education where they can be taught from Entry Level up to GCSE level 9 by subject specialists who bring both a passion for their subject and deep pedagogical knowledge and understanding. Some pupils have their own personalised curriculum and timetable. Students still have a consistent form tutor who meets with them daily and is responsible for their pastoral care and they are supported by skilled Learning Mentors throughout the school day. Our intention is to increase support and to tailor the learning context to make pupils feel sufficiently safe and confident to engage and progress, rather than to lessen our ambition for these young people to succeed.
We want our children to enjoy their studies, and to learn how they learn best. We have high expectations and aspirations for all our pupils, which is why we ask our children to work hard, and encourage them always to do their best.
The impact of learning
With our specialist support, most young people make or exceed expected levels of progress at the end of Key Stage 2 and then achieve comparable GCSE results to their mainstream peers (including many at grades 4-9).
We work closely with the young person, their family and local colleges to support an effective transition to further study and we are proud that 100 percent of our Summer 2020 Year 11 leavers were offered further education either at 6th form or college.
Phonics & Reading Schemes
At Key Stage 1 & Key Stage 2 we use Read, Write inc to teach phonics
Phonics teaches children to read accurately and fluently with good comprehension. They learn to form each letter and spell correctly.
Throughout the school we use Accelerated Reader as our main reading scheme.
Accelerated Reader™ (AR) is a whole class management and monitoring programme that aims to foster independent reading in primary and secondary school pupils. It is currently the most popular reading practice software in UK schools. Developed by Renaissance Learning, it allows teachers to monitor the reading development and practices of their pupils, and provides tools to quickly ascertain their reading level, reading age and comprehension level.
Pupils read a book, take an online quiz and get immediate feedback. They are aided in their selection of the next book by the monitoring software which will guide the level of difficulty for their choice. The programme encourages pupils to read independently and more importantly at their own pace and level.
Contact Thames Valley School
Thames Valley School
2 Conwy Close
Tel: 0118 9424 750
Gemma Buley, Interim Principal and SENDCO
If you have any questions and advice, please call the school on 01189 424750.