We were recently delighted to receive an award nomination for our community engagement during the pre-opening of Spring School.
Ambitious about Autism Schools Trust began community work in Kingston-upon-Thames and Richmond-upon-Thames during 2019 when we actively sought to speak with parents and carers, facilitated and supported by local parent and carer group, Express CiC, to understand their needs. We held group workshops and an online survey that captured the local communities' desires. From the start, their input influenced our proposed vision for the school.
The Trust also visited a number of nurseries, schools and colleges in the area to establish connections and explore how the new school could build on existing excellent provision. Many of these connections are still felt today, and two in particular have developed into Spring School’s mainstream partners, Castle Hill Primary school and Chessington High School who will work with the school to deliver reverse inclusion and additional social and academic opportunities.
To continue integrating the school into the local education community and as part of the Trust’s intentions to improve education for all autistic pupils in the borough, we’ve also been offering free autism training to all mainstream and SEN schools. As a founding partner of the Autism Education Trust (AET), these courses are CDP accredited and supported by the Department for Education.
We also engaged the local community to help us name our school. After shortlisting names based on the history and geography of the school site, over 650 members of the community took part in a consultation. We also work closely with our Community Champions, an established network of autistic young people, local residents, parents and professionals who meet termly to discuss the development of the school and have their say. They’ve been consulted on the building design, school name and recruitment opportunities.
Jolanta Lasota, Chief Executive of the Ambitious about Autism Schools Trust, said:
“This nomination is a testament to our dedicated staff and the innovative and progressive ethos they have fostered across our Trust. We are committed to standing with autistic children and young people and working collaboratively with the wider community to create opportunities for autistic young people to be themselves and realise their ambitions.“
The awards are run by the Multi Academy Trust Association (MATA), an organisation that aims to provide a supportive community and platform for trust leaders working in the sector. Winners were announced at a ceremony on March 23, 2023.