Autism Accreditation

At Willow Dene we provide specialised support to all our pupils, through a personalised and differentiated curriculum that promotes independence at its very core.

We support a growing population of pupils with an autistic spectrum disorder within sixteen of our classrooms.  To validate and certify the specialised provision we offer our pupils with an ASD diagnosis, we decided to undertake the National Autistic Society's Accreditation process.

Autism accreditation provides an autism specific assurance programme for over 300 organisations through-out the UK and across the globe, clients include local authorities, NHS trusts, education authorities, local autism societies and private companies.. 

In order to achieve accreditation against the accreditation standards, an organisation must provide evidence that.

  • It has a specialist knowledge and understanding of autism
  • The knowledge and understanding of autism consistently informs the organisation the resources and management of the organisation.
  • The knowledge and understanding of autism consistently informs the assessment and support plan for people who use the service.
  • The knowledge and understanding of autism consistently informs all aspects of practice.

This evidence is evaluated using autism specific criteria, which are applied to each area of the organisation reviewed. 

The Accreditation process initially involves a self-audit of an organisations ASD practice against the standards set out by the NAS.  Once the audit is complete a provision would then outline a service support plan to develop its meeting of the standards.  After a period of time an interim meeting is held between the provision and an NAS advisor who will support development and will then support the provision in setting a review date.  A formal review is carried out using a peer review process by trained professionals in the field of autism spectrum disorders.  A report on the team’s findings is produced and presented to an independent panel for judgement. 

Our review was undertaken in November 2014 over three days in which the review team observed ASD practice across the school, evaluated evidence and spoke to staff. Questionnaires were also sent out to parents to ascertain how they felt their child’s needs were being met.  In January 2015 we were informed that we would be accredited and our report was distributed. 

Please find below some collated quotes from our parents questionnaires.

‘I like the school people, they are very open all of them. Great!’

‘I get much support for my child and myself –a lot of training. I am so happy.’

‘We feel as parents that Willow Dene School made a big difference to our child’s development and confidence. Our child is supported by the school in every aspect of his life.’

‘We feel they are using a very professional and effective policy in relation to advising and supporting parents.’

‘We feel very happy about the school’s consistent efforts of involving us as parents in the school work with our child.’

‘The school as a whole is just fantastic!’

‘The first thing I saw in my child’s teacher is the faith in my child – the belief that she’s got potential to achieve a lot more than what’s expected of her. Add to that “Passion”!’

‘ Completely happy with all aspects of Willow Dene School. A fantastic school.’


Our areas of strength identified by the review team were as follows:

Specialist Standard 1 - Environment

Specialist Standard 4 - Teaching/Learning – Methods

An area of strength is the innovative use of communal space to promote leisure and play, along with opportunities for pupils to experience and explore a wide range of motivating resources through the use of ‘Attention Autism’ and Sensory activities.

Core Standard 1 – Consistent Understanding of Autism

Core Standard 4 - Operation Policies and Records

The clear, well presented documentation that promotes consistency across the school in support of children on the autism spectrum is considered by the review team to be an area of strength. This includes ASD Policy, protocol, guidelines and individual pupil information.

Core Standard 13 – Family and Support Links

The review team consider Willow Dene’s support to parents, including the role of the Family Support Worker and the opportunities provided for training, signposting, parent to parent support and sensitivity to the needs of the diverse school population to be an area of strength.

Core Standard 10 – Communication

An area of strength is the school’s consistent support for communication including the use of standardised symbols, PECs and appropriate strategies such as reduced language and key words, enabling pupils to access learning and enjoy their experiences across the day.