Lighthouse School exists to support young autistic people to have a successful and bright future. We provide an ambitious holistic education – focusing on the individual needs of the student - that challenges our students to be the best they can be.
Lighthouse School supports the whole student – their head, their heart, their body, their family, and their future. To do this, we have four areas of the school – our cornerstones - that work symbiotically to help our students:
Everything in Lighthouse School is built around our students. To do this successfully, an innovative and versatile teaching philosophy is required. Our practice is research-informed and we have experience of what has worked, but every one of our students is unique. The research and experience provide a toolkit, rather than a blueprint for our practice. We are constantly trying new ways to support our students and we regularly assess the impact this is having. In short, our teaching philosophy is: whatever works for the individual student. For one student this may be an individualised learning project to engage them with a subject they have a negative association with, while for another it may be a clear routine-based lesson structure. One group or subject may replicate a typical ‘college’ experience, while another may utilise aspects of primary education. Learning across the school looks different depending on the students and subject. It is through this versatile approach that we are able to support our individual students achieve our ambitious goals for their future.
Lighthouse School is a secondary school, and although a specialist provision, we largely operate under a secondary model. Students move in groups around the school to lessons taught by specialised and highly-skilled staff. This ensures our staff have the subject and curriculum knowledge required to maximise impact on students. Our teaching groups are small – on average there are nine students in each group. Groups are based on a range of factors, including expressive and receptive language levels. Even with these small groups, there is often a wider academic level range in our lessons than in a mainstream school. This requires effective differentiation and scaffolding. To support this, we have a high staff-student ratio - on average 1 staff for every 3 students. This ensures staff are able to meet the unique needs of each student.
Teaching groups are largely based on communication level and key stages – although there is some fluidity for individual students. The focus for Key Stage 3 is to develop students’ ‘learning to learn’ skills, re-engage them with education, and identify and address gaps in learning. Students then often begin to work towards qualifications in Key Stage 4. This continues in Key Stage 5 with additional preparation for adulthood and work experience opportunities.
Although lessons are delivered by subject-specialists, a golden thread of holistic learning runs throughout the school. We know that, beyond qualifications, the application and generalising of knowledge and skills will be fundamental to our students’ futures. This can be something that some autistic learners struggle with, and therefore this is a focus for our provision. Cross-curricular projects and community-based learning feature heavily in our provision to address this. All staff are trained in wellbeing strategies and speech and language techniques to ensure this is integrated across the provision.