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Case studies

Case study: Sophie's story

Sophie* had previously attended a mainstream special school placement until Year 6. She was the first pupil at Newbury Manor School who came with a diagnosis of Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA). Young people with PDA share difficulties with others on the autism spectrum in social aspects of interaction, communication and imagination. The central difficulty for people with PDA is the way they are driven to avoid demands and expectations. This is because they have an anxiety-based need to be in control. 

Alongside her diagnosis of PDA, Sophie also presented with high anxiety. She frequently refused to engage in learning and this often resulted in physical and verbal outbursts, including hitting, kicking, biting, and pulling out her own hair. These high levels of anxiety and refusal to engage resulted in a lack of formal assessment prior to joining the school, leading to difficulties with reading, writing and numeracy.

On entry to Newbury Manor, Sophie was unable to read, write or recognise any numbers or letters, other than those in her name. Sophie was unable to work within a group setting when she first joined the school and needed constant adult attention in order to gain and maintain her focus. This also extended to the dining room, with Sophie unable to eat with any other person present.

Newbury Manor School has its own unique three tiered curriculum. The first step for Sophie on this learning journey was the Transition Curriculum.  This allowed her to develop relationships, engage in imaginary play and access learning in a predictable environment.

This approach has had a significant positive impact. Over the past two years, Sophie has progressed from attending school for two hours twice per week, with her parent remaining on site, to full time attendance including an overnight stay.

Sophie has moved from only working/engaging with two preferred females to being part of a class group and having a male teacher. She has reduced her daily verbal and physical outburst to less than one per half term. The level and intensity of her learning has also increased. Sophie now follows her class timetable and engages in daily literacy and numeracy sessions.  She is now able to read simple phrases and expresses herself in writing.

Sophie is now 13 years old. As she continues to progresses through the school, our ambitions for her remain high.  Newbury Manor will help her achieve accreditation for her learning in order to assist her in living as independently as possible.

Case study: Luke's story

Luke* gained a distinction in the first year of his Level 3 IT Practitioners Course, which signifies outstanding progress from his attainment in Y11 and Y12. He also completed additional courses to allow him to gain industry standard qualifications that will assist him in gaining meaningful employment when he has completed his education. Perhaps most pleasingly, he also gained a C grade in GCSE mathematics after gaining an E in Y11 and a D in Y12. This was due to the unrelenting high expectations of senior leaders at the school who offered outstanding teaching and intervention to ensure this was achieved. Attendance was 100%.

Case study: Rachel's story

Rachel* gained an Entry Level 2 qualification in English and Maths, which built on the Entry Level 1 qualification that was achieved in Y11. She also achieved an Entry Level 3 qualification in Vehicle Maintenance and Body Work. In addition, our partner mainstream college awarded Rachel with ‘Most Improved Student’ for her course, which further evidences her outstanding progress. The progress made with her personal development, behaviour and welfare was also outstanding, especially considering the number personal and family challenges that she faced. Rachel is CLA, which means the schools focus on her achieving these outcomes was even more important. Attendance was 100%

Case study: Jack's story

Jack* has gained a Foundation Studies certificate, which builds on his attainment in Y11 at his previous school, where he gained a number of AQA unit awards.  In addition to this, as part of the school’s focus on employability in modern Britain and to listening to our student voice, Jack was offered 1:1 specialist teaching in order that he could gain his first GCSE in Art. Jack achieved a D grade in August 2015. The school demonstrated flexibility and skill in intervening when Jack was close to refusing attendance due to the level of challenge he experienced, which led to attendance of 96%.


*names have been changed to protect student's identity