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Case studies

Case study: Charlie

My name is Charlie* and I was diagnosed with high functioning ASC. I attended mainstream primary school and transferred to secondary school with relative ease, however in October half-term of Year 7, I withdrew myself from school and retreated to my bedroom. The following Easter, the local authority invited Rossendale School to become involved in my education.

At first, all my initial visits with Rossendale staff took place at my house because I had retreated into my bedroom. My mum went to visit the school and they introduced her to other parents who gave her advice and support on coping with my situation. They also explained how I would benefit from attending Rossendale, which made it a lot easier for my mum to cope.

The first big step was getting me to attend school again. Following agreement from my mum, all my entertainment items, such as my TV, stereo and games console were removed. This got me to leave my bedroom and I understood that if I attended school, I would get one item back per week. The following day I was at school, travelling in a taxi on my own as I wasn’t comfortable travelling with others.

Initially they placed me in a class of four young people with two staff members. I was taught a secondary curriculum on a primary teaching model in order to ensure I felt comfortable within my learning. After a short period, they recognised that I had a real aptitude for mathematics and so they arranged for 1:1 tuition by a specialist maths teacher for me throughout Year 9. In Year 10 I sat a Foundation Level 1 Maths examination, which helped me to prove to myself that I was capable of sitting an exam and passing. Needless to say, I was successful. At the end of Year 10, I moved into the main secondary school classrooms and continued my education.

As a result of this move, my fees reduced significantly, from £25,500 per term down to £17,400. This was due to a reduction in the levels of support I needed in the classroom and the fact I started travelling to/from school with other young people, which had a significant impact on travel costs.

I am now preparing to go into a Local Authority maintained provision for my Post-16 education. I’ve had support from school staff and have spent lots of time preparing for the move so both my mum and I are happy and confident in my move. I am now able to acknowledge my Asperger syndrome diagnosis and understand my condition and its impact upon me. The coping strategies that I have learned during my time at Rossendale have ensured that I can now continue my further education in the maintained sector.

I received my well-earned GCSE results this year: I achieved an A* in additional science, mathematics and further maths and an A in science core and statistics.

Case study: Thomas

My name is Thomas* and I came to Rossendale School as a residential student after struggling to deal with my high functioning ASC in mainstream education. When I arrived, I was educationally able yet failing to engage and cope with both the academic and social demands of school. I was initially placed in a small class group and was given clear expectations, firm boundaries and predictability. This gave me the structure I needed to reduce my anxieties and, in turn, extreme behaviours which followed.

As I moved into secondary school I became disengaged with some areas of the curriculum which I felt had no meaning for me. As a result I began to follow a negotiated timetable in Key Stage 4, which included English, maths, science, ICT, Key skills, history, geography, citizenship and PSHE.

In Year 11 I started an Open University Course centred on my interest in science and particularly space. My timetable was differentiated further to allow for this and I completed modules whilst studying for my GCSEs.

At GCSE, I achieved English (grade C), ICT (grade B), Maths (grade A*), Science (grade A*) and Additional Science (grade A*).

Throughout my time at Rossendale School, there was also a support programme in place for my parents. This included weekly telephone contact from my key worker and periodic contact from my form tutor or class special support assistant.

In Year 11 a number of school visits and meetings were arranged with sixth-form staff and my parents to ensure the correct decisions were made about my future, as well as looking at a smooth transition from Rossendale. A clear transition plan was formulated between school, home and my future placement.

I went on to Our Lady 6th form College, Lancaster, and my A-Level examination results were Maths (grade A*), Physics (grade A*), Chemistry (grade A*) and Extended Project (grade A). I then took a year out, filling my time with Open University courses, before applying to Cambridge, Durham, Lancaster and Exeter universities to do a degree in Natural Sciences.

I started Rossendale with no hopes for the future but now my aims for the future are to be involved in bio-engineering and space colonisation.

* Names have been changed to protect individuals’ identities