Arlesdene Nursery and Pre-School in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire is the first early years setting in the UK to achieve a National Autistic Society Inclusion Award.
The National Autistic Society’s Inclusion Award recognises educational settings providing enriched education, care, and expertise to help and support children who may be diagnosed as autistic.
Autism is a lifelong disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world. There are around 700,000 autistic people in the UK. Because it’s a spectrum, every autistic person is different and will have their own strengths and face varying challenges. Some autistic children and adults need 24-hour care and support, others may need clearer communication or a little longer to do things at school or work.
Thrilled to receive the award, Claire Cobain, headteacher and Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) at Arlesdene, said: “As a team we are committed to ensuring that every child can achieve. We provide opportunities for them to engage in meaningful experiences that support their understanding and creativity.
“The wellbeing of our children is important to us and we continually strive to provide a caring and happy environment where each child’s individual needs are met. We are absolutely delighted that our dedication and hard work has been recognised.”
The report received from the National Autistic Society recognised that ‘Arlesdene plays a pivotal role in the early identification and assessment of children with autistic traits. The setting employs a flexible and person-centred approach to ensure autistic children (including those with very complex needs) are able to access and benefit from an early years education.’
Teresa Heritage, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families at Hertfordshire County Council said: “Hertfordshire is fortunate in that it has many excellent education settings and Arlesdene nursery and pre-school is a shining example of early years excellence. It’s important that we deliver a high quality education across the county from early years through to 18 years of ages for all children and young people on the autistic spectrum.
“This award recognises its commitment to embracing and celebrating that every child is unique. Everyone at Arlesdene should be very proud of themselves for the positive impact they make on the children and their families.”
Christine Flintoft-Smith, Head of Accreditation at the National Autistic Society, said: “Arlesdene Nursery and Pre-school should be exceptionally proud of this achievement. They’re the first early years setting in the UK to achieve our new Inclusion Award. And their commitment to improving how they work with and support autistic people is really impressive.
“We know that, across the country, autistic people are faced with not enough services, not enough understanding and not enough support. We hope other educational settings will follow Arlesdene Nursery and Pre-school’s lead and do their bit to create services and a society that works for autistic people.”
The National Autistic Society’s Autism Inclusion Award for educational settings, is in partnership with the Autism Education Trust (AET) and its process involves scrutiny of evidence provided by the setting against the AET’s Standards and Competencies frameworks and anonymous surveys sent to parents and/or autistic people. For more details about the National Autistic Society’s Autism Accreditation programme, including the Autism Inclusion Award, visit their website: autism.org.uk accreditation