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Barnsley Road, Ackworth, Pontefract, West Yorkshire, WF7 7DT


Oakfield Park School

All Different, All Valued, All Equal


At Oakfield Park School we endeavour to ensure the following key principles underpin our practice, enabling us to provide the best possible education for our students with autism. 

  • Knowledge and understanding of autism and current research.
  • Implementation of the interventions, approaches, behaviour management strategies, and communication systems most appropriate to each student.
  • Promote collaboration between parents, outside agencies, and whole school staff to gain comprehensive understanding of individual students and how best to support them in a cohesive and consistent approach.
  • Continuous monitoring and evaluation of provision.


The Learning Environment 

Research and experience show us that having autism has a profound effect on a student’s ability to learn.  Sensory difficulties can result in unusual or uncomfortable perception of sound, sight, smell, touch and taste, and make it difficult for students to focus on the learning priorities as other stimuli pose a considerable distraction.  Therefore, we aim to provide an environment which reflects the SPELL framework (Structure, Positive approaches and expectations, Empathy Low arousal and Links) is quiet, calm and has a low level of distracting visual, auditory or sensory stimuli.  Students have access to separate working areas within their classroom environment.  Read more by clicking the link below:


TEACCH Approach

 In order to ensure that students with autism can access the curriculum, the school uses a variety of approaches and resources. Monitoring and evaluation of approaches is continuous and the school favours an ‘eclectic’ model which draws on best practice from a range of interventions.

Our staff are trained in the TEACCH. TEACCH stands for 'Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication-Handicapped Children.' TEACCH approach benefit of: use of symbols and visual references to help students understand what is happening and what is going to happen next through a non-auditory means of communication; use of social stories to help students understand social expectations, conventions, and the thoughts and feelings of others. All of these, supported by an appreciation of the need for a highly structured daily routine which the students can predict, help to alleviate anxiety and enable our students to both enjoy and learn.  Read more about TEACCH approach by clicking link below:

We also run daily morning SPARC (Sustained Physical Activity for Relaxation and Calmness) which supports the successful transition from school to home.  We believe the exercise reduces anxiety and stress which can reduce challenging behaviour and create feelings of well-being.  SPARC also focuses on communicative interactions. Supports the understanding that they can influence the behaviour of others and develops social rapport and a sense of mutual enjoyment.

The  SCERTS Approach

Social Communication Emotional Regulation and Transactional Supports.

At Oakfield Park we employ a range of approaches and interventions to ensure that the curriculum we offer meets the needs of individual students.  We recognise that students in our autism-specific classes need a wider reaching curriculum that enables them to work on the skills connected to a clearer understanding of non-verbal and verbal communication, social understanding and social behaviour, understanding and controlling their own emotions and thinking and behaving flexibly.  We therefore use  the SCERTS approach, when appropriate within these classes.  Our aim is to  use SCERTS to help provide the best possible provision for students who are taught in the autism-specific classrooms.  SCERTS is to be used as a framework which enables a range of interventions to be used in a holistic approach to autism (e.g. TEACCH, PECS, Intensive Interaction, Sensory Diets etc).  SCERTS will be taught within our 7 stands.  As students begin to move successfully through the SCERTS programme, they will be able to more fully access other curriculum areas. The SCERTS programme will be used in cooperation with Parents, S.A.L.T, Occupational Therapist and outside agencies when required.  We consider SCERTS an important part of our curriculum and it will therefore, form an important part of the EHCP outcomes for students in the autism-specific classrooms.  Provision for these students will be continuously monitored as part of the school self-evaluation process.

Please find below a description of each area of the SCERTS approach.


Social Communication

The aspirational goal for all students is to become confident and competent communicators so that they are able to actively participate in social activities. Students who are able to communicate effectively are have access to increased opportunities for play and learning and are able to participate more fully in enjoyable social relationships.


Social Communication skills are needed to participate and learn:

•        Understanding intentions

•        Expressing preferences, needs and emotions

•        Sharing ideas and playing with others

•        Communicating for a variety of purposes

•        Initiating interactions

•        Imaginative play

•        Relating to peers

•        Understanding routines and expectations


Within the SCERTS programme social communication is split into 3 stages, which are:

Social Partner Stage

Students may develop the ability to communicate intentionally with gesture and/or vocalisations

Language Partner Stage

Students communicate for a purpose using symbols, signs and/or words

Conversational Partner Stage

Students use words, phrases and sentences. They begin to learn how to engage fully in conversations. Students begin to develop an understanding of the feelings and thoughts of others.


Students accessing the SCERTS approach will be assessed on a SCERTS Learning Journey Framework on Evidence for Learning. 


Examples of Social Communication targets  from all 2 levels are shown below.

Joint Attention

(The ability to share attention, emotion and intention with partners)

Symbol Use

(The ability to use objects, pictures, words or signs to represent things)

Social Partner Stage: examples of goals

  • engages in interactions with others
  • initiates social routines/game/interactions
  • shifts gaze between people and objects

Social Partner Stage: examples of goals

  • imitates familiar actions or sounds
  • uses familiar objects conventionally in play
  • uses gestures and nonverbal means to communicate

Language Partner Stage: examples of goals

  • understands and uses words / symbols to express a range of emotions
  • comments on actions or events
  • shares experiences


Language Partner Stage: examples of goals

  • uses words and word combinations to express meanings
  • uses a variety of objects in constructive play
  • understands a variety of words and word combinations without contextual cues

Conversational Partner Stage: examples of goals

  • monitors the attentional focus of others
  • shares experiences in interactions 
  • increasing ability to understand and talk about past and future events


Conversational Partner Stage: examples of goals

  • learns by imitation, observation, instruction and collaboration
  • understands nonverbal cues of turn taking and topic change
  • follows rules of conversation


Emotional Regulation

This is another aspect of the SCERTS curriculum.

This is the ability to be actively engaged and be able to adapt to different situations. The student's ability to regulate emotional arousal so they are more able to attend to, process and filter environmental and sensory information is the focus of this section. When our students are emotionally and sensory regulated they are more likely to be ready for learning.


At Oakfield Park we recognise that in order to be ready to engage and learn a student needs to be able to:

  • Attend to the most relevant information in an activity or setting
  • Remain socially engaged with others
  • Process verbal and non-verbal information
  • Initiate interactions using appropriate communication strategies
  • Respond to others in reciprocal interaction
  • Actively participate in everyday activities
  • Understand Levels of emotional regulation strategies


Within SCERTS we look at student's ability to deal with their emotions, feelings and sensory needs within three levels, which are:

Behavioural Level:

Student uses simple motor actions or sensory-motor strategies the student to regulate their arousal level, remain alert, and/or self-soothe these can include behaviours such as rocking or spinning an object and   having a hand massage.

Language Level:

Students use words or symbols the student uses to regulate their arousal level, such as using an individual timetable or saying “It’s ok”. At this stage students are learning about a wide range of emotions and how to deal with emotions appropriately.

Metacognitive Level (Knowing about knowing):

 Student is able to think about, plan  and talk about ways of helping themselves regulate

Within the Social, Language and Conversational Partner Stages there are targets related to developing student's ability to self-regulate their emotions and sensory needs and well a respond to mutual regulation strategies from others.

Transactional Support

Transactional Support is the planned supports and strategies that adults use to help the student participate in social interactions and everyday activities.

The SCERTS programme focused on ensuring that the adults within school provide the correct supports for students at all times in order for students to achieve set objectives. These supports take the form of:

Interpersonal support: 

This refers to the way that communication partners (adults or peers); adjust their language, interaction styles and how they provide models of play and behaviour for individuals.

Learning support:

Ensuring that the environment and activities are structured in a way that ensures social communication and emotional regulation are encouraged.