- Establishing a specialist secondary school – Pathways School
- Conducting outreach training and consulting programmes for carers and other professionals
- Raising awareness and understanding about autism and challenging behaviours
We intend to build not just a school, but a dynamic platform for community-wide capacity building and empowerment. Committed to the belief that learning does not take place only within a school, our students will learn functional living skills in real life situations. The community on the whole will be engaged to help our pupils learn and integrate. The participation of the community will help gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by people with disabilities, and help move towards a more inclusive and supportive society.
Pathways School will be based on the principles of Positive Behaviour Support (PBS). PBS is a person-centred framework for supporting children and adults with learning disabilities and/or autism, who have, or may be at the risk of developing challenging behaviours.
Our aim is to strengthen the support networks of children and young people with autism and learning disabilities and enable greater family and community participation.
Our Vision & Objectives
Pathways School will provide specialist education and support to help children and young people learn new skills and develop their full potential. The school will be built on the principle that individuals with autism and learning disabilities can lead fulfilling, joyful and rewarding lives.
We believe every individual has the potential to learn, and should be free of behaviours and activities that cause injury, pain or stress, or limit opportunities to access learning and community involvement. We believe that the link between home, school and external support networks are crucial to fully support the over-all development of a learner.
Our aim will be to provide:
- A safe, motivating and enjoyable environment based on the principles of Positive Behaviour Support
- A broad-based programme that includes national curriculum targets, adapted according to each individual’s needs, with an emphasis on functional communication skills and independent living skills
- A specialist approach to teaching that draws from evidence-based research
- Community participation and outreach programmes for parents as well as other organisations/ schools
- Frequent parent training opportunities to ensure consistency and maintenance of progress
- Close linkages with the community, including local authorities, relevant charities and service providers, and other schools
- Specialist staff training and development programme towards recognised qualifications
- Opportunities for research and innovation at the staff and leadership level
- Linkages with research centres to bridge the gap between research and practice
We will monitor and quantify the impact on each individual as well as on their families on a regular basis. As demonstrated by the research, we would expect the following benefits of a specialist education based on the principles of Positive Behaviour Support:
- Improved communication skills and functional living skills
- Decrease in challenging behaviours
- Lower stress levels for pupils and carers
- More access to community activities
- More integrated family life
- Increase in overall quality of life for students and family members/carers
Nick serves on the board of the UK Society for Behaviour Analysis, and chairs a professionals’ group called the Applied Behaviour Analysis Forum, which holds quarterly meetings in London. Nick is a member of the PBS Academy, which aims to improve the quality of Positive Behaviour Support services.
Nick co-authored a book on behaviour support with Sheila Hollins, creator of the Books Beyond Words series, which is aimed at people who find it easier to understand pictures than words. The book is called Feeling Cross and Sorting It Out.
Dr. Ciara Padden, BCBA-D
Ciara has broad research interests relating to use of evidence-based behavioural approaches to improve quality of life for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She has a particular interest in skills teaching, and supporting adolescents and adults with autism or learning disabilities. She is also passionate about staff and parent training and wellbeing. Ciara currently supervises several PhD and MSc students conducting research on related topics, and has published a number of peer-reviewed journal articles within this area.
Mandy has a long history in the not for profit sector and in public life in executive and non-executive roles. She has served on a variety of charity boards and as a county councillor and non-executive director of a major acute hospital. Mandy is passionate about giving disadvantaged communities a voice and bringing services closer to the people that use and need them. She has core expertise in charity law, charity finance and governance, backed up by an entrepreneurial approach with solid experience in successful strategic planning, fundraising and operational management.