Dickens Heath Community Primary School

Enabling every child to be the best version of themselves

About Us - 'The Willows'

In 2018 The Willows was built, being attached to our main school to ensure children feel part of, connected with and integrated within our whole school.  Our purpose built provision ensures children have access to an ‘ASD friendly’ environment, that mirrors aspects of a mainstream classroom, as well as providing low arousal individual and group work spaces, calm regulation corners and spaces both indoors and outdoors through a sensory room and garden to support children’s individual sensory needs. 

The Willows Tour

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Our Willows Vision


A provision that nurtures and develops children on the autistic spectrum along a personalised journey to become confident, independent, responsible, self-aware and emotionally resilient young people, in order to integrate into a wide range of opportunities alongside their peers in mainstream school and to learn as part of a community. 


Our Philosophy for Learning


Our underpinning philosophy recognises that before we can enable children to enter the world of learning and unlock their true potential, we first need to improve their ability to interact, play and form meaningful, reciprocal relationships with trusted adults and peers, alongside teaching them the skills to communicate effectively, understand the language they use and regulate their emotions.


Once these fundamental basic skills are truly learned, then we can begin to engage and ignite children’s interests in the world around them, supporting and encouraging them to acquire new knowledge and skills.


Our approach

The fundamental need of every child is to feel that they belong, therefore our approach to teaching, and our vision for the learning culture we create, is based upon the key principles of: valuing and recognising children’s individuality and worth, acknowledging that children need a safe space to learn, ensuring that there is consistency in our expectations as adults, as well as providing an appropriate level of challenge, so that children develop and make progress both personally and academically.


In order to guide our thinking and shape our provision for autism, we use and refer to the Autism Education Trust framework. Alongside this framework we use:

  • Visual cues and aids to develop children’s language and communication skills
  • TEACCH to support and develop levels of independence and engagement
  • Lego Therapy and Talk about intervention to develop children's social communication and social learning behaviours
  • Zones of Regulation and an Emotion Coaching to help children identify and regulate emotions,
  • Sensory integration strategies such as Sensory Circuits, to aid sensory and emotional regulation, 
  • Social Stories to develop children’s personal targets for socialisation and positive interaction.
  • Therapeutic intervention through play, music and art sessions, cooking, forest school sessions and use of our school farm to support children's well-being 
  • Language for thinking and Language for behaviours and emotions intervention to consider the impact of our words and actions on others
  • Philosophy for children, to develop our awareness of ourselves and others within groups within the wider community.


To ensure that there is consistency for children throughout the week, we follow a carefully planned daily routine. Some aspects of children’s timetables include: a soft start approach at key transitional points to ensure children are ready to learn; planned time for check in’s, reflection and regulation; community time, independent personal learning time, targeted teaching, class integration opportunities, structured and free social time and frequent opportunities to celebrate successes.