Browne-Penn School, Freetown, Sierra Leone
Queensmill have recently developed a link with the newly established Browne-Penn Special School in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Despite autism being a globally recognised condition understanding, inclusion and infrastructure for autistic people remains poor in many contexts. This is no more evident than in Sierra Leone where for many autism is not a familiar word. Despite a growing population there is no national agenda for autism and Browne-Penn is the only autism-specific provision in the country, serving 25 young people. Staff from Queensmill have travelled to Sierra Leone on two occasions to support community awareness raising and the training of teachers at Browne-Penn school. It is hoped that these visits will continue and soon will involve the further engagement of government officials and support in creating autism specific agenda and policy in Sierra Leone. Alongside a continued commitment to share our knowledge and passion for autism with those who view autism as positively as we do.
Queensmill School has a number of long-standing and beneficial partnerships with the following institutions:
University College London & Institute Of Education
The school maintains a successful relationship with the IOE for two purposes: development of teachers and research. The schools direct programme, facilitated in collaboration with the IOE enables trainee teachers to hone and develop their skills, with many graduates being appointed to teaching roles at Queensmill. The IOE delivers a postgraduate autism module and a number of Queensmill staff undertake this invaluable programme each year.
Queensmill is proud too of its commitment and participation in Research and the Centre for Research into Autism Education (CRAE) has been a key partner.
More information about our link with CRAE the can be found via our Research & Development page.
E-mentors Project with UCL/IOE
Two years ago, our school begun a long standing partnership with UCL/IOE to review and reflect on effective use of technology to promote learning, to enhance CPD strategies and to keep abreast with new developments in the area of research and practice in SEN and Autism through the E-mentors Project:
Utilising a particular team-based work approach, the project aims to identify the most beneficial areas of focus and the most appropriate and effective technology innovations.
Teachers develop new approaches to use technology in their classrooms with the help of researchers and other specialists and develop their skills as reflective practitioners through classroom innovation. Those who complete a year's project then act as mentors to other teachers and TAs to support them doing the same in their classrooms. Teachers support each other through continuous feedback on their reflections and e-mentor team meetings.
This approach has been developed as part of a series of collaborative school-university partnerships where Masters in Special Education students supervised, by Dr. Maria Kambouri, work alongside teachers to support and record their work. Case studies are then disseminated through Educational channels: school presentations, professional journals, international conferences and seminars at the BETT show.
St. Mary’s University
Queensmill works closely with St Mary’s to develop teachers some through the Schools Direct Programme, others through a fast-track ‘assessment only’ route, where this is appropriate. Students from St Mary’s attend Queensmill to gain experience, either in classes through a block of teaching practice or to attend autism-specific training.
University of Roehampton
Our relationship with University of Roehampton has provided us with the opportunity to provide autism specific training for PGCE students over the past few years, providing them with an insight and practical strategies for supporting the development of autistic learners in mainstream settings. Previously Queensmill supported a Post-Graduate Certificate in Autism programme at University of Roehampton and it is hoped that this may be re-kindled in the near future to provide extended opportunities for Queensmill staff to develop their knowledge and understanding of autism and for other professionals to access the knowledge and experience Queensmill may have to offer.
Queensmill hosts students from Georgia College every year to learn more about autism and explore London. Groups attend in May and December, the majority of whom are special needs undergraduates intending to pursue careers in education. We have been fortunate that the young ladies who join us are always immensely positive and instinctively understand our approach to working with our children. They are always enormously helpful and positive and many have expressed interest in potential future roles at Queensmill.
Erasmus Exchange Programme
In a similar manner to the Georgia College arrangement, students from France visit Queensmill to learn more about autism. Individual students spend up to three weeks across the full extent of our provisions, deepening their knowledge and practice. We are grateful for the additional help the students provide and we are eager to share our practice to broaden awareness of autism, and our particular approach, in mainland Europe.