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Prior's Court School

Hermitage, Thatcham, RG18 9NU, West Berkshire

01635 247202/245914



Prior's Court School
School type Independent Special School
Founded 1999
Special Needs ASD, AUT, CLD, EPI, MLD, SCLD
Director of Education and Learning Sue Piper
Date Appointed September 2011
Co-ed Age Range 5-19
Number of pupils 65
Number of boys 51
Number of girls 14
Number of boarders 60
Number of sixth formers 23
Fees On application

Prior's Court School is an independent special school for students with autism aged from 5 to 19 years. The School offers day, weekly and termly places with 38, 44 and 52 week options. Students are on the autistic spectrum have moderate to severe learning difficulties and complex needs. They may have additional associated diagnoses. Some students exhibit challenging behaviours. All are working within P scales to lower national curriculum levels.

The School was opened in 1999. It is managed by Prior's Court Foundation, a registered, non-profit making charity which also runs a young adult provision and specialist autism training centre on the same site.

As an autism-specific school, Prior's Court is able to focus on meeting the special needs of its students in the most effective and consistent way to support their learning:

  • A meaningful and functional curriculum with individualised learning programmes used throughout the waking day is built around students' interests and skills.
  • The environment is adapted to meet students' needs – it is highly structured, calm, low-arousal, safe and secure with space and physical exercise a key feature providing opportunities to learn, exercise, socialise and relax onsite. Set in over 50 acres, facilities include a stable yard and paddocks for animal husbandry, a walled garden with greenhouse and polytunnel for horticulture, sensory swimming pool, trampolines, trim trail, zip wire, swings, activity track and outdoor gym.
  • The school's strong focus on training means that staff are experienced in using a range of methodologies and strategies to support each individual's needs and development in all settings throughout the waking day.
  • A large onsite multi-disciplinary team including Occupational therapy, Speech & Language therapy, Clinical Psychologists and Nurses as well as dedicated horticulture, animal husbandry, swimming, activities and ICT instructors provide support throughout the school day and in residential settings as well as out in the community where appropriate. All staff (education, residential, night, multi-disciplinary and therapeutic team) are trained from induction onwards ensuring the highest levels of knowledge and expertise. These dedicated staff work closely with families and professionals to create a co-ordinated and consistent programme of education and care whose success is recognised worldwide.

By combining autism expertise and best practice with a person-centred approach, the school aims to achieve the highest level of progress for each individual enabling them to self-manage behaviour, communicate, manage transitions, develop independent living and social skills, make choices and advocate and progress to building vocational skills and undertaking work-placement activities. Skills once taught and practiced onsite can then be generalised and undertaken successfully offsite. Frequent access to the nearby villages, towns and community facilities enable students to work towards inclusion as far as possible.

"I am absolutely delighted with the progress being achieved. Teaching and house staff are superb, broadening our child's skills and experience. Improvement in speech and language has been very impressive, as has the ability to self-manage behaviour."

Parent at Prior's Court School