School Information

School Mission Statement, Aims & Ethos
At Hillside Specialist School we have built an eclectic approach to pupils learning, taking into account current theories and methods of teaching. All of our pupils display significant difficulties within the ‘Triad of Impairment’ that is at the heart of the autism. A child’s difficulties in language and communication, social relationships, and rigid patterns of behaviour/thought/interests form major barriers to learning. Our role is to help our pupils to come to terms with, and overcome, these difficulties. This school is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and expects all staff and volunteers to share this commitment.

Our Mission Statement – For all pupils to learn to their full potential in a fun and safe environment

  • Remove/reduce a child’s barriers to learning
  • Assist children to develop effective systems of communication and social interaction
  • Develop a child’s ability to adapt to, and accommodate change
  • Encourage children to positively manage their own behaviour and difficulties
  • Provide a broad and balanced curriculum that meets each child’s needs, including access to the National Curriculum
  • Provide an environment that fosters care and control of pupils to enhance learning opportunities
  • Provide inclusive and transfer opportunities as part of the continuum of education provision
  • Work in partnership with parents/carers and other professionals

Admissions Information
At Hillside Specialist School we are very pleased to receive guests for both informal visits and professional training opportunities. Visits with a view to requesting a place should be directed through your Area Assessment Services Office or named officer (details of these can be found under 'Useful links' in the Community page of this website). Placement at the school is agreed between the LEA Officer, the school Educational Psychologist and the Integrated Assessment Panel.

It is important to note:
  • ‘without prejudice visits’ - visit by the parents and child to the school, with no expectation of admission on either side at this stage,

If you are interested in visiting Hillside Specialist School, please contact the school to arrange your visit and ask for more details.

Hillside Specialist School is a limited specialist resource for all of Lancashire and in order to justify the distances many pupils travel to attend the school it is necessary to consider if there is alternative provision to meet all the child’s needs within their own communities prior to admission. This is in keeping with Government policy for all pupils to be included wherever possible within mainstream settings or local specialist provision. This is also a major focus of the LEA’s inclusion policy and vision for the future. Places at the school are limited to seventy-two and there are often a number of pupils referred to the school who are awaiting a place to become available. Requests for placement at Hillside Specialist School comes from the Integrated Assessment Panel. A member of staff from school will visit the child in their current placement or at home as part of the pre-admission assessment by the school.

The school does not operate a ‘waiting list’ system, however places are offered according to the following criteria:
  • Availability/appropriateness of placement within the pupil’s local community
  • Degree of autism/need based on school assessment prior to Integrated Assessment Panel meeting
  • Examination of all the relevant documentation demonstrating the school can meet all the child’s needs
  • Discussion at the Integrated Assessment Panel
  • Availability of place according to where the vacancy has arisen within the existing school group structure.
  • The needs of the child will not detract from those of pupils already attending the school

Full details of the admissions criteria and procedures can be found in the school’s admissions policy that is available on request.
The school has a uniform. We realise that a number of our pupils have specific preferences for certain types of clothing or individual garments, however should your child have no objections to wearing school uniform, then the following items apply:
  • Grey skirt/trousers
  • Sky blue blouse, shirt or polo shirt
  • Gingham Summer dresses (Pale Blue)
  • Dark Blue school sweatshirt with logo (available from )
  • Grey/black or white socks with dark shoes

The following items should be worn for Physical Education:
  • Emerald Green Polo Shirt (available from )
  • White Shorts
  • Black plimsolls/trainers
  • Swimming Costume/Trunks
  • Towel

Our school uniform is available from Whittakers Schoolwear. Orders must be made via their website –

Once on the website click on the shop tab – Blackburn is the location – select Hillside Specialist School & College. ( Book bags, PE Bags, Caps and Coats are also available)

Some families may be eligible for a school clothing grant. Applications should be directed to your Area Education Office.

Please could you ensure that all of your child’s clothing is clearly marked with their name.

Pupils should not wear jewellery to school unless it is for strict religious or medical purposes. Jewellery can present safety issues for pupils particularly during PE activities.
Teaching Methods
Hillside Specialist School uses a range of traditional and alternative teaching techniques in order to maximise the learning opportunities for the pupils who attend. All pupils have highly individualised learning programmes to assist them to overcome their particular barriers to learning, such as communication or sensory difficulties. The school promotes the use of other specialist teaching techniques and programmes such as Intensive Interaction, Picture Exchange Communication Systems (PECS), Makaton, and electronic resources to aid augmented communication. The programmes of the speech and language therapists are fully integrated into the child’s teaching and learning opportunities. We also offer additional programmes and therapies, such as Sensory Integration and Dance therapy.

Many of the classrooms are carefully organised in order to address a central need of pupils with autism to understand and order the events of their day. Employing techniques such as TEACCH, the classroom can be arranged into discrete areas with a defined purpose assisting the pupil to develop appropriate responses/actions to those areas that aids comprehension and reduces anxiety. Most classrooms provide a low-arousal learning environment to enable pupils to modulate their sensory needs and focus on specific tasks. There may be group tables, individual workstations and areas designed to support pupils proprioceptive and vestibular needs.

Our overall aim is to provide a highly structured teaching environment in which the pupil feels safe and in which they have a degree of control and predictability: An environment that addresses the child’s central need to learn to manage their autism so that they may develop and achieve.
Assessment and Accreditation
There is a comprehensive system of assessment, recording and reporting in the school that informs the planning process so that pupils’ progress can be effectively followed. As pupils enter school there is an initial assessment completed to assist in setting targets for the pupils’ Individual Education Plan. In their reception year, pupils complete a foundation profile, the results of which are conveyed to parents. All pupils are assessed using Bsquared, an online assessment tool that measures pupil progress on term-by-term basis and effectively measures the extent to which pupils have improved. The results of these assessments are used to compile whole-school targets for improvement.

Pupils have the opportunity to enter the SATs assessments, if appropriate. Often these assessments tell us very little of what our children can do, but they are useful for a small number of our pupils. There is also the opportunity for our Key Stage 4 students to complete modules of work and receive accreditation for these through an examination body. Decisions regarding other examinations are based upon a child’s individual needs or capabilities.

In Key Stages 1-3 staff collect examples of pupils work in their Record of Achievement, celebrating their successes in the school in each subject area of the National Curriculum. In the Early Years Foundation Stage class the pupils’ achievements are celebrated in their Learning Journeys, focusing on the seven strands of the EYFS curriculum. In Key Stage 4 and 5 there are a broad selection of qualifications that can be chosen to suit the needs of the individual, developing a bespoke timetable focus. Most of the coursework relates to developing skills for the future, vocational understanding or experience of work.

There are assemblies, broadly focused on Fundamental British Values and events that happen throughout the academic year. Each week pupils receive certificates that acknowledge their academic and personal achievements. On leaving the school students receive their Progress Profile as part of a presentation package.
School Day session times
Pupils arrive at 9.10 am for registration at 9.20 am

The main school is timetabled as follows:
  • 9.30 am - 12.00 pm Taught Time
  • 12.00 pm - 12.30 pm Lunch
  • 12.30 pm - 1.00 pm Break/Play
  • 1.00 pm - 3.10 pm Taught Time
    There is a 15 minute break during the morning and the afternoon

The College is timetabled as follows:
  • 9.30 am - 12.30 pm Taught Time
  • 12.30 pm – 1.00 pm Lunch
  • 1.00 pm - 1.30 pm Break
  • 1.30 pm - 3.10 pm Taught Time
    There is a 15 minute break during the morning

School and College end at 3.10 pm
Pupil Premium
Pupil Premium 2017/2018
In the 2017/2018 financial year, Hillside Specialist School and College received £27,390 in pupil premium funding and this was spent in the following areas:-
  • A wide range of sensory equipment to support pupils sensory diets to help pupils to self-regulate and reduce barriers to learning.
  • Engagement in the Saturday Club and Holiday Club so that pupils can experience broader life activities.
  • Accessing offsite visits such as museums, class trips and shopping for ingredients for food technology lessons provide a functional context and apply skills learned within School.
  • The introduction of a new multi sensory reading, writing and spelling system is assisting some of our pupils in learning in a fun way.
  • Purchase of laptops to allow pupils to work independently and develop their own study skills at their own pace.
  • Sensory Profiles provided by Shine Therapy. The pupils individual sensory diets have been implemented within class and at home so that pupils feel regulated and are able to access learning activities.

Pupil Premium - End of Key Stage assessment data
During each key stage the pupils assessment data is tracked to see if they are on course to meet their end of key stage target. These targets are based on the North West Special schools Assessment Group (NWSAG). If a pupil is not on track to meet these targets then additional intervention is put in place, such as sensory or communication support or resources, or specific resources to help them in their academic skills. At the end of the 2016-17 academic year we had 8 pupils receiving Pupil Premium. Most made the expected progress from their starting point in all the core subjects, and where additional support was put in place this was tracked with progress being shown. All pupils receiving Pupil Premium made progress from their start of key stage baselines. In some areas pupils made exceptional progress, achieving 1 or 2 steps above the expected progress made for pupils in the key stage. This includes:
  • In Key Stage 2, 66% of eligible pupils made exceptional progress in Reading and Number. 33% of pupils made exceptional progress in Geometry and Measures.
  • In Key Stage 3, 100% of eligible pupils made exceptional progress in Speaking, Reading, and all four strands of Science. 50% made exceptional progress in Writing and Number.
  • In Key Stage 4, 33% of pupils made exceptional progress in Number.

Pupil Premium 2016/2017
In the 2016/2017 financial year the Pupil Premium allocation was £27,390. The pupil premium funding provided individualised resources to close the gap between pupil premium and non-pupil premium students. Resources included communication aids (Proloquo2Go), laptops, therapy balls, cycling machines, weighted equipment, trampettes, tactile, oral-motor and visual sensory resources. For some pupils equipment was purchased to address their sensory needs to remove barriers to learning. Sensory equipment helps the children to modulate their Sensory Processing difficulties and enable them to access the School day.

Pupil Premium 2015/2016
Pupil premium is in additional to the main School funding we receive and is an effective way to address the current underlying inequalities between children eligible for free school meals and their peers by ensuring that funding to tackle disadvantage reaches the pupils who need it most. It is allocated to schools to work with pupils who have been registered for free school meals at any point in the last six years (known as Ever 6 FSM). School also receive funding for children who have been looked after continuously for more than six months and children of service personnel. During the 2015/2016 financial year Hillside Specialist School received £26,067. The School have spent the funding in the following areas:-
  • Offering pupils additional communication interventions and classroom support to develop their communication skills. Pupils have made progress in a number of different areas including social skills, turn taking, Intensive Interaction, PECS use, consolidating their skills and progressing onto the next stages and the use of the Colourful Semantics programme, which supports children with their vocabulary, sentence structure and grammar.
  • Enhancement of maths and literacy skills through development of the outdoor area. The purchase of phonics sound boards and number rubbing boards has helped engage pupils further into different activities both indoors and outdoors and access a wider continuous provision to extend interest and build knowledge. Pupils have been more responsive when completing work on a 1:1 basis.
  • The purchase of highly motivating equipment (such as a squeaky shape sorted and an inset board making animal sounds) has enabled one pupil to focus on workbox sessions to assist in getting an instant reward and a feeling of success.
  • Purchase of laptops has allowed pupils to work independently to develop their own study skills at their own pace of learning. The laptops have also broken down barriers and lessened anxieties around computers and ICT, as a consequence, pupils have been able to develop ICT skills, has taken away frustrations, anxiety and stress and pupils are now using their word processing skills to write freely, willingly and independently.

Primary Sports Funding
Primary Sports Funding 2017/2018
In the 2017/2018 financial year the School received £12,990. The funding has been used to deliver a range of opportunities across the primary school key stages. A range of specialist providers have been accessed, these included the following:
Dance Therapy:
This enabled the pupils and staff to learn about the movement of the body and gave the staff an insight in to what specific movements may allow sensory input for the pupils within a Physical Education Dance and Gymnastics curriculum.
Sports Coaches:
Sports coaches delivered sessions alongside the teaching staff to support and upskill the staff in the delivery of a range of generic sports that support BSquared and PLP targets.
Outdoor Education Climbing at Hothersall Lodge:
Pupils accessed opportunities to participate in a range of climbing and bouldering activities that supported the targets set for assessment. The staff were encouraged to learn and support the pupils in the acquisition of new sills in a challenging environment. The feedback from staff and pupils was positive and in the feedback staff have identified that they have an increased confidence to take pupils to new venues and access sports that they may not otherwise have an opportunity to engage in.
Pupils from the primary classes have accessed sessions at the Preston City Trampoline club, the sessions targeted rebound therapy to allow staff to see how the sport can engage pupils across ability levels and also to access the qualification and targets set by British Gymnastics and B squared. The feedback from staff and pupils was extremely positive and staff have highlighted an interest to develop skills further in the future through training courses and more access for pupils to try the sport at various levels.
Sports kit:
Funding has also been used to update and renew old equipment in line with the suggestions given by the sports coaches. These where introduced to support staff as it is the equipment they specifically used in the coached sessions. This has supported the continuation of improved sessions for the pupils in primary classes.

PE and Sports Grant 2016/2017
The Government is providing ring-fenced funding toward developing sport to all Schools of £150,000,000. The Grant can only be spent on provision of PE and sport in Primary Schools. Hillside Specialist School and College has received £8,189 in funding in the 2016/2017 financial year. During the last twelve months the PE and Sports Grant has been used to enrich the Physical education opportunities for the pupils at Hillside. The primary classes have had opportunity to access a Dance therapy course and the pupils engaged in all the activities and enjoyed the sessions. The staff have benefited form the opportunity to gain experience and develop further confidence in delivering Dance based sessions throughout the curriculum as a direct link to this Dance therapy.

The pupils and staff have also had an opportunity to learn form a professional sports coach in a range of sporting activities including, Invasion games such as Basketball and in Gymnastic based activities. The pupils have enjoyed the very physical aspects of the lessons and the staff have been able to further their knowledge of sports and the way an activity can be delivered and differentiated to meet the needs of the pupils in the class they teach. The pupils generally struggle with Physical Education but the range and professionalism has allowed them to become motivated and engaged in more sessions.

PE and Sports Grant 2015/2016
The Government is providing ring-fenced funding toward developing sport to all Schools of £150,000,000. The Grant can only be spent on provision of PE and sport in Primary Schools. Hillside Specialist School and College has received £8,171 in funding in the 2015/2016 financial year. This year the money has been invested in the following areas:-
  • Pupils have taken part in a series of street dance lessons led by a qualified dance coach, during the sessions pupils have been taught different street dance techniques and practiced a dance routine which they performed to parents. This has provided the class teacher with the necessary skills to plan future lessons in this area.
  • Multi-skills games sessions led by a qualified coach have been ongoing with pupils learning different skills and learning to play together in a group. Pupils have practiced skills such as throwing and catching, rolling/dribbling a ball and rolling/kicking a ball towards a target.
  • Weekly dance therapy sessions have been provided for pupils with severe learning difficulties as well as autism. This has increased their communication and given them positive experiences of being in close proximity with others. It has also been helpful for all staff to develop their skills and relationships with pupils which has an impact throughout the School week. The sessions have also allowed staff to take away ideas and techniques to encourage pupils to be more social within their class groups and has provided new opportunities which can be used within class time and PE sessions.

As a School we are aware that exercise is important for the health and wellbeing of all our pupils. All our pupils take part in weekly PE lessons during curriculum time. We feel that the PE Grant has enabled us to broaden the sporting opportunities available to pupils, has developed staff skills through working alongside visiting coaches and therapists and instilled in pupils a love of sport and physical activity.

Provision Mapping Pyramid

Our latest Ofsted Report - Feb 2018