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Learn about our School Principal, Gary Simm

The whole ethos of the Anderson School is around giving students the skills to be successful in securing and maintaining employment or higher education. Only 16% of autistic adults are in employment. We believe that much more can be done to improve outcomes and life chances for autistic people.

Teaching will not only focus on delivery the National Curriculum but will actively seek to base learning around real life contexts. The school will also support students to identify careers that they aspire to.  Careers preparation will be delivered through the life skills programme and the school will build partnerships with local companies to provide work placements, support and advice to students.

The school has been designed to be autism-friendly, each teaching room has a smaller room attached to it that can be used for students to withdraw into to take sensory breaks or simply to work in a very quiet room. Every classroom has high level acoustic material around the top portion of the room to reduce the noise in the learning environment. Lighting has been specifically chosen for the rooms to provide a flicker free light source.  Each classroom has an external space outside it to provide a safe space if students need to withdraw from the room for a short period.

The school will have a range of sensory environments to cater for the individual sensory needs of students. The school in conjunction with its student council will be constantly developing the provision of sensory environments and equipment to make sure that the needs of all students can be met somewhere within the school.

As a teacher I came into the world of education to make a difference for students and young people, my entire career has very much been focused on maximising opportunities for students. The single biggest thing I have learned is actually the work we do every day with students has a much wider impact on family life then I ever imagined. Once students feel safe, supported and are making good progress in school, suddenly family life at home can also be transformed.

I have been fortunate enough to work in two mainstream secondary schools in Kent which had large autistic units. This is where my interest in working with autistic students began.

My biggest motivation is to ensure that all of the young people make progress and achieve their personal goals. From my experience at Thames Valley School what is so brilliant about working with our students is that you can see progress in every lesson.

Gary Simm, Principal