An Evening with Gillian Hutton

On Tuesday 26th February in Redhill, Gillian Hutton, headteacher of Foresters Primary School in Sutton spoke about her school. The school has an 'opportunity base', or autism unit, which currently has 42 children. Gillian spoke for around 40 minutes and then proceeded to take questions from the audience. A review of her talk is included here. Her presentation was also recorded and is now available to listen to in RealAudio format. In order to listen to the talk, you must have RealPlayer installed on your computer. You can follow the instructions on the BBC Radio 4 website on how to download the free version of the player from RealNetworks. The recording is broken down into 5 sections. Each section covers a topic or a question. Just click on the title or topic that interests you to start listening.

Read the review of the evening

On February 26th Gillian Hutton came to talk to our Redhill meeting about including children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs) in mainstream school. Gillian is head of Foresters Primary School in Sutton which has a unit, or 'opportunity base' for 42 children with ASDs which opened in September 1998.

At first the base was in a temporary classroom but the school has now been extended so that it is part of the main school, not separate from it, and the children are regarded as Foresters pupils just like the rest.

Having the base has been of great benefit, not only to the children with ASD but to the whole school. Teachers have learnt to work visually and use less language, and this has benefited all the pupils. The children who do not have special needs have learnt about tolerance and different kinds of people.

The base has a teacher and 3 or 4 special needs assistants (SNAs) for every 10 children. Children are included in mainstream where possible, and this will vary for each child. One pupil may only be included at assembly, but another could have progressed to being full-time in the mainstream classes. An SNA from the base works with the children who are included in the mainstream lessons. The inclusion is not all one way, as sometimes mainstream children have joined in activities with the base pupils, such as social skills work, music therapy or drama.

Gillian told us how proud she is of the school, it's pupils, staff and parents for the way they have made inclusion so successful. Whilst there is still a lot to learn, and the system is not right for every child, overall it has been a very rewarding experience for all.

Listen to RealAudio recording

real audio Introduction; Gillian's background working for Lambeth LEA; Appointment to Foresters School; Background to the creation of the Opportunity Base; . Length 9 minutes 34 seconds.

real audio History of the Opportunity Base continued; Initial Problems; Ofsted Inspection; Support of Parents;. Length 5 minutes 24 seconds.

real audio Inclusion at Foresters; Building the base; Seamless integration; . Length 6 minutes 31 seconds.

real audio Staffing levels; role of the classroom assistants and teachers; planning and adapting teaching methods and activities; . Length: 5 minutes 56 seconds.

real audio Tolerance and changing attitudes; Non-teaching integration. School life; Reverse Integration; Length: 10 minutes 2 seconds.

Review is 2002 Sara Truman. Our thanks to Gillian Hutton for giving permission for the recordings to be made available

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