Doucecroft School

A Collaborative Approach

At Doucecroft School, therapists work integrally with teaching colleagues providing a dynamic, child centred approach.

We place the child at the centre of everything we do, building on individual strengths, and taking time to provide a nurturing environment where a child can flourish.

We realise that children need to be engaged in their learning and strive to respond and provide opportunities. The value of an innovative and irresistible play-based approach is entwined throughout the curriculum.

We understand that a child’s well-being is crucial to learning so we take the time to truly listen and value their thoughts and actions.

The Universal model of provision

  • The Therapy team at Doucecroft School offer provision at the Universal, Targeted and Specialist levels. 
  • All pupils are allocated therapists and access full assessment upon admission.
  • Assessment reports contain clear evidence based recommendations regarding interventions for the pupil. 

Our Therapy Team

Michelle Garrad-Knott BSc. - Therapy Lead and Highly Specialist Occupational Therapist.

Michelle started off her occupational Therapy career in the late 90's working within the adult learning disability team. Since 2009 she has specialised in Paediatric services including the NHS, Charity organisations, Private sector, and schools (including Specialist and mainstream).

Michelle is a proud parent of three children and feels that her personal experiences of bringing up a daughter with special educational needs has added to her overall understanding of difficulties children and parents face on a daily basis.

Michelle has gained her advanced sensory integration practitioner status, trained in SCERTS, therapeutic Listening and ADOS.

Michelle believes that ‘all individuals should be given the opportunity to reach their full potential and with the correct support this is made possible’. 

Josie Blackmore - Specialist Occupational Therapist

Josie has experience of working with children of primary school age before qualifying as an Occupational Therapist. She has a passion to provide children with the tools they need to explore their learning and development within the school environment. 


Josie has a background in therapeutic communications and listening, which she feels are key to developing positive relationships with the children and families she works with. 


Josie believes ‘every child has the right to access a dynamic and supportive educational experience which enhances their personal aspirations and goals’. 

Sandie Martin - Specialist Speech and Language Therapist

Sandie has over twenty years' experience helping people achieve meaningful goals across healthcare, education, and voluntary settings. She is a qualified and experienced trainer, registered Elklan tutor, and a former lecturer of further education. 

Sandie has a passion and strength in making communication accessible using augmentative and alternative communication. She is trained in Makaton, Talking Mats, PODD, SCERTs, and British Sign Language. As a parent of three, Sandie has personal experience of raising autistic children which enhances her empathy and desire to understand unique parental needs.  

Sandie believes “it is important to connect with each young person and the people around them to make a positive and lasting impact”. 

Laura Hill – Specialist Speech and language Therapist

Laura has over twenty years’ experience volunteering and working in nurseries and primary school settings supporting children with special educational needs. She qualified as a Speech and Language Therapist in 2022 and gained some experience working in clinics and a school for children with complex needs and Autism before starting work at Doucecroft.

She is a parent to two children and has a desire to work collaboratively with parents to understand parental needs and  views.

Laura believes that supporting communication needs is everyone’s responsibility and when everyone works together effectively then amazing outcomes can be achieved.

Lauren Foley – Specialist Occupational Therapist

Lauren graduated from the University of Essex with a MSc in Occupational Therapy. She is also trained in therapeutic listening, listening with the whole body through vital links.  Lauren has experience with working in a private paediatric clinic before joining Doucecroft where she worked with families and children from the age of 2-14 to improve activities of daily living and sensory processing difficulties. Lauren has experience working with children who have various additional needs including autism, adhd, cerebral palsy, global developmental delay and genetic conditions. Lauren has a passion to help others become as independent as possible in the aspects of their life that is meaningful to them.

Cara McCarthy – Specialist Occupational Therapist

Cara’s interest in occupational therapy began when she lived United States after volunteering at a paediatric summer camp run by occupational therapists.  Cara developed a passion for occupational therapy after seeing children thrive and reach their full potential when the therapists worked from a child-centred approach. 

Since moving to the UK Cara qualified as an occupational therapist and has worked for a NHS community paediatric team and a community interest company specialising in tackling health inequalities and increasing opportunities for participation in leisure, sport and physical activity for people with physical disabilities, mental health issues and learning disabilities.

Cara is a proud Mum of twin boys and has a passion for yoga and mindfulness.

Cara is excited to be a part of the Doucecroft therapy team and believes in helping our students participate in meaningful and valued activities of daily life to support them to develop the “skills for the job of living”. 

Our Incredible Therapy Assistants

Much of the therapeutic work across the school is done by our skilled therapy assistants Alicia Napthine, Anna Kerr, Phil Preston and Ellen Franklin.

It is their role to embed and support teaching teams in embedding therapeutic approaches in the classrooms and wider contexts. 

They are highly skilled practitioners and offer a range of approaches such as Gym trails, TACPAC, Attention Autism and Lego therapy.  

The school utilises a range of therapeutic approaches in order to meet a child’s individual needs:

  • Sensory Integration
  • Psychological formulation
  • Anxiety management techniques
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Play based therapy
  • Integrative therapy
  • Attention Autism
  • Intensive Interaction
  • PECs
  • High tech AAC – Proloquo2Go
  • Makaton
  • Objects of reference
  • Phonological interventions
  • TalkAbout social skills groups
  • Lego Therapy
  • Gym trails
  • Comic strip conversations
  • Social stories
  • Music therapy; matching, mirroring and grounding. 
  • Therapeutic song writing
  • Sensory motor approaches
  • Interoceptive curriculum
  • Therapeutic listening
  • Zones of regulation
  • Emotional regulation therapies
  • Sensory diets

A joined up approach to therapy and learning.

Therapists will draw on each other’s skills to support children, as demonstrated by Rachel OT, and Amy Music therapist

Embedding Social Communication Emotional Regulation and Transactional Supports (SCERTS) into everything we do. 

Doucecroft school uses SCERTS to help provide the best possible provision for pupils who are taught in the autism-specific classrooms.  

SCERTS is a framework which enables a range of interventions to be used in a holistic approach to autism (e.g. TEACCH, PECS, Intensive Interaction, Sensory Diets etc).  

As children begin to move successfully through the SCERTS programme, they will be able to more fully access other curriculum areas. 

The SCERTS programme is used in co-operation with the whole wrap-around school team, as well as  parents and outside agencies where required.  

Doucecroft school considers SCERTS an important part of the curriculum and it will therefore form an important part of the annual review process and feed into Individual Student Plans (ISPs) for our pupils.  

For more information about the SCERTS model:

The SCERTS model   

The acronym “SCERTS” refers to the focus on:

“SC” - Social Communication – the development of spontaneous, functional communication, emotional expression and secure and trusting relationships with children and adults.

“ER” - Emotional Regulation – the development of the ability to maintain a well-regulated emotional state to cope with everyday stress, and to be most available for learning and interacting.

“TS” – Transactional Support – the development and implementation of supports to help partners respond to the person’s needs and interests, modify the environment, and provide tools to enhance learning. 

Individual Student Plans are reviewed and developed on a termly basis to provide educational and emotional support to families, and to foster teamwork among professionals.