Statement of Principles and Practice

This document is a statement of Doucecroft School Principles and Practice’ to be known as The Statement of Purpose. It is available to parents and staff. The statement is made known to children through an appropriate method of communication. The statement describes the overall purpose of residential services offered by Doucecroft School. It describes any theoretical or therapeutic model underpinning the practices of the school.  It also explains the ethos and philosophy of the school and provides an outline of provision for children with Autism Spectrum Condition.  

A Student's Perspective:

What I have achieved at Doucecroft. 

I started here when I was 9, I did find it difficult and had challenges but I got through it and now really enjoy my time here.

What I enjoy In Sycamore. I enjoy seeing everybody and going out on trips. The trips I like going out on are shopping, swimming, parks, bowling, leisure world and the cinema. My favorite trip I go out on is the Stanway youth club. When I’m there I like socialise with others by playing games, dancing at the disco and hanging out. I like to help out around the house and enjoy helping with the cooking.  I laugh a lot at school and enjoy Sycamore and it’s always fun.

I have just started my driving lesson’s with Benson’s motor company. I really like these lessons and I have one lesson every Wednesday for 1 and a half hours. I have driven all around Colchester and I like to read my theory books at night which staff help me with.

I have learnt a lot over the past 8 year’s thank you Doucecroft For everything.

Our Aim:

Doucecroft School aims are to provide a high quality of care for children and young people on the autistic spectrum. In accordance with the ethos and philosophy of the school our emphasis is to focus on learning and developing skills for life which  promote independence and give to students the best possible life chances as well as to maximize opportunities for  enhancing self-confidence. An important feature of the residential provision is to undertake activities relating to social skills within the community. 

We aim to provide a specialist residential environment through:

  • the expertise of highly trained staff who are passionate about taking a holistic approach to provide care and support
  • providing learning in a nurturing and stimulating environments.
  • the provision of a careful, considered and well thought out education plans to all our children and young people.

The focus is further progressed through our residential provision in which aspects of the following are made available to our children and young people

  • Live, play and learn within a positive homely caring environment
  • Provide and encourage a healthy life style
  • Given the opportunities to experience a wide variety of familiar and new experiences, to achieve and develop self-esteem
  • Consistency of learning between residential and school.
  • Being respectful of others cultures, genders and religions
  • High staff ration, and well trained and knowledgeable staff and support
  • Understanding the individualized needs of the children and systems and strategies that support the individual children’s understanding.
  • For children to be understood and valued as individuals and to be confident in expressing themselves.
  • To recognise that everyone is different and to feel accepted and accepting of others.
  • Celebrate and recognised the children’s achievements.

 Our Ethos

We welcome individuality and provide a safe and positive learning environment to enable our children to thrive and meet their full potential preparing them for their future.

Jessica has and is benefiting so much from Doucecroft School and even more so as a residential student. It’s so important for Jess to continue learning important life skills which she does when she is boarding, for example her table manners and waiting skills are so much better. We can actually go out or enjoy a family meal be it at the local Chinese which she loves or at home she will sit at the table and be part of the family and wait rather than taking her meal up to her bedroom or quickly eating her meal and rushing to get down from the table.  Also trips to the Supermarket, I use to dread as it was more than a workout. She will now quite happily hold the basket or trolley and go get the items of food and put them in the basket/trolley and yes she always adds something that’s not on my list but that’s Jess.  Other things Jess has been able to access clubs, interacting with peers whilst boarding which at home I’ve not been able to do with 3 children all with different needs.  The consistency between school and the boarding is second to non, Jessica needs routine and a specific environment to be able to learn without being overloaded with sensory stimuli!!.  She is much calmer and less challenging when she does come home for the weekend which enables us as a family to enjoy the time together. 



Specialist Residential Provision

Residential House Lounge Area Bedroom
Kitchen Park Area

The residential services are managed by the Care Manager and a Deputy Care Manager. Our residential provision is on the outskirts of Colchester, with good links to public transport to get into the main town.

The residential houses are set on a secure site. We benefit from having;

  • outside play areas,
  • a play park,
  • an all- weather sports pitch,
  • specialised trampoline
  • heated indoor swimming pool,
  • sensory integration suite
  • a gymnasium.

We keep chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs, giving the children and young people the opportunity to be involved in caring for the animals alongside the animal therapist.  

A program of evening and weekend activities are offered to residential children and young people. We access the community for fun activities as well as life skill, such as shopping. Staff are committed to forge and sustain relationships with the children and young people based on equality.

We have two residential houses each with eight bedrooms.  We encourage interaction with peers and staff in communal areas, such as the lounge and the kitchen, especially during meal times. Residential accommodation is comfortable and homely with individual bedrooms for all children and young people. Bathrooms and toileting areas have recently been refurbished 

Respite Provision 

We are able to provide respite/flexible boarding for students who attend Doucecroft School. This gives children and young people the chance to interact and socialise with a peer group in a familiar environment, as well as participate in a wide variety of activities both on/off site.

Nathaniel has benefitted from attending respite as it has helped to develop his social skills as well as improving his life skills. He enjoys trips out and has built great relationships with different staff. Staff know him very well, which helps to keep him calm & happy as they know which activities he enjoys & can help him choose something different when he has had enough. Nathaniel has also got used to living with his peers (he is an only child), which will help prepare him for the future. As a family it gives us a much needed break to enable us to cope. 



Dovetailed into the residential care activities is the aim to promote independence and develop personal competence in relation to life skills. It is recognised that learning takes place throughout the extended curriculum and residential staff work closely with education staff to ensure learning targets are set and worked on. This also links into the child’s and young person’s review process.

At Doucecroft we have the advantage of being able to offer children and young people the opportunity to access care therapy and education on one site. An important part of a child and young person’s development is having many opportunities to enjoy and achieve to their full potential. Each child and young person is encouraged to participate in ways that suit them and their needs. Staff will support the children and young people to achieve at their own pace and ensure that any activities or social situation offers an opportunity to develop creative, physical and social skills.

We give residential children and young people a warm friendly and supportive environment. The residential team build up positive relationships with the children and young people. Those who reside with us will benefit from, the consistent strategies and approaches that link the residential, school environment and the therapy teams as mentioned in our 24 hour curriculum policy.

All children and young people are treated with respect, dignity.  Their cultural identity is recognised. The children and young people are encouraged to challenge themselves to meet their full potential as well as their hopes and ambitions. We encourage personal choice and independence. The children and young people are given the opportunity to experience and develop their own personal interests as well as opportunities to continually develop social interaction and communication skills, by accessing a variety of community based activities.

Life skills/independence targets are set for the child/young person when they become a residential student. Staff will do ongoing assessments of progress and set individual targets. These targets of progress and development are recorded and evidence is collated, to ensure we continue to work towards learning and developing new skills.  Individual achievements are recognised and celebrated, however big or small.   

There is a high standard of collaboration between residential, educational and therapy staff to provide the best possible care and education for the individual child.  

Children’s Individuality and development:

All our children are individuals with individual needs. They have their own unique relationships, experiences and strengths. Children are supported through school and residential provision for transition into adulthood.

Children are encouraged to be aware of their rights and responsibilities taking account of their age and level of understanding. Strategies are individualised and put into place to help students exercise their rights. Children are guided in how to make a complaint and the school seeks to empower them to do so.

Staff aim wherever possible to involve children in decisions affecting them and in the running of their houses.

Staff endeavor to make children feel safe and secure during their time in the residential houses. There are high quality relationships between children and staff based on mutual respect a high standard of care, operational polices, risk assessments and child protection procedures.

Children and young people’s safety, dignity and security are respected as part of the ethos of the residential provision. It is recognised that consideration due to specific cultures and beliefs is supported and this is identified in the wishes of the individual. 
We have Designated Safeguarding Leads who are trained in and responsible for managing safeguarding concerns. These are detailed in the safeguarding policy

Children’s Health:

Children are encouraged to live a healthy lifestyle and are supported in this by physical exercise, a healthy diet and monitoring health needs. We support children and parents at GP’s, hospital and consultants appointments if required. We are registered with a local dentist at Colchester Primary Care Centre.  We arrange children’s immunisations with the local nurses, where they will arrange to come into school for these to take place.  The children remain registered with their family GP, However we are registered with a local surgery for emergency appointments if required, We are able if necessary to access the local walk – in centre.

We have a health and wellbeing coordinator who works closely with parents and medical professionals. We produce individual schedules to reinforce the children’s understanding of medical procedures to ensure the appointments go as smoothly as possible. 

Partnerships with Parents:

A family centered approach is encouraged by working closely with parents, carers and outside agencies. This is paramount in the provision on-going care and to ensure our working partnership, is maintained to achieve the best possible outcomes for individual children and their family.  It enables us to involve the parents in their child’s progress and achievements and assist in formulating further areas for development. Parents are kept updated and informed of their child’s stay through weekly reports, annual reviews, looked after child review, children in need reviews. Children are encouraged to keep contact with their parents by telephones.

All parents are welcome to spend time with their child/children in residential setting. Parents, siblings and family members are invited to social activities throughout the year: for example - afternoon tea, Christmas gatherings 

We are very glad that we made the decision for our son to have a residential place at school. The staff in the boarding house are very knowledgeable and caring and also work closely with the school staff and therapy team to make sure he gets the best support. Boarding has helped him to develop better life skills and he is becoming much more independent.  It has also enabled him to have a more active and interesting life. Rather than simply watching TV after school, he is going out shopping, swimming and to youth club and also has access to lots of activities on site. Boarding has had a positive impact on our family life. We have been able to spend more time with our daughter and feel our life is much more balanced. Crucially, we know that he is happy, safe and well cared for and the staff give us plenty of feedback on how he is getting on both in school and in the boarding house.  




Arrangements for safeguarding including child protection and bullying.

 Doucecroft follows the guidance given by The Essex Safeguarding Board to ensure the safety of the students in our care. To support this we: 

  • have detailed safegarding, child protection, bullying, positive behaviour policies
  • ensure that all staff members receive training in safeguarding procedures, including safeguarding children with disabilities.
  • ensure all staff have read and are conversant with part 1 of Keeping Children Safe in Education
  • have a Care Manager and Deputy Care Manager, who are trained Designated Safeguarding Leads.

The most effective ways used in the school to counter bullying are:

  • teaching the children to say ‘ no’
  • working with staff on the recognition of bullying behaviour in children/young people with autism, where the intention of such behaviour might be unclear.
  • constant vigilance by staff for signs of bullying

The Learning Environment

Doucecroft School incorporates the National Curriculum and applies it as appropriate. Students are able to access programmes which may lead to a national recognised qualification. It is recognised that the National Curriculum is only part of the curriculum required by students with ASC, We offer an inclusive curriculum that is broad, balanced  relevant and devised  to meet the needs of each individual student.

Learning will be structured with a clear sequencing of activities and time tables, where the content is conveyed by photographs, objects of reference, symbols and written representation as appropriate.

All aspects of a student’s day are seen as learning opportunities with a wide range of additional areas being taught and developed including personal, social behaviour and independence skills. Joint planning by parents, residential and education staff if appropriate will provide a consistent approach in a variety of settings whilst supporting the student to generalise and transfer their knowledge and skills across all environments.

Residential, school and therapeutic staff will actively contribute and support the students with their education in all environments. Staff will be familiar with and aware of the education needs and progress of the students they are supporting, and will communicate with each other. Student’s personal, social and educational development short term objectives are marked to individualise needs to form part of education and care plans.

Teaching approaches and resources will enable the student equal opportunities to participate in the curriculum of the school regardless of their culture, gender and religion.

Some students with autism may remain dependant on an adult for basic needs throughout their lives, an in such instances daily living skills and personal care skills will remain priority areas of learning within the school/residential environment.

Staff must make sure the students have as much control as possible over their own personal care and independence skills.

Student’s development will be monitored and regularly reviewed to ensure there are inclusive and suitable learning challenges responding to the individual students diverse learning needs.

Teaching methods will focus on individual approaches with emphasis on learning for independence accessing the community with progress systematically recorded and reviewed. A full range of teaching strategies will be set. Therapeutics approaches will also be incorporated. Approaches will be implemented according to the needs of the individual and will be regularly reviewed with new targets considered and introduced where appropriate.

Since Alex began boarding two years ago he has developed life skills that he has transferred into his life at home. He can make his bed, strip the bed linen, do the washing up and lay the table. He enjoys reaching the targets set in his personal life skills plan. He is far more confident and has a greater chance of being more independent after leaving school. He is far less dependent on me and is happy for other adults to support him. He also has lots of fun, going on trips to the cinema and swimming with deeper peer friendships made in the more informal boarding house setting. It really is a happy home from home for him and I can enjoy my respite knowing Alex is receiving the best care possible.



A downloadable copy of this information is available here

Published: March 2018

Review Date March 2019

Author:  Mandy Spragge Care Manager