Doucecroft School

Please note that our residential provision will be closing in July 2022.

Please see here for more information on this.

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. 

My first respite night was before Christmas. On my fist night I stayed  I was really  scared, because I didn’t know what I was doing, but now I know what to do I really enjoy staying for respite. Staff are very friendly, kind, fun, and understand me if I find things hard. They have helped me lots to learn things.  

My bedroom is really comfortable and the whole house helps me to keep calm and happy. My friends in the house are kind and friendly and sometimes we like to write together, cook, chat and watch TV.

I am trying to be more independent and do things by myself like life skills. I can cut food, check when food is cooked, help prepare tea for everyone. I can make my bed, unpack my case and sort my clothes out. I like to be helpful and help staff to hoover and polish the house to keep it clean.

I am learning to do my own personal care and keeping myself clean, to make me healthy, this makes me feel good about myself. Staff are teaching me to count money after we go shopping too.    

The activities are fun I really enjoyed  going to the train museum, and I like going to youth club. At youth club I like to go on the computer and would like to make some new friends.  

Respite Student

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.

When I stay in residential, I like fish & chips and going on trips to the cinema, Sainsburys, swimming and youth club. I like to dress up, especially as an astronaut. I love seeing my family too.


Specialist Residential Provision


Residential House

Lounge Area





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.

Jessica considers Sycamore her second home and is very comfortable there. We have always wanted Jessica to be able to live as independently as possible and the skills she has learnt and are still developing will help her to do that. She has learnt valuable life skills from running a bath to shopping. We have worked closely with staff to ensure consistency when Jessica is home.

Jessica has such a great time whilst at Doucecroft and she gets to participate in activities which we would not be able to provide such as youth club, swimming and horse riding.

David, Parent

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 endeavour 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.

My son has made an incredible start to his respite placement at Doucecroft.

From my initial meeting with staff, the kindness and professionalism shown by your team has been fantastic.

I love how you have gone to such incredible efforts to make my son  feel comfortable and well supported. It felt like knowing about my son, his routines, likes and dislikes really mattered to your team. When we first came to look round, I was impressed by how my son was asked what he would like in his room to make it feel that it was his

Attention to my son as an individual and having an excellent understanding of his strengths and difficulties mean that you have done some really helpful work including:

Sensitive matching of staff supporting him, accommodating his particular dietary preferences, understanding his behaviours and how to gently support and work with him whilst always looking for him to reach his potential.

My son’s respite was always about so much more. He had never spent a night away from home without me. As a maturing young man I believe that it is important that he develops increased independence and an opportunity to build trusting relationships with others who can support him into adulthood. He needs a safe, secure, consistent and highly skilled team to help him develop life skills and an ability to learn to trust that the world can be safe even if I am not around. The staff team is already demonstrating all of those abilities to him.

Each stay my son has begun  to relax more and benefit from the opportunities available to him. Hearing him spend 20 minutes telling me about the good time he had last week was incredibly heart-warming and so unusual. Having school and respite on the same site has been invaluable enabling staff to be visible him even when he is not at respite. It has facilitated safer transitions between school and respite even when these were difficult and protracted initially.

My son’s stays at Doucecroft have already become a vital part of our lives and I believe are  fundamental in ensuring he is able to reach his potential as he matures.

As if all of that was not enough I would like to mention the support that you have also offered me. Knowing that you understand my son that the communication is so effective and that the calls and written reports I get about his stays are so comprehensive and feel so truthful is hugely reassuring.

Parent’s View

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 safeguarding, 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.

Louis loves his ‘sleepovers’ at Sycamore! He has really benefited from his stays, helping with the shopping, cooking, and washing up, as well as all the really good stuff like swimming and music.  He is far more independent and has grown so much in confidence. He loves the staff there…they really ‘get’ him! When he first started he wouldn’t speak a word but now, he chats and sings (all the time) and has the confidence to show them his true cheeky chap self. Not many people get to see this side of him, which is how I know he is happy and relaxed.  I know he is very well looked after but also encouraged to try new things, interact more with staff and peers and taught to be more independent.

This means we also get to relax and spend the time catching up and doing stuff with his 2 sisters. We wouldn’t be able to otherwise, not without the guilt or worry, that would be there if we didn’t know for sure he was in the best possible hands and happy to be so. Louis has a great time on his stays. He loves it but is also ‘understood’, which means the world!

Tansy, Parent

Published: September 2020

Review Date September 2021

Author:  Mandy Spragge, Care Manager