Quest School is an Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) School. This is a positive approach to learning and behaviour, which creates a very positive and happy environment. The pupils come running through the gate in the mornings with big smiles on their faces. They appear to enjoy school which is reflected in their statements (see below), their general demeanour whilst at school as well as parental and past pupil feedback.
ABA is a structured teaching approach built on the principles of behaviour science, which defines how we all learn and acquire new skills. An understanding of how we teach and learn new skills is relevant to all children and young people, however it is particularly pertinent for pupils with autism, as young people with autism do not typically learn and acquire new skills in the same way as their peers.
Children with autism often do not have the same motivation to learn, that other children may have; specifically social rewards like praise or peer conformity are less motivating.
The ABA approach therefore begins with providing a fundamentally positive approach to teaching, using individually designed reinforcement strategies to engage pupils in learning and enable them to experience success and enjoyment of learning, maybe for the first time in their lives.
Most students at Quest school have a learning disability in addition to their diagnosis of autism, which may be very significant. Hence a ‘small steps’ curriculum delivery approach is often essential for effective learning. In a ‘small steps’ approach, complex skills are broken down into small achievable steps, which are taught in a systematic and consistent way. Appropriate responses and behaviours are reinforced with a positive consequence to make them more likely to occur in the future. Learning is designed to be enjoyable and successful, so that pupils remain motivated and engaged.
- Pupil A (Transfer from another school): “I feel happy at school because worry is going off my mind to make me happy”
- Pupil B: “Like playing with friends”
- Pupil C: “Piano! I like music lessons. Staff are kind. I am happy”
- Pupil D: (transfer from another school) “I’m excited and I’m going to see my Quest friends. I like this school the best!”
- Parent: “You have worked tirelessly. This is manifested in (my child’s) overall improvement in behaviour, skills and attitudes towards learning. We as parents are eternally grateful”