FAQ

We know that this is a daunting time and you've to questions. Lots of them! Let's cover off a few of those worries straight away shall we? 

Frequently asked questions

Is Flexi or Home Schooling Right For My Child?


Flexi schooling has provided the perfect solution to countless of our families over the last 11 years. We began offering Flexi schooling solutions to families we worked with through our sister company, NETwork Interventions in 2008. This happened organically as many of the children we worked with were not able to complete a full day of school successfully. We worked with some of our children for part of the day at home around their schooling. For others we supported them part of the time in nursery, school or college and part time at home. Some of our children received our specialist support part of the time on site, but out of class at school. Others of our families chose to home educate their children and receive our specialist interventions at home and in the community. These were brilliant solutions for some of our children, however some needed something a little different in order to thrive. In 2014 we opened a Centre in Epsom, Surrey, from which we taught some of our children for one or more sessions each week on a one to one basis as well as met with families and local authority and school staff.




Will my child follow the National Curriculum?


Yes. We utilise a three pronged approach to our teaching and learning. One of these prongs is the national curriculum. We do not set targets from chronological year group, but from learning level.




Will my child achieve GCSE's and A Levels?


Absolutely! We have lots of experience in helping students choose the right examination and assessment path for them. We can either organise this whole portion of your child's learning or we can support you in this. We are able to help your child with their whole learning journey, or part, from choosing subjects and study plans with them to entering them in to the actual exam and going to the exam centres with them.




Are all your classes individual or do you do group work?


We continually assess the stage your child is at. If learning in a one to one environment for numeracy is best for them, that is how they will learn at our school. If socialisation needs a little (or a lot of) support, that will be supported too. If small group work is how your child will learn best for Science, great! Your child's sessions and week will fit entirely to their learning needs and strengths.




Which model of intervention do you use?


We are led completely by research. As a team of Behaviour Analysts, Psychologists, Teachers and Therapists committed to maximum change and empowering our learners to become all they can, we would say that The Bridge School is person centred, socially sensitive and uses more of an ability-focused approach.




Will you make child 'indistinguishable' from their peers?


No, absolutely not. If this is what you are seeking, we are not the team for you. We have the enormous privilege of working and journeying with the most wonderful individuals with so many strengths and exceptionalities. We want our young people's giftings, talents and unique abilities and strengths to shine through and to teach our children to embrace these. They are, after all, what makes them 'them'. We will, however, work with our learners to ensure their hidden strengths are revealed, their already known talents strengthened and their barriers embraced and overcome where needed. It is true that many of our children cannot be 'picked out' due to their Challenges and, yes, some (but in no means all) of our young children have no longer been eligible for a diagnosis any longer after working together with us and their families. It isn't true that our children lose their individuality and amazingness. We want to teach them to stand out from their peers, not blend in, in the most astonishing ways. Our children have so very much to show the world.




Can you 'fix' my child.


No, we cannot. We work out what is, and what isn't, going on for your child and for you. We don't seek normalisation for our child as, quite frankly, normal is over rated. Our children are incredible and they deserve to be treated as so. Their individualities need celebrating. We will, however, work to remove our students' barriers to thriving. We cannot not do this on our own. Research, and our own experience, shows us that it is in the working as a partnership with our student's family that the magic lies! If you would like a team to come in, work with your child, and go... Then we are not the team for you. At our lovely school we work hand in hand with key individuals in the lives of our children. We equip parents, family members, guardians (including temporary guardians) and school teams how to implement recommendations as a way of life. In this way we maximise success for our children and ensure there aren't inconsistencies.




What is your behaviour policy? Is it zero tolerance?


No. Absolutely not. We believe that zero tolerance behaviour policies are discriminatory to our children. SWe know that there is a massive comorbidity between and across learning conditions and disabilities. For example, 80 per cent of children with an autism spectrum condition are likely to have another condition such as anxiety, depression or learning disability. Another example is the report that approximately 60% of patients with dyslexia also meet the criteria for at least one neuropsychiatric disorder. Comorbidity with ADHD is present from 10% to 50% of children with a learning disability, while comorbidity with dyslexia is present from 25 to 40% of ADHD patients. As you may expect, a high number of our Looked After children and our children who have experienced trauma have behaviour challenges, either in an overt way or through internalisation. Aside from this, most of our students come to us because they have struggled and had negative experiences in more traditional schools or have struggled with their home learning. They likely have anxieties, sensitivities and learned behaviours which we will work with.




Do all of your children have behaviour problems? My child doesn't and I don't want him to learn them.


Not all of our students have behaviour challenges. Many come to us simply as their school amd/or family feel they require additional, specialist teaching in order to acquire tools to meet their potential. We understand your concern that yiur child may learn challenging behaviour from their peers, but we would like to assure you that this won't be the case. We use a range of learning formats which vary from 1:1 to 6:1 depending on class and topic. We are privileged to have an extremely high ratio of specialist teachers to children which allows us to address the needs of each child. Your child's learning journey will be focused entirely on their needs.




Can you help with family struggles not related to our child?


We also know that there is a significant causal effect of having a child with a special educational need (SEN) and family breakdown. Unfortunately only 1 in 10 families who contact us, unless they are a family with a baby or very young child, are not in some sort of family breakdown. Statistically over 1 in 4 families with a children with an SEN or disability permanently split up, with nearly 3 in 4 living in family break down. This is a statistic that we are desperate to change, through the provision of early intervention and prevention. However, for those families who are beyond this, our sister company, NETwork Interventions, are here to help. We offer individual, couples and family support and therapy. It may be that you could do with some support at home to implement recommendations. You may need something more along the lines of talking therapy or a practical plan of action.




What is your approach at The Bridge School?


Although a very specialist learning environment, we take a holistic and person-centred approach which takes into account neurodivergent sensibilities and sensory perceptual differences and sensitivities. We use subjective accounts to adapt all of our teaching as well as integrating cognitive theory and the most empirically validated, peer reviewed research. We aim to:

– Build understanding and communication between us and our children, between the children and their families, between us and our families and between the children and staff. We work hard to nurture each child's relationships.

– Enable environments to be more accessible and to enable learning across a range of environments

– Reduce direct confrontation. Confrontation doesn't help anybody, especially those with autism spectrum conditions and other neurodiversities and learning sensitivities. Our children are likely a bit more fragile and may have more anxieties and have faced some unpleasant learning challenges. We will, however, teach your child to have crucial conversations safely. It may be that your child currently lurches between avoidance and aggression... We can help with this.

– Build ethical considerations into every step of the process of both your child's Learning as well as ours. This will be the same when we are acquiring professional competencies. An example of this is our most recent Physical interventions training. This is a compulsory, legally obligated, training for the work we do at another setting with children who engage in extreme acts of aggression towards themselves and others. What we did as a team was to build in to the learning what it would feel like from our learner's perspective to be touched like this. We ALWAYS look at things from our learner's point of view. We know that behaviour that is observable to others is simply a result of something else going on. It is that 'something else going on' that we seek to work with. The training that we have developed for own team is now being used in schools for their staff who deal with the most challenging of behaviours. Person-centred interventions, even emergency interventions to protect the individual and those around them, is always the best way forwards. Physical interventions should only ever be used at a very last resort and for an absolute emergency to save life or prevent significant Injury. It is unlikely to work long term and we now have a wealth of literature to support effective, preventative, interventions as well as light 'calm down' and 'come down' strategies. Louise and Andy train others in these perspectives and approaches and are proud to be able to combine literature with the experiences of their learners to change not only their approach as well as approaches of other schools, but with a view to changing policy. One of Louise's Masters was in Policy, so it is an area she is particularly passionate about. Look our for her radio interviews and blogs on this.

– Utilise strengths and interests, rather than focusing on perceived weaknesses and absent skills. We use a skills tracking system to track what our child (or teen) is able to do. We absolutely teach missing skills which are pre requisite skills for your child to be able to learn next skills and to be able to thrive. We choose these skills according to the assessments we complete but also in conjunction with our children and their families. Despite what you may have been told, learning does not actually follow a completely liner pattern. There will likely be many pre prequisite skills to choose from before moving on the next step. Some will be more important to your child and to you than others and some will help get your child to where they want to be more than others!

– Build neurodivergent perspectives in to every step of every one of our processes. We are so lucky that our school was built purely to fill the needs of the neurodiverse children we were teaxhing and that these children inform our planning and decision making every single day

– Build local expertise and communities of practice, drawing upon multi-disciplinary expertise that places the neurodivergent person at the centre of all considerations and decisions.




Will my child have to wear uniform?


Nope. Your child being comfortable and able to move is important. Our team wear clothes which they feel most comfortable in, and we want your child to as well. We do have a range of super soft short and long sleeve T shirts which your child can wear in their favourite colour if they want to. We can also get your child a jumper or a hoodie made specifically for them. Your child will need to wear, or bring, comfy and safe clothing for OT sessions, sports and play outdoors.




Will you teach my child to engage in more socially acceptable behaviours?


Yes and No! We will work with your child to provide them with tools to learn in all environments of their lives and to help them to thrive. There will be some behaviours which will help them to do this which do sit well with social norms. There are others that perhaps don't but that, if we 'fixed' these we may actually cause more harm than good. What we don't want to do is to teach your child to 'mask' their struggles or anxieties simply to fit In. That will cause them a world of pain and whilst it may 'look' like it fixing an area for them, it will in fact be presenting more barriers to them thriving either now or in the future. Let me give you an example....
Our daughter Annie went to a school where tights were winter uniform and white cotton socks summer. She struggled every morning with getting ready and could not tell us why. She was the last to change after PE and swimming, despite being massively gifted in sports and being able to swim more competitively than most children 3 or 4 years above her year group. This resulted In her missing free time and sports. Her 'behaviour challenges' started to spread across every day, and then the night before, school days with sports in them. We were asked to implement a token system and 'reinforcement and Consequence system'. On the tin that seems perfectly acceptable as the aim is to shape behaviour to help the child. It actually started to do is to make our child appear as though she was fine with tights and school socks. What it actually started to do was to make her think about her body in a negative way all day, every day. She was constanly pre occupied by her footwear. Once she had been removed from school, taught at home for a while and equipped with much more language to label her internal emotions she told us that she 'felt the tights scratching deep in to (her) soul'. And yes, we had tried every type of sock and tight! We work with all of their children to remove their barriers to learning and thriving. In some cases that is actual learning but in others it can be the literal removal of something in the environment such as clothing (or a person!!). As a person-centred school we take all of your child's needs as well as their strengths and their own preferences in to account.




Will you teach my child not to stim? (engage in self stimulatory behaviour)


No, we will not. From the feedback of adults we work with who have autism spectrum conditions and other communication and learning conditions, we know that stimming is hugely important. Our children who are able to articulate well also tell us this. The truth is that we ALL stim. We may say things to ourselves in our head, tap our foot on the floor or tap our leg with our hand. We may twiddle with our hair or engage in other movement that either helps us to focus or regulate. If your child engages in a self stimulatory behaviour which hurts them or others, then yes we will work with them to replace this and to learn effective strategies. If your child engages in a self stimulatory behaviour which is wildly inappropriate to those around them and causes harm in that way, then yes we will work with them and you. The most important thing here is to work together, with your child, fully understanding their needs.




Do you have personal experience with your children?


In 2018 Louise began to teach her little girl out of her home and the Centre on a full time basis, using her incredible team. She also attended a specialist Flexi school twice a week. Over time more children joined her daughter's teaching which led to space challenges! Her little girl also faced problems with the specialist service she was accessing in 2019, along with her son who began to be home schooled at the beginning of the year. All of the these factors, combined with some the barriers of providing specialist interventions on site in some schools led to the creation of a brilliant solution: The Bridge Flexi School. Our lovely school has been created as a small, nurturing environment where our students can 'learn to learn' in a safe way, moving from individualised and specialised one to one teaching on to two to one, three to one and so on until they are able to learn in a larger group environment and thrive in the playground, if a more typical schooling is the goal for them. Others will be taught at our school simply with the goal of optimal learning, with no such goal of joining a more typical school environment. Your child's goals will be created by you, with our specialist team of educators.




How do your targets work?


We work in two ways. All of the children at our school have the option of either having goals set just for when they are at our school or goals which are designed to weave through both their time at school and their time at home. Our goals are set with input from our children as well as from our children's families. We complete a baseline assessment from the Vb Mapp and from our own PALS assessment to set targets across the areas of communication, social, group, behaviour and play. This links up with our ongoing assessment for literacy and numeracy. We have two beautiful assessments we have created which carefully break down every single area of the national curriculum in to development as opposed to specific year groups. These assessments are updated in an ongoing basis for the purpose of setting ongoing targets. All of our assessments and target setting are fluid and continual as opposed to every term / year etc.




Who can attend The Bridge Flexi School?


We have children and teens from a wide range of backgrounds. Some of our students have a diagnosis of Dyslexia or other SpLD. These students will be equipped with the most effective tools to close their gaps and to thrive. We work closely with these students, their families and also their schools where appropriate to utilise alternative communication methods and assistive technology. We also work with schools and exam centres to ensure the student receives the correct accommodations for exams they choose to sit.

Some of our students do not have a diagnosis of anything. They may be struggling with some traits of ASD or some specific issues. Others of our students have no specific learning needs but a Flexi school will suit theirs and their family's learning ethos.





Do you run after school and weekend sessions?


Yes we do, however these are not run as 'after school sessions' but as actual learning sessions. Our after school and weekend sessions are tailored to the specific child or group and often has a very specific focus such as a specific social skill or exam preparation or study skills.




What if we can't get to you?


Some of our families struggle to get to us for a number of reasons. We understand. This may be because your child has a long term illness and attends our provision because they spend a lot of time receiving medical care. Others struggle to get to us due to anxiety or meltdown. We specialise in long distance Consulting and have a range of tools to bring your child in to the classroom when they cannot physically be there. We can also come to you where possible.




Do all your students have additional needs?


No. Some of our students come to us as a Flexi schooling approach fits perfectly with their home education.




Tell me about your team


We are a small team of highly qualified, passionate and experienced Behaviour Analysts, Educators, therapists, Psychologists and counsellors. We handpick and carefully train our team to work with your child. We always said that we would never take anybody on who we would not have working with our children. We have stuck to that and all of our team have worked or do work with one or more of our four children.




Tell me about how you start this process?


In order to most effectively help your child, make the progress that he or she needs, and can most certainly attain, we have developed clear phases to how we work. We believe that it is our rigorous approach which makes the difference for our children and is the reason that all of our children and teens do so well. We’ve chosen the structure below because after years of working with families, we have found that this structure achieves the absolute best results with the children with whom we work. Having said that, our three phase approach is individualised for every single learner and family who walk through our doors. We have developed an excellent assessment over the last 20 years and it is this assessment which is absolutely key to addressing the areas which need to be addressed. We use it to create baselines, gain funding and track progress. It is truly fantastic, if we do say so ourselves!




What costs are involved? What does this include?


Phase One: Observation Purpose of Phase One: to get to know us, and us you, so as we can make informed decisions about Phase Two and begin to give you initial recommendations to help your child and family. What is it? This is where we come to your home to see your child in his or her natural environment. We can also do this remotely as we have specialising in long distance consultation and teaching since 2008. How time flies! You don’t need to do anything differently to how you would usually spend your time (although that is easier said than done!). There are 3 different options for the observation period. Option One: a half day observation which is split in to two parts - 1-2 hours spent in home with your family doing 'normal life' and 1-2 hours in an interview type situation where we ask lots of questions. This would need to be out of earshot of your child, so could be completed via video calling when they are not about. This would cost £250. Option Two: a half day observation plus the interview component. This would allow 3-4 hours of time with your family and would also allow us to spend some one to one time with your child (which of course, anybody is welcome to be present for). We could then have the interview at another point in time via video or face to face. This would cost £400. This is the option that most families select if they are unsure of whether or not they will be pursuing ongoing support/intervention and where struggles and strengths are pretty consistent across environments. Option Three: This is two half day observations plus the interview component and would cost £650. Families who choose this option are typically those who would like an observation of their child in a different environment such as at nursery, school, college or a club. This is the option that most families who are either wanting to identify more clearly their child’s struggles and barriers and develop steps for the next few months or for those sure they want support/intervention. Who performs the observation? Your observation will always be carried out by Louise Cheetham, Belen Reales or Andy Lobb. In some instances, two of our team may be present. Is an observation necessary? An observation is crucial so as we can make some initial recommendations and guide you as to which next steps are best for your child and for your whole family. If we don’t feel that the next phase is right for your family, this is when we will tell you. Similarly, if we feel that intervention is suitable for your family but that we are not the right team for you, it is at this point that we will tell you. Some families do jump straight to Phase Two, however these are families with whom we have already had lots of contact. These families are confident that we are the right team for them and that experiencing our fantastic assessment phase is the right thing for their child and family. When is payment due? At the time of booking your observation date. What if you can’t help us or provide us with a place at The Bridge Flexi School? If we feel that we are not able to meet the needs of your child, you will be refunded your Phase One fee. It is as simple as that. Phase Two: Baseline Assessment After your observation, we will have a really good idea of which type of assessment your child’s needs. The assessment is the gathering of information to develop a really thorough profile and understanding of your child’s strengths and struggles. The assessment process will include a mixture of the completion of formal assessments, collection of information and data, direct work with your child and teaching. We have four assessment processes that we use: Level A, Level, Level C and Level D. Level A Duration: 4-8 weeks
Content: 4 teaching and information gathering video calls; one consultation with your child; twice- weekly review of data and/or video; completion of assessment. Output: completion of specific portions of the ABLLS-R and/or VB MAPP appropriate for your child; gathering of behavioural baseline data; parent-teaching basics; summary of skills profile and written recommendations of moving forwards. Sections of our own assessment, the Tower of Development (TOD) will also be used. Cost: £1250 Level B Duration: 6-12 weeks Content: 6 teaching and information gathering video calls; two consultations with your child; twice- weekly review of data and/or video; completion of assessment. Output: completion of specific portions appropriate to your child of the ABLLS-R and/or VB MAPP; gathering of behavioural baseline data; parent-teaching sessions; complete skills profile and written recommendations of moving forwards; programme design and outline for 6 months; thorough review of all documents from other professionals and contact with them (including school, if appropriate). Sections of our own assessment, the Tower of Development (TOD) will also be used. Cost: £2500
Level C Duration: 8 – 16 weeks Content: 8 teaching and information gathering video calls; three-four consultations with your child (which can be broken down to shorter more frequent sessions); academic profile; twice-weekly review of data and/or video; completion of assessments. Output: full completion of the ABLLS-R or VB MAPP; completion of PALS; gathering of behavioural baseline data; parent-teaching sessions; complete skills profile and written recommendations of moving forwards; programme design and outline for 12 months; thorough review of all documents from other professionals and contact with them (including school, if appropriate). Sections of our own assessment, the Tower of Development (TOD) will also be used, as well as an academic review in main areas. Cost: £3750 Level D Duration: 16 – 24 weeks Content: 16 teaching and information gathering video calls; eight consultations with your child (which can be broken down to shorter more frequent sessions); twice-weekly review of data and/or video; completion of assessments. Output: full completion of the ABLLS-R or VB MAPP; completion of the TOD assessment; full educational profile; gathering of behavioural baseline data; parent-teaching sessions; complete skills profile and written recommendations of moving forwards; programme design and outline for 12 months; thorough review of all documents from other professionals and contact with them (including school, the local authority and EHCP support if appropriate). Cost: £5750 Payment for the assessment period needs to be made in advance in order to secure your dates. Once payment is made the payment is non-refundable and we are unable to cancel your service without you forfeiting your money. It is important that the whole process takes no longer than three months for levels A and B, four months for C and six for level D. We understand that things happen in life which we can’t plan for, so we will always work closely with you to ensure that we get the most effective and valid results along with a plan. If for some reason you are not able to continue with the assessment period you may substitute the service for another to be used within six months of beginning the assessment period, but pausing an assessment often isn’t possible. A one off administration fee of £250 plus the fees of £100 per hour for face to face time (including video) and £40 per hour for non-face to face time (including preparation, follow up, team meetings per person, supervision and consultant supervision) will be deducted from what you have paid and the balance substituted for another service. If an assessment is started and cannot be completed for some reason (this has never happened yet!) then we will ensure that all of the information we have gathered can be used to support your child and family. None of our time will be wasted and we are not going anywhere, so please don’t worry about that.




What are the different assessments?


ABLLS-R: The ABLLS-R is an acronym for ‘Assessment of Basic Language and Learning skills Revised’ – and this is a tool that we use in order to assess the skill level of your child, for the key purpose of identifying your child’s skills gaps in a measurable way, enabling us to target the specific areas that your child needs help in. This also helps you to see solid evidence of the progress that your child has made and skills he or she has gained once recommendations have been implemented. You can read about this in more detail if you would like by going to the following link: http://www.behaviouranalysts.com/webablls/ and also on the following page of our website: http://www.networkinterventions.com/announcements/creating-your-own-programme-find-the- right-assessment-tool-for-your- child?A=SearchResult&SearchID=281749&ObjectID=57794&ObjectType=7. VB MAPP: The VB MAPP is an acronym for ‘The Verbal Behaviour Milestones And Placement Program’. This was developed by Mark Sundberg, Ph.D., BCBA (2007), based on B.F.Skinner’s (1957) analysis of developmental milestones and data taken from typically developing children. It was developed after ‘The Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills’ (ABLLS) tool as a supplement to it, and as an effective tool for driving IEP goals and putting together educational programs for children with autism and developmental delays. For further information on this assessment, please see: http://www.marksundberg.com/vb-mapp.htm. Tower of Development (TOD): We have an assessment which we have developed over our time in the field which is for those learners who have the majority of their core skills complete from the operants within the ABLLS-R and VB MAPP, but who have struggles in other areas such as complex communication and social skills. The TOD is a deep and wide assessment which is such a brilliant tool for finding nuanced gaps which make our children’s tower of development wobbly. Parents have referred to our assessment as providing the ‘aha’ moments! This assessment will be completed by us throughout our intervention, as opposed to prior to getting started, as well as being used in Levels C and D of Phase Two.




What does education at your school involve?


We design your education with set goals, set measures, set time frames and to a set fee. All our programmes are individualised in terms of the targets we set as well as the schedule. Your child’s education will address all of their gaps and strengths and will address the whole learner. We realise that your child will have both specific motivations, gifts, talents and challenges and we will ensure that their education meets these. It may be that you stick just to the assessment as it is such a valuable tool on its own. It may be that your child is with us all of the time, combining face to face and video support or having their education delivered solely face to face or solely remotely. Your child may be in a mainstream school for part of their week and with us for part of their week. We may be designing your whole home programme which is jointly delivered by you and us. It may be delivered solely by you! We design your child’s programme and education to your child’s strengths and struggles and any barriers to intervention which may be present, such as finance, time or family circumstance. We will keep working at this with you until we get it completely right as we do not want to successfully overcome one area of struggle, but cause a new struggle. When you are happy, we move forwards with intervention and education. Typically we provide what is known as a ‘consultation’ every 1 month, every 3 months or every 6 months – this is a set of recommendations we have designed for your child based on the assessments, which involves teaching you and those working with your child how to implement them. We do not teach your child in isolation as we know that equipping you with all of the tools you need to help your child to thrive is absolutely key. Prior to your consultation you will receive a ‘consultation pack’, outlining what we will work on during our day together. Recommendations will be outlined and there will be room to make your notes. We will keep in touch in between consultations in any way that suits you best. This may be in your home, at one of our clinics or via video or phone. This is known as ‘supervision’. This is to make sure your recommendations are working properly, and that everybody who is interacting with your child is doing what they’re meant to in the most effective way possible. We may receive data from you, have a phone call with you or provide training workshops in between your face to face visits. Some families email or call us three times a week, some just once a month. We do not charge for any of this additional time and are happy to chat with you about anything at all. Once you are with us in any Phase, our phone is on to you. You can call/watsap/email any time (within reason!). Additionally, you may have therapists and educators working directly with your child, rather than implementing the recommendations yourselves only. This is optional, and we can provide you with fully trained therapists employed by us, who will work with your child at home and/or school. Alternatively, you can employ therapists and we can help to recruit and train them. Although we continually assess how your child is doing, we formally do this every three or every six months to check how your child has progressed after the recommendations have been worked on, and we provide another set of recommendations for a 3 month period. This will continue for as long as you wish us to work with your child and/or as long as your child requires the help. Your Consultant Supervisor will meet with you every three months in our clinic-base or via video to discuss your successes and concerns about your programme, your family life and your child’s development. Some families have multiple children at our Flexi School or very complex programmes. We typically have ‘logistical’ meetings every 2 – 4 weeks with these families. We can also deal with all local authority issues on behalf or with you, so as you are supported from every single angle. Your intervention and support will be as individual as your child and your family. We hope that we have answered your questions within this document but, if not, please do not hesitate to contact us