What Do We Do?
In a nutshell: Designing (and often implementing) individualised home education programmes is the heartbeat of what we do.
Along with our sister company, Network Interventions, we are a team of behaviour analysts, education consultants, counsellors, therapists and highly qualified teachers who specialise in behavioural interventions to children with social, communication and behavioural struggles. We are language experts who have discovered, through clinical research and much practice, that many of the challenges our children face stem from unique language gaps in one or more operant of language. Often our children have become expert maskers, so we always begin with a robust assessment of every single skill in each operant of language, learning and development. This assessment informs our interventions and programmes which we offer via a mix of 1:1 therapy sessions with a child, facilitated play sessions, small group sessions and via parent and family training.
In many cases we also go in to nurseries, schools, colleges and work places to provide specialist consultation, one to one with the child or school/organisation training. In others, we work exclusively with the child at home. For some children we set up specific programmes in a space near to their home, such as a rented room or clinic. We are specialists in Flexi Schooling, with the aim for many of our children being the successful re introduction or introduction to the mainstream setting with no additional supports required. Not all of our families or children want this. Many use our team to complement a home education programme or to develop an individualised and bespoke programme for their child or children. Our programmes are all successful and change organically through the use of constant assessment and data. What we do is data driven at every single point. Don’t worry, this does not mean that we sit our children at a table and ‘assess’ them and drill them. This rarely has useful outcomes or provides a true reflection of progress.
We use Natural Environment Teaching and Errorless teaching in our sessions with children, which means we teach children (and teens and adults too) essential language, social, independence and behavioural skills in their everyday environment using items and activities that are naturally motivating to them. We work with families to make the most of every interaction throughout their days. This means that we can support families outside of the realm of 9am-3pm, in the evenings, at the weekends, on holiday. In fact, at the Bridge Flexi School we run year round as research shows that ongoing learning with shorter breaks is much healthier than the term time system many countries use.
Teaching new motivations is an important of what we do and It is often here where the magic happens. Although we are experts in teaching and learning the often hard to reach learner, our aim is to teach our children to ‘learn to learn’. Our children tend not to ‘learn from their mistakes’. They learn from being successful and that is what we are all about: facilitating success at every step. The over-riding umbrella in our team is to remove vulnerability from our children and this underpins all that we do. Our children, together with their families, all gain a true and full understanding of who they are: their strengths and character as well as the areas where they may struggle because every human has areas of challenge in their lives and things that are good at along with things which we are not so good at! Understanding and embracing this enables our learners to make protective and successful day to day decisions as well as to plan better for the mid and long term with their families.
We have become experts in reinforcement and motivation, as I am sure you can imagine. When we use the term ‘reinforcement’ we are not referring to ‘behaviour modification’ or ‘if you do X, then you get Y’. True reinforcement and motivation is nuanced and a real art. It is healthy, sustainable and helps our children to make long term gains. Here at The Bridge Flexi School and NETwork Interventions, we do not seek to ‘modify behaviour’ in that we want to mould our children to fit in to one specific environment. Far from it. We know that research shows that this results in expert masking which is painful and damaging, resulting in poor outcomes and either severely internalised behaviours or extremely challenging behaviours which can present across the board or in one environment. Most of our learners here at The Bridge have come to us due to school refusal or school going wrong for our lovely children. Some have been treading water so hard at school that they unravel at home. Others clearly cannot cope in school, although are often desperate to. We will develop a plan, always with the child at the centre, in collaboration with the child where appropriate and everybody around the child. We have a clear end goal and break down each step in to bite sized chunks so as we know clearly where we are going. No two learners programmes are the same, which is a logistical and scheduling nightmare but it works every single time!
Here at The Bridge Flexi School and NETwork Interventions, we are very proud of our successful history for all of the children and families we work with. We only use the most recent, evidence based interventions to gain meaningful outcomes in areas which enable our children and their families to meet their goals. We treat our children and families holistically and are completely child-centred in our approach. We always put the emotional well-being, both short and long term, first and foremost of our children and families as evidence shows that motivated, happy and secure children have the best outcomes in all areas: health; well-being; education and relationships with themselves, their world and their future world. Teaching motivation is what we do best because we don’t focus on the ‘what’. We are experts in discovering the ‘why’ which drives the ‘what’. Once we have this information we are able to plug gaps, develop and strengthen strengths, discover giftings and talents and provide children with true ownership of their journey allowing them to become their authentic selves and achieve their fullest potential, whatever this may be.