Aycliffe School

Aycliffe School is an independent, purpose-built specialist school based at the North East Centre for Autism, Newton Aycliffe in County Durham for pupils aged 3-19

Working together to inspire, support, celebrate and equip autistic and neurodiverse people to fulfil their potential in life.

AT Aycliffe School we recognise that achievements come in all shapes and sizes, and for pre-14 pupil Alexis ‘Lexi’ Wheater it was the successful completion of a short story that filled her with pride.

Alexis, aged nine, says she didn’t like English when she started at the school four years ago – however, thanks to the support of her class teacher Kelly Hindmarch, she now enjoys creative writing.

“I found writing difficult but I’m getting better at it,” Lexi says. “I really like my school.” 

From putting together basic sentences using only a few words at a time, Kelly says Lexi’s writing has gone from strength to strength. So much so that, at the end of last term, Lexi put the finishing touches to the first story she’s ever completed, which follows two runaway giraffes called Mark and Holly.

“A couple of years ago Lexi would only write basic, one-line sentences,” Kelly says. “The quicker she could get through her English work the better, because she didn’t enjoy it.

We worked a lot on building up Lexi’s confidence and broke the process of writing a story down into small sections. We started by doing some story planning which Lexi could then look back at.

Teacher Kelly says she used a range of techniques to help Lexi and her classmates develop their literacy skills, including ‘colour popping’, which is when students are given the chance to look back over their work and make amendments using coloured pens or pencils.

 “It could be that we look at full stops, and the class will use a coloured pencil and go back through their work, marking where the full stops should go,” Kelly explains.

It really gives the pupils ownership of their work and takes the demand off them in terms of needing to get everything right the first time.

Click the image below to read Lexi’s story.