The Springfields Academy

Reach South Academy Trust

Our central mission is for Reach South pupils to aspire to achieve beyond the expectations that others place on them.

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Emotional Literacy and Regulation

Our Emotional Regulation Team and Emotional Literacy Support Assistants (ELSA) work alongside our therapy and education teams to enable all our pupils regulate their emotions to support engagement in functional communication and learning.  


To build safe independent lives for autistic young people though support, understanding and enablement.

We understand that challenging behaviour has a communicative intent.

We recognise that the ultimate function of all behaviour is to get needs met, and work with the child to replace or divert this behaviour in a positive manner.

Furthermore our intent is to:

  • Develop an understanding of how autism presents in the individual child and the underlying factors causing anxiety/behaviours, in order to respond positively, consistently and effectively.
  • Embed a culture of reflective practice. What are you doing and why are you doing it? What is the function of the behaviour and can we divert or replace it?
  • By providing structures and strategies to empower the individual to manage their own behaviour, promote emotional regulation and independence, enhance communication and socialisation and raise self-esteem.
  • By treating all pupils with respect and fairness even when they are challenging
  • Providing a caring, safe and supportive learning environment.
  • Ensure the use of Physical intervention is minimised and continually reduced
  • Celebrating the progress of all pupils.
  • Teaching the individual child about their diagnosis of autism and how this presents


We ensure the schools guiding principles for the promotion of positive behaviour are applied consistently across the provision.

These are:

the springfields rules .pdf

WE aim to understand and support the child’s presentation through:

  • The analysis of ABC charts
  • The Functional Analysis of their Behaviour
  • Care Plans that identify settings and triggers, as well as proactive, preventative and reactive strategies (residential)
  • One page profiles
  • Pupil profiles
  • Monitoring and evaluating data – academic/therapeutic
  • 5 Point Scale (chart emotional regulation
  • TEACCH approach (for identified pupils) - this aims to increase independence and reduce anxiety through physical structure of the environment, personalised visual schedules, independent work-systems and visual support systems
  • Consistent environment approach including calm corners
  • Sensory supports
  • Positive mentoring
  • Visual Support systems

Behaviours are functional and communicative acts, which are meaningful because they achieve important results for an individual.

As behaviours serve a communicative function, it is therefore most effective to teach an alternative, appropriate response than to try and stop a behaviour by using aversive techniques or sanctions. Positive behaviour management procedures are constructive, in that they teach an appropriate, alternative means to achieve the same goal and ultimately build self-esteem.

We aim to understand the underlying factors causing the behaviour presentation in order to respond positively, consistently and effectively. We will provide structures and strategies to empower the individual to manage their own behaviour, promote emotional regulation and independence, enhance communication and socialisation and raise self-esteem.

Understanding behaviour related to a diagnosis of autism

99% of behaviour linked to autism is logical. It makes sense. Children with autism often experience high levels of anxiety, which if not managed appropriately can result in behaviour that can be challenging. This challenging behaviour is often an emotional response which will be related to anger, fear, stress/anxiety, frustration, lack of control/no perceived alternative, sensory, lack of global stability, sadness, disappointment or enjoyment/happiness. As a result, the school works with the children, their parents/carers and external agencies to gain a deep understanding of the purpose or function of their behaviour and reduce anxiety.

Autism theory

We understand that children display a range of behaviours that are linked to their diagnosis of autism. We therefore, work with all stakeholders to develop our knowledge and understanding of the needs of the child. We acknowledge that in recent times, the theory of mind, executive (dys) function and central coherence theories of autism have assumed a dominant position in the domain of autism research and understand that many behaviours presented by the children are explained within this theoretical research. Examples include:

Cognitive difficulties which may arise

Interpretation problems which may result


Difficulty putting yourself in someone’s shoes – seeing things from their point of view (Theory of Mind)

Why did he hit me when I told him he was silly?

I didn’t know she would cry.

I don’t see why he can’t play with me

Difficulty adjusting behaviour according to the demands of the immediate setting (Executive Function, Central Coherence)


Why is it wrong to call my teacher mate?

Why should I sit quietly?

Difficulty controlling impulses (Executive function)


I didn’t mean to call out in class.

I didn’t stop to think

Difficulty understanding and predicting others’ behaviour (Theory of Mind)


I thought he was going to be my friend

I thought she was going to hit me

Difficulty taking account of context to aid understanding (Central coherence)

When she said find a ‘pair’ I couldn’t see any fruit.


Difficulty carrying out tasks/behaviours in a staged, organised way i.e. seeing a task through from beginning to end (Executive function)


How do I get changed for PE

How do I get to school on the bus

How do I plan this Science experiment

The Framework

  1. Establish and maintain good foundations

This level (Green level) represents where we want to be and where we want to stay. This is where the foundations of good autism practice are monitored and observed. These foundations include an autistic friendly environment, good communication & environmental systems, personalised approach to teaching and learning, autistic specific strategies and interventions (e.g. TEACCH) and a clear understanding of the child. If these foundations are in place, behaviours will be kept to minimum (preventative) and staff will have the tool kit to address identify and support low level behaviours.

Low level behaviours can often be managed through good classroom management strategies. ‘Good autism’ practice (quality of education) is monitored by leaders who may focus on behaviours for learning if there are concerns regarding the basic fundamentals (see below for a simple example).

  1. Prevent and Divert

Before finding a solution to the problem (emotional dysregulation), it is essential to have a clear picture of what is happening. When dealing with difficult and sometimes challenging behaviour, it is often hard to tease out the steps that lead up to the behaviour occurring. When analysing behaviour, we look for the ‘trigger’ or the particular act or event which occurs immediately before the behaviour. Sometimes this is easy to see, for example, hitting may be immediately preceded by a request to shut down a computer. At other times, when the trigger is not obvious, it is important to consider what the function of the behaviour is. E.g. the trip to the local supermarket may lead to an outburst of emotion. But what is the trigger in the supermarket?

Problem Solving

Working out the function of the behaviour relies greatly on the detail and quality of the information related to ‘knowing and understanding the child’. Staff use their existing paperwork (pupil profile, one page profile & autism progression tracker) as part of any functional assessment of behaviour. Due to this level of understanding key staff/tutors are able to use the problem solving flow chart (as a guide to provoke thought) (below) to ascertain the possible function of the pupil’s behaviour/dysregulation.


From this staff are able to construct a hypothesis which describes the purpose of the behaviour. For example,

Behaviour = an expression of anger because child x is avoiding physical contact from others (dislikes children touching him/getting too close).

The identified behaviour can then be unpicked and an intervention plan formulated:

 Teaching and support staff can present these hypotheses on a weekly basis in surgeries (Internally and monthly with external EP). Professional discussion results in further intervention to divert or replace the negative behaviours observed. In addition, further analysis will take place to ensure positive behaviours are re-enforced/rewarded (dependent on the individual child) and in extreme cases immediate strategies to safeguard all stakeholders.

Evidence Base Practice

The term intervention framework is used to reflect the need to do more than simply construct an emotional regulation programme. Depending on the type of behaviour and the reason it occurs, intervention planning often involves a complex mix of elements that may include simple immediate actions.

If staff have a concern (or positive information) then they:

  • Log the information in the child’s daily log on behaviour watch (build patterns)
  • Reference the child’s pupil profile and autism tracker (update if necessary)
  • Communicate and share information with parents/carer’s, key staff (e.g. tutor, ELSA etc.)
  • Support the child in using a personalised emotional regulation scale.
  • Work with an identified ELSA to develop further strategies.
  • Discuss at pupil progress meeting (x3 a year).
  • Build a hypothesis and discuss at the weekly SEND surgery.
  • Request an observation from an identified staff member.
  • Discuss with Educational psychologist during surgery time.

This information is used to support professional debate and discussion which will result in positive outcomes for the child.

 Tier 3 – Act

On rare occasions, the Academy’s intervention strategies may have a limited impact on the child’s ability to self-regulate within the learning environment. At this point, decisions are made regarding the wider aspect of the child’s educational experience. Individual cases are discussed within the wider school teams (care, therapy, outreach, education and support). Provision may change at this point, with the child considered for specific needs, residential or out-reach placement. Ensuring the child receives the right provision at the right time has the aim of stabilising the placement and re-engaging them with their positive learning experience.

Overview of support systems


The schools approach to anxiety management is evaluated through the termly analysis which is informed by:

  • Autism progress framework – Springfields
  • Progress Frameworks - autism, knowledge and skills bespoke to cohort pathway (KPI’s)
  • Progress towards EHCP outcomes 
  • Pupil progress and attainment cycle 
  • Pupil voice
  • Behaviour watch – analysis of antecedents, behaviours and consequences
  • Exclusions
  • Attendance
  • Anxiety related behaviours e.g. missing from education, physical intervention etc.