Lighthouse School, inspiring bright futures

Research-Informed Practice

Lighthouse School is a progressive school that is focused on supporting our students to have a bright future. Though our purpose, vision, and values remain consistent, we are constantly evaluating our methods of achieving these. Our staff are highly-trained and experienced, and this will feed into our methods, but our practice is also heavily guided by the latest academic research.

If you are a professional conducting research in the field of autism and education, please contact the school. We would love to discuss ways in which we can participate and/or support.

Below is a table of how research informs our practice:

What the research states Reference How this forms part of our provision
Autistic students often have difficulty generalising learning and ‘training individuals with ASD to acquire new information by repeating the information actually harms their ability to apply that learned knowledge to other situations’. Harris H, Israeli D, Minshew N, Bonneh Y, Heeger DJ, Behrmann M, Sagi D. Perceptual learning in autism: over-specificity and possible remedies. Nature Neuroscience Our curriculum is structured so that key learning concepts are repeated on a regular basis, but presented differently and within a different context each time. (e.g. energy transfer will appear in…)
Students given space between their learning will retain the information more. ‘spaced training, which involves repeated long inter-trial intervals, leads to more robust memory formation than does massed training’ Smolen P, Zhang Y, Byrne JH. The right time to learn: mechanisms and optimization of spaced learning. Nat Rev Neurosci. Key concepts within each subject curriculum are spread across multiple years to avoid ‘massed learning’.
Students with language disorders and autism benefit most from the discrete teaching of key vocabulary. Students with developmental language disorder require discrete vocabulary to be spaced. Leonard, L.B., Christ, S.L., Deevy, P. et al. A multi-study examination of the role of repeated spaced retrieval in the word learning of children with developmental language disorder. (https://jneurodevdisorders.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s11689-021-09368-z] All key vocabulary is identified in medium term planning. Students with severe language disorders are taught key vocabulary at the start of most lessons. Other students are taught key vocabulary at the start of each topic.
Autistic students ‘frequently have difficulties in processing sensory information, which is a limitation when participating in different contexts, such as school’. An over-stimulating learning environment negatively impacts ‘behavioural and learning responses.’ Academic Editors: Lei-Shih Chen, Shixi Zhao and Paul B. Tchounwou Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021 Classrooms are a low-sensory environment Information is presented to students in way that is simple and not overly visually stimulating.
Anxiety has a significant impact on a student’s ability to learn. ‘Anxiety impairs each of the specific cognitive processes responsible for carrying out the multicomponent tasks of working memory’. Grant, D.M., Judah, M.R., White, E. I. Mills, A.C. (2015). Worry and discrimination of threat and safety cues* An event-related potential investigation. Behavior Therapy. Anxiety-management is integrated into the curriculum, with wellbeing in the timetable, as well as multiple different anxiety interventions being delivered where there is an additional need.
The diet of our students is integral to their learning. ‘Nutrient deficiencies, such as iron deficiency, are known to impair learning and cause decreased productivity in school-age children’ Janice Ke, MSc, Elizabeth Lee Ford-Jones, MD, Food insecurity and hunger: A review of the effects on children’s health and behaviour, Paediatrics & Child Health, Volume 20, Issue 2, March 2015 Food is part of the core curriculum in KS3. Students are supported in diversifying their diet. Breakfast is offered to students during form time.
Autistic learners experience ‘burnout’ regularly. This requires energy accounting techniques and breaks between intense learning to allow students to manage their burnout. Dora M Raymaker, PhD ‘Autistic Burnout’ Portland State University / Academic Autism Spectrum Partnership in Research and Education Students who have worked hard and met their expectations have 5 minutes of ‘check-in’ at the end of the lesson. This supports with energy accounting and preparing for the transition/next lesson.
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