Stevenage early years centre for children with autism given outstanding Ofsted rating

Centre coordinator Sara Campbell, deputy headteacher Alice Lynch, headteacher Jane Wagstaff-Smith, a

Centre coordinator Sara Campbell, deputy headteacher Alice Lynch, headteacher Jane Wagstaff-Smith, and teaching asistants Rebecca and Claire. - Credit: Archant

A specialist early years centre for children with autistic spectrum conditions has been judged to be outstanding by Ofsted.

The centre, run by independent charity Tracks autism, moved from Mobbsbury Way in Stevenage to its purpose-designed premises on Bolton Road in the town two-and-a-half years ago.

Tracks autism provides a calm environment for up to 10 children per session in which they can learn, play and explore their world safely. They have a high staff ratio, allowing for a mix of 1-1 and small group activities.

The key findings by Ofsted were that: “High-quality teaching supports children exceptionally well, children have excellent opportunities to develop their communication skills, and partnerships with parents are superb.

“The outdoor provision is extremely well thought out and staff work extremely hard to continually improve the provision for children.

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“Exceptional team working across the setting has a significant positive impact on the quality of the provision for children.”

The centre’s headteacher, Jane Wagstaff-Smith, said: “We are all delighted with the outcome of the inspection.

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“Autism is a hidden lifelong disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people and the world around them.

“Often, children with autism and related conditions prefer to play alone, which can prevent all kinds of learning, fun and friendship. “Tracks finds creative ways to encourage our children to be interested in their environment and those around them.

“The early, child-centred intervention Tracks provides is a key to helping children with autism prepare for their next steps in life and education.”

Mervyn Terrett, the chairman of the charitable trust that runs Tracks autism, said: “Great credit goes to our staff for getting a second in a row outstanding from Ofsted, especially as the bar Ofsted sets for this has risen twice since our previous inspection.

“We believe there are only one or two similar specialist early years centres in the country.

“We provide about 2,000 child sessions a year, which cost £100 each. Parents pay a fee, the level of which is related to allowances they can claim, but the funding gap is considerable, currently about £80,000 a year.”

For more about Tracks autism, visit

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