These questions have been answered by Jilly Davies, Senior Specialist Teacher, NAS Robert Ogden School.


Q. How do you meet the needs of children with PDA in the School?

A. The pupils referred to the National Autistic Society’s Robert Ogden School increasingly have, in addition to their autism, complex and significant needs. They may have a history of exclusion or failure to attend school having difficulties in relating to a school environment, be unable to work alongside others however small the group and have additional motivational problems.  Several of the pupils have a diagnosis of Pathological Demand Avoidance ( PDA) or a history of demand avoidant behaviour.

We recognise these pupil’s behavioural issues can have an impact on other pupils learning which is not acceptable  and  that they need a different and more innovative teaching approach than the majority of the pupil’s attending the school.

In order to meet the needs of this group of pupils over the last 10 years we have developed an Inclusive Learning Hub within the school. This resource provides opportunities for these pupils to be included in educational activities that they wouldn’t otherwise access. For these pupils we offer individual and personalised learning programmes and management strategies. We also offer pupils a learning environment where they have the opportunity to succeed, to feel safe and to build on self esteem.

Within the Hub the principles of our curriculum can be  planned around pupils choice ( which may be obsessive interests or just a motivating topic).

The pupils referred to the Hub need a more differentiated and flexible  approach to  teaching and learning than the majority of pupils in the mainstream part of Robert Ogden School.

We recognise that pupils learning involves a combination of entitlement and choice that delivers a breadth of study but also personal relevance and that each pupil needs their  own unique teaching profile and style.

These pupils require tailoring some of their learning to topics they feel are relevant and engaging.

The basic principles of our learning and management strategies also include:

  • A very non confrontational approach in terms of managing behaviours
  • To be as pro-active as possible in order to avoid stressful situation for the pupils
  • To be flexible, creative and  imaginative when devising individual programmes.
  • To be as consistent as possible with each individual pupil
  • To give a degree of responsibility to the pupils in relation to their own learning
  • To recognise and accept that the pupils are generally ‘not trying to get away with things, or are trying to be devious’
  • To involve parents/carers as much as possible in any management issues

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