Success Story: Al Karamah School & Training Institute

Published On: 18 June 2024

How Team Teach training has facilitated a consistent approach to behaviour across a diverse extended school community.

At a glance

  • Name: Adele Hattingh
  • Role: Senior Behaviour Therapist
  • Organisation: Al Karamah School & Training Institute
  • Location: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

About Al Karamah School & Training Institute

Al Karamah School & Training Institute is the first specialist autism provision in the Gulf region, supporting local Emirati autistic children (students of determination) from 3-25 years old.

They support 229 students across their school and training facility. The staff team is made up of 151 teachers and teaching assistants, and 25 multi-disciplinary therapists, from both local and substantially diverse backgrounds.

“We were looking for something to unify our language, strategies, and approach to behaviour support.”

Benefits of choosing Team Teach

Al Karamah School & Training Institute supports students with a wide range of complex needs, so they were looking for a framework that would provide staff with structure and consistency.

As Adele explains, “The Team Teach principles align with our philosophy around positive behaviour support. The language and strategies used in training promote a proactive approach, with a focus on de-escalation skills, understanding behaviour as communication, and the importance of early intervention to avoid crisis.”

Team Teach training has facilitated a consistent approach across the school community, and has empowered staff with the confidence and skills needed to best support students’ diverse needs.

The challenge

To shift mindsets around behaviour for students, staff and families, to create a consistent understanding and approach.

Background

Prior to the implementation of Team Teach, there was an opportunity to enhance the support framework for behaviour to ensure consistency in language and strategies. There were misconceptions about behaviour and behaviour support, and a compliance mindset was evident, internally and externally.

Challenges

The large and diverse staffing body made the development of consistency challenging. Time and capacity constraints also meant that training opportunities were difficult to find. There was a lack of direct, regular contact with parents, with nannies involved in most interactions between home and school.

Aim

The aim was to create consistency across all aspects of school life, using Team Teach models to underpin risk assessments. This would facilitate a coherent, joined-up approach, and ensure the best outcomes for all students.

“Calm adults create calm students. Team Teach training has enhanced calmness and confidence.”

Solution

At Al Karamah School & Training Institute, there are now 4 certified Team Teach trainers. To date, they have trained 61 staff and aim to roll training out for all teachers and teaching assistants.

To overcome challenges around time and capacity, 25 multi-disciplinary therapists were trained first. They then went into classrooms to provide cover for teachers and teaching assistants, freeing them up to undertake the two- day training themselves.

Adele explains: “This approach created cohesion, understanding and empathy across the whole staff team. It also demonstrated our commitment to making behaviour support training a priority for all.”

The results

There has been a significant reduction in behaviour incidents, thanks to a new risk assessment model based on the Team Teach approach to understanding behaviour.

Adele highlights increased levels of consistency across the whole organisation and shares evidence of transformed thinking amongst staff. She recalls one particular instance where a staff member noticed a significant improvement in the behaviour of a child with complex needs related to autism and pathological demand avoidance (PDA).

As Adele recalls, “They told me that the child’s behaviour had dramatically changed, but actually, when we discussed it further, they realised it was because they had changed. It was like the penny had dropped!”

Shared language and strategies are embedded through interactive wall displays using Team Teach models, encouraging students and staff to think about the stages of distress and support, and suggest strategies to self-regulate and de-escalate situations. This collaborative, coherent approach empowers everyone across the community, and helps challenge perceptions of behaviour.

Next steps

There are exciting times ahead for Al Karamah School & Training Institute. They already have an action plan in place to roll out training to all staff systematically, to further enhance their consistent approach.

“Team Teach provides us with the tools to protect the dignity and safety of both staff and students.”

They are also developing a programme of training for nannies and parents/carers, to continue building a shared understanding of behaviour.