Special schools

Young girl with OT in school settingOccupational therapists (OTs) work with children in special schools to help them develop functional skills for everyday life in the areas of self-care, life skills, school work and play. 

Swiss Cottage School is a maintained special school in the London Borough of Camden that meets the needs of learners with complex needs. This includes learners with profound and multiple learning difficulties, severe learning difficulties, moderate learning difficulties, autistic spectrum disorders, communication disorders, sensory needs, physical needs, and/or social, emotional mental health needs. Read more about Swiss Cottage School.

All children who attend Swiss Cottage School have access to occupational therapy services if these are required. The OT team at Swiss Cottage works as part of the classroom team, so the pupils’ OT programmes, advice and equipment are part of the whole school day.

Occupational therapists provide assessments in the following areas:

  • developmental skills
  • play skills
  • self-care and life skills
  • fine motor skills, including handwriting, typing and recording work in class
  • sensory processing skills
  • gross motor and co-ordination skills
  • visual perception skills
  • specialist equipment needs (hoists, slings, seating, adapted cutlery/pens, etc)
  • digital assistive technology and alternative and augmentative communication.

Young girl with OT in school settingThese assessments are carried out by observing the student in the classroom and playground, and obtaining information from parents and the teaching staff. Appropriate formal (standardised) assessments may be used.

The occupational therapy input may be provided in the form of:

  • individual therapy sessions
  • groups run in class
  • sessions run with other professionals working in the school (ie physiotherapist, speech and language therapist, etc)
  • classroom programmes, delivered by the class team
  • provision of assistive equipment, where appropriate 
  • setting up home activity programmes
  • liaison and monitoring with school staff
  • training for school staff and parents.