What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational Therapists (OT’s) work with people to help them achieve independence in the daily activities they need and want to complete.  OT’s work with people of all ages, in hospital and community settings, with physical and/or mental health conditions.

The goal of occupational therapy is to help the individual maintain, regain, or improve the skills that are needed to live as safely and independently as possible- at home, in employment or in education. This may include developing their motor skills or by working directly on self-care skills such as independent feeding, helping with meal preparation, or dressing themselves.  Advice is also available to support participation in activities where the individuals sensory processing needs impact on their skills.  I.e.:  managing busy environments.


Charlton Park Academy Occupational Therapy service

The school-based OT’s work alongside the class staff to develop strategies and incorporate opportunities for practise into daily school routines.  The therapist works across the pathways.

Because many of the young people have difficulties with processing of sensory input, the therapist works with the individuals and their support staff to ensure they have access to the sensory input or strategies that they need to remain regulated whilst supporting their participation in school activities.

The Occupational Therapists are:

Sinead Boland – Occupational Therapist 3 days per week

Kirsty Richards – Occupational Therapist 1-2 days per week

Diana Bennett – Occupational Therapist 2 days per week

Referrals for targeted or specialist levels require the referrer to state the functional impact the difficulty is having on the individual’s life, examples include;

  • Delayed fine motor skills impacting on managing fastenings such as buttons, zips, using cutlery and pencil control.
  • Sensory processing challenges – constantly on the go – impacting on students’ engagement and participation in class activities.

Once the intervention has been completed the student will be service, however they can be re-referred at any time by the class teacher following completion of the OT service referral form.

The school also has NHS OT’s that visit the school regularly providing equipment and support to pupils with a physical disability.

Drama Therapy

Drama therapy is available for students to support their emotional well-being and encourages development in communication, turn-taking, listening, creative expression and play, body awareness, self-esteem and developing relationships with peers. It can be a group or individual therapy. It is not necessary to be good at drama as sessions can involve many ways of accessing a person’s creativity.

Every session is different, growing each week in a way that acknowledges and supports the individual or group.   If you feel a student would benefit from Drama therapy, please complete a Therapy Referral form and return to senco@charltonparkacademy.co.uk

Read about our Drama Therapist and Art Enrichment Tutor at CPA: CPA October 2019 Newsletter

Drama Therapist: Rebecca Onley


Music Therapy

What is Music Therapy?

Music Therapy is based on the understanding that all human beings are able to respond to music, irrespective of musical ability.

Music Therapy involves the use of sound, rhythm and improvised music in order to form a musical relationship between the client and the therapist. Within this relationship, the child or young adult can respond, gain confidence and a sense of self. Change can take place and the individual’s areas of strengths and needs can be explored within a safe creative environment.

Music Therapy sessions also offer a child or young person a different experience of shared play, interaction, learning and understanding, through verbal and non-verbal modes of communication.

Who is Music Therapy for?

Children and Young People will often experience emotional challenges at different stages of their lives. Illness, communication difficulties or disability may all be contributing factors. Traumatic experiences, change and loss can also impact on an individual’s well-being.

While music therapy can address specific symptoms, this is achieved through working with the person as a whole. Referrals are based on the child or young person’s particular emotional needs and not simply on a medical diagnosis (such as autism, cerebral palsy, or a learning disability).

BBC Radio 4 Music Charity | Music as Therapy International Charity Appeal

Music Therapists: Richard Murison, Anthony Voelcker and Susanna Bajali


Physiotherapy is delivered at Charlton Park Academy by a team of qualified physiotherapists and physiotherapy technicians. Physiotherapy assessment, rehabilitation and therapeutic manual handling is an important part of the student’s journey through school.

We assess, review, provide treatment, physiotherapy programs, equipment and orthoses for children that require them. Our team of specialist physiotherapists and therapy technicians offer skilled assessment and treatment by:

  • Working closely with school to develop functional programs to help maximize the child’s level of functional independence
  • Creating therapy goals with the wider school team that are a reflection of the child’s individual needs
  • Providing postural management and hip screening assessments for those children that require it
  • Providing advice and education to staff and family that assist in meeting the child’s physiotherapy requirements
  • Liaising with medical teams, both locally, and in larger tertiary hospitals managing the child’s care, to ensure close partnership and communication between all services working with the child

For further information: Physiotherapy Special Schools Service

Staff: Brinda Assi (Physiotherapist Lead), Cheredon Ellis (Physiotherapy Technician) and Tina Knibbs (Physiotherapy Technician)

Speech and Language Therapy

What is SALT?
Speech and Language Therapy (SALT)

Who are we?

The Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) Team at Charlton Park Academy includes:
Alex Sweetnam (Highly Specialist Speech and Language Therapist, Team Lead)
Anna Trebble (Specialist Speech and Language Therapist)
Bridget Yu (Speech and Language Therapist)
Sally Stanton (Speech and Language Therapy Assistant)

We provide support four days per week.

What do we do?

The Speech and Language Therapy Team works closely with the Academy Communication Team and school staff to encourage the use of communication strategies across the day.

We support not only our student’s communication and participation, but also the environment and staff engaging with them.

The support we provide across the school and in the classroom is known as UNIVERSAL SUPPORT. This includes working with teachers in the classroom to use strategies that support language skills and participation. We provide on-going training and modelling for staff throughout the year, including how to use visual supports in different lessons (e.g. Topic Boards and PECS), how to support students using early communication skills through Intensive Interaction and how to support language and social communication skills.

Our TARGETED SUPPORT aims to help staff to use specific strategies to help students with communication and/or eating and drinking difficulties e.g. eating and drinking training, language groups, social skills groups, Lego groups for students with ASD,  PECS and visual support training,  and meeting parents/carers at coffee mornings.

SPECIALIST SUPPORT is provided for students identified as having needs in addition to the universal and targeted support already in place. In these cases we may provide a period of intervention. This includes assessment, devising an intervention programme, liaising with parents/carers, safeguarding, making referrals to specialist centres, as well as reviewing students in specialist feeding and communication clinics.

As a team, we work to support whole school and classroom environment to ensure that class staff are confident in using the most appropriate communication strategies. We strongly believe that to enable a student at Charlton Park Academy to communicate at their optimal level, it is essential that we enable and support those who support them.

The School Nursing Team

The School Nursing Team supports all the health needs of young people whilst in school. This can include attending to emergency situations, carrying out observations and the administering medication on a regular and emergency basis.

In addition, we provide support and training to staff in looking after young people in their class. The School Nursing Team will attend meetings within the school for children with known health needs and we work closely with all of the school staff to encourage health, wellbeing and good practice across the school. We also attend both Annual Health Reviews with Dr. Ezekwe (Children’s Community Paediatrician) and Dietetic Review with Mei Man (Children’s Community Dietician). As a team, we work to support whole family, school and classroom environment. We endeavour to ensure that class staff are confident in using the most appropriate intervention strategies. We also strongly believe that to enable a student at Charlton Park Academy to live at their optimal level, it is essential that we enable and support those who support them.

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Art Therapy

‘Art therapy provides a supportive setting for students to express thoughts, feelings and ideas using art materials. Where verbal  language may be  limited, using art can offer a more accessible and direct means of communication.  Regular weekly sessions allow trust to develop in the relationship with the therapist, the students’ choices, ideas and feelings are supported and encouragement is given to try out, explore or ‘play’ with a range of materials.  Through a therapeutic process over time, students can benefit from increased self awareness,  development of social and communication skills, better emotional regulation and improved self esteem.’

Art Therapist: Celia McKiernan


Art Enrichment

Art Enrichment is an opportunity for self-expression without the need for verbal communication. We make two-dimensional and three-dimensional artwork, using a range of materials such as clay, paints, polystyrene, sand and cardboard.

The sessions allow time for each student to explore these materials and to discover creative ways of interacting with their sensory qualities. Sometimes this leads to a finished artwork like a sculpture or painting and at other times the creativity takes place in the exploratory process itself.

The Art Enrichment experience is a dynamic one in the sense that it is open to any creative tangent that might arise. The relationship between the adult and the student is based on a receptivity to clues about where the momentum of creativity is leading. When the adult provides the resources to facilitate that next step, a trust develops. In this way, the student benefits from the connection with the adult, as well as from the well-being that creativity fosters.

You can see some of the work made in Art Enrichment below >>

Staff: Alan Roberts

CPA logo

Counselling at Charlton Park Academy

The role of counselling at Charlton Park Academy significantly helps students with issues such as self-esteem, confidence, resolving conflicts, mental health, relationships (peers/family), loss/bereavement, trauma and anger management.

Counselling consists of helping students look at ways of changing behaviours, which in turn can help resolve conflicts within interpersonal relationships, as well as empowering and enabling students to pursue developmental milestones. Helping teenagers communicate and express their wishes and feelings can be generated by using art and play materials as an alternative approach to facilitate communication. At Charlton Park Academy, we recognise there are many different students with different needs, therefore we work collaboratively with each student to discover their potential, which is used to enhance self-expression.

Some of the approaches used are child-centred psychotherapy, narrative therapy (reconstructing a student’s story) as well as cognitive behavioural therapy.  As each student is different with different needs, they will be assessed for suitability of media and activities for achieving individual goals. Young people with additional needs often need time to enable learning and require extra resources and support to achieve their potential. Students need an opportunity to be listened to and to have their thoughts and feelings reflected back to them in an empathic and safe environment.

Students comment that they enjoy their one-to-one therapy sessions, where they have been able to confidentially talk about issues that are causing anxiety and stress with a trusting other – which has significantly improved their mental health and wellbeing.



Sara Johnson
Counsellor at Charlton Park Academy
Tel: 020 8249 6844 ext 240




We can meet with staff either individually or in groups to offer advice and guidance around children or young people with emotional or behavioural problems.

This can be requested in order to

  • better understand the meaning of the behaviour and aid in effective management
  • improve partnership working with parents
  • consider whether referral into specialist health services is required
  • help staff to manage the feelings that behaviour of particular children may evoke in them

If a child is already open to Tier 3 CAMHS we would encourage staff to contact the care coordinator for the child. If needed, brief consultations can be used to provide information on who to contact with concerns.

Rachel Gates and Jessica Florio attend Charlton Park weekly during term time on a Friday. Consultation appointments with Rachel and Jessica are organised through Sara Johnson to ensure bookings are coordinated effectively.

Meetings can also be organised with parents; and may be requested by parents through the school. Meetings with parents will always be alongside a member of staff from school to ensure communication and joint-working.

Consent forms must be completed prior to any consultation.