Specialist Classes

At Manor Green we understand that children with ASC achieve their potential and feel happy when their environment, learning, communication and routines are structured and personalised to meet their individual needs.

We believe that consistent approaches to teaching and learning, structured classroom environments and cross-curricular use of visual supports enable the pupils to be independent and engage in learning.

Therefore, across all three specialist classes the following structures, approaches and routines will be established to ensure consistency and promote happiness and achievement for all our learners.

Classroom Environment

The classroom environment will be kept tidy and organised in order for visual, auditory and tactile stimuli to be less distracting for the learner and to enable them to access the stimuli presented for an activity. The whole team is responsible for prior set up of resources and for putting resources away after an activity is finished to help the children focus on what they are accessing at any one time. Classroom cupboards will be kept tidy to enable the whole team to quickly access the resources they need and to maximise time spent with the children. Ensuring the environment is enabling is an important part of each session and is well maintained through-out the day.

Resources will be motivating for the children; which may include personalising activities to the child’s current interest or motivation. Stimuli will be refreshed every half term in line with the change in topic or theme.

Displays will reflect and celebrate the learning in the classroom; to include one display on English, Maths and Topic. These displays will creatively help support teaching and learning for the children including presenting key words, symbols, signs, objects and photographs.

Every classroom will have an area dedicated to whole class/ small group teaching in the form of a ‘circle’ of soft chairs. This area will be around the IWB to enable the adults to use ICT as a method for the children to access the curriculum. Tables and screens will be used to structure small 1:1 areas where the children can work with an adult or independently. These 1:1 areas will be ‘distraction’ free spaces; which are personalised for individual children and structured to allow for a quieter, focused area to learn. As children learn to focus alongside others they may move to working in a shared teaching area.

In every classroom an area will be dedicated to ‘play’. This area will be used to promote co-operative play and social skills. Where possible this area will have an element of role play and be linked to the topic theme. Adults will model play skills, and ensure that the resources in this area are motivating and personalised to the children’s current interests in order to promote expressive communication.

Visual Supports

In all specialist classes children will have access to a visual timetable, or where more appropriate individual schedules. These schedules will be used consistently to communicate to the children about what will happen now and next, and for the whole morning, afternoon or day dependent on the child’s individual needs. These schedules will be set up by the class team to reflect the child’s day and are an integral part of providing prior knowledge and support for transitions between activities for all learners. Schedules will work from top to bottom, with coloured symbols made in CommunicateinPrint and be taken off the schedule when the activity is finished.

Aided Language Displays (ALDs), symbols and choice boards will be used across all teaching and learning activities to develop children’s understanding and promote expressive communication skills. These visual supports will be made in CommunicateinPrint, with colour symbols in line with the whole school Total Communication Policy.

Day Structure and School Routines

On arrival to school children will enter into a stimulating and creative classroom environment. Activities will be set out that develop children’s play, communication and PSED knowledge and understanding. Individual children will access sensory circuits as part of their personalised sensory integration programmes during this welcome period.

After all the children have arrived a good morning session will take place as a more structured welcome to the day. Activities will then follow a work/ choosing format with session lengths varying to meet the needs of the children. Whole class activities will personalised to the children’s needs and be no longer than a suggested 20 minutes. Activities will be resourced to the highest standard with stimuli that are motivating, mindful of the children’s interests and changed regularly to keep the children motivated and engaged.

Snack and playtimes make a natural break in the morning session and the afternoon session will be personalised by the class teacher into two or more activities. At the end of the day the children will have opportunities to access calming activities alongside opportunities to request for high motivators to form a ‘golden or choosing time’. Some children may need to access a calming reflective activity after lunch in order to be able to engage in learning activities in the afternoon whereas others may need to participate in an alerting or organising activity to meet their individual sensory needs. This reflective activity should provide opportunities for the children to reflect on their own learning using music, photographs and rewards.

Teaching and Learning

The activities throughout the school day are structured around a highly individual and personalised timetable which is child led and tailored to the child’s needs.

Inclusion is a very important part of the learning culture in Specialist Classes and identified students may learn best in a dual placement scheme where they access generic classes for curriculum areas such as English, Maths and Science or for social inclusion with other children in their peer groups.

All Specialist Classes maintain whole school learning and community values with all children taking part in school experiences such as playtimes and assemblies, if appropriate in discussion with lead learner, with support from core staff who help the children to make the most from every opportunity.

Independence will be encouraged at all times through the use of visual supports, key words, key signs and direct short verbal language. Children will be encouraged to transition between locations/activities/ adults etc using their schedules or the class visual timetable to help them. Learners will have opportunities through-out the day to consolidate their learning leading to independent work. This independent work will follow a TEACCH approach to learning and the expectations will be communicated to the children by ensuring that all independent tasks have been taught first, a work system shows how many tasks have to be completed, a reward or choosing always follows completion of work. As the children’s skills, confidence and ability grow in working independently the children will be taught to request an adult to check their work as part of small steps towards self assessment.

Curriculum

Children in specialist classes follow a curriculum that is relevant, broad and balanced to their needs. Each class follows a thematic approach to teaching and learning which changes half termly. The LTPs follow the same themes and topics as the generic classes in each year group.

The curriculum focuses on four key areas as outlined below;

Communication

All children have one or more identified communication approach personalised to their needs. We use a range of approaches from objects of reference, signing, intensive interaction, switches, PECS to AAC. Communication development permeates all other areas of curriculum and skills are built across the school day. SaLT programmes are implemented across the school day and across all activities.

The adults are trained in using a range of approaches to help the children to be understood and to understand. These include musical cues, symbols, gesture, tone of voice, Makaton and objects of reference. Attention Autism is used to develop receptive language skills across all three classes.

Core Subjects (English, Maths (MA1, MA2, MA3), Science (SC1-4), PSED and Computing

Core subjects’ activities are planned from a termly topic web which ensures diversity and creativity in teaching of key skills, knowledge and understanding. Each child has a set of next step targets for each curriculum area and suggested activities provided by the core team and teacher.

Foundation Subjects

Across the week all foundation subjects are covered with the teacher ensuring progress through regular review of core skills. Foundation subjects are themed to half termly topic outlined on the class’ LTP and children’s progress is levelled annually in the Summer Term.

Physical, Personal, Social and Sensory Development

Children also work towards independence in eating and drinking, personal care (toileting, dressing) as identified through their PSED targets.

In addition children have access to a multi-sensory programme including use of the light and sound room, sensory circuits, outdoor learning environments and soft play. All children have personal, social and emotional targets which help develop skills in expressing and exploring likes and dislikes, high interests and friendships with others.

Individual children are assessed by the Occupational Therapist for sensory integration programmes which are implemented through-out the school day. Hydrotherapy and rebound are key strategies used to develop physical, social and communication skills.

Home/ school communication

Communication between home and school is highly valued and class teachers will develop a system that shares the following information;

  • Annually – At the Annual review a report with attainment levels of the child’s academic for the prior academic year.
  • Annually – In the Summer Term a detailed report with academic and personal achievements from the current academic year.
  • Annually – A ‘blue book’ photograph record of the children’s key achievements and attainment levels for the current academic year
  • Ongoing assessment records, including annotated photographs will be shared at any time on request from parents/carers
  • Thrice annually – parent/carer consultations with a focus on discussing personal, social, emotional and behavioural developments, challenges and achievements
  • Termly – a topic web detailing the learning for that terms topic for core and foundation subjects
  • Timetables – to share the child’s daily, weekly and termly routines
  • Weekly – an overview of learning activities and weekly focus’
  • Daily – written information on child’s reactions/ achievements and responses to each activity, as well as information on eating and drinking, toileting and behaviour as appropriate
  • As required – phone calls or informal parents meetings to discuss specific behaviours, challenges or needs.
  • As required – parent/carer workshops

In addition special achievements will be shared with parents by;

  • Class teams sharing annotated photographs or copies of the child’s work via home/ school books

Assessment Systems

Classes will develop a rigorous, effective, moderated and comprehensive assessment formative system that tracks children’s learning and development over daily, weekly, termly and yearly periods. Annotated photographs, pieces of work, annotated planning and adult comments will be collated in a ‘scrap book’ style portfolio and be reviewed at least weekly by the class teacher to inform short term planning and next step targets. These portfolios will be shared with parents/carers at Annual reviews.

Summative assessment systems are used in line with the whole school policy including;

  • Highlighted assessment tools detailing the profile of the child’s attainment
  • Moderated levelled evidence files – with subject leaders
  • Levels overviews and tracking in line with the National Progression Guidance

All members of the class team are responsible for recording achievements and challenges for each activity against the next step targets as well as making suggestions about future learning, resources and challenge. Please refer to the Specialist Classes Marking and feedback policy.

Behaviour and Personalised Learning

Identified children will have clear, concise and appropriate behaviour plans which will clearly show a photograph of the child, be signed by parents, displayed and shared in class teams and whole school meetings and saved on the server. Behaviour plans will be regularly reviewed and updated. Behaviours will be tracked and monitored using adapted behaviour recording systems which allow teachers and the lead for behaviour to look for patterns, triggers and strategies.

Learning should be personalised for all children, with some children needing 1:1 support following a highly personalised routine. These daily learning plans will always follow the same core routine, with shortened activity lengths, regular changes of location and adults. Class teachers will think systematically and creatively to produce organised timetables that maximise all the learning environments available including the outdoor areas.