Learning in the Primary Phase
The Primary Phase at Springwood Campus has four classes for students with autism, severe communication and social interaction difficulties and learning difficulties and one class for pupils with autism and a normally developing cognitive profile. The classes are grouped in their Key Stages, according to learning and communication needs, and cater for children across the autism spectrum.
There are six students in each class, usually staffed with one teacher and three teaching assistants. In line with autism good practice, our large classrooms are designed with areas for different purposes: whole group teaching, individual work bays for independent working, snack and cooking, messy activities and an outdoor area. All classes have access to a safe space, either directly off the classroom or close by. Access to these spaces give children the opportunity to begin to learn to self-regulate their emotional well-being.
We have two Speech and Language Therapists who work with each class group in weekly sessions and who oversee students’ individual therapy management plans. One of our Speech and Language Therapists works one day a week with our Asperger’s classes. We use a Total Communication approach to develop students’ communication skills and understanding of concepts.
Each primary class has a weekly swimming lesson in the hydrotherapy pool at Linwood’s main site. Over the course of the year, each class has half a term of dance therapy which focuses on a multi-sensory approach.
The primary phase classes enjoy weekly educational visits to a variety of settings which provides them with opportunities to generalise their learning including practising life skills in the community.
All of the classes are timetabled for sessions in the sensory rooms, which are used for multi-sensory learning experiences. The soft play room, which is used for developing interaction and social skills, is enjoyed by small groups of children throughout the week.
Each student has a personal behaviour plan which outlines proactive autism specific strategies to enable staff and parents to consistently support the development of each child’s positive behaviour. Students’ sensory needs are assessed in collaboration with parents and are addressed through the environment, activities and the use of sensory equipment.
Teachers adapt the national curriculum to meet the needs of the students in their class. Each student has a personalised learning plan which targets the key areas of focus for their learning and identifying next steps. These plans are developed from the outcomes and objectives from students’ statements of special needs/education health care plans (EHCP). A provision map is developed for each student to ensure that all of their needs are addressed with appropriate support and intervention.
All students have access to a structured curriculum which allows for multi-sensory hands-on experiences. Our curriculum allows opportunities for students to generalise their learning so that they are able to use their skills meaningfully in a range of situations. For example after learning about money in the classroom, students will have opportunities to practise buying items in a shop.
We celebrate our students’ achievements in assembly on Friday afternoons.
Each student has a ‘record of achievement’ in which we keep examples of their good work and photographs of their learning experiences. We regularly send home certificates and examples of student’s work for parents to celebrate with their child. Parents/carers are invited in at key points during the year which include parents’ evenings and to review of their child’s statement or EHCP. We value working collaboratively with parents and keep in regular contact through home school communication books, face to face chats and phone calls.