Five Acre Wood school is a place where everyone knows that our pupils, like everyone else, are working to become adults and achieve their potential.  They are doing this while having to filter their learning experiences through the challenges presented by their learning difficulties. For each pupil it is different, but for pupils in the Sensory Learning Approach this can be considered as especially difficult as many are also facing a range of sensory, physical and communication challenges.

Within this learning approach we take the challenges our pupils face very seriously and have set in motion a number of initiatives to improve the learning environment for them.

You will already know about the Curriculum initiative that is running across the school. Most of the pupils in our learning approach are accessing the Sensory Curriculum which is designed to concentrate learning in the five core areas: My Communication, My Body, My Thinking, My independence, and Me and My Community.  This means that their days are filled with learning opportunities that give them a chance to develop really useful skills which make a difference to their quality of life.

Our teachers do not prepare to ‘teach the class’; they design individualised planning that addresses the next key steps that each pupil needs to achieve to make progress. This planning is shared with all staff so that everyone working with them is focussed on enabling the pupil to achieve that core piece of learning. We see progress, not only as a range of academic skills, but we work holistically, as our five core areas above show, to prepare the pupil for the lives they will live, seeking to improve their quality of life; something we all want for ourselves.

Our teachers are working closely together, getting to know all of the pupils across the learning approach and using their skills and experience to develop the quality of the provision for all pupils. Not only does this give each pupil the support of all the sensory teachers at one time, but also helps with transition between classes at the end and beginning of years.

There is interagency working that ensures that therapy is delivered and embedded into the functional setting of the classroom so that the pupil has opportunities to practice those core skills all day, every day

Other initiatives across the learning approach include ‘on body signing’ for pupils with sensory impairment where they are communicated with through touch. We have already noticed that when pupils receive communication about what is happening to them this way, they show much less startle reflex which in turn ensures that their muscle tone does not go up causing possible stiffness and fixed positions. We are working together as a learning approach to develop this method of communication and looking to see the impact it makes on the well-being of our pupils.

We are also developing lunchtime provision so that our pupils get more inclusion and time to practice their mobility amongst their peers. Lunchtime is a highly social time and we want to ensure that our pupils are really included in a way they can enjoy.

In the Sensory Learning Approach we believe that for every one of our unique pupils, they deserve a unique bespoke personal pathway that helps them to achieve their potential and have the best quality of life possible.