Welcome to class 6 – class teacher, Kieran Blythe
Students in class 6 are in years 7 and 8. We study all the areas of the National Curriculum, but the way we learn is adapted to the needs of our students. Learning is usually practical, experiential and/or sensory. We incorporate time to move, explore and learn whilst meeting our sensory needs.
The academy day
When our students arrive they are greeted by staff and supported to hang their coats and bags up. They are offered breakfast, visit the toilet and ‘build’ their name using letter cards. Then it is time to say “good morning”. We sing a good morning song, which includes Makaton signing and actions. Every student identifies their own picture, puts it up on the ‘who is here today?’ wall, and says “good morning everyone!” using words, signs or symbols. We also say and sign the day of the week and identify what the weather is like outside.
Then we have our first lesson. Since all our students have different needs and abilities, the work is highly differentiated.
After the lesson, it is playtime. Students access the outside play area and have opportunities to communicate, play and interact with each other – this is a great time for students to build social skills and establish themselves as part of a social group. Some of the best learning happens during non-directed times such as playtime!
After playtime we have a short relaxation session (with lights out, sensory music playing, and sensory objects for each learner to hold) and students are supported to visit the toilet if required. Then it is time for lesson 2. An example of this lesson is ‘musical conversations’. We sing songs that involve actions, signing, choice-making, moving and dancing. We also sing songs about feelings to help students identify basic emotions – they love making happy, sad, angry, worried etc faces! Students really enjoy dancing and singing/signing along to the songs.
Students go outside for playtime and then they eat lunch. Lunch time is either a packed lunch or a school dinner. This is a relaxed time – but we are still learning! Students may practice their counting skills by giving out cutlery, their self-help and fine-motor skills by using a knife to cut up their food, or their life skills by helping clean up/do the dishes afterwards. After lunch students brush their teeth, often with staff support.
After lunch we have another short relaxation session to help students emotionally regulate ready for the afternoon’s learning. An example of an afternoon session is a reading lesson. Students listen to the story being read whilst sitting together in a group. The story is symbolised to assist students to understand and it includes sensory elements for every part of the story.
Our final lesson might be a short phonics lesson. In these sessions we will focus on a sound, for example the ‘m’ sound. At Yeoman Park Academy we follow the Read Write Inc. phonics programme, but we adapt it to meet the needs of our individual students. We progress at a much slower pace than in a mainstream school and we use speech and language therapy techniques, such as input modelling phrases, to support our pre-verbal and partially-verbal students to make the sounds.
After this, students have a short ‘choosing time’ during which they are allowed free-choice of activities from the choosing cupboard. Then they have a small, healthy snack such as fruit before getting ready to go home.
At the end of the school day we have a short ‘reflection’ period where we turn off the lights, relax and talk about what we have learned today. Then students are supported to get their bags and coats and walk out to their buses, taxis or parents.
Assemblies and star of the week
We join in the main assemblies on Monday mornings – where we share our school prayer, weekend news – and Friday afternoons – where we celebrate our Star of the Week and learn about different themed days.