Welcome to class 8 – class teacher Niamh Anderson

Staff team

  • Catherine Ketteringham (teacher),
  • Claire Packman (teaching assistant), Kayleigh Vardy (teaching assistant), Lyndsay Reid (teaching assistant)
  • Nikki Hoggard (personal care assistant)

Student profiles

  • We have eight learners aged 11-15
  • Our working range is currently from Step 2 to Step 7, in B Squared, across the range of curriculum subjects on the progression steps curriculum.
  • One of our students is also working on the AIM Award CORE skills qualification looking at moving towards being more independent.
  • We use a combination of spoken language, Makaton, signs and symbols to communicate.

The academy day


We are developing our knowledge and understanding of the many areas of the National Curriculum as well as making sure our students are developing their life skills to help them become more independent. We encourage all of our students to take on responsibility for different jobs within the classroom including preparing class snacks, washing and drying pots, helping to unload and appropriately store shopping and organising recycling. Our students receive ‘wages’ for the jobs they do which they save in their money bags to spend on treats in our class 8 snack shop on Friday afternoons. Through this we are also learning about the life skills of social interactions, transactions, money and change.

We plan in time for self-regulation throughout the day, offering a variety of sensory based activities to help students learn how to self-regulate and manage their own feelings and emotions.

We start each day by meeting students from transport and walking in together, hanging up coats and bags, heading to the toilet and washing our hands before having a drink and some breakfast. Upon arrival, students identify which ‘zone of regulation’ they are currently feeling, which helps staff to support our students who may be feeling dysregulated.

We develop decision making, communication and social skills through morning registration with each member of the class choosing their preferred way to greet peers and staff. This a lovely way to start the day with all students communicating how they want to greet friends, peers and staff and, whether they want to take part in a particular greeting using their body language to demonstrate this.

We always follow this by going out for our class walk where we can informally identify problems and help students plan how to solve them.

On Mondays we have circle check in where we share our weekend news and any concerns we have about the coming week. We also have assembly learn about mathematics, physical education where we get to develop our practical fine and gross motor skills as well as our communication, team work, creativity and resilience. We finish the day with reading / phonics and, for the students who have earned it, choosing and snack.

On Tuesday we learn about science, completing practical activities where we can. We also have life skills lessons where students develop their decision making skills, making choices of which turn taking activities to participate in. We have been enjoying playing a wide variety of games and activities, including UNO, Go Fish, Dominos, Guess Who? and Bingo with some of our students taking turns to be the bingo caller, developing essential life skills of communication and interaction as well as their emotional and social development. In the afternoon we are learning Makaton to help us communicate more effectively with each other and we are learning the basics of Italian to support modern foreign languages and our theme of Romans.

On Wednesdays we have a creative morning with art and technology and food technology followed by time and reading in the afternoon.

Thursday’s lessons are English writing, personal, social and health education or relationships and sexual health education where we will be learning about positive, healthy relationships, online safety, making healthy decisions and important changes that happen within our bodies, as well as reproduction. In the afternoon our learners participate in carousel activities where they choose one activity and complete it for a set period of weeks to help them learn new, fun skills whilst working alongside new staff and learners.

Friday is our theme day and we learn about the world around us through different topics like Romans introduction, Roald Dahl Day and Jeans for Genes Day. In the afternoon our students use their knowledge of money to choose the items they want to buy from snack shop, calculate the cost of the items using column addition, choose the appropriate coins from their money bag, complete the transaction and work out how much change they should get. At the end of each half term, students bank their money in our class 8 eagles bank and learn about savings over time. We end our week with Star of the Week Assembly where we go through everyone’s fantastic achievements from our praise board and we award our Star of the Week to one of our amazing students.

At break time, students play with their friends outside in the walled play space or, during winter, have an option of playing indoors as well. Students further develop their decision making and choosing through having a dedicated session where they can choose music or a programme to watch in the mornings with breakfast and at lunchtimes.

After break time we have ten minutes of calm, sensory regulation where students listen to relaxing music, have hand massages or play with sensory equipment to help them prepare for the lessons to come.

Lunch time

Lunchtime takes place in our classroom which can be either school lunch or sandwiches from home, after which students have their main playtime of the day.

Afternoon and home time

After lunch we have a further five minutes of calm, sensory regulation before starting our afternoon sessions.

We follow this with choosing time and snack where our students make decisions about how they want to spend their time and what they would like to eat. For each piece of work our students complete during the day, they receive five minutes of choosing time at the end of the day, giving a total of 15 minutes choosing. Students can achieve a further five minutes of choosing time by performing an ‘act of kindness’ throughout the day.

They can interact with each other in a relaxed atmosphere, completing a variety of activities like playing games, colouring, playing with Lego or they can unwind with an iPad or watching programmes or movies together.

We spend the last 10 minutes tidying our work space, reflecting on our day, checking out with each other and getting ready for transport home.