Ysgol Heulfan has re-assessed provision to support their pupils learning needs. Through individual development plans and establishing key areas of development, pupils have focused on thinking, communication, ICT and number skills in day-to-day tasks. Collaborative learning has developed pupils’ personal and social skills. Family and community engagement projects have also enhanced pupils’ real-life skills.
Context and background to the effective or innovative practice
Following a review of provision for pupils who have additional learning needs across the school, it was decided to build on the excellent practice in the resourced provision. The review coincided with an evaluation of the school’s staffing structure, which enabled one member of the senior leadership team to be responsible for uniting provision for pupil wellbeing, behaviour and additional learning needs.
Description of nature of strategy or activity
Pupils who have additional learning needs attend group sessions where they share ideas with the teacher about what they would like to learn and how. At the start of a block of work, a ‘Learning Project’ is agreed. This may be:
to plan a journey to Wrexham
to visit a local café for dinner
to buy items of food and drink for a party
to organise different aspects of a wedding
Learning tasks are practical and cross-curricular in approach. They encourage pupils who have additional learning needs to develop their real life skills, for example; to book a taxi, to check a receipt, to pay for items; and to check change. There is always a focus on developing thinking, communication, ICT and number skills. Specific targets for each learner are agreed at the start of the Learning Project and these are also shared with parents. Learning walls are used to record the learning process, which is shared with parents. Family and community engagement projects are regularly organised and delivered across the school. A particularly successful project involved parents and their children learning sign language together, delivered by school staff. Another successful example involved parents of pupils who have profound and multiple learning difficulties learning alongside their children and class staff. A multi-sensory cooking project was particularly effective in engaging parents with their child’s learning.
The revised approaches regarding the teaching of pupils who have additional learning needs now involves a more collaborative style of learning, with no pre-prepared and confining worksheets involved. The pupils have the opportunity to talk, to plan, to brainstorm and to research. They develop their personal and social skills throughout. In a recent project, the group decided to plan a trip to Wrexham. They brainstormed their ideas to indicate the different ways of travelling and considered the ‘pros and cons’ of each mode of transport. They went on to walk to the local train station to view timetables and learned how to read and understand them. Two pupils telephoned the local taxi rank to price a taxi journey correctly; one pupil did the talking and another one recorded the conversation using a tablet computer confidently. Other members of the group used the internet successfully to find out about bus departures. There was an extensive amount of opportunities to develop pupils’ literacy and numeracy skills throughout. The project culminated in a trip to Wrexham using the agreed mode of transport.
Another successful project involved learners experiencing the sound of an air raid siren and hiding under their tables. The group went on to write a shared poem about their experience and their feelings. The final piece of this literacy work was impressive and their poem was a clear indication of how engrossed the pupils were with their learning.
To ensure that parents are kept fully informed regarding the school’s new approaches, the school’s annual review process has also been updated to reflect the excellent practice already evident in the resourced provision. Each annual review is centred on the pupil, with their views and opinions at the heart of the process. One-page-profiles provide the starting point and are enhanced with videos and photographs of the pupil at school. The annual review is a celebration of what has been achieved during the past year.
Ysgol Heulfan is fortunate to have a large team of experienced staff working across the school and in the additional learning needs resourced provision. The school continuously strives to ensure that all pupils, regardless of ability, have relevant, real life and meaningful learning opportunities to ensure that ‘they can be the best they can be’.
What impact has this work had on provision and learners’ standards?
Monitoring of individual development plans shows that all pupils achieve their targets.
Having one person responsible for pupil wellbeing, behaviour and additional learning needs has resulted in clarity for staff, pupils and parents. This key person is very knowledgeable about different interventions and is trusted and respected by all.
Person-centred reviews show that pupils and parents are confident and happy with the support they receive in school and with the progress that is made.
Sharing forums within the school enable continuous dissemination of skills, which positively impact on pupils’ learning and skills and on staff personal development.
How have you shared your good practice?
The school has shared its approaches for pupils with additional learning needs with schools within their cluster of schools and with the local authority. It has also shared its work with individual schools on request.