We cater for learners with a wide range of special educational needs including: global developmental delay, autism and moderate to severe learning difficulties. The school provides a highly specialist learning environment with small classes, specially trained staff. Personalised learning is central to what we do and interventions are carefully planned to ensure that every pupil is given the opportunity to achieve their true potential.
We have two Reception classes, each of which follows the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) guidance. All pupils entering our EYFS have been granted an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) in response to their additional needs and the majority are working at a level considerably below the national average. As a school we are aware that we need a focus on skills in order to support our pupils in being school ready. The number of pupils who are not toilet trained and need greater support with hygiene and self-care is significantly higher than in mainstream EYFS. A key role of our Oak Wood EYFS setting is to help increase the independence, social and attention skills of our pupils so that they can access learning more successfully.
We recognise that every child is unique and our Early Years Practitioners work to develop enabling and responsive learning environments which suit the learning styles and interests of each individual child. Early intervention and strong collaboration between a number of parties (including: class teams, families, previous Early Years settings and agencies, and Multi Agency Support) ensures that all pupils, regardless of their SEN, have the best start to school life. By working collaboratively, staff support our pupils to overcome their barriers to learning.
Our Early Years department aims to:
- Give each child a happy, positive and enjoyable start to school life;
- Build upon prior learning by working in partnership with parents, carers, previous settings and a wide range of professionals;
- Help each child to establish solid foundations for future learning and development, particularly with regards to functional communication, independence and self-care;
- Provide each child with a wide range of new and exciting experiences, and give them opportunities to consolidate existing skills and to learn new ones;
- Support each child to develop socially, physically, intellectually and emotionally through high expectations, praise and positivity;
- Celebrate each child’s personal successes and achievements together with their families.
- Provide quality and consistency so that every child makes good progress and no child gets left behind.
- Regularly assess and review the needs and interests of each individual child.
- Promote equality of opportunity and anti-discriminatory practice, ensuring that every child is included and supported.
We also believe that honouring the 4 outcomes of the EHCP (Communication and Interaction Expressive, Social, Emotional and Mental Health, Sensory and Physical Needs and Cognition and Learning) helps us to ensure that we provide the above. We are guided in the delivery of this by the four themes which underpin EYFS guidance, these are:
- A Unique Child: We recognise that every child is a competent learner who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured. We recognise that children develop in individual ways and at varying rates. This is particularly important at Oak Wood where we value and celebrate the small steps of achievement that all pupils make.
- Positive Relationships: We recognise that children learn to connect to the world and grow in strength and independence from secure relationships. We aim to develop caring, respectful and professional relationships with all children and their families. Children’s attitudes and dispositions to learning are influenced by feedback from others; we use praise and encouragement, consistent reinforcement and prompting as well as celebration and rewards to encourage positive attitudes to learning, as well as consistent strategies to set clear boundaries and keep children safe.
- Enabling Environments: We recognise that the environment plays a key role in scaffolding and extending a child’s development. Through careful observation, we assess each child’s interests, stages of development and learning needs. This information is used to create a stimulating and engaging environment which reflects children’s cultures and experiences. A range of indoor and outdoor play resources and opportunities are provided. Our reception classes are set up to allow children to explore and learn securely and safely. Areas are defined and resources are labelled so that children learn to locate equipment and resources as independently as possible.
- Learning and Development: The majority of the pupils in our Early Years classes need a more structured approach to learning which requires a balance between adult-led play focussed activities and opportunities to generalise learning. We aim to ensure that all of our activities including adult focus led learning are delivered in a playful, engaging and meaningful way whilst still challenging and extending individuals.