Students need to develop the ability to:
- interact and communicate with others
- make choices
- turn-take and co-operate
Most students use gesture and whole body action to make requests and are supported to use photographs to consolidate this. The Loddon School® uses the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS). Students that use formal language skills are functioning at a single word level. Students’ speech is often echolaic and whilst used in appropriate situations might not always convey true meaning. The Loddon School®aims to acknowledge all attempts at communication, although some requests may have to be deferred. Communication aids are specific to each pupil’s requirements based upon an assessment of their needs by the speech and language therapist. All students have a photographic timetable to help them understand what is happening now and next. Students are encouraged to use pictures (photos) to make requests and initiate conversations with others. Language and communication skills are developed throughout the waking day to give opportunities to use expressive skills and improve comprehension.
There are also structured language opportunities:
- at mealtimes
- during café
- anticipation games
- circle time
- community outings supported by our communication department
- letter writing
- structured games
- tuck shop
Students’ progress in communication skills is measured through the Developing Skills curriculum, Special Schools Target Tracker, P scale assessment, annual communication assessment and Speech and Language Therapy reports. Progress is reported in the 5 monthly review.
All students have access to the phase 1 environmental stage of the phonics programme taught to them through a wide range of the activities. This phase concentrates greatly on listening to patterns and words shapes which is the early stages to reading and speaking.
Students who speak or are ready for early reading will move through the Letters and Sounds phases of this phonics programme which has been specially adapted for each child.
Teaching of reading
The Loddon School® uses the Interactive approach (Multi-sensory) when teaching the skill of learning to read. This approach blends two other approaches (Phonics and whole book approaches), using both the recognition of sounds and the context of the words.
Understanding the patterns of the words through musical rhythms in songs, while also interacting with the words in a more concrete way through objects and different textured materials related to stories or songs aids learning by using the sensory aspects.