Specialist School

Appleford School’s Learning Support Team consists of:

  • 3 x Occupational Therapists (OTs)
  • 3 x Speech and Language Therapists (SaLTs)
  • 3 x Specialist Teachers

The team works closely alongside academic, boarding staff and the Pastoral team in order to support pupils holistically.

Appleford School’s Pastoral Team consists of:

  • 1 x Child Psychotherapist/THRIVE Practitioner
  • 1 x THRIVE Practitioner/Emotional Literacy Support Assistant

Teams are supported by both Head of Learning Support & Head of Pastoral Care.

Assessing pupil needs

Both Speech & Language Therapists and Occupational Therapists use a range of observation, formal and informal assessments tools to gain an understanding of pupils’ strengths and areas of need. Findings are discussed with pupils, parents, and school staff to form conclusions, set targets and deliver both direct and indirect interventions.

THRIVE Practitioners use THRIVE-Online assessment to screen children’s social and emotional well-being, enabling them to engage in live and learning.

Therapy Interventions

Following assessment, a therapy intervention plan is put into place if required. This may involve:

  • Individual therapy sessions
  • Group therapy sessions
  • Support in the classroom
  • Community visits
  • Professional advice to parents, academic and boarding staff

Producing reports of pupils’ strengths and areas of need

Most pupils on therapy caseloads will receive at least one formal report per year. These tend to include up to date assessment findings, progress towards targets and recommendations. Therapy targets are updated and agreed with the pupil and those close to the pupil.

Children are assessed 3 times per year by THRIVE practitioners and results are shared with both parents and key adults within school environment. Reports include focussed key learning targets and an individualised THRIVE action plan to develop them to become more self-assured, capable and adaptable. It can also address any troubling behaviours, providing a firm foundation for academic achievement.

Attending annual reviews

Pupils with Education, Health & Care Plans (EHCPs) receive a review of their plans on a yearly basis. Therapy staff attend annual reviews, alongside Mrs. King (Head of Learning Support), parents, pupils and academic and boarding staff.

Supporting Cognition & Learning skills

All lessons throughout the school are taught with specialist trained staff, and each class has access to specialist IT software. Children are supported to use IT in a way that best suits their learning need, to promote effective and individualised learning.

Mentoring is given individually to GCSE pupils to enable them to maximize their:

  • Study skills
  • Revision techniques
  • Ability to complete specific learning tasks
  • Ability to use their access arrangements effectively

Occupational Therapists additionally assess and support the following aspects of cognition and learning skills:

  • Visual perceptual skills (e.g. difficulty finding information on a classroom board)
  • Organisational skills
  • Memory
  • Accessing the technology to support the pupil’s literacy and recording skills

Supporting Communication & Interaction skills

Speech & Language Therapists assess and support the following aspects of communication and interaction:

  • Attention & Listening Skills
  • Auditory and Working Memory
  • Understanding of Language
  • Use of Language
  • Vocabulary
  • Speech (i.e. articulation, phonology & fluency)
  • Social Communication & Interaction Skills

Teaching and boarding staff are supported to integrate strategies into everyday teaching and interactions, in order to support pupils’ needs throughout the day. Speech and Language Therapists deliver ‘Elklan Speech and Language Support’ training to key teaching staff, resulting in staff receiving an accredited qualification to promote positive communication and interaction throughout the school.

Supporting Sensory & Physical skills

Occupational Therapists assess, support and advise on the following aspects of sensory and physical skills:

  • Attention to task & productivity
  • Fine motor skills including handwriting
  • Gross motor skills, e.g. in PE
  • Recording work
  • Impact of pupil’s sensory processing on their learning and day to day life
  • Fortnightly fidget shop and sensory Occupational Therapy boxes in each classroom

Supporting Social & Emotional skills

Social & emotional skills are supported within Appleford School both directly and indirectly. Directly, pupils may receive 1:1 or group therapy sessions, delivered by an appropriately qualified Speech & Language Therapist, a Psychotherapist, and/or THRIVE Practitioner. These tend to focus on:

  • Increasing emotional well-being
  • Increasing sense of security and trust
  • Learning to recognise and regulate their feelings
  • Learning to think before behaving in a certain way
  • Developing self-esteem/compassion (i.e. feeling good about themselves and knowing that they matter)
  • Conversation Skills
  • Non-verbal communication skills
  • Social Relationships
  • Social Understanding
  • Social Participation

The Therapy team also offer additional support during unstructured times (e.g. break, school trips). Pupils have access to daily afternoon break club, which offers a range of activities, supported by therapy staff (e.g. board games, arts & crafts, Lego, Chill-out space).

Supporting Independence Skills

Both Speech and Language Therapists and Occupational Therapists support pupils to develop their independence skills (e.g. shopping, using public transport, ordering food and drink, employment skills, transitioning to college and personal self-care). Pupils develop their confidence engaging with others in community settings, problem-solving skills (e.g. “What if I miss the bus?”), money handling skills, for example.

Occupational Therapists additionally assess and support the following aspects of Independence skills:

  • Eating & drinking (e.g. individual session and group Lunch Club twice weekly)
  • Dressing & fastenings
  • Personal care & hygiene
  • Domestic skills

 Delivering training to academic and boarding staff

Therapists deliver regular whole-school training on specialist topics. Pupil-specific training is presented to relevant staff working with named pupils in the academic and boarding setting. Activity-specific advice and training is given to relevant staff, for instance in preparation for Activity Week.

Pupils, where appropriate are provided with information and advice about their condition, how it affects them and management strategies.