Severe learning difficulties (SLD) schools in Hertfordshire enable pupils with severe learning needs to access education and engage in learning in preparation for adult life. This is provided in a very safe and secure environment. The pupils in SLD schools have significant barriers to learning, which may include medical, sensory, physical, behaviour and emotional needs with the potential of regularly putting themselves and others at risk.
Education from 2 to 19 years is enabled through a wide range of means which can be identified under some key headings:
Curriculum content, organisation and delivery
A far reaching and broad curriculum enables pupils from Early Years through to Foundation Learning, including Accreditation, to engage in education. The curriculum offers clear and extensive differentiation and personalisation, which enables all pupils to engage in the learning process. It follows a primary- based model with some specialist teachers, typically in PE, Science and Music.
The curriculum style, model and delivery includes a wealth of exciting routes for learning and far-reaching opportunities, including lunch-time and after-school clubs, which provide high levels of skilled staffing who continue to educate and support learners. A feature of the style of curriculum coverage is repetition, which enables pupils to capture and assimilate the information and skills taught through kinaesthetic learning. This approach includes the development of community life skills through personalised work-related learning, accreditation, travel training and transition to Further Education.
Timetables and lessons are responsive to the needs of the children from Nursery through all four Key Stages to the Foundation Curriculum, up to and including Year 14. The full National Curriculum offer is achieved through a flexible approach to delivery, style and creative organisation of the two elements of both lessons and timetables. A highly personalised approach achieves this goal. Included in this offer is the assurance that intimate care and attention to all basic functions is guaranteed.
Pupils make significant progress on entry to school and, more often than not, continue to achieve and leave school as confident young people. Teaching is solution-focused and responsive to the identified needs, conditions and interests of the pupils. Due to degenerative conditions and diagnosis some pupils may lose skills and progress may be hampered.
Staff are the greatest resource in the school and are expert in using strategies for overcoming barriers to learning. SLD schools provide expertise in a number of associated areas which impact on the education of the pupils. There are fully trained staff in Moving and Handling, TEACCH, Physical Intervention, and emergency medical interventions (including the management of gastrosotomy feeds, oxygen and near death incidents). These are routine aspects of training for school staff and not considered to be unusual or extreme.
All staff are skilled in the use of a wide range of communication systems to include Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), signing, Alternative Augmentative Communication (AAC), objects of reference and a variety of visual support systems to learning, in order to match and provide each child with access to functional communication.
SLD schools are unique in their provision of a wide range of resources, which include a swimming pool with specialist expertise in the teaching of swimming, sensory room / area with qualified or experienced staff with knowledge of sensory impairments.
Targets are set in collaboration with parents and other professionals and reviewed together on a regular basis. Assessment is moderated across the county and regionally. Information and data is held at school, local authority and national level. A range of assessment tools are used to provide a picture of attainment and progression. These tools may include use of National Curriculum levels, P Levels, visual assessment tools, Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS), reading tests, receptive and expressive language tools (e.g. REEL) and Teacher Assessment. Progress against P Levels and National Curriculum data may determine movement to different educational provision, but consideration is given to the needs of the whole child and not just focused on assessment results. The functionality of pupils is as much an aspect of attainment within the assessment and placement process as assessment results.
A range of professionals works with the pupils, parents and staff of the schools to ensure that the best possible guidance is provided to encourage and support educational development. These professionals include Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists (including wheelchair services of technicians, engineers and associated professionals), Music Therapists, Speech and Language Therapists, Educational Psychologists, Clinical Psychologists, School Nurses, Consultant Paediatricians, Orthotists, plus Advisory Teachers for Autism, Visual Impairment and Hearing Impairment. The Educational Audiologist adds to the rich and expert advice that is available in an SLD school.
The interventions and experience of a variety of professionals enable families to be fully supported and consulted, which provides an inclusive wrap around service model.
Amwell View School and Specialist Sports College
Mrs J. S. Liversage B. ED., Dip., B. Phil. (MSI)