Experiential Learners

Overview

The classes within the Experiential Learners Department at Delamere School are established to meet the needs of pupils who have profound and multiple learning difficulties.  

Pupils’ with profound and multiple learning difficulties [as stated in the DfE definition] have more than one disability.  It is a common assumption that pupils within this group will have a major physical difficulty.

At Delamere we recognise that this encompasses a wider range of pupils, not necessarily just those who are in a wheelchair but includes some pupils who are mobile, pupils who have a diagnosis of autism or who have Down’s Syndrome. We believe children who function at this level:

  • have more than one disability
  • have profound learning difficulties
  • have significant obstacles to communication
  • need high levels of support
  • may have additional sensory or physical disabilities,
    complex health needs or mental health difficulties
  • may have behaviours that challenge.

Delamere School uses a range of data to assess pupil progress. For children in the EYFS, the Developmental Levels are judged from Early Steps on B Squared. Once children move in to Year one and above, the P level descriptors are used, in conjunction with B squared. Using these, Delamere has developed a criteria in addition to the list above, to enable staff to identify those pupils who need a curriculum more suited to their needs. From a data point of view, this includes children who in:

  • Y1 to Y6 are working at and including P1i to P4.
  • Reception are working at and below 20 months.
  • Nursery are working at and below 11 months.

This criteria and data must be viewed in conjunction with teacher assessments and observations. It is staffs detailed knowledge of each individual pupil which allows a holistic view of the pupil and their specific needs to be created.

Intent

At Delamere School we recognise that our learners within the Experiential Learners Department have distinct learning needs which need to be addressed for them to achieve their full potential.  Our intent is to 

  • Provide a highly personalised flexible and adaptable curriculum that places children’s individual needs at the centre of their curriculum.
  • To recognise children’s prior learning experiences and their experiences at home and to develop and extend these skills.  
  • To value all forms of communication and to develop and generalise communication skills so children can communicate needs, wants and opinions. 
  • Provide a broad, balanced, challenging and stimulating curriculum for pupils that encourage and enables all children to be active learners.
  • To work with families and the many other professionals who play an integral part in the lives of this group of children e.g. therapists, medical staff supporting children’s postural management, physical skills, sensory needs and health care needs.
  • To develop children’s self-awareness through a caring, responsive, stimulating sensory environment that provides access to high quality resources and support for pupils and staff

Implementation

Personalised Learning Targets

All pupils’ learning starts with the identification and assessment of their individual needs. A range of assessments are used including B-Squared and communication assessments and teaching staff’s professional judgement to aid this assessment. These assessments identify and focus learning around fundamental skills that will aim to remove barriers to learning and help pupils’ make sense and gain basic understanding of the world.  Outcomes are identified and formed into a personalised learning targets programme [PLT] which underpins all learning alongside the wider learning opportunities / cross curricular activities that occur within the classroom.  Learning outcomes are written and discussed in collaboration with parents and the wider multi- professional team. They are reviewed termly. Staff plan inclusive and accessible activities that take into account individual needs. 

The Experiential Curriculum

Pupils who are under the umbrella of Experiential Learners require a high level of adult support to help them access their learning. Teaching takes place on an individual or small group basis.

The Engagement Model is an integral and underpinning approach to supporting communication and learning. Engagement identifies and celebrates all pupils’ progress, including linear and lateral progress, the consolidation and maintenance of knowledge, skills and concepts.

The Engagement Model includes 5 areas: exploration, realisation, anticipation, persistence and initiation.

The Experiential Curriculum is broken down into very small steps. It is important that pupils are given the opportunity to experience a wide range of activities enough times so that they can learn from their experiences.

The pupils benefit from accessing a multi – sensory based curriculum incorporating the following Core areas of learning:

  • Communication:  “How I communicate” Respond (to social events and activities), Interact (with others), Communicate.
  • Cognition: “My thinking” (Awareness, Exploration, Control and early problem solving, Sequence and pattern)
  • Sensory responses.
  • Personal, social and emotional Development including: social interaction, social understanding, social communication, eating and drinking skills.
  • Physical development; “My body” (Body awareness, gross motor skills [standing, sitting, walking], fine motor skills, [reaching, grasping and releasing, manipulation  mobility [indoor, outdoor, water]).  
  • Expressive Arts and design; music, creating art and design, enjoying music, responding to dance and drama.

All children have opportunities to play and learn alongside their more able peers with creative timetabling between classes and whole school learning activity weeks. 

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Strategies and Approaches

Multi-sensory learning is key within the Experiential Learners department at Delamere and all the sessions that the children experience and learn through will make the best use of each child’s available senses and skills. Some sessions may focus just on one sense such as focused work on tracking lights and images or a listening activity. Staff work hard to interpret the children’s signs of communication, be they pre-intentional or intentional. Repetition of activities allows for children to gain an understanding of something and staff will look for repeated responses over a period of time. This may be over the course of a session, over several weeks or a term or even longer in some cases.

Communication

Communication a wide range of communication strategies are used to support children who are pre verbal. All strategies are personalised to individual pupils needs. These include

  • Canaan Barrie on body signing.
  • Objects of reference and songs of reference, photographic / symbol schedules.
  •  Intensive interaction
  • AAC low and high tech AAC (use of Alternative Augmentative Communication) – a range of low & high tech communication aids.
  • Communication books – including eye pointing, switches & electronic devices and apps including including TD snap. 
  • PODD activity mats
  • PECS [Picture Exchange Communication System]
  • Signalong signs

Educational Visits:

Children are given the opportunity to gain “real life” experiences in the wider community going for local walks e.g. to the shops or library and accessing joint visits with peers from other classes. This supports developing awareness of the world around them.

Impact

  • All children will have access to a total communication approach and be supported to develop a system of functional communication appropriate to their cognitive level so that they can make choices and express feelings.
  • All children will form positive relationships with staff and peers at Delamere.
  • All children will have access to a broad, balanced & personalised curriculum including reading for pleasure sessions.
  • All children will participate in a wide range of multi-sensory experiences both in school and within the community. [linking to cultural capital]
  • All children will make at least expected levels of progress across the core areas of learning based on their starting point and their medical diagnosis / needs.
  • All children will be supported to thrive physically and emotionally.
  • All children will be supported to successfully transition into the next stage of their education.

The Head of Experiential Learners is Sheila Symons

At Delamere, as well as teaching our children to develop their learning, we also offer support to families in a variety of ways.  CLICK HERE to see what our parents say.

Delamere School Irlam Road Flixton M41 6AP
T: 0161 747 5893 E: delamere.admin@trafford.gov.uk
Ofsted Outstanding Provider
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