Peter Turner Primary often known as PTP, works with children between 3 and 11 years old who have a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders, speech and language impairment or hearing loss with related learning difficulties. This means that they
- have communication difficulties which may result in challenging behaviour
- like things to be the same and to have routines that they understand
- have difficulty interacting and socialising appropriately with others
- may use only one or two recognisable words or talk a lot but it is not related to the conversation or they may have no recognisable words
- often have difficulty playing or changing ideas
Our priorities are
- To teach our pupils an appropriate way of communicating with other people
- To help them gain self respect and self confidence
- To play or socially interact with others
- To be aware of what they are doing, to be independent and to help them transfer to secondary education when the time comes for this transition
In order to do these things we have written our own specialist curriculum based on our pupils developmental needs and with reference to the Foundation Stage framework and National Curriculum, where we find the ‘targets’ that pupils work towards. We are organised into Foundation Stage, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 classes, however we also take our pupils communication abilities in to account when organising the groups.
Across all ages and levels of ability we want to develop communication and interaction with other people and so we work on speaking, listening, understanding and using language to socialise, play and make friends and ultimately to learn more formal subjects. This means that we plan for and provide activities to help pupils to explore and investigate their environment and then encourage pupils to communicate with others about their experiences.
Of course we do not forget the more formal curriculum subjects and so we teach reading, writing, maths and the range of National Curriculum subjects (history, geography etc), but we change and adapt the area of learning for our individual pupils.
Learning also takes place through expressive arts activities such as music, art, drama and dance. We encourage formal learning of a musical instrument where appropriate. Physical education is encouraged and pupils have access to a large sports hall, swimming pool, adventure playground and soft play area. We also find that the pupils learn through play, cookery and sensory stories as well as more ‘formal’ work around the table. We spend time learning outside the classroom – around the school grounds or in the local community.
We are very pleased with our links with other schools both special schools and local primary schools. We take part in joint projects using singing dancing and ICT to communicate.
In order to meet the whole range of needs and levels of ability we need a range of strategies and these include multisensory activities, individual timetables and work baskets. We use symbols and signing where appropriate. The speech and language therapists work closely with the classroom staff in order to develop programmes and targets to meet individual and group needs. The therapists also work directly with pupils and help teachers to plan activities within the class timetable
Pupils are encouraged to use speech to communicate their needs and develop interaction with others. For those who have difficulty with speech other systems are taught such as: -
The use of objects, photos and pictures
- Symbol recognition
- Natural gesture, facial expression and body language
- Technological aids and communicators
Over the week pupils may experience three work situations:-
- Individual sessions with the teacher, speech and language therapist, nursery assistant or learning support assistant, working on individual targets
- Small group work, with two or three children concentrating on specific targets
- Teaching group of five to eight children with the teacher, nursery assistant and one or two learning support assistants
Each class follows a daily timetable which may be represented using symbols, photos or words.
Our very skilled staff teams receive specialist training to help them encourage learning and promote independence. All teachers are expected to gain a specialist qualification in Autism Spectrum Disorders. We also train our staff in safe behaviour support approaches and techniques, BSL and relevant teaching approaches.