Basic Skills

English and Communication

The school holds the Quality Mark for Basic Skills in recognition of its provision, practice and performance in respect of the basic skills of literacy and numeracy.

Thorough assessment of a child’s functional communication, staff are able to identify and implement appropriate strategies to develop communicative intent and access early literacy skills through carefully structured teaching. Communication and interaction with others is a priority when planning teaching and learning outcomes for individuals. No single method of teaching reading or writing is used; instead the method most suited to the individual concerned is implemented. The aim is to ensure that each pupil can use the communication skills they develop to enrich their lives and achieve the greatest independence as possible; for some this may be the ability to eye point to a desired object or person whilst others may learn to read independently.

At Frederick Holmes School, English is embedded directly through the curriculum design. Books are central to our topics; the theme of the core book feeds through the whole curriculum. Our sensory classes experience and explore books through a range of sensory stories. These sensory stories allow pupils to work on their personalised targets around a familiar theme or experience. All classes enjoy a daily story time. Our curriculum classes are taught reading and writing in English lessons, as well as through the teaching of functional skills for reading and writing, pre-reading skills, phonological awareness and phonics. We have a dedicated reading intervention lead for catch up interventions in reading. We have worked directly with the Speech and Language team to develop our alternative reading scheme ‘Reading with Symbols’. This scheme is suitable for many of our pupils who use symbols to communicate, those that are non-verbal and those that need an alternative approach to phonics. We are in the process of updating this method of reading to improve outcomes for our pupils.

Examples of strategies used at Frederick Holmes School:

Maths

Mathematics at Frederick Holmes School is taught as a practical subject with tactile resources used to support learning in real life contexts throughout the curriculum classes. In the Primary School, a huge emphasis is placed on exploring number, colour, shape and pattern through songs and play activities, for example finding shapes buried in sand, searching for coloured bricks in bubbly water or joining in with songs that have repeating patterns such as Five Little Speckled Frogs.

As the children enter the Secondary School, they continue to develop and refine their mathematical skills, beginning to apply their knowledge to every day tasks such as knowing routines, time and money. In the 14-19 department, the context for learning changes and pupils use cooking lessons, shopping visits, the horticulture facility and work experience to apply their mathematical skills in a functional context.

Strategies used to support the teaching of Mathematics include the use of Numicon (and Numicon Online), Numberblocks, guidance from the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) and a wide range of age related and personalised software programmes.

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