Specialist Teaching and Learning at Trinity School and College
Our teachers are selected for their dedication, positive attitude and depth of understanding. Specialist staff support pupils with the ultimate goal of helping children become independent learners.
Providing for young learners with Autism, Dyspraxia and/or Asperger’s
Many learners with autism have sensory sensitivity. This can affect one or more of the five senses sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. A person’s senses can be over-developed (hypersensitive) or under-developed (hyposensitive). Both can have an impact on how people experience, and cope with, different environments. Within Trinity School and College, learners are supported with modifications to the learning environment to take these sensory sensitivities into consideration. Classrooms are calm, friendly, accepting and sensitive to sensory issues. As the school operates a person centred approach to its provision, the school can adapt to the needs of young people who join our learning community. Young learners with hyposensitivity are supported to be able to identify strategies to cope with their issues and to become more independent in their personal and health care. For example, the water temperature within the school is monitored and set so that it is not too hot, allowing more independence within the school.
Not every person with autism will need all the strategies and therefore our school focuses all modification in relation to the community of learners within the school during an academic year.
Our schools and adult services use the principles of SPELL and TEACCH. The following sections explain how you can apply these principles yourself, for example at home, in school or at an adult service.
Expand the sections below to read more:
Structure, Positive, Empathy, Low arousal and Links (SPELL)
The SPELL framework recognises the unique needs of each ASD/ASC, Asperger’s or Dyspraxia young learner and emphasises that all planning and interventions should be organised with these needs in mind.
The main reason for incorporating structure into the daily life of a ASD learner is to help them to predict events and avoid anxiety. Many people with autism are happier if they know what they are going to do on a given day. In Trinity School and College, the learning environment manages any changes to a person’s daily routine with sensitivity and preparation. This also applies to the cancelling of activities without prior warning, including changes to staffing or teaching methods can all increase anxiety. All learners within Trinity have their own personalised learning timetable. This will show when intervention, support and therapies for all groups together with choice subjects (for Year 9 and above). Timetables are presented in visual terms as well as in the conventional written form. Classrooms have visual timetables on the whiteboard, and with younger learners, this will be discussed following registration, some learners will have their timetables at their personal workstation. The timetables allow our learners to have ownership of their daily and weekly written or visual order of events which provides reassurance.
The timetable is set within the planner and this is able to provide home with information on the planned learning opportunities for each day. Many parents and carers find this helps to focus the discussion on expectations on what will be happening the next day, which reduces anxiety.
Trinity School and College has autism-friendly classrooms with soft furnishings and carpeted flooring (with the exception of the art, design technology, catering and science lab). Book shelves and cream walls create a calm, structured environment with boards which support the young learners recognition of the types of learning that will take place in the room. Lower windows within classrooms have obscure coating together with safety glass to ensure that our learners are safe.
As our learners are vulnerable members of the communication, some may have little or no awareness of danger, and therefore Trinity School and College gives high priority to the development of life and social skills through its Personal, Health, Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Curriculum. All learners have pupil profiles which highlight issues which make them vulnerable and have risk management recommendations which are personal to each learner. All College Learners have a student card, and currently Trinity School and College is looking into the development of a learner passport with emergency contact details which they can keep with them when on out of school events and activities. The school has a risk management document for each learner, which ensures good communication between staff to ensure the safety of learners when out of school.
Trinity School and College has a positive approach which means we encourage learners to develop their skills by giving them opportunities to try new activities in a supportive and caring environment. This positive attitude includes clear and supportive communication about forthcoming events, how they will be supported and time to reflect on their achievements. Attempting tasks, activities or events which can realistically be accomplished, increases their self-esteem and self-confidence through increased experience of coping with small step and supported changes to a set timetable. This positive, can do approach to education enables young learners to make informed changes.
The staff of Trinity School and College are specialists in working with the ASD/ASC learner, High Functioning ASC learner and those who have Dyspraxia, through countless years of experience, qualifications that recognise knowledge and understanding and attendance at training courses through CPD school systems (staff profiles and qualifications, school training schedule). Teachers, instructors, tutors and teaching assistants are able to offer empathy, acceptance, consideration and care which our parents and carers have a great level of confidence in (see what others say about us section).
ASC/ASD learners can be very sensitive to noise, light, heat or smells. The school has no catering facility, and learners bring in their own food from home. The lessons within Trinity School and College are carried out in a calm environment, free as far as possible from disruption, noise or interruption which can cause anxiety and stress to the learner. The specialist teacher uses a tone of voice and body language which is welcoming, supportive, caring and calm.
Trinity continues to monitor the environment in order that it responds to the needs of learners, showing our awareness of environmental stresses and remediate these when responding to the individual needs of learners within our community. The school uses no bells to end lessons, and all teaching and most high traffic areas are carpeted. Soft lighting is used in the school, and all fluorescent and harsh lighting being removed as it had a distracting affect upon ASC learners. The plastic stick on covered on the safety glass within the windows of the school ensures maximum natural light whilst providing privacy and reducing distracting movements outside of the classroom (people, excessive sunlight).
Whilst Trinity makes every attempt to minimise noise levels within the school and college, learners may still find it difficult to filter out noises when they are taking on new concepts or working independently on tasks. Learners are able to wear headphones or ear plugs to support them in these situations.
Trinity gardens can be used as outlets for young learners with autism. Some people find running around the garden an effective way of relieving stress in a safe environment.
Every person with autism is different, and will be affected by their environment in different ways and so the school provides a range of capsule areas which enable the learner to find a place which helps them manage their stress levels. The use of some areas within the garden are timetabled in order to ensure that the garden area supports the need for routine. The school is working towards the development of a sensory garden and currently provides areas which offer a low arousal environment.
Therapy rooms are distraction free, with clear walls. They provide calm and stress free therapeutic provision to develop speech, communication and language intervention, occupational therapy, mentoring and coaching.
Learners have access to sensory items which can help them to manage any stress, anxiety or sensory overload.
Trinity School and College has good communication links with parents and carers through the learners own planner. These books provide parents with a daily account of the school activities and how their child has coped in the learning environment. Good communication between teachers is supported through daily briefings, and a weekly dedicated learner focus briefing. The links with external agencies begin with the annual review and transitional review process, high levels of attendance at external agency meetings and engagement with professional teams focused on improving outcomes for young learners and their families. The school has developing links with partnership working centres who provide further opportunities for young learners to follow learning programmes which motivate and engage for the Arts, Design and Media.
Whenever necessary, the school supports further communication via email and text, together with regular telephone calls with parents and carers to support the transition from home to school. When learners are struggling due to anxiety, Trinity provides parents with support and in extreme cases, the school works with learners in the home to re-integrate into school following any personal incident which may have disrupted previous high levels of attendance.
Bridging the Gap
Trinity School and College is committed to working closely with parents about their child’s education. Research tells us that a child’s classroom performance and academic achievements are significantly influenced by the extent to which its parents become involved in school life, and the interest they take in their child’s education.
Students respond very well to parents participating in their schooling and we have Citizenship Days, Fayres, Open Days, Activities and Events which encourage parental involvement. Parental engagement impacts positively on the motivation of students to achieve.
Trinity School and College provides a range of interventions and support to enable learners to achieve through a personalised learning programme. Working in this way, many of our students make higher than expected achievements which bridge the gap between their current levels of attainment and that of their mainstream peers.
Trinity School and College have good home communication channels which include a Friends of Trinity Rochester Facebook account for current parents to support each other, emails from the school ensuring instant communication with home, the planner for daily updates on homework set and achievements in class.
Student Voice is another way in which students have been able to contribute significantly to their own learning. Valuing the voice of the student has been instrumental in supporting bridging the gap as students have been able to discuss concerns raised openly within the school environment. The Emotional Wellbeing team have also contributed to this element of bridging the gap, by valuing the voice of the learner and by working with them both within the classroom and in one to one sessions.
Trinity School and College continues to invest in new technology and in the development of a curriculum which allows for a range of accreditation outcomes. This helps to remove barriers to achievement and assessment.
Trinity offers a brighter future
Trinity School prides itself on listening to parents, and responding to any concerns immediately. These good relations with parents and families make the real difference to how our students see themselves as learners, and the confidence of knowing that we are all working together to support their achievement.
Regular formal and informal meetings are held within the school and college and these are focused on the students. Our person centred approach within a holistic curriculum provision enables learners to develop academically, socially and emotionally.
An Example of a Trinity School and College Autism Friendly Classroom
- Balanced differentiated curriculum
- Flexible teaching arrangements
- Frequent breaks
- Sensory fiddlers
- Move and sit cushions
- Back cushions for comfort
- Time out for calming down
- Desks facing front of classroom
- Concrete apparatus
- Instant feedback with marking
- Visual timetable
- Calling by name
- Only essential visual aids at front of class
- Calm environment
- Sensory arousal exercises
- Clever fingers programme for fine motor skills
- Individual pastoral care plans (e.g. personal management issues)
- Pencil grips
- Scribes when needed
- Personalised learning programmes
- Topics changed frequently to support skills in dealing with change
- Autism specific teaching using written step by step instructions with colour coding
- Windows frosted to allow in light but minimise distractions
- OT checks for seating heights of chairs and tables
- Help with communication skills through a variety of teaching and therapy approaches
- Contact books for daily communication with parents
- Students own learning styles considered in planning
- Desk alphabet, name and number-line to promote independence
- Understood and discussed personal targets
Providing Specialist Teaching and Learning for Dyslexia Learners
Around 45% of learners within Trinity have a diagnosis of dyslexia or dyslexic-like profile. The strategies which are used in our classrooms are intended to make the classroom conducive to learning for all students as it is now widely accepted that by teaching in a dyslexic-friendly style all students benefit and develop confidence, self-esteem and emotional intelligence which are the keys to maximising strengths and minimising weaknesses.
“Dyslexia-friendly‟ teaching techniques will be helpful to children without specific difficulties, while children who have dyslexia may not be able to learn effectively without particular consideration of their needs. What is essential for the learner with these specific difficulties will be helpful for all those developing their literacy”.
Leicester City Council – Education and Lifelong learning: MIN SpLD
The following are features of our classrooms which are particularly dyslexic friendly:
- The rooms are well ventilated and at an appropriate temperature
- The rooms are well lit with natural light as far as possible
- Dyslexic pupils are placed near to the front of the class within easy view of the teacher
- All pupils are positioned so that they have a clear view of the board
- All pupils have sufficient space to accommodate their work, particularly left handers
- Classrooms are as quiet as possible to avoid noise disturbance
- Sources of equipment/resources are clearly labelled and organized
- Key words/vocabulary are placed strategically around the classroom to support current topics
- Desk top aids are available (key stage 1/2/3) and their use encouraged
- Clear objectives are stated at the start of the lesson (the big picture is given)
- Links to previous learning are made
- Priority points andor newkey vocabulary are given, explained and recorded clearly, such as through bullet points, wall displays, etc.
- Teachers utilise a multi-sensory approach for all learning points throughout the session, taking into account all learning styles
- There is a minimum requirement for dyslexic pupils to record/copy information from the board or from books.
- Teacher notes/hand outs that contain the learning points are readily available for pupils
- Pupils are encouraged to record information in a variety of ways, e.g. mind maps,
- diagrams, bullet points, pictures, etc.
- All pupils are actively encouraged to make verbal contributions and take part in discussions
- Resources/hand-outs are tailored to meet the needs of dyslexic pupils
- Collaborative working is encouraged including, group work, the sharing of notes, learning buddies, etc.
- The pace of the session takes into account the needs of learners with time built in for thinking time/brain breaks
- Frequent and effective use is made of questioning both open & closed questions to check understanding
- Pupils are not expected to multi-task and tasks are clearly demarcated as looking, listening and writing with an equal balance of such tasks being evident
- The lessons follow a logical sequence with each learning point leading on from the previous. Links between these learning points are frequently reinforced and made explicit
- Pupils are encouraged to ask questions and make oral contributions
- Additional time is allowed within sessions for pupils to process information and for reading and writing
- Key points are reinforced and highlighted both orally and visually
- Instructions and information are broken down into small steps
- Checks of understanding are made after each stage
- Positive and constructive feedback is given to pupils at appropriate intervals
- Marking criteria are clearly explained to pupils
- There is a recap of the objectives and key learning points at the end of the session
- Clear and realistic deadlines for the submission of homework are set, communicated and confirmed with the pupil
- Reminders within planners, visual prompts, etc. are used to help pupils remember specific items/equipment for future sessions.
There are two senior dyslexia specialist teachers in the school, with a further three teachers currently studying for the Diploma in Specific Learning Difficulties (Dyslexia) with training being offered to all other teachers and classroom assistants during the academic year.
Dyslexia support intervention/workshops are timetabled to support learners throughout the week on their personalised learning programmes.
Supporting Anxiety and Transition
Anxiety in particular is now a well-recognised problem for children and adolescents with autism. Furthermore, reported rates of anxiety are higher than those in children with language disorders. Anxiety disorders can be differentiated from ‘normal’ fears and worry on the basis of severity of symptoms, persistence and impact on functioning. Anxiety encompasses feelings of fear, worry, dread or irritability.
The relationship between anxiety and ASD specific factors, include impoverished empathy and social skills. However, Trinity School and College has developed strategies to engage these young learners with the student voice meetings, and there these sessions, ASD learners have overcome barriers to social communication and been able to make increasing accurate reports on anxiety compared to those presented by teachers, parents and carers in relation to a range of incidences and issues.
Through understanding more about the relationship between ASD and anxiety Trinity Specialist Teachers have been able to support new learners within taster days, reintegration with education, transition through phases of education and into college and even returning to mainstream education where appropriate. As young learners improve their emotional intelligence and thereby become more self-aware , they are able to make better decisions about their own education (particularly in relation to academic choices). The school uses the 5 point scale to teach social and emotional concepts to individual who have difficulty in expressing anxiety. The stress scale indicator provides students with a support to report anxiety which was known and understood.
Vertical transition (transition through the various phases e.g. Key Stage 2 to 3), although predictable, developmental and experienced by all in education, would have a major effect on ASD learners. At these pivotal points, Trinity School and College works with parents, carers, internal therapy, support and intervention teams and external agencies including other schools and colleges in order to support the transition programme.
Trinity provides a transitional programme which supports skills with independent travel and safety on the roadside (Roadwise Programme) and with supporting choices for the future through the careers guidance programme (ASDAN Careers Short Course). The school has a social use of language programme which supports the development of social interaction skills for life. Trinity has introduced peer mentoring and tutoring which supports life and social skills particularly friendship making skills. The mentoring programme within the school supports reintegration to learning and enables young people to have a voice in expressing their concerns
Having good friendships can buffer the impact of stressful life events and correlates positively with self-esteem and negatively with anxious and depressive symptoms, therefore Trinity believes that the development of friendship making skills will enable young learners to learn social rules through specialist teaching processes. Learning to make and keep friends may be especially difficult for learners with ASD. In order to support the friendship making and retaining skills are supported through the House Communication programme, the Social Use of Language programme, the PHSMSC curriculum and the extensive life and social skills learning opportunities within the school. The skills necessary for making friends are highly promoted within our curriculum as it has been shown that these skills have a significant lifelong impact for young learners and can have the effect of reducing anxiety throughout their life.
Therapies, Intervention and Support within Trinity School and College
Each therapy and support provision reports on progress half termly to the school Special Educational Needs Coordinator. The school is able to provide a holistic approach to all therapies, intervention and support, achieved through the high quality INSET training, half termly consultative collaborative approach to education and therapy, the range of programmes managed and delivered by both the therapy professionals and teaching team (e.g. Get it Write Programme, Core Skills within Literacy, Social Use of Language Programme, Peer Mentoring).
The Autism, Anxiety and Transition Specialist works with the Counselling, Mentoring and Coaching team to ensure that the social and emotional wellbeing of young learners are met. The Dyslexia Team ensures that assessments are provided twice a year to inform the teachers, parents and carers on progression with literacy and numeracy skills.
Speech, Language and Communication Therapy
Speech, Language and Communication Assistance is provided within the classroom weekly, and training events provided by the Speech, Language and Communication Therapist twice a year to all teachers and support staff.
The school has a professional Speech, Language and Communication (SLC) Therapist together with an assistant, and they work directly with children and also work alongside the educational and care teams. As members of the staff team within Trinity School and College they are effectively part of the provision, rather than offering packages of care through half termly attendance.
The SLC Therapist works closely with the School SENCo, teachers, external agencies and other professional therapists, and most importantly, parents and carers in completing assessments on learners. This information together with observations of the learner within class ensures that the intervention is of the highest quality and responsive to the needs of the learner.
The SLC Team offer:
- Training on Speech, Language and Communication within the classroom together with training for the delivery of whole School for the Core Skills Literacy Programme and the Social Use of Language Programme.
- One to One SLC therapy within the School Therapy Room and where appropriate small group intervention.
- Supported Social Use of Language Practical Activities within the community
- Training and support for parents and carers through home based activities and a strategy which ensuring that good practice continues outside of school in the development of speech, language and communication. Telephone consultations with parents and carers when required.
- Liaison with the school SENCo and supporting multi-disciplinary working
As learners reach their speech, language and communicative potential (in line with their typically developmental peers), then the team with report to the Annual Review or Transitional Review process, liaise with parents and carers and complete reports of the impact of their intervention. However, all learners within Trinity School and College will continue to receive Social Use of Language Programme which supports the development of key and wider key skills for life.
Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants employed at Trinity School and College are part of the education team. The assistant works under the supervision of the occupational therapist and support academic and non-academic outcomes including social skills, gross and fine motor skills, self-help, key and wider key skills for life, participation in sports and movement, vocational studies and inclusion for all learners. The team works in collaboration with the school, external agencies, parents and carers to ensure a provision which impacts positively on a learner’s engagement, progression and attainment in school or college.
The Occupational Therapy Team facilitate student access to curricular and extracurricular activities through support, design and planning and recently have supported young learners with amazing feats of sporting achievement within cycling, rowing and running.
The Occupational Therapist Team
- observe a student engaging in an activity and provide strategies to facilitate the student’s full participation;
- liaise with the SENCo to meet the requirements of the Statement Objectives
- reduce barriers to inclusion within the practical aspects of learning within the school environment;
- advise on the use assistive technology to support student success;
- support the needs of students with significant challenges, such as by helping to determine methods for alternate assessment;
- help identify long-term goals for appropriate post-school outcomes;
- help plan relevant instructional activities for ongoing implementation in the classroom, including the Trinity Get it Write Programme; and
- assist students in preparing for successful transition into appropriate mainstream and/or further, higher education opportunities; employment or training;
Occupational therapy team collaborate with the education team to address student needs to improve the learners performance in more than their academic, social and life performance. The team helps to promote healthy school which are conducive to learning and particularly support the Get it Write Programme, advise on modifications, design of classroom environments and resources particularly capable of ensuring full inclusion for all learners.
Autism and Asperger’s Support
The school works with an Autism Consultant and has a Specialist Autism, Transition and Anxiety Practitioner. The school and college has autism friendly classrooms and provide tutors and key workers to support young ASD learners. All teaching and teaching support staff either have achieved or are currently undergoing training in supporting ASC. See staff profiles.
Coaching and Mentoring
The coaching and mentoring provision within Trinity School and College is provided within the Emotional Wellbeing Provision and offers guidance, information and advice to support students achievement and engagement. Key activities and interventions include:
- Anger Management
- Confident Building
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
- Emotional Intelligence
- In Class Learning Mentor Support
- Lego Therapy
- Personal, Social and Academic Target Setting within Coaching
- Self Management Skills
- Social Use of Language Support
- Study Skills
- Transitional Support
- Wellbeing Drop in Centre
The School Learning Mentors play an important role in developing activities to engage students, both in and outside of the classroom, that help to enrich the learning experience and their ability to engage with assessment and achievement.
The Emotional Wellbeing Team works closely with the educational team and in collaboration with the Speech, Language and Communication Therapist and Occupational Therapists to enable a holistic approach to supporting the learner when in school or college.
The Emotional Wellbeing Team has a pivotal role in providing pastoral support to all learners and are key members of the Safeguarding Teams. Their role provides:
- Support and guidance to students by embracing the Every Child Matters Outcomes
- Strategies for students helping them to remove barriers to inclusion, engagement, learning and achievement and enhances the personalise learning provision within the school and college
- A link between external agencies, parents and students.
Trinity School and College have a dedicated Dyslexia Centre which provides resourcing for the classroom, an assessment suite and one to one, or small group interventions, to support Dyslexic learners as well as other groups such as Stretch and Challenge and Bridging the gap.
Dyslexia Specialist Team provides one to one intervention and/or small group sessions to those who require this level of intervention. This is identified on the personalised learning programmes of young learners, both in the School and in the College. The school provides dyslexia friendly classrooms, and the team provides up to date training and development for all teachers. All English teachers have Dyslexia Diploma’s at level 5 or are now training to achieve these qualifications.
All support and vocational teaching staff have completed Dyslexia training to support their work with Dyslexic learners.
The school ensures that Reading and Spellings learning opportunities are an intrinsic part of every learners personalised learning programme. Reading is a dedicated period at the beginning of each learning session.
Stretch and Challenge
This is a bespoke provision which extends the learning of those who are ready to progress beyond their classroom peers and are motivated to become independent learners. The provision is also to provide challenge to those learners who are finding the development of literacy or numeracy skills necessary to progress difficult.
Those learners who are identified as working above the level of their peers within their classroom work in small groups across the key stages to continue to develop their knowledge and understanding in both literacy and numeracy. This provision is identified and shown on the learners personalised learning programme. Within Key Stage 4 learners are placed in progression pathway groups for English and Mathematics, ensuring that they are working with peers with group targets and accreditation learning outcomes.
All therapies, interventions and support provision is reviewed and evaluated to ensure that the allocated resource impacts positively on progress towards statement objectives long and short term targets. This is based on individual personalised learning programmes within the school and evidence of impact is discussed at Annual Reviews, Transitional Reviews and within personal reports.
“I learned how to do many things to help me in lessons, and I still use them today!”
Click to find out more about CReSTed (Council for the Registration of Schools Teaching Dyslexic Pupils) and other useful websites.
Click here to download the 2012 CReSTeD report on Trinity School and College.