How We Learn
In order to ensure that the curriculum is relevant to the lives of the children attending Danecourt, there is an emphasis on learning outside of the classroom. Teachers explore the uses of the local community integrating subjects so that meaningful activities can be planned and delivered effectively and regularly. On a regular basis children have the opportunity to access activities such as horse riding, swimming, accessing the local shops and woods.
It is recognised how the children’s learning is enhanced by a range of different experiences. As part of the curriculum pupils are offered a range of different experiences including:
- Enrichment Days – These are termly events all of which have a different focus.
- Educational Visits
The aim is that these activities and events will be used to motivate and engage learning.
Furthermore, playtimes and lunchtimes are considered to be an extension of the curriculum. Children have the opportunities to practice the transferable skills they have learnt. Structured play activities are provided to encourage the children to think creatively, apply their understanding in individual ways to be able to draw upon their own experiences and to be imaginative during play.
The children attending Danecourt have a range of cognitive and social needs. The curriculum content that is delivered is dependent on each child’s cognitive ability and engagement with learning. Are children are grouped into Learning Tracks and the weighting of curriculum content looks different for each track, as described in the following diagram:
We recognise that every child has different strengths and needs and it is therefore essential that the learning tracks are not seen in isolation, but rather as fluid pathways of continuous learning.
At Danecourt, our pedagogy is to ensure all children are supported to access a wide range of learning opportunities and staff use a number of vehicles for learning to support them. Staff personalise each approach for the children in their class to enable them to access learning at their own level and pace. Some of the strategies used to support learning are listed below, however this is not an exhaustive list:
- TEACCh is embedded across the Engage Track to support and promote independent learning, with classes using workstations, classroom zoning and a wide variety of visual supports to support learning. Independent learning is promoted throughout the school and TEACCh is modelled using organisation and support in the classroom environment to help pupils reach their potential. This includes:
- Physical organisation
- Individualised schedules/timetables
- Work (Activity) systems
- Visual structure of materials in tasks and activities
- Zones of Regulation is used across the school to teach childrens about their emotions using visual supports and enable them to learn to recognise their emotions and begin to develop their own strategies for self regulation
- The Alert Programme is used in a number of classes as a precursor to Zones of Regulation to support childrens with their sensory needs, recognising when they are under or over alerted. Staff then create individual programmes to support children to be ready for learning.
- Attention Everyone has become embedded across the Engage and Explore tracks. “Attention Everyone” aims to promote engagement in learning activities, reducing support as the children's engagement increases. There are 4 stages to Attention Everyone and pupils work up to accessing stage 4. Staff use “Attention Everyone” to deliver English and Maths input, further promoting the development of these skills across the curriculum.
- Sensology is used in the majority of Engage and some Explore classes. Sensology’s aims are to wake up the five basic senses (see, hear, touch, smell, taste) and also movement related sensory systems: the vestibular (balance, head movements and gravity) and the proprioceptive (body positions, body mapping and planning movements). The senses are stimulated and introduced individually and a familiar song/rhyme is used to cue in the session as well as children looking at themselves in a mirror. Sensology is used to support awareness, engagement and to enable pupils to make preferences using visual support. Sessions are topic based and preferences are encouraged through communication.
- Little Wandle Phonics will be introduced as a whole school approach to Letters and Sounds in Summer 2022. The school currently uses Letters and Sounds.
- See and Learn is a targeted reading programme to teach children to read sight words, simple phrases and sentences. It is part of the Danecourt whole reading approach to identify learners who benefit from this approach and are taught explicitly in small groups or in targeted learning sessions.
- Squiggle While You Wiggle is a kinaesthetic approach to stimulate early writing. Children use movement with music to develop their motor skills in preparation for writing and it is being introduced across the Engage and Explore tracks to promote mark making and writing sessions in a structured format. The programme uses neurological and physiological movements to create marks and promotes large gross motor movements using prop, music and writing exploration. Mark making and pre-writing marks are taught in a specific order as well as groupings of letters to teach in each session.
- Numicon is promoted to support teaching maths as a whole school approach. Numicon is a physical resource, each Numicon shape offers an image of how a number looks. Children start to see the connection between numbers, with each piece containing one hole more than the previous one. It complements children's strong sense of pattern and allows them to understand how each number has a connection with other numbers. This approach has been shown to enable children to develop mathematical concepts.
Teaching Reading at Danecourt
At Danecourt School we believe that reading is a journey, and that all children in our school are on this journey at different points depending on their individual needs and abilities. As a school we believe it is essential that we teach Reading at a level that is appropriate to the learning styles and needs of each child, and matches the point where each child is on their reading journey.
Acquiring reading skills is an essential part of the children’s learning as it provides children with a greater understanding of the world, through the development of language, word reading, comprehension and communication. This is taught through the following:
- discrete lessons following the Little Wandle’s Letters and Sounds Revised programme;
- opportunities are provided throughout the day for children to practise, embed and revise their learning through practical and sensory activities;
- a range of teacher and child led practical activities focusing on the prerequisite to phonological awareness and the development of pre-reading skills, for example attention, listening, turn taking, situational understanding, verbal understanding etc.;
- and for some identified pupils the teaching of reading is taught through discrete sessions which focuses on pupils matching, selecting and naming leading to that pupil developing a bank of relevant words they can sight read. This works alongside activities to support the acquisition of Pre-reading skills and phonological awareness and pupils will access Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised phonics programme when appropriate.