The Clare School caters for pupils with sensory and / or physical needs and has Specialist Special School Status in Sensory / Physical.
The school has its own Sensory Department, with specialist Teachers of the Deaf, Visually Impaired and Multi-Sensory Impaired. The Sensory Department work very closely with Virtual School Sensory Support (County Sensory Support Service) in supporting children and young adults who have sensory impairment across the county. We also work closely in providing guidence and training to the staff who support these pupils / students.
We have a team of highly skilled and experienced Specialist Support Assistants who are trained / qualified Interveners, Signers, Braillers and in supporting pupils with sensory impairment (BTEC Advanced Award).
At The Clare School we follow a Total Communication approach. Whilst pupils may have one main mode of communication such as speech or sign, due to their additional needs, many of our pupils are taught through a combination of methods.
Pupils who are Deaf / Hearing Impaired or Deafblind are likely to use various forms of signing. At present BSL with Sign Supported English is most likely to be used or On-Body signing with pupils who are Deafblind.
Other symbolic forms of communication such as Picture Communication Symbols (PCS) and Objects of Reference are also widely used throughout the school (see an Objects of Reference Timetable right).
At The Clare School we are continually looking to make the environment more accessible to pupils with sensory impairments. In addition to increasing the range of adapted equipment available to the pupils we are gradually updating the infrastructure of the school to improve visual and auditory access
All signage around the the school is big, bold and contrasting. Many signs now also have Picture Symbols and Braille / MOON embossed. In addition, certain areas within the school are represented by tactile markers and displays are often tactile and accompanied with Picture Symbols.
We are also gradually increasing the number of Sound-Field Systems fitted within the school. The systems directly link to pupil FM systems and improve the listening conditions for all pupils.
Mobility & Orientation.
All pupils at The Clare School are encouraged and taught to be as independent as possible. Pupils who are visually impaired and who will benefit from mobility and orientation training are taught by the County Rehabilitation Officer and the school’s Teacher of the Visually Impaired.
Pupils who are visually impaired and who have more complex physical and / or learning needs are able to develop orientation skills through the use of tactile trails, markers and landmarks.
Where appropriate, pupils are also able to complete the TITAN programme. The programme is for students who have difficulty with their pedestrian skills and in using public transport. It raises their levels of confidence and self-esteem, and gives them the opportunity and entitlement to be proficient in independent travel skills.
The Clare School has a Sensory Support Centre where the Head of Sensory Support/Teacher of the Visually Impaired, the Teacher of the Deaf and the Primary Sensory (pre-formal) groups are based.The centre is acoustically treated and houses a state-of-the art Sensory Studio and a new Assessment & Training Room.
All of the ‘Pre-formal’ classes have ceiling mounted hoists and some classes have their own sensory studio and soft-play area.
The school also has a wide range of sensory resources used to stimulate / develop specific senses, for supporting communication and for facilitating curriculum access, such as Braille / MOON embossed, talking or light/music toys and equipment.
The Latest News From Our Sensory Lead – Nicola Bruhin
Jenna Kemp our specialist teacher for the Visually Impaired has run another successful orthoptic clinic with Mr Narman Puvanachandra (Consultant Opthalmologist NNUH). This time we picked up three students previously undiagnosed with visual impairments, two of which have now been prescribed glasses for their very significant visual impairment. This means that with our specialist intervention we have improved access to education and communication for three children who would otherwise be struggling. Additionally one of those students is a deaf BSL user. Having clear vision is vital for his communication which relies on his hands and his eyes. Jenna has also been developing the cane skills of one visually impaired student. He has recently been issued a cane to help with his mobility. This is great for his confidence and his independence, however he needs time to develop the skills to use it appropriately. Jenna has been giving him daily sessions and has been supported by staff from VSSS to help in this.
We have continued to support the development of independence skills in our hearing impaired students, including how to communicate with hearing people that do not sign. One of our students is planning a presentation for people he meets at the Junction to explain what his deafness means to him and to give tips in communicating with him. In BSL lessons some students have been learning signs associated with story telling. They have then linked with other younger students to share those stories. This has proven to be a lovely way for our school community to mix. We continue to be supported by Malcolm Sinclair (ToD VSSS) weekly. This half term I have been using his time to help support the assessment of signed communication in some students and to give language development input to identified students. Malcolm continues to be a great role model for our Deaf students and is a valuable part of our school community.
Nicola Bruhin, March 2017
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Please enjoy this story told by one of our students: