Welcome to the Canaries Class!
Class Team Vision and Values
In the Canaries class we will communicate honestly and maintain confidentiality within the team through discussion, our class ‘Whatsapp’ chat (before 8pm) and end of day catch up time.
When we’re with the children we will remain positive, professional and patient. We will maintain the children’s dignity at all times following our ‘one voice’ strategy.
We will share compassion with and empathy for both each other and the children. An understanding of the children’s anxiety responses and how they communicate their emotions will form the backbone of this goal.
We will continue to be transparent in our needs and potential learning opportunities in order to further progress in our job roles.
The Canaries class is made up of eight pupils ranging from EYFS and Year 1, all of whom have a diagnosis of ASC some with additional needs such as global developmental delay.
The children are currently working at Flightpath 1 and 2, they usually work in pairs or small groups with children of a similar learning style and ability however some whole class learning takes place if relevant. Staff refer to planned learning sessions as “Learning Time” and a visual representation of this is visible on the class visual timetable (a symbol of WALT the learning Owl). Learning Time in the Canaries is primarily practical and activities are planned to suit and motivate the learning styles of each pupil. Many of the learners are motivated to learn through sensory play and staff will often use materials such as sand, rice, water, flour to engage them with the equipment provided.
The Role of the Adult
The adults’ role in class is to support the children in their safe exploration of the resources and environment while using simple vocabulary which can consolidate learning as well as model expectation of new learning. Sometimes adults support the children to get more involved with their learning by using hand on hand – this is a way to guide the child to join in with activities such as teaching to rotate shapes in a shape sorter or to get involved with creative activities.
Getting Ready For Learning
Prior to Learning Time, children are encouraged to get ready for their learning and each child will do so in their own unique way which is supported by the adults we call this Getting Ready for Learning (GR4L)
With Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in mind, GR4L in the Canaries classroom will provide opportunities which consider the children’s…
On entry into the Canaries classroom and throughout the school day the children will have their needs met in a number of ways such as:
- coats removed on entry into the classroom and belongings stored
- SeeSaw messages read and any actions are taken
- Physical needs, such as bathroom breaks, a morning snack and afternoon snack, opportunities for movement and calming strategies such as massage and DMP.
- Safety needs such as adults making the environment safe and helping children to make the right choices.
- Love and friendship needs such as promoting opportunities to develop positive relationships with peers and staff. Staff will ensure that any initial crisis responses are addressed and the child is calm and happy by following the anxiety responses in the PLP’s.
- Self-esteem such as having the opportunity to be themselves and settle into the school day.
- Self-fulfilment and actualisation some children may have a sensory break to achieve this. Opportunities will be provided to ensure that the child is happy and self-assured, staff will not insist that a child completes any particular activities at this time.
Use of sensory equipment:
A sensory break is individual to each child and can be different each time. This could be a larger more noticeable activity such as bouncing, running, lying down, climbing or a smaller less noticeable activity such as completing a jigsaw, exploring a tray of sand or deep pressure in form of a massage, squeeze or a bear hug. Some pupils have additional resources to aid their sensory needs and will access these throughout the day including a Zumma chair, a wedge and foot roller, chewlery and ear defenders. Each child has the opportunity to “choose” from a selection of items that have been assembled to encourage both calming and also play; such as sensory toys, books, small world items and DMP equipment. As well as using knowledge of the children, staff have referred to children’s sensory profiles which are stored in their PLPs as well as their in depth knowledge of the individual to provide this information as well as information passed on by parents and earlier education providers.
A sensory break will usually be after a learning activity and children are cued into this by the adult offering the child their individual tray. If the adult has observed the child utitlising the larger equipment e.g. climbing frame they will not offer the tray as well but support the child in their current choice. At staff’s discretion some children may have a short sensory break as part of their getting ready for learning or in-between learning activities.
WALT is used on the learning time symbol to indicate that the children are required to work within their learning groups
There are 3 main areas set up for every day learning.
- Blue carpet area (main classroom) is the majority of the classroom. This is where whole class activities take place, as well as developmental movement play in one area and a quiet independent learning area (workstation).
- There is a wooden flooring area where messy learning and play happens.
Outdoor Learning Opportunities
We have an outdoor area just for Canaries that is safe and secure. We have various little tikes’ cozy cars that children can play with as well as a climbing frame, footballs and a variety of trikes and a water tray. Wellies and outdoor wear is worn in bad weather
We do not use a reward system. We praise children on a regular basis often with stickers and bubbles
As Canaries class team staff, we aim to achieve the British Values throughout our day. This should be noticeable in how we run the classroom, how we communicate with each other, the children, our colleagues and parents. We intend to offer and model opportunities for the children to achieve British Values at a level which is appropriate to their early learning needs throughout each day too by setting positive examples to them offering them respect and protecting their dignity within the school.
What? Making decisions together
How? We share our ideas during planning meetings and through daily discussions. We consider how activities could be changed or adapted to better suit the children’s needs. We constantly reflect upon how our classroom runs and share ideas on if and how this needs to be altered to benefit the pupils.
What? Right to communicate and be listened to
How? As a team we try to understand each other’s opinions and we are not afraid to try new ideas. We are not afraid to say that something isn’t working and make positive suggestions regarding change.
How? Children are allowed freedom to communicate in the many ways they choose to whether this be speech, signs, gesture or symbols. Adults always listen to the children and will always acknowledge displays of emotion. Children in the Canaries class sometimes express frustration and upset through outbursts of behaviour such as hitting and throwing. Staff acknowledge this behaviour in a calm manner in the attempt to listen to the pupil before quickly sanctioning an action.
What? Respecting other people’s choices
How? Supported by adults. Children are encouraged to choose games and songs on the computer and encouraged to tolerate their peers choice. The adult supports this by showing visual cues such as the child’s choice and their photograph. E.g. “J chose the Dinosaur song”
- The Rule of Law
These areas of focus could appear to be very simple and easy to achieve however for the children in the Canaries class these areas can prove very difficult especially if a child wants to work to their own agenda. Staff will always consider the child’s sensory and GR4L needs while encouraging them to follow simple routines. For example, one child may be expected to sit for a lot less time at the register activity because they require a movement break.
What? Following whole class routines such as register, coming in from the playground, joining a Learning Time task.
How? Children will have the security of the routine in that they are expected to do the same each day
Children will have additional prompts such as visual cues (symbols/ objects) verbal cues (song, count down, instruction) gestural cues (hand hold, shoulder guide)
What? Care for the environment and resources / Consistency of expectations
Who? Children, supported by adults
How? Children occasionally throw resources and tip chairs. This is not acceptable in the Canaries class. Staff know the children well enough to assess whether the child is in or can soon be in the right frame of mind to return items/ pick up chairs. Staff can support children to do so by following advice set out in the individual’s anxiety responses document and/ or by their thorough understanding of the child’s general demeanour including vocalisations and actions. If adults don’t believe a child to be in the right frame of mind to support tidying adults will model this for the child/ the other children.
Children are encouraged to tidy away and where appropriate, clean the tables after a learning time or messy session. This might be as little as placing one item into a box or putting a tissue into the bin. Some children require hand on hand assistance to do this while others can participate with increasing independence.
How? Adults follow procedures to maintain a safe environment for the children. We are confident in reporting defects in the environment, we keep the outdoor area safe by doing daily checks and dispose of broken toys and resources. We encourage the children
What? Adhering to school policies and keeping up to date with necessary training.
Who? Adults and supply staff / students visiting class
How? All full time staff receive regular training surrounding the legalities of working with children, especially vulnerable children. There is some training which we use more often in the Starlings class and other training that is at the forefront of our minds on a daily basis. A few examples include; Safeguarding and the use of CPOMS, medicine administration, empathic handling (which links closely to our ‘One Voice’ approach). In class we have an emergency plan should we need it for one particular child and we take measures to ensure that we always have the necessary staff available to cater for his needs and to keep all of the children safe. When new staff come into class e.g. supply staff the full time members of the team ensure to only brief the newcomer on the relevant information key to their specific job role and do not disclose additional personal information which we know about the children or the children’s circumstances. All conversations are kept out of ear shot of the pupils to provide a high level of confidentiality.
- Individual Liberty
What? Meeting basic needs – Maslow – learning – Getting Ready for Learning
Who? Children, supported by adults.
How? (Please refer to paragraph detailing Getting ready for learning)
Each child in the Starlings class accesses the curriculum in a different way, some children have additional interventions, details of which can be found in the child’s intervention record in their PLP. As a team the staff in class are well tuned into the children’s needs and we often know what they want or need through their actions or behaviour. We will often say to a child “what do you want?” or “show me” thus giving the child the individual choice to explain their needs. For some children a visual clue is provided, for example, if we knew that a child was thirsty as they were reaching for a water bottle, we may show them their water and also the juice bottle giving them the option to request juice.
What? Child led, moving freely when needed
Who? Adults dictated by children
How? (Please refer to paragraph detailing Sensory Breaks)
During child led play and learning the adult is generally led by the child. The child may wish to work independently making the adult an observer or they may allow the adult to play alongside or with them. Quite often adults in the Starlings class will engage in Intensive Interaction (I.I) as a way to engage with the children. This allows the child to move freely while practising early stages of communication and interaction. Again, adults listen to the child’s non-verbal cues as a way to identify when the child is ready to terminate an interaction or ready to be directed to an activity.
- Mutual Respect
What? Embedding the four previous statements, democracy, rule of law, individual liberty and outcomes into the daily running of the classroom and around the whole school environment as well as when out on educational visits.
How? This reflects how we interact with each other as colleagues and educators. In the Starlings class we endeavour through our class vision and values to be open and willing to take on board each other’s new ideas and strategies. We welcome new staff into our team if necessary and respect each other’s time and effort throughout the day. Following the Team Teach approach we work hard to keep de-escalation and distraction systems in place for each child and follow through on each other’s decisions.
What? Sharing the space. Resources and adult attention with other children
How? The children in the Starlings class are mainly un phased by the actions and presence of their peers so the adults encourage interaction as much as possible through turn taking games, sharing favoured resources and waiting for a turn to choose e.g. a treat from the tin. We have some items of large equipment in class which is appropriate to share for safety purposes so this is an excellent opportunity for children to learn to share the space and resources.
The adults encourage small group games during playtimes such as running, jumping and chasing games with the adult and at least two children. While one adult is leading a game the other will work as the “helpful adult” and support the second child to say, sign or gesture “me” that they want a turn.
- Tolerance of different cultures and religions
The children and staff in the Starlings class are of mixed races, cultural backgrounds and faiths. Fortunately, these differences have not arisen as something which we need to learn to tolerate. From observing the pupils over a number of months and, in a few cases years, the adults have identified that the children enjoy the company of others based on their general demeanour, and actions towards them regardless of their ethnicity, culture or religion.
This being said, children are given ample opportunity to explore the famous landmarks, traditions and customs which are historically associated with various countries around the world. For example when learning about India on Languages day, a child may spend time exploring various spices, listening to traditional Indian music, experiencing Indian dancing and garments brought to school by a visitor.
During lunchtime play children in Canaries class are encouraged to play with the equipment outside such as the climbing frame, bikes, slide and mark make on the chalk board. They also have the opportunity to explore and play with cause and effect toys when the weather is bad indoors. If a child chooses not to join in with the options available the adults will attempt to engage in their preferred form of play unless the child indicates through their preferred form of communication that they wish to spend some personal time alone. This is also acceptable
Use of Technology
Children in Canaries have access to a touch screen computer and cause and affect toys. The class ipad is used to support learning during sessions on a 1:1 basis and to choose dinner choices.
In Canaries we have iPad time on a Thursday morning when we have an iPad each and explore runway 8 and 9 educational learning apps as well as use the plasma screen to touch the screen when we are using Maths and English learning.
Communication in the Canaries Class
The communication needs in the Canaries class are varied. Children communicate their wants and needs through gesture, vocalisation, signs or words. Some children use real objects to make choices alongside photographs and some are at a very early stage of symbol recognition. Some children have a communication book which has been tailor made for them by speech and language therapy (SALT). Class staff work alongside SALT to make adaptations to these books when necessary.
Adults are always looking for opportunities to communicate with children and do so through gesture, Signalong, modelling and some limited speech. Adults adapt their language dependant on who they are communicating with and encourage the children to progress in their receptive and expressive communication in accordance with their individual targets found in their speech and language guidelines. Staff can re refer children to SALT at any time for their guidelines to be reviewed.
In the Canaries class we are working hard to implement “One Voice” please respect our learning environment when sharing our space.
What is it?
- Only one adult will be talking at any given point, other adults can use gestural prompts, signing, and symbol use to re inforce a message or instruction.
- Adults should only address children who are within roughly arms distance from them, making eye contact and using gestural prompts/ signing/ symbols.
- Adults should not talk across the classroom to each other unless a child is in immediate danger/ there is an emergency.
- We want our environment to be as calm as possible for our learners
- We have observed that a louder environment and lots of conversation can be distracting for children and the children often become louder and begin to display stage 1 anxiety responses at this time.
- Children will only need to listen to one adult’s voice meaning that they are able to focus on the instruction easier.
- Visitors to class needing to talk to staff should be invited to talk in the activity store or outside the classroom.
- Important conversations during the school day should be minimal and when possible take place in the activity cupboard.
- Adults should politely remind each other “One Voice” and not take offence when reminded.
Teachers: Aminah Choudhury
TAs: Kitty Connaghan and Courtney Collinson
Mid Day Leader: Hannah Wyn
Sign of the Week
At Kingfisher we use Signalong as a part of a Total Communication Approach, we are constantly using core vocabulary with the children to support their language development and then through each of our topics we introduce new signs and language, which extends their vocabulary further. We also have two “Signs of the Week” which helps maintain and extend key knowledge and skills of everyday vocabulary.
Each half term we will be creating a short video showcasing and demonstrating our ‘Signs of the Week’ for the current term so that you can learn the signs and further this learning at home.
To view this signs of the week for this topic please watch the video below
Swimming is scheduled for a Tuesday. However, this is on a rotation basis and the staff will communicate when your child will be taking part. Candle time takes place at the end of each school day – this is an opportunity to celebrate and reflect upon what the children have achieved or done during the day and to encourage them to relax before going home. Throughout the year the children will engage in a variety of activities planned around other focused days for example World Book Day etc