12 Feb

As we approached the spring half term, our pupils were as focused as ever on their learning. As usual we’ve featured many examples of this on our Facebook page during the week. Miss Silvester’s class have continued their learning based around The Beatles theme, the Interactive Base enjoyed an afternoon with Electric Umbrella, Esther wowed us with her spoken language in the Autism Base, Mrs Fennelly’s class recreated culinary classics from the 1960s, and Mrs Holland’s class have enjoyed a whole range of learning experiences. If you’ve not seen them already you can check them out on our Facebook page.

This week I had the privilege of joining Miss Mullen’s Year 9 class for their achievement assembly on Friday. The pupils had prepared a short video showcasing their learning experiences over the past few months. I was so impressed with the way the class have all approached the the changes to school life with a ‘can do’ attitude. In our assembly we celebrated how individual pupils had been demonstrating positive qualities. First was Christopher who was recognised for always being willing to try something new. Recently this has been listening to a poem by Benjamin Zephaniah and exploring how the poet saw things from his perspective. Christopher was able to write about the themes within the poem such as the poet’s love for his mother and coming from a cold country. Fantastic effort Chris. Next was Robyn who earned Star of the Week. We all know that understanding and managing our emotions is a journey we are all on and Robyn has demonstrated amazing levels of maturity and responsibility as she continues on her journey. So proud of you Robyn, well done! Finally, a very special and quite unique ‘Bravery Award’ went to Kyle. Whilst out walking at Dovestones Reservoir, Kyle and his brother came across two people who had got into difficulty and become stranded. The brothers managed to help them to safety and ensure they were ok. Well done Kyle for your willingness to help others and your selflessness in doing so.

So over to Miss Warner and her class as we focus on learning and achievement in the Interactive Base.

At the beginning of the year, it was fantastic to see my students and staff return to school after significant time off due to the first lockdown. My staff team waited at the door with excitement, ready to greet students, and what an incredible feeling to see those happy smiling faces return to the classroom. Some young people remained at home and engaged in learning through sensory boxes relating to our topic, activities and videos sent via the Showbie app.

For the first few weeks, our main focus was supporting our young people to settle back into school and to ensure they felt safe and secure in their learning environment. Once students were all settled and ready to engage in learning, we began to reintroduce routines and lessons.

So now was the exciting part: the start of our new topic, Harry Potter! I planned our literacy and Maths lessons around this topic to ensure that elements are included, with a thread maintained.

Each week, we read our version of the story through a sensory approach. While reading a shortened version, various objects, smells and visual elements, relevant to the events or characters, were shared with students to enrich their experience and aid their understanding.

Alongside this, we enjoyed many activities linked to various events and characters in the story. We created our very own golden snitch for our classroom wall..

..made a sorting hat, explored different potions and dressed up as Harry to name a few..

During our Maths lessons, we created our very own game of Quidditch. We filled plastic baubles with lights and covered them in golden paper. This activity created an amazing snitch. In the dark, we flew through the air on Harry Potter’s flashing broomstick. The baubles flashed, which encouraged students to reach out and catch a golden snitch! 

We also engaged in weeks centred around significant events. First was Halloween. We had a wonderful week exploring pumpkins, making pumpkin slime.. 

..and exploring different textures to find spiders and eyes..

We had a week where we celebrated Guy Fawkes night and looked back in remembrance of those who had passed in war. We exploded balloons full of fluorescent paint to create firework pictures – our end product was fantastic, especially in the dark! 

We added Mentos to coke to create explosions and made bonfire cupcakes.

We created poppy wreaths with the end of bottles and painted them red. 

These looked beautiful on our whole school display.

Each morning, we take part in the Mile Walk and always manage to complete four laps. This activity has also created abundant outdoor sensory experiences. I have to say a very big well done to Jayden for his superb efforts. Jayden is now managing to walk three laps with little adult intervention, which has improved his balance and mobility. I was very happy to receive a lovely message from his dad stating that Jayden was sleeping better and he had also managed to walk up the stairs at home. What an achievement!

In November came another lockdown. Some young people and staff were once again advised to shield, including me. Due to our class group becoming smaller, we had a fantastic opportunity to join Miss Ward’s class, IB2. I was extremely impressed with how my students adapted to this change and the incredible support we had from families. IB has an incredible staff team, and this proved it. In what has been a very challenging year, with lots of change, the team pulled together to ensure each young person still had the opportunity to engage in learning. In the words of Jim Casey: “determined people, working together can do anything.” And that’s just what the staff did.

Miss Ward, Miss Taylor and I had lots of TEAMS calls to plan for the upcoming weeks. The Smartest Giant in Town was the chosen topic. Miss Ward and Miss Taylor have carried out activities in class while I have worked on remote learning. Our teaching assistants have been super supportive and have all had input into our planning to create an amazing, engaging sensory experience for all learners.

In class, students and staff have worked on fine motor skills through art and craft activities. They have created a wonderful display with all their incredible work. They have responded and engaged with story-based objects, cooperated with staff during story massage, communicating their likes through facial expressions and body language when listening to recorded stories and related topic songs.

Miss Ward and I have been overwhelmed with some lovely messages from parents supporting their children to access the activities on Showbie. We have had some amazing video footage and pictures sent.

I want to end by saying how incredibly proud I am of every single student in class or those who are remote learning. Despite so many changes, nothing has fazed them. Thank you to IB1 and 2 staff for coming together and doing an incredible job, and thank you to our parents from whom we have continued support. Keep doing what you’re doing. Take care and stay safe ~ Miss Warner

Just a reminder that Monday 22nd February is a whole school development day so school will reopen for pupils on Tuesday 23rd February. In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful half term holiday.

Take care, stay safe.

Gavin

Click here for this week’s news from Graham

You can find Dawn’s blog for the Learning Centre here

For news on our Key Stage 5 pathway groups at New Bridge College please click here

You can find Gavin’s previous blog posts here