Resourced Schools for Hearing Impaired Pupils in Wokingham
In 1998, as a new unitary authority, Wokingham LEA reviewed its provision for hearing impaired pupils in mainstream education. Taking account of parents’ views, The Ambleside Early Excellence Centre (formerly known as Woodley Nursery); Emmbrook Infant and Emmbrook Junior Schools were designated as schools to be resourced for hearing impaired pupils: school buildings were adapted to provide acoustically favourable classrooms, including infrared Soundfield systems in all classes in the Infant and Junior schools. All classrooms in the Early Excellence Centre were acoustically treated. The resourced provision formally began operating in April 2000.
In April 2007 the management of the resource was transferred from the local authority to school management to bring it into line with other school resources. The Infant School has taken on the employment of the equivalent of one full-time Teacher of the Hearing Impaired, budget management and co-ordination of administrative tasks. A management group, comprising the headteachers of the three schools and the Teacher In Charge of the resource meet termly to oversee the operational management of the resource.
Ambleside Early Excellence Centre
The centre offers an integrated, seamless service for the holistic development of children within an inclusive setting. It is a model of partnership and co-operative working across services, sectors and providers as detailed in the government’s green paper ‘Every Child Matters’. The centre is expanding to include a wide range of services to children and their parents, more education places, childcare and holiday places, family support, groups for parents and toddlers or children with disabilities, and more. It has an open plan setting, encouraging children to become active learners. Presently there are 3 class bases with 26 children in each, providing children in the foundation stage with 5 morning or afternoon sessions per week.
Emmbrook Infant School
Emmbrook Infant School shares a site with the Junior School. The school has classrooms for Foundation children and 2 classrooms per year group in Years 1 and 2. There are 3 teams of teachers who work co-operatively within their teams. The school has an ICT Suite with facilities for a whole class. A quiet withdrawal room is used for working with individuals or small groups of children for reading, spelling and language work or to address any other curriculum area which it is felt appropriate.
Emmbrook Junior School
There are currently 8 classes (2 in each year group) organised into lower and upper teams, each led by a team leader.
The school has a part time teacher supporting pupils with Special Educational Needs. The school has an ICT Suite with facilities for a whole class. A quiet withdrawal room is used for working with individuals or small groups of pupils. The kind of support offered to the hearing-impaired child at this level will vary. Support issues and models of support are discussed regularly with the mainstream teachers and may include working with the child within the mainstream class, pre and post-tutoring in the Resource base room or having a group of mainstream children into the withdrawal room (reverse integration) to build the child’s confidence and give them opportunity to form relationships with their mainstream peers within a quieter environment.
All children supported by the resource have an Education, Health and Care Plan and are supported by a Teacher of the Hearing Impaired, a specialist Speech and Language Therapist and Learning Support Assistants or Educational Communicators. Specialist staff work closely with mainstream staff to ensure supported inclusion and access to the mainstream curriculum appropriate to pupils’ needs. The level of support is tailored to the individual needs of each child. Support Assistants offering in-class support are all trained in Hearing Impairment and the checking of the child’s audiological equipment daily. Mainstream teachers are also trained in Deaf Awareness. Working closely with the Speech and Language Therapist and paying due regard to the advice, aims and objectives contained in the child’s EHC Plan, an Individual Education Plan (IEP) is written for each child at the beginning of every term. These plans are circulated to all staff working with the children.
Many children have complex additional needs and the schools work in partnership with external agencies to support the development and progress of each child. Central to the school’s ethos is the promotion of a positive personal identity for each child within a supportive environment. The needs of the ‘whole child’ are implicit in our support of the pupils. The schools set high personalised expectations in all aspects of development; including academic, social and emotional areas and progress is measured regularly and meticulously.
Children are encouraged from an early age to become independent in the use of their equipment; to remove, clean and fit their hearing aids/ cochlear implants and to report difficulties. They are expected to take ownership of their radio aid systems and to give and collect the transmitter from teaching staff. Key workers perform daily listening checks on hearing aids and cochlear implants to monitor the sound quality and to enable them to recognise any changes or interference that may occur.
The Resource offers an ‘open door’ policy of family support in which regular contact is encouraged and parents are invited to discuss any issues of concern, without the need to wait for more formal meetings such as Annual Reviews or Parent Consultation evenings. Daily links are fostered through the use of a Home School book, in which information is shared and parents can raise issues of a day-to-day nature or seek guidance or advice.
Currently, three children are being supported by the resourced schools: one in Year 2 and two in Year 3. The children attend registration and assemblies with their peers and are included in mainstream classes for the majority of the school day. There is a balance between in-class support, independent working and withdrawal to work in the Resource with the Teacher of the Hearing-Impaired. Full advantage is taken of the wide range of opportunities at the schools to develop confidence and self esteem alongside hearing peers. Our policy is to respond to the communication needs of the individual. Some children use auditory/oral communication methods, whilst others use total communication.