The Chelsea Group of Children Curricula Overview
Our aim is to meet each student’s unique developmental, behavioural, and emotional needs as well as help develop his or her cognitive abilities through the development of a firm foundation of skills.
Four major areas of need are addressed through the following components of our curricula.
Speech and Language Therapy
Vygotsky: Activities to help develop cognitive functions
Therapies: Speech and Language Therapy and Occupational Therapy
Science, Technology (Art, DT and ICT)
Humanities (Geography, History and RE)
Creative and Aesthetic (Art, Drama, DT and Music)
Social and Emotional:
All aspects of the curricula are designed to build the child’s self esteem and instill moral responsibility, cooperation, and integration and connections outside himself.
Speech and Language Therapy
We ask these questions
- What themes shall we choose to generate maximum engagement and cross curricular opportunities?
- What goals do we most want the students to achieve in their understanding?
- How shall we teach to achieve these goals?
- How do we assess the progress and attainment of each student’s understanding?
We plan our curricula in three phases
We plan each curriculum carefully, choosing generative topics for engagement and cross curricular opportunities so there is coherence and full coverage of all aspects of our learning goals (goals for understanding), and there is planned evidenced progression in all curriculum areas. Continual assessment informs and drives the development and flexibility of each curriculum and the individual education plans.
- long-term plans This indicates the themes and topics and whole school activities to be taught in each year. We review our long-term plan on an annual basis.
- medium-term plans At the beginning of each term and again at mid-term, the topic teachers submit their lessons including topics, learning objectives and outcomes and assessments for each specific group of students to the head teacher
- short-term plans Teachers write short term plans on a weekly and daily basis. We use these to set out the learning objectives for each child in each session, and to identify the resources needed for each activity. These plans are posted in the staff electronic file sharing facility
Every disability is different; even children with identical diagnosis can present a range a differing complex needs. Each child is unique in neurological, developmental and emotional makeup. An individual and child centred approach, building a teaching plan based on the broad profile of the student, best serves the complex child who cannot be taught using one age level curriculum.
The classrooms are divided into designated curriculum environments. Moving to a different room, when also moving to a different domain of thinking, helps the child to transition from one topic to another. Each teacher specialises in his or her domain and, as such, is able to more easily differentiate activities and resources for the various levels of abilities which are represented in even small groups of students.
Many of our students have experienced failure in previous academic settings and come to us with diminished self-esteems and fear of school. Learning is not seen as an enjoyable activity. Chelsea Group does not look like school. It is a big home with antiques, mixed styles of wooden furniture and rugs. We have tried to eliminate any institutional atmosphere.
Our first task in dealing with children who have failed academically and socially is to alleviate the anxiety associated with school allowing the child to voice his difficulties and areas of distress. The teacher acknowledges the child’s feelings in a supportive way, often demystifying the struggles he experiences and helps him to develop his own strategies to empower himself with the modifications needed to overcome challenges in learning and in life.
The Staff provide as many experience-based learning opportunities as possible. We feel lessons can be highly motivating if made real by connections to the child’s world outside school.
Dr. Stanley Greenspan states that “teaching children to become independent thinkers enables them to do anything.” The way to do that is to “respect the child’s excitement while challenging her to become more logical and better adept at abstract thinking” (Greenspan/Wieder 1998). More rigid approaches focus on changing specific behaviours, or teaching very specific skills. Children may memorise the skills taught but if they cannot ‘think on their feet,’ their ability to use and generalize these skills will be limited. “Children with developmental challenges often favour rote ways of thinking, and rote learning only compounds the problem” (Greenspan/Wieder 1998).
Our Therapy Staff consists of three full time occupational therapists and three full time speech and language therapists who work in the classrooms to view each child’s abilities in the setting in which he may be experiencing the most pronounced difficulties. The speech and language therapists and occupational therapists teach small groups everyday. Both the speech and language therapists and the occupational therapists work in one to one therapy sessions with children whose needs require additional support. The IEPs are developed jointly by all teaching and therapy staff members.
Assessment and Reporting Provision
The developmental levels of abilities, the cognitive functions, and the specific learning, and social challenges of each child are thoroughly and continually assessed by the team of teachers and therapists working in the school.
- All students are comprehensively assessed during the first half term (September-October) of the school year or during the first half term of the student’s enrolment, using a range of both standardised and observational assessment tools as appropriate for the individual child. Speech and Language Therapy and Occupational Therapy assessments make up the core resource from which the IEPs and The Therapy Provision Maps are constructed and inform the academic plans as well as the social and behavioural modifications and interventions.
- The draft IEPS and The Provision Maps are given to parents in November. These documents include modifications, interventions, and goals in all relevant areas of the curricula and therapy needs. Parent’s views and input are requested prior to the formal IEP parent meeting held in November. All teachers and therapists attend these meetings.
- Each IEP and Therapy Provision Map is reviewed in February by all members of the teaching and therapy staff. In March, parents, teachers and therapists meet to review the goals and make adjustments to the student’s plan.
- In May and June each student is again fully assessed, and the end of year report is written. This report will provide a comprehensive tracking of the child’s progress. During this time we hold the formal annual review meetings with all teachers, therapists, parents and representatives of the local education authority when necessary and appropriate.
- Continual assessment and progress is documented using our own CGC Progress Tracking Tool, which charts the changing profile of each child and each group of children, for every lesson, every week. This is the core data tracking procedure, along with Classroom Monitor.
The Use of Technology at Chelsea Group
Every student at Chelsea Group learns to use iPads and desktop computers. Technology is a beneficial teaching tool, but is never used at Chelsea Group to replace the teacher. The pedagogy of Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development and its derivative, Floortime, provide compelling evidence of the value and necessity of the adult- child relationship in the cognitive development of a child.
Technology can be used to support the needs of individual students through the ease of differentiating content and to create visuals quickly and easily for individual lessons. Technology can provide opportunities for students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding, enabling the teacher to track the student’s progress and make more accurate teaching plans for each child. Whilst one of the benefits of ICT is to eliminate the sensory challenges of face to face communication, for many or our learners it is also a key goal to enable our students to more effectively engage and interact with other humans. Many of our children have no desire to interact socially with anyone. We use technology in many ways to open the doors to social interaction. For example, the children film and record each other with the iPad and then reflect on each other’s songs, stories and presentations. They make portraits of one another using computer programs and cameras.
An iPad, desktop computer, or interactive whiteboard can not alter the lesson to follow a child’s interest and artfully bring him back from distraction to the preferred topic, nor seize unexpected teaching opportunities when a child displays curiosity or knowledge in a marginal topic. No child strives to please the whiteboard, but when a trusted teaching adult supports and encourages the child, gently coaxing the performance which is just beyond the child’s established and comfortable ability, real and joyous learning occurs. This is not to say real and joyous discoveries are not possible through the use of technology, but for the majority of students at Chelsea Group who find it easy to engage with tablet or desktop technology and difficult to engage with people, “care must be taken not to provide an amazing toy with which they can shut out the world.” Susan Cunliffe, CGC SALT.
Our occupational therapist finds use of the iPads cause some of the children with sensory integration difficulties, to become overloaded with images and noise.
Our goal is to set engaging projects which require the acquisition of basic skills in the use of ICT.
Parents as Partners
We are well aware that all children need the support of a successful partnership of parents, teachers and therapists to make good progress in school. We strive to build positive links with the parents of each child by keeping them informed about the way in which the children are being taught and how well each child is progressing. We achieve these links through reports, parent meetings, Face to Face (meetings parents request with specific teachers and/or therapists), I.E.P.s, questionnaires, home visits, parent coffee mornings, informational/social parent evenings, and parent workshops to help parents to use a consistent approach in language, signing, and behaviour and sensory strategies. There are school shows and performances in the Autumn and Summer term. Parents are sent weekly HOMELINK emails showing highlights of their child’s week, a photo and instruction for the signs (sign language) of the week, and the school luncheon menu.
Monitoring and Review
The Head Teacher designs the teaching program at The Chelsea Group of Children. The Head of Therapy oversees the Therapy Program which is developed by the occupational therapists and the speech and language therapists. The Head Teacher is responsible for monitoring implementation, whilst the Director reviews all aspects of the program throughout each year.