Whilst embracing the national curriculum frameworks for the different age groups,
the school’s main priority is to address the specific barriers to learning so that the
pupils’ sense of well-being is improved and they are able to take advantage of
learning opportunities and achieve to their potential.
Communication and language, social interaction and imagination and independence
skills are taught through a range of teaching and learning approaches across the school.
A total communication approach is promoted which includes speech, symbols,
photographs, objects of reference and signing to develop the pupils’ non-verbal and verbal
communication abilities as well as social interaction, attention and understanding. The
Cherry Oak Picture Exchange (COPE) is used very successfully in all curriculum
areas to support those pupils with limited or no verbal language in expressing initially needs
and wants and over time their opinions and comments.
The pupils’ sensory difficulties are addressed by the staff with the support of the occupational therapy team; a sensory profile assessment is carried out which informs individual pupils’ sensory diets. Awareness and understanding of the sensory issues related to autism has enabled us to make huge improvements to the well-being of individual pupils.
Routine and structure have key roles in the organisation of the school day, the classroom environment and individual work patterns; visual timetables, individual schedules, working towards contracts and clear routines establish and reinforce expectations for the pupils, help them to understand the day’s events, reduce anxieties and support the learning process.
Pupils of all ages at Cherry Oak enjoy a wide range of physical and sporting opportunities both in school and out in the community. We believe that regular and frequent exercise can allay some of the difficulties and frustrations young people with learning difficulties and autism experience and has a positive benefit on communication, interaction and learning. Regular activities include swimming, walking, and PE.
Extending our pupils’ learning into the community and increasing awareness and coping skills in a range of environments is very important to us. Regular and frequent visits support the transfer of skills across different settings and increase opportunities for pupils to socially interact with a wider group of people. In addition to using local facilities, pupils visit sensory and soft play venues, parks, theatres, shops and cafes.