Thrive and GSSC work together to explore how pupils’ individual sensory integration, functional emotional developmental capacity, cognition, and motor skills can impact on their learning journey and their opportunity to be the best learners they can be, whilst also improving their whole selves and fulfilling their sense of wellbeing.
Alison, our Thrive Occupational Therapist works within our multi-disciplinary Physical Wellbeing team to ensure that a student can participate in the full breadth of school activities—from feeling safe and regulated and being ready to learn and engage in class; to understanding the change to their bodies that happen when experiencing emotions and naming those emotions.
We also work together to look at how physical elements can be improved for our young people, how can they ‘access’ the world around them, whether this be holding a pencil or cutlery in the easiest way, using physical activities to create real life opportunities to regulate or using regulation in the classroom to scaffold learning opportunities.
We aim for the regulatory opportunities and individualised sensory diet programmes to improve challenging behaviours used as communication for change.
We want each and every pupil to truly ‘Thrive’!
Thrive’s relationship within the multi-disciplinary team offers high quality challenge to our curriculum. It encourages staff and pupils to offer and engage to the best of their individual ability in line with the opportunities across school to be ipsative learners.
As a school we have an established and embedded understanding of individual sensory preferences and needs, and have access to high quality, specifically targeted resources and equipment to meet these needs across the whole school day in order to help students to regulate and be ready to learn,
Pupils have access to appropriate sensory experiences and sensory breaks through the school day to provide them with the feedback they need. Staff encourage our young people to recognise their own toolkits, to independently access these and where appropriate to link it to their emotional understanding, creating a deeper understanding of self.
Working together the impact across school is monitored as part of the curriculum as it adds to engagement in lessons and learning, improves behaviour and increases independence.
Pupils are given the opportunity to
Pupils across the school, start each day with activities that embed our school culture. We meet and greet as a whole school, we dance, celebrate and give thanks. We have opportunities to reflect and for quiet. We then head off to our own classes. For those who are hyper-regulated, hypo-regulated or a mixture of the two we offer sensory circuits. For some ,this is by individualised and full-scheduled access to sessions set up in the hall. For others, smaller sensory circuits are available in class, outside or in sensory pods in the hub following now and next guidance. Wherever they access the circuits, a range of equipment offering sensory motor activities provide opportunities intended to regulate.
- Alerting (activating the vestibular/movement system),
- Organising (engaging in two tasks simultaneously such as balancing and sorting),
- Calming (getting feedback to the tactile and proprioceptive system through deep pressure and heavy muscle work).
Pupils participate in an individualised sequence of sensory motor activities aimed at addressing sensory reactivity and sensory integration difficulties. In addition to helping our young people to achieve an appropriate level of arousal and readiness to learn, sensory circuits can also help to balance, co-ordination, bi-lateral co-ordination, sequencing and motor planning.
Alison and pastoral leads work together after assessment sessions to personalise a menu of “sensory snacks” to engage each individual pupil in throughout the day. This helps to maintain appropriate arousal levels, to regulate and to promote independence of regulation. Individualised “thrive boxes” with appropriate resources and activities are put together and made available for pupils to use as needed. Thrive promotes active learning where appropriate and teachers offer suitable, engaging, movement breaks and environmental changes to keep pupils on task. This is supported across school, using the pool, the rebound and movement room and the outdoor areas.
Individual OT sessions
Carried out in the Movement Room, set up as a sensory integration space which can include access to a swing, or in the hydrotherapy pool, sessions provide a variety of sensory experiences, focusing on vestibular, proprioceptive and tactile inputs. These inputs can be on a more intensive level than those provided in sensory circuits or diets. Session aims vary according to individual need and may be to increase body awareness, improve bi-lateral co-ordination, build motor planning skills, or to gain a thorough understanding of sensory needs and what will work best with the child to help regulation. Our OT works with a TA to assist in sessions and to ensure opportunities to regulate can be extended back into the classroom.
Zones of regulation
This is a scaffolded curriculum delivered to pupils with an EHC target to work alongside peers. The aim is to help our pupils to gain skills in self-regulation when interacting, to develop a keen sense of self, to build their emotional literacy and recognise different emotions. Pupils discuss what emotions feel like to them and work to identify when they may need to become calmer or more alert. We create toolkits of strategies that they can use through the school day to help regain or maintain a “ready to learn” regulated state where they feel calm, safe and able to understand their own needs and requirements as learners.