At Brookfields we strive to ensure that all students will demonstrate progress, relative to their ability, in the communication skills they require for a positive and fulfilling life. We see each pupil as an individual with a unique potential to communicate. Our aim is that all learners become confident communicators. This means they can take part, participate, and maintain prolonged communication by using sentences to describe an event, ask questions, express their needs, wants and make comments in order to participate in school life and the wider community.
Communication is vital in enabling our students to access learning. Staff work closely with our Speech and Language Therapists (SaLT) in order to support pupils and train them using a Total Communication approach. This is about finding and using the right combination of communication methods for each person. This approach helps an individual to form connections, ensures successful interactions and supports information exchanges and conversations.
A combination of methods are used, which reinforce each other and strengthen meaning for the individual. This may include a number of modes of communication such as signing, oral, auditory, written and visual aids, depending on the particular needs and abilities of the pupil.
To develop help to develop social communication, we use Intensive Interaction and/or ‘What’s in the Box?’ for our pre- and semi-formal learners. Our more formal learners follow Alex Kelly Talkabout Social Skills scheme.
We ensure pupils have opportunities to communicate throughout the day through accessible communication methods, pupil-led learning, and engaging learning experiences, leading to meaningful and functional communication. Pupils make progress in communication from building on previous knowledge and what they already know, through using their preferred communication support. Pupils use functional vocabulary related to a theme every term, supplemented by everyday vocabulary and language that can be generalised inside and outside the classroom.
A strong ethos of ‘Total Communication’ and wide-ranging classroom strategies to develop communication skills ensure that pupils’ individual needs are met. Our pupils will become effective communicators and their learning environment will allow them to develop skills at their own pace. This, in turn, will contribute to leading as full and independent a life as possible beyond their years at Brookfields.