At Sandside Lodge School we are a Total Communication Environment, we believe that every student, regardless of need, has the right to learn how to communicate, read and write.
Literacy is the key to communication, and communication is the key to a fulfilling life with control over what happens to you.
We do not put limits of any persons ability to learn based on how they look or their ability to speak. Instead, we follow the ‘least dangerous assumption’: always knowing that our students can communicate their wants and needs. It is our job to find ways that suit them to help them to do this effectively and avoid any frustration.
Using Read Write Inc (RWI – linked to phonics and sounds) students are assessed and start at the level most suited to them. The program teaches letter names, what they look like and what sounds they make, as well as then moving onto reading and understanding what has been read, in a fun, engaging way.
A number of our students at Sandside Lodge School are unable to speak verbally, so we adapt the literacy curriculum to their individual needs. Using Grid 3 and accessible resources, such as ‘Phonics for All’ and ‘Leap to Literacy’, as well as RWI lessons. This means they can learn well alongside other people with more verbal skills and are fully included in the sessions.
Our students get to develop their inner voice, which is important for literacy, problem solving and other functions, which they would not otherwise develop as they can’t physically make the sounds needed to do this.
We have 10 touch-screen devices to adapt and adjust our literacy curriculum.
These can also be used to help students develop their skills using a communication aid and it gives staff the chance to model functional language throughout the day.
When students begin to use devices to communicate for a variety of purposes, we can start to apply for their own personal communication aid, which will become their voice wherever they go. We work with students, families, staff and The ACE Centre to do this and make sure we have the right device for the individual student.
Some students are unable to access touch-screen devices, so we have a communication aid that can be accessed via eye gaze and has exactly the same accessible literacy programs as the other devices.
We also understand that some verbal students benefit from other ways to learn literacy rather than solely RWI, for example those with dyslexia, dyspraxia or apraxia, so they have the opportunity to learn in in a way that suits them.
Whichever way students access our literacy curriculum, the aim is the same: to develop confident, literate students who can communicate whatever they want to whomever they want to wherever they may be.
The more functional this is, the more likely the students are to use their communication and literacy skills. We make every opportunity meaningful for them.