A 24-hour curriculum for communication

Posted on 30th Jul 2019 in I CAN, Speech and language disorders

I CAN provides the best possible care and education for children with speech and language communication needs (SLCN). This article outlines why residential care is so important and the innovations I CAN uses at both its schools to improve all areas of our children’s lives.

At I CAN our vision is of a world where all children have the communication skills they need to fulfil their potential. At our schools, this doesn’t just end at 3.30pm.

For children with the most complex SLCN, they need extra support to improve their speech and language development but also their social, behavioural and emotional development too. This is where our Residential Services come in.

At both our schools, residential planning is expertly tailored to each individual’s needs. A detailed induction into the school ensures students are able to settle quickly and staff work tirelessly to ensure that pupils settle into school life quickly and have their individual needs met.

The residential teams at both Dawn House and Meath contribute to the delivery of a 24-hour curriculum that builds confidence, resilience, self-esteem and positive attitudes towards life. In addition, learning is continued through implementing daily routines and a wide range of leisure pursuits on site and in the local community itself.

The residential teams work closely with parents, teachers, therapists and members of the well-being team to support students in overcoming the challenges they might face in accessing educational opportunities whilst gaining new experiences in managing transitions and relationships; in person and with the use of technology.

This enables both their education and their social skills to develop hand-in-hand, giving them the life-skills and independence they need for the outside world.

Residential at Dawn House School

Our Dawn House School in Nottinghamshire provides specialist education, therapy and care for children and young people aged 5-19 years with the most complex speech language and communication needs (SLCN).

The current residential provision comprises of two adjoining houses; Rufford is home to the pre-sixteen students from Monday to Friday whilst Newstead houses their neighbours from the post-sixteen provision.

The weekly boarders are also joined at different points throughout the week by peers accessing extended days and occasional overnight stays. After-school clubs for day students include a drama group that showcase their talents with performances at Christmas and at the end of the summer term, as well as ‘play dates,’ 1:1 guitar tuition and a weekly aqua-fit/swim party.

The impact of after school clubs has been significant. They have facilitated friendships across the school, giving students the confidence to try new things and access leisure opportunities independent of their family members. For one student who follows an individualised programme in the quieter educational setting of Chimes, attending drama club enabled him to participate as part of a group in the main school building for the first time.

The Residential Service Manager consults with students and parents to develop additional extra-curricular activities to meet specific interests and needs and can offer guidance on the application process to secure funding for short breaks. Parents can also pay directly for an evening’s activities and may use childcare vouchers or personal budgets to do so.

Individual programmes of care are planned and implemented that support young people to pursue their own interests, develop increasing independence and achieve personal goals. Learning in this area is underpinned by the completion of a nationally recognised qualification (The Aim Award) for which external accreditation is achieved.

In the academic year 2018-19 all Sixth form residential students achieved accreditation, alongside one pre-sixteen student who already has one completed unit in their Aim Award Portfolio.

This year the progress of all residential students will be measured against Aim Award assessment criteria. Areas for focused work include: Domestic Cooking Skills, Domestic Skills, Using Public Transport and Responsible Road Vehicle Ownership and Use.

Ofsted reported that residential staff “know all pupils very well” and “care for them as a good parent would.” They concluded that at Dawn House “Residential provision enhances pupils’ education and their recreational and social lives. Educational outcomes improve because of the impact of residential care.”

An extensive programme of refurbishment to the residential building has been planned and is well under-way!

Residential at Meath School

At our Meath School in Surrey, they too offer their own tailored Residential Services plan. For children aged 4-11, this is provided via individual care plans and collaborative approaches – ensuring the health, safety and welfare of all their pupils.

The Child Care Department provides a waking curriculum which can enhance the progress pupils make via a range of out of classroom activities including:

  • Before and After School Clubs (including external pupils)
  • Sports, adventure playground and swimming on site
  • Trips to shops, leisure centres and country pursuits
  • Arts and crafts, cooking, games, reading and imaginative play
  • Cubs and Brownies, Girls and Boys Brigade
  • Joining local youth clubs and gyms

The school also offer a Holiday Club Week (residential or day) for a limited number of pupils in the first week of the summer holiday.

Specialist teaching, therapy and care are also provided by the school, with parents having the option to pay for individual overnight stays, either through childcare vouchers or personal payments.

Students are invested in the residential provision and parents have said that the opportunities it provides their children have made them flourish; daily living skills are developed and enhanced and opportunities for increased independence and the chance to practise social interactions in a supportive environment help them achieve their potential.

The ultimate goal is for them to be happy, confident individuals that contribute to society.

Read more articles from ICAN here

This article first appeared in the 2019/20 edition of Which School? for Special Needs. The digital version can be viewed here: