The Springfields Academy

Reach South Academy Trust

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5-13 - Autism + Cognition and Learning

Autism and Cognition & Learning - KS1, KS2, KS3 (5-13)


Throughout the Primary Phase in this cohort the curriculum focuses on seven areas of development through a pupil led thematic approach.

The areas are as follows:

  • Personal, Social & Emotional Development
  • Communication & Language
  • Physical Development
  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding of the World
  • Expressive Arts & Design

Learning is presented through multi- sensory formats with many opportunities for over learning new concepts that are explored in a variety of practical ways in a variety of contexts to ensure skills are transferable. Attention autism underpins learning within this cohort to provide the children with targeted, cumulative intervention to develop their attention and listening skills as a foundation for the development of communication skills, social skills and academic learning. Learning is also structured through autism friendly approaches such as TEACCH. Pupils are supported to develop social communication skills by Elklan accredited practitioners who use a variety of communication structures to support learning.

Communication, language and learning skills are developed cumulatively as a child moves through the cohort:

Key stage 1: The environment is communication friendly and introduces structured language teaching approaches (such as colourful semantics)  to promote language understanding and fluency and literacy skills. Reading for pleasure is promoted with daily reading activities. Synthetic phonics informs decoding skills and where this is unsuccessful for a learner with more complex cognition needs a whole word action based approach is employed. To encourage the development of writing skills ‘topics’ of interest as used as a medium. ‘Talk for writing’ approaches are used to bring text structures ‘to life’ to inform creative writing.

Numeracy in key stage 1 builds on the children's number foundation with children developing a sound understanding of place value and how to calculate addition and subtraction calculations. The concept of multiplication and division as sharing is introduced.

Scientific exploration remains practical through experience based ‘investigations’ where they are encouraged to ask questions, gather evidence and talk about what they have discovered.

Key stage 2: There are embedded opportunities for ‘over learning’ new and more abstract concepts. Learning is presented practically in a range of settings with clear links to real life settings. The aim for learning new skills is to make them functional for a safe independent life.

Specific scaffolds are in place to meet the complexity of a cognition need in all areas across the curriculum. Where required children access specific additional intervention and/or specific structured teaching to help overcome barriers to learning.

Attention autism approaches are adapted to the age of the pupils; the approach continues to form the foundation of the cohorts’ curriculum.

Developing functional reading skills continues to be a focus in key stage two, particularly developing comprehension skills with strategies that remove barriers to learning that are specific to the profile of a learner with autism who may find it harder to empathise with character and infer or deduce meaning from the text. ‘Talk for writing’ continues to inform the writing curriculum with appropriate scaffolding in place to support language development and structure and extend writing opportunities with high expectations at the child’s level.

There is more focus on using the four calculation operations to solve real life problems. Children may be able to work with numbers of increasing complexity. Functional numeracy skills remain a focus and there are opportunities to experience numeracy in the ‘real world’.

In Science children are introduced to the concept of a ‘fair test’ and are encouraged to work independently to measure and report results with increasing accuracy. 

Key stage 3: Teaching continues to take place in a primary model to create a sense of security reducing anxiety provoking transitions which some of the pupils with this profile of need have difficulty organising and preparing for. The cohort principals continue to be built upon in Key Stage 3 – building attention and listening skills through attention autism approaches and TEACCH systems in place to structure both the environment and task. The emphasis on developing as an independent learner continues to grow with further strategies to develop ‘learning to learn’ skills built upon.

The focus of skill development in English and Maths is on developing functional skills that pupils can use in the ‘real world’. Teaching is set up through real life scenarios where the pupils have to apply their literacy and numeracy skills as they will need to in order to lead a safe, independent life for example writing a letter to apply for a job, writing a shopping list, preparing the money to buy the shopping and calculating the change. 

Scientific knowledge further develops with the introduction of the concept of variables. Pupils are encouraged to predict and interpret their results based on previous scientific knowledge.

Squirrel class

SEND Teacher  -Mrs Claire Ludlow

Squirrel class have settled into school life really well. We have been developing our listening and attention skills and focussing on building positive relationships. The children have enjoyed learning about ‘Deadly dinosaurs’ and a dinosaur even came to visit us! We have participated in a range of activities such as sorting dinosaurs, creating our own dinosaurs out of junk and making playdoh dinosaur fossils.

The children have been learning to take turns during ‘bucket time’ and have thoroughly enjoyed joining in when it is their turn!
We have also been exploring the world around us by visiting some local parks and making bread to celebrate Harvest. We will continue to develop our social skills and build on the fundamental skills of listening and attention throughout the term.

Acorn class

SEND Teacher  - Mrs Claire Fawcitt

What a busy term we have had so far! In Acorn class we had a surprise visitor….Tilly the Tortoise! She was very small and cute and we learnt a lot about her. Learning about Tilly, and facts about tortoises, helped support and enhance our learning for our topic of ‘Our Pets.’

We had an exciting time with Mrs Murray, who organised a teddy bear’s picnic, where we looked at writing instructions for making a jam sandwich. We also looked at how Harvest is celebrated and made bread rolls. They were yummy!

Over the next term, we will be continuing with our topic on pets whilst focussing on developing our listening and attention skills and building positive relationships.

Willow Class

SEND Teacher - Mrs Coral Pagram

In Willow class we are learning about “food, glorious food!” The children have tasted different foods, made slushies and cakes, as well as learning about the food groups. We are looking forward to inviting parents in for a tea party near the end of term to show them all the things we have learnt.

Beech Class:

SEND Teacher - Miss Laura Wells

Beech Class are having an exciting first term back! Our topic for this term is animals. We have been looking at classifications of animals and the types of animals in each category. We are currently finding out about animals’ habitats and will be making shoebox habitats for our favourite animals alongside salt dough animals to go in them. We will be looking at food chains for our favourite animals before having a visit at the end of the term from Jonathon’s Jungle with Hazel class!

Hazel Class

SEND Teacher  - Mrs Connie Knight

Hazel class have had a great start to this school year. With all of them being fairly new to the school it has been a big step for them coming in. However, they have settled in wonderfully and made some fantastic friendships. So far we have been investigating our animal topic, as something came into our class and left lots of different animal footprints all over the classroom. We still have not figured this out but we are looking after the eggs that were left in our classroom, with great care. We have also been looking at keeping ourselves healthy and clean, specifically by washing our hands. We have looked at how germs spread by using the glitter experiment and the potato experiment (which is still ongoing). We are really looking forward to making our animal shaped bread and creating our recipes in the next few weeks.

Pine Class

SEND Teacher - Mr Marc Thomas

This term, Pine Class have been learning about place value and addition in Maths. In Communication, Language and Literacy, we have been reading Warhorse and learning about the features of letter-writing. Our topic is World War 1 and we have been finding out about the causes of the war. During our science lessons, we have been learning about electricity, making circuits and wiring plugs. Pine class have had a busy few weeks back and are looking forward to continuing with our topic of ‘World War 1.’

This term we have also been focussing on settling back into school routines and building relationships with peers.