Pontarddulais Comprehensive School

SENSORY LEARNING.

Pontardulais Comprehensive School is home to a Specialist Teaching Facility (STF) for pupils with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties. The purpose built unit was opened 3 years ago and is managed and run by Co-ordinator Mrs Julie Gibbs and Mrs Sue Francis, Specialist Speech and Language teacher.

There are 7 pupils in the STF and a high pupil:adult ratio to meet the holistic needs of pupils through a total communication and multi-sensory approach, enabling them to access the curriculum in the STF and in the main school and provide high standards of care.  The 2 story building is well equipped a lift, physiotherapy room, classrooms including a kitchen area, two bathrooms changing facilities and multi sensory areas.  There is a positive sense of inclusion at the school where mainstream pupils work alongside pupils from the STF as part of reverse inclusion lessons and leisure activities in the STF and also in the mainstream school building. Some pupils from Years 10 and 11 are volunteers in the STF and working towards qualifications in volunteering.  They assist in the classroom and work with pupils under the guidance of STF staff whilst gaining valuable work experience skills to prepare them for their possible future careers.

The pupils in the STF have a wide and complex range of needs and physical disabilities.   Some pupils are wheelchair users and currently these pupils are also learning to drive powered wheelchairs, one operated with chin switches.     Some pupils have sensory impairments (e.g. hearing and/or sight,) all have speech, language and communication needs and some have associated behavioural needs also. The STF has a 'total communication' approach, valuing speech, Makaton signing, non-verbal communication, vocalisations, pictoral and written communication equally.

The common element in the school is that all the children benefit from a multi sensory, experiential and child-centred, curriculum tailored to their individual needs.  All pupils spend time in the main school according to their individual curriculum needs. 

The school also hosts a very well equipped and ideal sized Multi-Sensory Room.  This room is used by pupils for relaxation, focused work, switch control, therapy programmes and communication.  According to the activity, the specialist equipment is able to provide the individual with a sense of autonomy and control or as a tool for the achievement of specific and measurable educational goals.   Resources include a lumiglow board and pen,  UV light, and there are several projects aimed at different parts of the room with different themes, Interactive music walls, infinity tunnels, fibre optics, light up carpets, soft furnishings, music and scents makes the room a multi sensory environment where the children can safely interact and participate whilst learning or relaxing.  Multi sensory rooms can have many purposes and can have differing effects on pupils according to how they are used.  They can be stimulating, relaxing, physically challenging, interactive, passive or provide the opportunities to immerse pupils in themes and subjects.  

The implementation of such equipment and ensuring it is used in appropriate and different ways means that children are able to access parts of the curriculum in an exciting, stimulating and interactive way whilst feeling safe and secure.  All the pupils in the school look forward to visiting the room to take part in a wide range of inclusive activities during curriculum subjects and in their leisure time.