Our Year 1 group recently had the amazing opportunity to visit a school that specialises in teaching pupils with learning difficulties, with the age range from three to nineteen. Having already done some volunteer work in this school while studying for my A Levels, I was really excited to return and receive more information about the running of the school.
The deputy head of the school took us on a tour of the school, pointing out differences between the rooms we went into, explaining why certain rooms were decorated differently to others. For example, some rooms were quite bare so that the pupils could concentrate on what they needed to do without the distraction of bright colours and posters etc. Others were very colourful, and the posters aided both the teaching and the learning.
What I found most interesting about Rowan Park was how the behaviour management strategy differed to one you would find in a mainstream school. Because of the needs of the pupils, behaviour is managed through showing positive outcomes of good behaviour as opposed to simply punishing poor behaviour. This is due to the fact that staff understand that a lot of the behaviour shown by the pupils is a form of communicating if there is maybe something bothering them. Teachers will solve the behaviour problem by explaining to the pupil that they will be rewarded if they decide to behave, but will always say to them that they have the choice to behave or carry on with their behaviour. This is so that the pupil does not feel pressured into behaving a certain way, which can sometimes just lead to more trouble.
The school is also a brilliant example of how differentiation in teaching is really important. Obviously, being a school that specialises in SEN, the differentiation is a lot more complex and varied, but it still shows the importance of knowing individual pupils’ needs and how to adhere to them.
Rowan Park is an amazing place to visit to spend time with the staff and the lovely pupils, and I would definitely take any opportunity to return!