Shapwick is one of only a handful of schools with an on-site Therapy Team which consists both Speech & Language Therapists and Occupational Therapists. The therapists all work across both sites.
Many Shapwick pupils experience difficulties beyond the ones immediately associated with ‘dyslexia’ – the inability or difficulty with learning to read, write and spell. These other difficulties are some of those which the Therapy Team addresses:
- Receptive language
- Central language processing
- Expressive language
- Phonological processing
- Listening skills
- Thinking skills
- Memory difficulties
- Motor skills
The department also caters for any other aspect of both spoken and non-verbal communication, the development of social communication skills, gross and fine motor skills, sensory integration and visual perceptual difficulties.
All new pupils are offered a screening assessment in their first term to identify any area that may impact upon their learning across the curriculum and in their daily and social lives. The outcome of the screening is shared with staff and parents to determine the best way forward and to enable the therapists to learn from the parents about the developmental history of the child and any provision previously offered.
Some pupils join Shapwick with the provision of one or both therapies identified in a Educational and Health Care Plan (EHCP) previously known as a Statement of Special Educational Need and begin therapy as soon as the required consent forms have been signed. If therapy is agreed, it is provided on a weekly timetabled basis, with an appointment card system to assist the pupils in remembering to attend. Each child is allocated one named therapist, with whom they remain throughout their time at Shapwick. All therapy incurs an additional termly cost, as outlined in the fees section of the website. Many children visit the Therapy Team weekly, so pupils no longer feel different as these appointments are a natural part of Shapwick life.
Termly targets are drawn up jointly by each therapist and the pupils on the caseload to ensure a good focus to the work which will be done. These are reviewed the next term and assist in the setting of the new targets.
The therapy sessions are undertaken in designated therapy rooms.
As spoken communication will often be pupils preferred means of communicating the therapists focus on educating pupils to ensure that their ability to speak and engage in social interchange is as well developed as possible. The department provides a Social Communications Group for Years 7 to 9, in which the many and varied ways we take in, process and express ideas are discussed and time is spent looking at useful strategies for negotiation, reasoning, building and maintaining relationships, developing self-awareness and a range of both verbal and non-verbal skills. In Year 9 the Social Communications Group becomes part of the Carousel programme in which pupils undertake activities centred on a particular skill for about half a term at a time before moving on to another one; as part of this programme the OTs provide a handwriting course.
The therapists also offer Shapwick Senior pupils the opportunity to attend additional support lessons to help them to learn to deal with problems / potential problems in any area of their lives: initial referral to Pitstop is made by a member of staff but continuing depends upon the pupils’ desire to do so. Some pupils become aware of their need for this support and refer themselves to ‘Spares and Repairs’ for a similar type of input.
Cross curricular support is provided in any area, but particularly in English and Science in which the Speech and Language Therapists run support programmes for those most in need. Therapists maintain contact with parents by telephone, email, letter and meetings, both formal and informal.
All therapists provide exam support at GCSE level, both by way of assisting with preparation for exams / study skills / revision techniques and helping during the exam period as readers and amanuenses.
Shapwick’s Therapy Team also works with therapy training establishments and offers clinical placements to student therapists from a number of leading UK universities. All therapists are qualified professionals who are required to maintain membership of the relevant professional body and the Health Professions Council as well as ensuring they achieve the requisite amount of annual continuing professional development.