Peacehaven Community School: Continuing to raise the importance of SLCN

Peacehaven Community School, were this year's winners of the Secondary School of the Year, Shine a Light Award. We caught up with Clare O'Rourke, Speech and Language Teacher at PCS to hear about what the school has been doing since winning this prestigious award.

Since winning the Shine a Light Secondary School of the Year award last year Peacehaven Community School has continued to develop our SLCN practice.

We enjoyed a wonderful fund-raising day in October. Staff and students were invited to pay £1 to wear a Onesie for the day with all proceeds going to Leisha’s campaign to raise funds to buy a new electric wheelchair. To launch the day Leisha, a year 8 student with cerebral palsy that affects her speech as well as her mobility, plucked up the courage to address two whole school assemblies. She explained that as well as improving her access to workstations in lessons, the new wheelchair would also help her to join in with conversations with her peers, as she will be able to move around the school in an upright, standing position. Her clear message that she was ‘sick of not being able to join in conversations going on over my head’! was a real eye-opener for the other students.

As well as raising an incredible £983 on Onesie day, the whole school community’s awareness was raised of how using a wheelchair can affect inclusion in everyday communication. Leisha’s impressive speeches to the whole school taught us that we all need to think about positioning ourselves so that wheelchair users are not excluded from conversations. Thank you so much for this valuable lesson, Leisha!

Students with significant SLCN have also been busy fundraising for the wider community in their Life Skills lessons this term. 

Fundraising on onesie day

The year 9 students planned and hosted a Macmillan Coffee Morning; year 11 students raised money for the ABC fund, a local charity which supports disadvantaged families in Peacehaven. The students offered to pack shopping bags at the local supermarket in return for a donation to the charity. While developing valuable planning and social communication skills year 9 raised £91.80 for MacMillan and year 11 raised £245 for ABC.

Year 9 students plan and host a Macmillan Coffee Morning

Year 11 raise money for ABC

We’ve also had some really exciting curriculum developments for students with SLCN this term. We have introduced Lego Therapy sessions and the rapid improvements in joint attention, receptive and expressive language have been remarkable. The sessions are also huge fun for everyone involved!

We have introduced an auditory memory support programme that emphasises increased self-awareness of alternative strategies to support memory. We have also trialled The Communication Trust’s Speech, Language and Communication Progression Tools for ages 11-12 and 13-14, and were hugely impressed with their user-friendliness and their practical application to the curriculum. We are very excited about incorporating use of these Progression Tools into our practice in the New Year.

Further plans for 2015 include increased collaborative working between the SLCN teacher and the Science Faculty, focusing on differentiation for y8 students with SLCN.

Being awarded the Shine a Light Secondary School of the Year award continues to motivate us to develop our practice and to share our experiences with others. We would encourage any setting with a commitment to SLCN provision to apply for one of these valuable awards next year.

Many thanks to Clare and all the students at PCS for sharing news of their outstanding activities. Look out for information on the Shine a Light 2015 in the new year.

Macmillan coffee morning