At Sunningdale School we strive to listen and respond to ‘Pupil Voice’ in a variety of ways. Listening to the feelings, preferences and views of children allows us to gain a better understanding of their personalities and learning styles. Giving children a ‘voice’ also promotes their safety and wellbeing.
In order to ensure that all children have a ‘voice’ we work closely with the Speech and Language team to address each individual communication need and provide children with specialised communication aids where appropriate.
We encourage children to choose from objects of reference, photographs and symbols to support them in making choices and demonstrating their preferences in all learning areas and daily experiences. This allows teachers to assess the likes and dislikes of pupils and plan next steps for developing stimulating and exciting activities.
• Learning Journey files-
All children in school have a ‘Learning Journey’ where progression and development is recorded daily. Within these documents Teachers, Teaching Assistants and other professionals record pupil responses to activities and experiences. We use our skills of observation to note what pupils have enjoyed and also disliked. This helps us to build up a clearer picture of each individual child and to plan appropriate experiences for the future.
• Home/School diaries/Annual Review meetings-
We value the role of parents in supporting us to provide quality education and care for each individual child. Communicating daily with parents/carers helps us to get to know children and builds up a picture of their home life. This process allows us to better understand a child’s changing emotions, likes and dislikes. Within class, adults share what has been recorded in the home school diary with the child, encouraging them to understand the link between home and school. This time allows for discussion about feelings surrounding different aspects of home life, such as ‘bedtime’ or ‘mealtimes’. We can then deal with any challenging issues as they arise.
Children can also be involved in their Annual Review if it is felt that it is appropriate for individual pupils and families. This allows the child to have a say in major decisions affecting their education and life at school.
• Personal Passports-
At the end of each school year, the class team work with the child to create a personal document which will be passed on to the next class team in September. This is an effective way of sharing personal information about a child: Likes, dislikes, fears and friendships. The child may choose to add extra information which they think is important too.
• The Nurturing Programme-
Members of staff in school are trained in ‘The Family Links-Nurturing Programme’. This programme supports practitioners in gaining a better understanding of its four principles: Building self awareness and self esteem, having appropriate expectations, positive reinforcement and empathy.
These principles are embedded and applied in our daily practice. We help children to understand their own emotions and communicate them in an appropriate way. This process helps us to keep children safe, and supports them in developing skills to care for themselves and others.
Trained members of staff also run The Nurturing Programme course for parents/carers to equip them with a better understanding of the four principles.
• Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PSED)/Sex and Relationship Education (SRE)-
All members of staff are aware of the importance of promoting a child’s personal, social and emotional development by utilising a ‘holistic’ approach to the curriculum.
Each child has individual targets recorded in their Personal Learning Plan, which are tailored towards this area of learning. Linking to The Nurturing Programme, activities are carried out with groups of children to help them to understand how to be a ‘good friend’ and how to differentiate between a ‘kind and unkind touch’. Children are always encouraged to talk about their feelings in context and are supported in addressing issues as they arise.
• Emotional Regulation-
At Sunningdale we are aware that children’s feelings and behaviours can present in many forms. We continue to explore the sensory needs of children and look at ways in which we can help them to regulate their emotions.
This training has helped us to develop our observation skills further as we look for slight changes in a child’s behaviour and body language that may indicate they are anxious, ‘over stimulated’ or that they may require another means of sensory input. Being aware of these signals helps us to ‘get to know’ a child on a much deeper level, allowing us to respond appropriately to more complex emotional and sensory needs.
Each teacher in school records these regulation strategies into a document which can be shared with parents and other professionals who are working with the child, helping the team to gain a better understanding of the individual and promote their safety and emotional well being.