The Local Authority and the Leadership Team at Foreland Fields School have worked closely together to meet the needs of Deaf and Hearing Impaired children with additional complex needs. This was deemed necessary owing to the sudden closure of a near-by school catering for Deaf and Hearing Impaired pupils.
Currently we have a specific classroom designed to provide an optimal acoustic learning environment. The classroom has a Sound Field system installed, though also a portable system in order to ensure access to all school facilities. All pupils within this class use BSL as their first language, however also use other appropriate communication systems such as the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), objects of reference, photographs and other graphic/sensory representation. The pictorial IT programme 'Communicate in Print' is fully utilised with these learners in order to support pre-readers in their understanding.
The school has employed a qualified teacher of the Deaf to work with Deaf and Hearing Impaired pupils and all teaching assistants working with these learners hold relevant British Sign Language (BSL) qualifications.
The school is supported by the County Co-ordinator for Hearing Impairment. A specialist Speech and Language Therapist spends one day per week in the school working with Deaf and Hearing Impaired pupils, meeting with parents/carers and designing programmes for staff to follow. Pupils may also have additional needs requiring input from specialist services such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy.
In order to ensure social inclusion, all pupils are encouraged to form relationships with pupils from across the school by joining their peers for routine events such as assemblies, mix with their peers at break and lunchtimes, attend enrichment activities and join in with whole school events. Deaf and Hearing Impaired pupils are supported by BSL trained staff in order to ensure their inclusion/understanding. These pupils also benefit from a range of off-site activities including horse riding sessions.
Many staff from across the school have completed their Level 1 BSL qualification and will soon be starting Level 2. These include Teachers, Teaching Assistants, our Family Liaison Officer and representatives from our Administration Team.
All staff at Foreland Fields School have attended in-house training in Deaf Awareness as well as Multi-Sensory workshops delivered by representatives from the Specialist Teaching and Learning Sensory Service. This rolling-programme of training will ensure that the school meets the needs of these learners at all stages of their education.
2 teachers will be studying their Teacher of the Deaf Qualification from September 2017 through the University of Birmingham.
At the same time that Foreland Fields School was extending its provision, the local college, East Kent College (EKC), opened a specialist post 16 department for Deaf and Hearing Impaired students. Foreland Fields School have always had close links with EKC as many students have enrolled onto post 19 courses at the college upon leaving school. The school also provides a link college course for post 16 learners to both plan an appropriate pathway and promote a smooth transition to their post school provision.
We hold regular events with East Kent College in order to ensure the pupils and students have increased access to a Deaf community and opportunities to interact with a wider group of Deaf peers.
Our Deaf and Hearing Impaired pupils will have access to independent careers advice from the schools adviser from the Education Business Partnership Kent (EBP Kent). This impartial advisor will work with the pupils, their parents/carers and the school to plan a post school pathway.