Academy finds amazing way to get students focussed as soon as they get to school
PUBLISHED: 17:06 14 March 2019 | UPDATED: 17:06 14 March 2019
A Lowestoft school is leading the way in sensory circuits – an initiative to get students ready for learning from the minute they get in the classroom.
Hailed as an innovative way of getting the brain up and running for a busy day of learning, the new sensory circuit videos are creating a buzz around the classroom.
In July last year The Ashley School Academy Trust attained World Class status, as it became the first school in Waveney to be crowned with the accreditation.
Now schools from far and wide are visiting The Ashley to gain an insight into the whole school sensory ethos that is preparing pupils for their day ahead.
Every morning, before children from Year 3 to Year 11 head to lessons, they gear up for their day at the school in Ashley Downs, Lowestoft with a sensory circuits workout.
Sensory videos are played to prepare the brain for learning and for the demands of the school environment, to increase focus and attention span and to ensure the children are calm and centered and ready to learn.
The four or five minute long sensory circuits videos involve three types of activities – alerting, organising and relaxing – with the videos concluding with breathing techniques.
The videos – which have been designed, and performed as routines to music, by teachers at the school – are showcased on an interactive whiteboard.
And for the past three weeks the majority of pupils and staff in these year groups have been “ready and waiting to go” each morning as they engage and embrace the routines.
Emma Wicks, from the speech and language team, said: “Over the past couple of years, the therapy team at The Ashley School have worked with the East Coast Healthcare Occupational therapy team to establish a consistent approach to sensory processing difficulties within the school.
“Staff plan and manage daily sensory circuits over three settings in the school to support a number of children with challenges that impact on their classroom learning.
“The school has now implemented a whole school sensory time in the morning where a sensory video is played to support all pupils from seven to 16 with their sensory needs and self-regulation in order to be ready to focus, receive, retain and share information in lessons.”
The new initiative has been hailed as “fantastic” by staff, with pupils equally enthused with their new routine.
Donna Lister, speech and language therapy assistant at the school, said: “The deputy head wanted to give every child access to sensory circuits, and so we came up with these videos.
“They are set up in each individual class, with a bank of 15 to 20 videos of staff filming a routine to a song of their choice.
“The initial response from the children has been great they are all asking if they can now film their own videos.
“We did a pilot run to three classes from each key stage before half term and now it has been rolled out (to years 3 to 11) over the past three weeks.
“There has been a really positive reaction – it has created a real buzz around the school.”
“We are sharing our practice with other schools in the Lowestoft community hub and they are all very interested.”
With different genres of music for the videos, Emma Wicks, from the speech and language team, added: “Staff and pupils are picking a favourite song and creating moves that alert the pupils and increases their heartrate, alongside movements that incorporate brain organisation and functioning that will increase their access to learning.
“With strong support from staff and pupils at the school, we now have a growing collection of sensory videos that the children can pick from for their morning video.”
Enjoying the daily routine, Harrison, a year eight pupil, said: “Its fun as it prepares you for the rest of the day.
“I like the moving parts and it helps as it wakes you up first thing in the morning and makes you feel a lot better during the day.”
Tom Ward, deputy head, said: “We have noticed a reduction in behaviour incidents in the school.
“We are seeing smiling faces in every room and it has gone beyond our expectations.
“The staff and children have fully embraced the sensory circuits and everyone benefits from it.”
Amy Jarvis, Key Stage 3 lead, added: “As a school the pupils and staff are really engaged with it.
“The young people are ready to roll each morning, and the best thing about it is that as you go through the day you see the children are more focussed and alert.
“It is very much the talk of school and we are really pleased with the young people.”