Timetable

Every pupil at Calder House has a personalised timetable designed to meet his or her individual needs. No two children face the same difficulties. This is why, at Calder House, no two timetables are the same. The example below should give you a good idea of how a typical school day is structured. At Calder House children don’t miss out on “normal” lessons in order to receive support in the areas they find difficult. The provision of subskills (remedial support) is timetabled into each child’s day – every day. And, as you can see, the range of activities which fill these subskill slots is extensive. Click on the different elements within the timetable or subskills menu for more information.

Registration

Children expected to arrive at 08.30 for registration. On arrival they are greeted at the school gate by a member of staff. Once registered they make their way to their classrooms for supervised reading until the bell goes.

Headmaster's Assembly

At the beginning of each week the headmaster holds a whole school assembly. We are a non-denominational school but we respect and acknowledge significant religious festivals of all faiths. The Headmaster’s Assembly is a great way to bring the whole school together at the start of the week.

RE

In our non-denominational Religious Education lessons we promote a basic understanding of the principals of the main religions of the world, marking and respecting their festivals. School trips to mosques, temples and synagogues along with visits to school by people of faith give pupils a first-hand insight into different religions.

House meeting

The school is divided into four houses, named after the first four children to attend the school. During the week, pupils can earn house points for good behaviour or for kindness towards another child. Houses serve an important social function as they bring together children of different ages uniting them and encouraging them to work together. The house with the most points at the end of the term wins the much sought after House Cup! There is also an award for the child who has earned the most house points during the term.

PHSE

Calder House promotes a healthy lifestyle and encourages pupils to value and respect both themselves and others though lessons in Personal Health and Social Education. Pupils learn life skills such as effective communication, emotional literacy and social problem solving. It is also a time when students can get to know one another and share experiences and feelings and feel valued.

Class assembly

Friday’s assembly gives each class an opportunity to present an assembly to the rest of the school and to their parents. Friday is also the day on which pupils receive their Merit Certificates and other awards for effort and achievement. Merits are awarded for any exceptional piece of work. After gaining 10 merits a child receives a Bronze Certificate, 25 merits a Silver Certificate, 50 merits a Gold Certificate and 100 merits is rewarded by a coveted Platinum Certificate. Our ethos is to encourage and reward both effort and achievement while ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity to shine.

Mathematics

Pupils are taught maths at least once a day (sometimes twice) in a group which is determined by their current ability and National Curriculum level. As with all our classes, the maximum class size is eight. We also have a specialist group for Dyscalculic pupils who have not responded well to a visual approach to maths teaching. Mental arithmetic is treated as a separate strand within the National Curriculum and represents a specific area of difficulty for some of our pupils. Extra support is given to these children who require extra help learning their tables and developing automatic recall of number bonds.

Subskills

We use the subskills slots on our timetable to create a programme of remedial support tailored to meet the needs and priorities of each individual child. This support is designed by our Director of Studies working closely with the school’s Speech and Language Therapist, Dyslexia 1:1 Specialist and with our consultant Occupational Therapist. Every six weeks the Director of Studies and the Head meet to review the timetable and update the remedial programme. The Director of Studies also meets on a weekly basis with all staff delivering the subskills programme and every week he also holds a review meeting with our consultant Occupational Therapist. To find out more about the range of remedial support on offer click on menu of subskills to the right of this text.

English

In addition to their reading and spelling lessons, each child has a daily English lesson. This follows the National Curriculum and focuses on creative writing, comprehension and the correct use of grammar and syntax. English classes are arranged by ability and National Curriculum levels. Our English Department places a particular value on the role Creative Writing can play in the development of language skills. It is also one of the ways in which we boost a pupils’ confidence in their abilities. By developing a willingness (and the courage) to take risks and play with words, we nurture independent and self-assured thinkers, readers and writers. All pupils take the English Speaking Board examinations as part of the delivery of the speaking and listening part of the curriculum. English is taught by specialist teachers but we also employ a dyslexia specialist who works with pupils on a one-to-one basis through our subskills programme. This support can involve extra work on phonic encoding and decoding skills and focuses on teaching the underlying skills needed for efficient reading and spelling.

Snack time

Pupils are encouraged to bring quick healthy snack – such as some fruit or a breakfast bar – to eat before morning break. A range of tasty, low-sugar snacks are also available from the school tuckshop which is operated by pupils. Snack time is also a chance for pupils to have an informal chat with their form teachers.

Break

Break time is a chance to run around, let off steam, play games and have fun. In addition to the playground, pupils have access to the games field, the sports court, the play-barn and the wooden fort. Breaks are always supervised by at least three members of staff who ensure that all pupils are playing safely and that everyone is enjoying themselves. At Calder House we try to ensure no-one gets left out on the sidelines.

Spelling

We take a multi-sensory, multi-strategy, approach to the daily teaching of spelling. Our philosophy centres first-and-foremost on building confidence by introducing fun and creative ways of learning and transferring spelling rules. Such activities might include: spelling doodles; pyramid writing; acrostic poems; riddles; tracing letters; cross-words; word searches and making illustrated flashcards. Our approach draws attention to word-types and word-families, highlighting prefixes, suffixes, root-words and derivations. This ensures that our Spelling lessons strengthen and reinforce the work done in other classes – including Latin lessons. We also emphasise phonological awareness, encouraging pupils to think about where in the mouth and throat sounds are made and the many different letter combinations that can make a single sound. Regular, differentiated, homework ensures that – whilst those needing help are supported in a structured way – those students strong in this area are appropriately extended.

Reading 1 & 2

Pupils normally have reading lessons twice a day. We use a number of remedial reading programmes in school as well as a cumulative reading scheme to achieve age appropriate fluency and reading for meaning. Reading age is formally tested twice yearly to monitor progress. However, at Calder House pupils don’t just learn to read: they also learn to love reading. Alongside formal teaching, reading for pleasure is at the heart of what we do. By giving pupils the words and language framework with which to think about their reading, we help them become more active readers. With regular visits to the library and guided help with the selection of appropriate and interesting reading material, pupils are encouraged to really engage with books. We also hold regular events to celebrate literature, enter creative writing competitions and act as editors for a commercial publisher.
 
Eight pupils are taken out of the second reading lesson of the day in order to work on Cogmed – a programme designed to improve working memory. The term working memory refers to the ability to hold and manipulate information in the mind for a short period of time and is a significant predictor of learning success. Over the course of the academic year all of our pupils will complete the Cogmed programme.

Lunch time

Pupils eat lunch together in age-appropriate groups. A member of staff reads a story to each group while they are eating – one of the ways in which we expose pupils to the best of both classic and contemporary children's literature. Afterwards there's opportunity to let of steam in playground, play in a supervised game of football (at Calder House teachers pick teams – not pupils!) or to attend a variety of clubs which include Conversational French, Gardeners' Club; Sci-Fi Society; Netball Club; Young Readers & Writers Club, Chess in the Spring Term and Knitting Club.

Reading 1 & 2

Pupils normally have reading lessons twice a day. We use a number of remedial reading programmes in school as well as a cumulative reading scheme to achieve age appropriate fluency and reading for meaning. Reading age is formally tested twice yearly to monitor progress. However, at Calder House pupils don’t just learn to read: they also learn to love reading. Alongside formal teaching, reading for pleasure is at the heart of what we do. By giving pupils the words and language framework with which to think about their reading, we help them become more active readers. With regular visits to the library and guided help with the selection of appropriate and interesting reading material, pupils are encouraged to really engage with books. We also hold regular events to celebrate literature, enter creative writing competitions and act as editors for a commercial publisher.
 
Eight pupils are taken out of the second reading lesson of the day in order to work on Cogmed – a programme designed to improve working memory. The term working memory refers to the ability to hold and manipulate information in the mind for a short period of time and is a significant predictor of learning success. Over the course of the academic year all of our pupils will complete the Cogmed programme.

Art

Many of our pupils are particularly creative and we often find we are teaching to strength in our art lessons. However we are careful to ensure that those children who are challenged by fine motor skills also enjoy these lessons and are able to produce art work of which they are proud. It is part of the ethos of the school that pupils experience a broad education. Consequently we look to introduce our young artists to a wide variety of skills and materials as well as the chance to gain inspiration by visiting galleries and meeting artists. Art and Design Technology also provide valuable insights into other subjects in the curriculum such as History, Geography and Science, and these cross-curricular links are actively promoted.

Science

At Calder House this core subject focuses on investigating and evaluating. The two lessons each week are supplemented with Science fun days. Pupils follow the National Curriculum differentiated if necessary.

Drama

Our drama lessons culminate in the production of the school play once a year. Our Christmas Concert also gives budding performers a chance to shine. Additionally drama lessons are used to help pupils prepare for the English Speaking Board examinations, which support the speaking and listening element of the National Curriculum. Year after year Calder House's pupils gains top marks in these exams – visit our News archive to see our latest EBS results! We find drama is a good tool for boosting confidence and self-esteem.

History

Our small class size means we are able to supplement the classroom lessons with out of school activities including visits to museums and living history centres. Our art department works with the history teachers to facilitate model making and other visual aids so pupils are not dependant on the written word to remember what they are learning.

Games

Our teaching of P.E. and team games focuses on developing physical skills and team spirit. Over the course of a year we play in a number of friendly matches and events against other schools. Swimming is taught in a heated indoor pool which is very close to the school. Pupils take the ASA swimming badges and the National Curriculum proficiency badges. Our Sports Day celebrations are held during the Summer Term.

Latin

Pupils in the top three years of the school are introduced to Latin. We believe all our pupils benefit from the insights into the English language which learning Latin provides. It may also be of particular relevance for those pupils looking to re-join schools in the independent sector. Younger pupils at Calder House learn Italian – which is easier and more fun to learn than most European languages. Our teaching is designed to give pupils a first taste of success in starting to speak a second language.

ICT

We follow the KS 1 &2 National Curriculum in Information and Communications Technology (ICT). In weekly lessons each child has individual access to a computer. We teach the safe use of the internet and offer e-safety support for parents. We subscribe to teaching programmes which enable us to set homework to be completed on family computers at home. There is Wifi throughout the school and six interactive whiteboards, iPads and kindles enhance our class teaching resources. ICT underpins much of modern life so it is essential that our pupils gain confidence and ability in this subject and are prepared for challenges of a rapidly developing technological world. The use of ICT at Calder House also enhances and extends learning across the whole curriculum.

Activity time

Weekly activity lessons give pupils access to a wider curriculum, covering such areas as Business Enterprise, international links with schools in Kenya and India, canoeing, first aid, library skills and gardening. The school has also recently achieved the prestigious Green Flag Gold Award status reflecting our commitment to saving resources and reducing our carbon footprint.

Music

Music and singing are both taught as part of the curriculum. Pupils are encouraged to enjoy performing for their parents and friends at a number of events arranged throughout the year.

Geography

Fieldwork (geography at Calder House can get quite muddy!) and links with other schools both in the UK and abroad help to make this subject relevant and enjoyable. Environmental studies play a big part in KS2 Geography and we are proud to be a Green Flag school.

Golden Time

Our week ends with Golden Time. During the week children can choose and look forward to an activity to participate before they go home at the end of the week. These include lego club, ICT club, football and table tennis. It represents a well-earned reward for the week's hard work and good behaviour.

Home time

Pupils leave school from the gate after shaking hands with a member of staff. At home time each pupil receives their homework bag into with their homework for that day. Homework is aimed at reinforcing the work done during the day and usually comprises some maths, spelling and reading. Homework should never be a struggle and if we have got it wrong parents are asked to let us know immediately. Homework should take no longer than 30 minutes in total and our contact book ensures that communication between home and school about the night’s homework is clear and immediate. Homework not only reinforces work done in school but also helps build confidence by encouraging pupils to work independently. It should never be a battlefield and we support pupils and parents to ensure that it is not. The school day ends at 16.00. Pupils remain in our care until they are formally dismissed into the care of the adult collecting them. They are never left unsupervised at the school gate.

Visual discrimination

Visual discrimination is the ability to identify similarities or differences in shape.  It is the first perceptual skill to develop and is required in order to match and sort objects by size, shape, colour, position, number and detail. Where our Occupational Therapist has identified a need for a child to receive support in this area, we will use a wide range of games and activities to ensure that the support given is engaging and enjoyable as well as effective.

Spatial relations

Spatial perception provides information about the relationship of our bodies to the space around us. It begins with basic spatial concepts (e.g. where an object is relative to your own position) and progresses to understanding the relationship of two or more objects either to themselves or each other. This includes whether an object is on top of, underneath, in front of, behind, above, below inside or outside another. Consequently it also involves the development of prepositional language. Children with spatial relationship difficulties may experience difficulties judging trajectories and may bump into things apparently for no reason. At Calder House our occupational therapist devises exercises for use in sub-skills lessons to develop and reinforce body awareness and spatial concepts in a progressive program.

Figure ground discrimination

Figure ground discrimination is the ability to identify and distinguish an object or information from a background or context which includes other elements that may be visually confusing. Children with difficulties in this area may find it difficult to concentrate when exposed to visual stimulus. These children need to be taught how to simplify tasks, how to identify and focus on the “target” they are interested in and how to keep their visual field uncluttered. Pupils are taught how to “attack” and deconstruct visual clutter so developing visual literacy skills. Pupils also learn strategies for extractinginformation and data when it is represented graphically.

Visual closure

Visual closure is the ability to see an object in its entirety in your mind’s eye – even when part of it is hidden. Children identified by our occupational therapist as having difficulties in this area are given specific subskill support. This will include using real objects to show how, for example, the side of a cube is “still there” even when hidden by another object. Demonstrating with physical aids teachers then get pupils to draw what they actually “see” not what is really there and then to describe what is missing from the picture.

Sentence and word-level tracking

Pupils are taught how to scan information in an efficient and organised way. For children with tracking issues, this can help to improve reading, word recognition and discrimination. Successful remediation increases pupils’ confidence and ability in recognising frequently used words but also more generally – for instance when it comes to correctly identifying mathematical symbols and shapes.

Visual literacy skills

Verbal (and non-verbal) reasoning skills

Most students in years six and seven receive support in verbal and non-verbal reasoning. Pupils are taught how to prepare for assessments and exams. This includes learning the skills they need to correctly identify the type of question being asked and the appropriate strategy for tackling it. Our goal is to help pupils to develop a broad set of thinking skills which will enable them “think on their feet” – not just to pass a test paper!

Situational understanding

We recognise the anxiety many children experience in making the transition from Primary to Secondary education. We have a robust understanding of what this transition involves and how to make it easy and successful. Areas covered with our older students include: the interpretation of school timetables; coping strategies for travelling to and from school by public transport; strategies for forging new friendships; time-management; de-constructing and sequencing larger homework tasks into manageable chunks and how to respond positively in specific scenarios. Many of these activities lend themselves to role-play and feedback suggests our students feel significantly more at-ease, and better equipped for the transition after this additional support.

Thinking skills

At Calder House, we use the Somerset Thinking Skills Modules (STS) to equip our students with the thinking skills they will need to exploit their learning potential. STS is a carefully-sequenced programme which includes: analysing and synthesising; comparative thinking; understanding analogies and organising and memorising. We find our students make improvements in a number of specific areas including working precisely; paying closer attention to detail; recognising and interpreting implicit instructions; searching systematically; distinguishing the relevant from the irrelevant as well as analysing and handling information.

Philosophy

Central to our approach at Calder House is a commitment to nurturing independent, self-motivated thinkers and learners. Our lesson plans are devised to encourage questioning, open mindedness, clarity in language and precision in thinking. In PHSE and RE in particular we promote the consideration of diverse perspectives. This ability to see things from another’s point of view – even if you do not agree with it – is also promoted in the Social Skills and in the “philosophy” slots specifically included in the subskill remedial program to help those who may, for instance, find it difficult to see both sides of an argument.

Word-finding

We teach pupils with word finding difficulties strategies to help organise their lexicon (or “word bank”) to make retrieving words more efficient. Pupils also learn what they can do in situations where they are struggling to find a specific word.

Articulation

Any speech work can fall into this category. We work on specific sounds to improve a pupil’s clarity of expression and, with most sounds, this will also help with the development of spelling and reading.

Sequencing

Ordering logically is such a vital aspect to so many everyday activities as well as lessons. We support the logical ordering of pictures to tell stories, giving instructions to others, ordering events to re-tell what happened and ordering pupils own creative writing.

Phonological support & sound linkage

Phonological awareness of the differences between sounds and how they interact to create words underpins the skills needed for reading and spelling. Using kinaesthetic as well as auditory methods, we explore with pupils how sounds are made so that they can be identified more easily. We also help the pupils break down words into their sound components and focus on manipulating those sounds to build their sound awareness skills.

Active literacy & reading skills (comprehension)

Making continued progress in reading depends on taking meaning from what is read. Often this process needs to be practised separately from the mechanics of reading. We work on exercises to pull meaning from the sentences both explicit and implicit focussing, in particular, on meaning that is not directly stated.

Semantics

The meanings of words are explored with pupils to help expand their vocabulary, organise and develop their lexicon and improve speed of understanding. Ways of doing this include, for example, understanding how homophones and homographs are used and how context can be used to deduce meaning.

Grammar & syntax

From an Speech and Language perspective pupils must learn to listen to themselves in order to start self-correcting mistakes in grammar. Our SLT works outside our English lessons to develop an understanding of verb tenses and other expressive language issues where pupils are behind expectations for their chronological age.  

Non-literal interpretation

Some of our pupils have a very literal grasp of language. Using our Speech and Language expertise we seek to promote an understanding of the non-literal through careful consideration the use of idioms, irony, sarcasm, indirect questions and the concept of implicit hidden meaning. Pupils difficulties in this area may impact severely on social skills and lead to feelings of anger, alienation and confusion if not understood and addressed appropriately.

Social skills and pragmatics

This subskill covers many different areas including body language, instructions, emotions, conversation skills, independence, assertiveness, and appropriate variations in tone, volume and speed of talking when addressing different audiences. It is often taught in small groups so that pupils can learn from each other and share experiences as well as practising good interaction techniques. These sessions also provide an opportunity to practise seeing an argument from both sides and accepting there may not be a “right” answer.

Auditory processing

This is often an area that brings many of the language sub-skills together. A pupil’s understanding and use of individual words may be correct and his underlying memory skills may be satisfactory and yet his responses to questions clearly indicate that he is not processing them correctly. This could be due to a number of factors: incorrectly anticipating the question rather than waiting to hear what is actually being asked; an overload of his working memory or simply not taking enough time to think about what is being asked before attempting a response. In such cases (where there is not a fundamental language disorder) support involves learning and rehearing strategies that can then be used in real situations.

Visual memory-training & sequential visual memory

Children who are experiencing difficulties with reading and spelling may have problems with visual sequential memory. Recognising the order of letters in words, and words in sentences, is an important part of the visual decoding process in reading and the encoding process in spelling. Visual and sequential memory is inherent to so many aspects of learning we dedicate much of our sub-skill support to memory-training. Using strategies to support visual and visual sequential memory form an important part of many lessons. This includes prompting pupils to give themselves verbal cues; encouraging the use of physical prompts; the use of mind mapping and spidergram software to aid sequential memory; and the use of mnemonics for learning sequences and spellings.

Auditory memory

Children with auditory memory difficulties may experience problems developing an understanding of words and recalling information that has been presented orally. As well as the resources employed by our Speech and Language Therapist, all students at Calder House are put through the Cogmed programme once a year which includes elements of auditory working memory. Other resources used to address weakness in this area include the Arrow reading program and the Ready-Set-Remember program of listening activities. This program focuses upon ‘Active Listening.’ While ‘hearing’ can be a passive process, ‘listening’ is an active process and we promote active listening across the entire school.

Working memory-training

Over the course of an academic year every pupil at Calder House will complete the Cogmed memory-enhancement program. We were among the first schools in the country to start using Cogmed and work closely with the developers of the programme. There are no magic bullets in remedial education but our analysis of working memory scores has shown that our students benefit significantly from this specialised input. Moreover, even pupils with a good working memory will experience real educational benefits if becomes even better.

Movement planning and fluency of movement

For some of our dyspraxic learners, praxis (planning – and then carrying out – a sequence of movements) is problematic. Our remediation program is devised by our occupational therapist and focuses upon repeating and rehearsing movements until they become fluent and part of muscle-memory. These may be either fine (e.g. tracing a shape) or gross (e.g. hopping) motor tasks.

Proprioception

Proprioception is the area of tactile perception that relates to one’s awareness of one’s body in space. Working under the direction of our occupational therapist, our work on proprioception focuses upon making pupils safe in their environment and improving their awareness of themselves in relation to their surroundings. Moreover awareness of a pupil’s own body in relation to the world around is the starting point for improving all areas of spatial perception.

Stamina

Links between physical and mental stamina are well-established. We have found that by improving physical stamina in children, we can simultaneously improve their ability to focus in class. The emphasis in these sub-skills lessons is largely upon aerobic activity and the development of core stability. A child who flops over the work on their desk will find it more difficult to work effectively. However, there’s no point in simply telling that child to “sit up straight” if they lack the stamina and muscle strength needed to maintain the position. Floppy children are floppy for a reason - they are not floppy by choice!

Posture, core stability and symmetry

Good posture, gait and body symmetry are fundamental to facilitating many aspects of learning. For example, before reading we ensure children are sitting with good posture, square to the book, with feet planted squarely upon the floor. Like active listening, “active” posture can help a child to remain attentive during lessons. With input from our occupational therapist, we focus upon improving core-muscle strength, stability and static and dynamic balance.

Core stability, balance and foot/eye co-ordination

Where our Occupational Therapist has identified the need, we offer support to those children whose hand/foot-eye co-ordination is weak. Children with weaknesses in this area may experience difficulties kicking or catching a ball, skipping, trying to write between lines and using a ruler, scissors or sewing needle. By starting “big” (e.g. with large soft balls and textured balls, giant pegboards, large needles with equally large eyes and rulers with extra holding ridges) and breaking down tasks using exercises suggested by our OT, we are able to build confidence and skill. If a child can’t do something as well as their peers, they are much less likely to practice – and consequently they are much less likely to improve. By creating regular opportunities to develop these skills we break this cycle of failure. We are also able to practise in school the exercises prescribed by an orthoptist to remediate eye tracking issues.

Bi-lateral integration and crossing the midline

Bilateral Integration refers to the integration of the two sides of the body and the ability to cross the body’s midline – something a child does every time they write from left to right. Difficulty with bilateral integration often results in confusion regarding direction and carrying out instructions. It can impact on many daily activities where either right or left foot, eye or hand needs to work from left to right or right to left across the midline – you do this, for instance, every time you clean your teeth!

Fine motor

Upon assessment by a physiotherapist working outside of school or guided by our own occupational therapist, pupils can be offered support with fine motor skills. These are the skills required by children to manipulate objects with their hands and fingers. Such skills also demand good hand-eye coordination. Visual-motor integration activities and hand-eye coordination exercises are combined with practising day to day activities such as buttoning, shoe lace tying and sewing. We also have a number of activities designed to improve hand strength and pencil grip/pressure when writing as well as writing slopes and other handwriting aids to help promote good handwriting.