This course is for school leavers with learning difficulties who need a secure, accessible introduction to college life. The main emphasis throughout the program is to encourage communication, independence and life skills, functional numeracy and literacy within everyday contexts and appropriate social behaviours. The group is taught by two tutors and works in collaboration with all groups to enable the learners to develop meaningful relationships with in a variety of contexts.
All activities within the Foundation Learning group have been designed with Equality and Diversity, ECM and Health and safety considerations being paramount, enabling this learner group to access the entire curriculum in a safe and appropriate environment for their need and learning styles. Learners need to be able to interact/communicate with their peers and staff expressing their own choices and decisions as well as being able to work on developing independence skills.
Learners are involved as fully as possible in setting their own goals and targets and these are presented to the learner at the start of each day in the form of a daily target sheet using pictures and symbols. Performance against these targets is recorded with the students at the end of each day, providing the opportunity to celebrate achievement, test recall, express opinions and to again reinforce expectations thus enabling us to follow the ECM theme of Enjoying and Achieving. Learners are supported to communicate with staff about how well they think they have done each day, with the aid of pictures, symbols or signing support where necessary. Targets are reviewed regularly and altered/adapted/extended as and when appropriate, dependent upon the individuals achievement against them.
Art sessions revolve around encouraging the students to express themselves creatively to the best of their abilities. These sessions provide opportunities for the students to work on their communication skills, choice making and are often used as ways of improving the classroom environment. Studentsâ€™ abilities vary but the emphasis can be based on a sensory experience using hand painting techniques and clay moulding. Finished results are displayed in the class room or taken home. This session has the added benefit of encouraging ownership of the room and a sense of belonging to the group.
The morning session is a sports/football/golf based session supported by Springfield staff. This takes place either on the field, astro-turf or in the hall. The sessions include circuits, team games, individual skill sessions and general fitness, following the ECM theme of Being Healthy. The activity provides the opportunity for the learners to use adapted and specialised equipment, to work on following instructions in a different context, work independently as an individual and also to develop the social and communication skills necessary for team play. It may also be possible to access the equipment in the campus gym at some point.
This is an opportunity for students to develop social skills, such as turn taking and to be able to relax and enjoy each others company. This can be quite challenging for some of the students. However, it is important for them to learn to stay calm and relaxed in different circumstances and during less structured periods. Learners will be given the choice of relaxing in the ball pool, having a relaxing hand and or foot massage with aromatherapy oils, or playing with the interactive light beam device. Soft relaxing music will be playing in the background. Staffing will depend upon the group dynamics at the time, taking into account staff and student mix and different options available to the learners.
The activity provides the opportunity for the students to work on their independent living skills of basic food preparation. A variety of visual aids are used as support, including photos and pictures and video recipes for the students to follow. The group will have taken orders from the rest of Springfield on Tuesday for food prepared by them. All options are healthy and range from a hot meal cooked in the kitchen to healthy cakes, deserts and breads. Students are supported to prepare the food as independently as possible. Extra emphasis is placed on the use of open questioning in these sessions, encouraging students recall of what they have bought on our shopping trip, what equipment is needed, what steps are involved and the safe use of utensils.
Generally the course on Young persons programme is between 2 â€“ 3 years long. Once a learner has completed this course there may be the opportunity to access other programmes either at Oaklands or at another local college. A full time programme involves a 4 day placement and it is recommended that a learner looks at other services on the 5th day in order to prepare them for when they finish the programme and also to provide a service during the college holidays.
We hope this has helped you understand a little and given you an insight as to what happens at â€˜Springfieldâ€™ Oaklands College - within the Foundation Learning provision.
Marcus Sandiford & Tom Gore Foundation Learning tutors.