Educational Psychology

Educational Psychologists work with children, teachers and parents/carers to find out HOW children and young people learn and process information.

There are lots of things which affect learning outcomes, such as motivation, emotions, attitudes, self-regulation, behaviour, learning disabilities, self-esteem and attachment style. The educational psychologist looks at how these factors contribute to children’s individual learning differences and how these affect their ability to learn and retain new information. The educational psychologist also works with parents/carers and teachers to deliver optimal learning strategies and classroom environment to improve children’s learning.

At Mountjoy School, all our children and young people have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). As part of the Education, Health and Care needs assessment, children are assessed by an educational psychologist, whose advice then goes in the EHCP. Many of the outcomes in the EHCP are written by an educational psychologist and they are the goals which school helps the children to achieve.

As children grow and learn and develop, they achieve certain goals and their learning needs change. Regular input from an educational psychologist as part of the wide team of professionals supporting the children and young people throughout their time at school helps to keep the children’s outcomes, and the teacher’s strategies, current, realistic, ambitious and achievable.

 

Occupational therapy provides practical support to help pupils overcome barriers preventing them from doing the activities (or occupations) that matter to them. This support increases their independence and satisfaction in all aspects of life.

What do occupational therapists do?

The Occupational Therapist (OT) at Mountjoy School works with children of all ages who have a wide range of physical or learning disabilities.

Pupils are referred to the OT for an assessment which takes a “whole-person approach” to both mental and physical health and wellbeing. The OT considers all of the pupil’s needs – physical, psychological, social and environmental and develops a therapy plan with recommendations to help pupils overcome the effects of their disability so that they can carry out everyday tasks (occupations) such as self-care, work, leisure or other activities

The MOVE training programme has allowed us to have clear pathways to follow and are broken down into key areas    

  1. Assessment - Where is the individual now?
  2. Goal Setting - Where do they want to get to?
  3. Task Analysis - What skills are needed to get there?
  4. Prompt Measurement - What support is currently required?
  5. Prompt Adjustment - What support will be needed to achieve their goal?
  6. Teaching the Skills - How will we ensure they reach their goal?

We have staff who are lead practitioners and responsible for the pupil/s in their class on the MOVE programme. We all feel very passionate about the programme and we have equipment set up in the therapy room including corner stairs, therapy bed and parallel bars for our pupils to use. We also have aerobics steps in classes for staff to use with their pupils, enabling us to meet our pupils goals.

Movement for Learning and Life

  • In our Rights Respecting School, we respect all of our students’ right to communicate and be listened to.
  • We provide a Total Communication environment where talking, signing (using Signalong) the use of symbols in light tech (Choice boards, PECS and PODD books) or high-tech devices (iPads), body language, gesture, facial expression, vocalisations (using your voice to make sounds) eye gaze (either with an E-tran frame or an eye-gaze device) objects of reference, switches and writing/typing/drawing are all valid forms of communication. We also use Intensive Interaction as a means of developing communication.
  • We understand the importance of developing language for thinking.
  • We assume competence and firmly believe that with the right opportunities, every student has something to say. We also respect that sometimes they choose not to say things and this is also their right!
  • We adapt AAC (Augmentative and Alternative) approaches to meet the individual needs of the students — this may be as subtle as the flick of an eye or as complex as an advanced electronic communication device that can have options for environmental control.
  • We acknowledge, respect, and allow the opportunity for each type of communication to be made, and allow time for the students to process what is communicated to them.
  • Opportunities for communication are woven into the sessions and we both encourage and provide ways for students to have their own opinions!
  • We build on the foundations of early requesting and scaffold students to develop a range of communicative functions; gaining attention, sharing attention, rejecting, asserting independence, greetings, asking questions, giving positive or negative opinions, sharing ideas, making suggestions, sharing memories, making predictions, and our favourite one… -independently giving us information that we did not already know! (have photos of real students using a range of real systems here, e.g. PODD book, switch, choice board, Grid on iPad, Eye gaze. Head pillow, switch activated toy, E tran frame with More or finished, touchscreen on whiteboard).
  • Mountjoy employs its own Specialist SALT who works closely with staff and pupils and is able to model communication strategies and give support within class sessions. She provides give us in-house training and meets with parents to provide 1:1 or group support. She also liaises with other SALTs who visit the school, as well as a range of professionals who are often involved with our students. We work on attention, play, social skills, understanding, expressive language, speech sounds, fluency, volume and speed control, conversation repair, problem solving and working memory.
  • At Mountjoy, we integrate our Communication aims into the pupils’ cross curricular targets and the SALT does joint-planning with the teachers.

Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy is provided at Mountjoy school by the paediatric physiotherapy team at the Children’s centre in Dorchester, part of the Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.   A physiotherapist visits the school on a regular basis, usually fortnightly, to set up and review exercise programs, hydrotherapy programs, and school equipment, as well as review pupils on an individual basis.

Pupils will require a referral to the physiotherapy team from their GP, Consultant or existing therapist in order to be seen by the physiotherapist at school, and ideally a first appointment would be undertaken with parents either at school or at the children’s centre.  The frequency with which a child is seen will then be determined by the therapist but most children will be seen at least once a term.  We ask that parents/carers attend at least one physiotherapy appointment a year to facilitate goal setting and ensure a consistent therapy approach at home and school.  A summer holiday appointment slot will always be offered to parents at the Children’s centre in Dorchester.

Physiotherapy programs will be written by the therapist and will be taught and carried out in conjunction with the school staff looking after your child. For children who the therapist feels would benefit from hydrotherapy a program will be set up in conjunction with the school staff who will then take responsibility for carrying it out.  This will then be reviewed on a yearly basis, unless requested earlier, to ensure that it is still appropriate. Equipment will be assessed for by the physiotherapist and will be funded by the education authority.  It will be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that it is still meeting the needs of your child.  Home slips will be completed to inform parents that their children have been seen, and we would always welcome contact from parents especially if they have any concerns about their child.

If children have had specific interventions such as Botox or surgery they may require a block of treatment provided in combination with the physiotherapist and school staff either at school or the children’s centre, or a combination of both.  The physiotherapist will liaise with your child’s paediatrician and other healthcare professionals to ensure that we remain informed about your child’s ongoing medical care.  However it would be very helpful if you can update us if your child attends a medical appointment, especially if intervention such as surgery or Botox is planned.

If you have any questions regarding our service or wish to discuss your child’s physiotherapy needs please don’t hesitate to contact us either through school or at the Children’s centre.

Pets as Therapy

Meg the dog

Every two weeks Hugh and his dog Meg come to visit Mountjoy.

Meg and Hugh are volunteers from the charity Pet’s As Therapy

Meg is fully trained and insured as a therapy dog.

What are the benefits of a PAT dog?

To support learning

  • helps children focus better
  • provides a non-stressful, non-judgmental environment
  • increases self-confidence
  • reduces self-consciousness
  • encourages communication
  • helps to encourage a love of reading

To support physical development

  • provides motivation to move more, stretch farther, exercise longer
  • increases joint movement
  • maintains or increases motor skills
  • To support physical and mental health
  • lowers blood pressure
  • improves cardiovascular health
  • releases endorphins that have a calming effect
  • the act of petting an animal produces an automatic relaxation response
  • lifts spirits and lessens depression
  • provides comfort
  • decreases anxiety

All members of the school enjoy Megs visits. She brings a great deal of pleasure and relaxation to the environment.

Some of the children have allocated sessions with Meg. These students will have had a referral for P.A.T. sessions, parental/carer permission will have been gained and there will be a clear intention for the sessions that fit in with pupil’s MAP (My Aspirational Progress) targets and /or EST (Emotional Support Time) needs. Such as to encourage: reading aloud, gross motor movement, learning to control their emotions, using their ‘voice’ (to ask Meg to sit, fetch), etc.

Each term we review the students who have received P.A.T. to see the impact that the session has had and to decide whether there is a need to continue the sessions.

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