Home   Lower School: Reception & Years 1-4

Lower School: Reception & Years 1-4

Welcome to our Lower School

Lower School consists of Reception through to Year 4 (Early Years Foundation Stage, Key Stage 1 and Lower Key Stage 2). The Lower School Leader, Deputy Principal and named SENCO is Mrs Ives.

Approaches to teaching and learning
In lower school we work in groups within class bases to deliver a personalised, communication centred and multi- sensory curriculum. Careful consideration is given to our pupil groups which are differentiated according to individual needs and learning styles, as identified within individual EHCPs or statements. Defined physical and visual structures incorporate learning using real objects, within a work system and TEACCH methodology, alongside collaborative, play based and creative approaches. All pupils have a sensory diet and movement breaks throughout their day to aid self-regulation.

Staff in Lower School:

Little Stars (EYFS)
Mrs Ives (Lower School Leader)
Mrs Plant (EYFS Practitioner)
Miss Holiday (EYFS Practitioner)
Mrs Robins (Midday supervisor)

Big Stars (Year 1)
Mrs Travers EYFS/Y1 Practitioner
Mrs Ives (Lower School Leader)
Miss Allen (Teaching Assistant)

Mercury (Years 2/3)
Mrs Pembery (Learning Mentor)
Mr Kisby (Teaching assistant)
Ms West (Teaching assistant)
Mrs Hakim (Midday supervisor)
Mrs Ives (Lower School Leader)

Venus (Years 2- 3)
Mrs Shoebridge (Teacher: 3 days/ week)
Mrs Temple (Teacher: 2 days/week)
Ms Brown (Teaching assistant)
Ms Reinis (Teaching assistant)

Neptune (Years 3/4)
Ms O’Neil (Teacher)
Mrs Peel (Learning Mentor)
Miss Watkins (Teaching assistant)
Mr Matias (Teaching assistant)

Our Teaching Interventions this term

Attention Autism

In lower school we have been delivering interventions for language and communication using the ‘Attention Bucket’ approach to develop joint attention to a stimulus and working as part of a group.  ‘Attention Autism’ was developed by specialist speech and language therapist, Gina Davies.

The approach is based on:

An understanding of the ‘typical’ attention levels and development of infants

o    This enables us to think about where the child is at with their attention and communication development and what to work on next.

The common strengths of people with autism

o    We know that people with autism are visual learners and have good visual skills, therefore, we should use visuals and pictures to share a message, reduce anxiety and add structure. We must also ensure we demonstrate an activity first, as well as modeling how to take part in an activity. This aids the children’s understanding of what they need to do

The characteristics of autism

o    Including difficulty with social communication, interaction, rigidity of thought and sensory processing differences.

The knowledge that successful communication is dynamic, motivating and fun!

o    As Gina says, we must “offer an irresistible invitation to learn”.

The Attention Autism activity structure is divided into 4 parts:

  • Stage 1: Attention bucket (to focus attention)
  • Stage 2: Attention builder (to sustain attention)
  • Stage 3: Interactive game (to shift attention)
  • Stage 4: Individual activities (to focus and sustain attention in a group, then transition shifting attention to individual activity and then refocus on the group)

Colourful Semantics

Colourful semantics is an approach created by Alison Bryan. It is aimed at helping children to develop their grammar but it is rooted in the meaning of words (semantics).

This approach encourages:

  • a wider vocabulary
  • making sentences longer
  • helping children to answer questions or generate responses to questions
  • the use of nouns, verbs, prepositions and adjectives
  • story telling skills
  • written sentences and written language comprehension
  • individual and small group work

Colourful semantics reassembles sentences by cutting them up into their thematic roles and then colour codes them.

The approach has 4 key colour coded stages. There are further stages for adverbs, adjectives, conjunctions and negatives.

Colourful Semantics

The approach helps children to organise their sentences into key levels and is used in stages to help children develop language and vocabulary in addition to grammatical structure. It can be used to help children who are starting to develop language and have limited vocabulary to confident talkers who struggle to organise the grammatical content of their sentences.


We have also been using Numicon, a multi-sensory mathematics teaching programme that raises achievement across all ability levels using visual images in a series of practical teaching activities. When Numicon patterns are arranged in order, pupils begin to notice important connections between numbers for instance that each number is one more than the last and one fewer than the next, odd and even numbers and place value. Numicon illustrates number bonds, addition and subtraction, place value, doubling and halving, estimation, division and multiplication.


Time to Talk

We are beginning the programme ‘Time to Talk’.   This book by Alison Schroeder, has been developed to teach and develop oral language and social interaction skills to children. Containing 40 sessions, designed to take place two to three times a week, the book aims to help teachers to develop the “rules” of interaction with the help of the character Ginger the Bear, who features in all the activities. Skills taught include: eye contact; taking turns; sharing; greetings; awareness of feelings; giving; following instructions; listening; paying attention; and play skills. There is an accompanying letter that will be sent home to parents each week to inform you of the social interaction skills we are teaching so that you can practice at home.

Time to Talk

We have also had a student to deliver Lego Therapy with some of our pupils.  This is an approach that also encourages the development of social language and communication skills through the designated roles in the group building of lego structures, which the children are enjoying very much.

The Curriculum

Early Years Foundation Stage


We are learning about Spring and growth through the themes of :

  • Eastertime
  • The farm
  • Animals and their babies
  • Jasper’s Beanstalk
  • What the Ladybird Heard
  • Pancakes
  • Chinese New Year

We have a visit to Sacrewell Farm planned for the end of term.

This term, in years 1 -4, we have continued to deliver differentiated teaching and learning through the Cornerstones Curriculum.  This is a broad and balanced, knowledge and skills based curriculum with a creative edge. Within each imaginative learning project (ILP) the Cornerstones curriculum incorporates learning activities to:

  • Engage
  • Develop
  • Innovate
  • Express

Our imaginative learning projects this term:

Year 1/2: Little Stars

Moon Zoom!

Moon zoom




Crash! What’s that in the playground?  Let’s go outside and take a look – it looks like a UFO has crash-landed!

Children have explored who might have landed by investigating the craft and the scattered scientific specimens.  They have created a ‘welcome to earth’ box for the alien explorer, putting items inside that explain what life is like on our planet.  We have role played being astronauts and making junk model space crafts.  We have also found out the names of the planets

Subject Themes
English ·         Posters

·         Character profiles

·         Non-chronological reports

·         Adverts science fiction

Maths ·         Position and directs

·         Capacity

·         Measures

·         Number bonds

Design technology ·         Design and make space-themed vehicles

·         Evaluating toys

·         Using mechanisms

Science Properties of materials: working scientifically
Geography Satellite images
Art & Design Models of the solar system
Computing Drawing software: email, photo stories
PE dance
PSHE Aspirations and goal setting


Our imaginative learning projects this term:

Year 2-4: Venus and Mercury

Muck, Mess and Mixtures!

Muck and Mess



Lets get messy! Pour, mix, stir, splat ! How does it feel to get your hands covered in goo? We have Made wobbly jelly and drawn with wibbly clay. We are investigating and creating effects with liquids, dough, paint and all kinds of squelchy stuff! We have written recipes, instructions, riddles and poems – using loads of scrummy words to describe messy mixtures! Groups are also enjoying shared reading of George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl.

Subject Themes
English ·         Labels

·         Lists and captions

·         Recipes

·         Poetry

·         Narrative

·         leaflets

Maths ·         Measurement (capacity and mass)
Design technology ·         Food tasting & origins of food

·         Healthy meals

·         Following recipes

·         Designing an outdoor mud kitchen

Science Everyday materials: working scientifically
Art & Design ·         Printing

·         Food landscapes

·         Mixed media pictures and collages

·         Colour mixing

·         Using clay

Computing ·         Stop motion animation

·         Digital photography and presentations

PE Games skills
PSHE Safety around medicines and household products

Neptune group have a visit to Cadbury’s World planned for the end of term.

As part of Autism Awareness Week, we are very excited to welcome parents to our open sessions to show you video clips, our work and see some of the brilliant things we have learnt to do this term.