Early Learning Group - The Owls Class
Who Are We?
The Early Learning Group (ELG) at Wildground Federation is a joint Education and NHS provision for pre-school children with speech, language and communication needs.
The group is led by a teacher (Mrs.Sam Read) and an experienced learning support assistant team. It provides a quality, language rich pre-school curriculum, alongside individual support programmes for each child. Specialist support for speech and language is provided by a Speech and Language Therapist who works on each child's individual needs.
The group is managed by Mrs Mullett (Executive Headteacher of Wildground Federation), and provides support for children living in the Waterside and Totton areas. Children from the group transfer to a wide variety of partnership schools in the academic year that they turn five.
Positive Approach to Speech and Language
Speech, language and communication difficulties affect a growing number of individuals. The impact of having a speech, language and communication difficulty can be enormous and infiltrate many aspects of life. We understand that for children and families living with such difficulties life can sometimes feel confusing, frustrating and over-whelming. Hence, early intervention offers children the best possible outcomes and possibilities. So much can be achieved when a child's speech and language need is understood and catered for. We know that through careful intervention and the provision of a language rich environment that takes into account children's speech and language needs so much can be achieved.
In the ELG we are extremely fortunate to work with just twelve children at a time. This gives us a great opportunity to really get to know the children and be able to respond to them as individuals. We know that all the children who attend our ELG have many wonderful qualities and abilities and we work hard to equip them with the confidence to maintain and develop these skills by improving their speech and language. Hopefully our work enables children to feel less confused and frustrated and more able to face challenges and the many amazing opportunities life has to offer.
The ELG is part of Wildground Infant School and so we have access to all the school's facilities. Our large classroom is well resourced and organised for pre-school learning and we have a shared outside area with a range of outdoor equipment and outdoor activities. Within the school grounds we have access to a pond, a small wooded area and a garden. These spaces can be helpful places to develop children's knowledge and understanding of the world and so well-supervised visits to these areas are planned for.
There are child-sized toilets and washbasins next to our classroom and these are perfect for encouraging independence and self-control skills. For children wearing nappies we have a changing area. We discuss any personal requirements with parents on an individual basis and happily support routines such as toilet training as and when children are ready.
Practical Information and Admissions
The ELG is open five mornings a week. Each session is three hours long, starting at 9.15am and finishing at 12.15pm.
Usually children attend three mornings a week and most children attend their local pre-school for an additional two sessions a week. This arrangement helps them to broaden their social skills and often make friends with children they will start school with.
Children who come to the ELG are initially seen by Speech and Language Therapists in clinic. At these sessions therapists decide whether they think a child may be suitable to attend, and, if they feel this is a possibility, a referral is made to us. However, at this point a place is not guaranteed. An admissions morning is then held here, (normally in June), when all the children who have been referred to the unit are invited to attend either a morning or afternoon session with their parents. These admission sessions give a team of people working at the ELG the opportunity to meet the children and decide which ones are most suited to a place at the setting. Demand for these places is high and we are sadly often over-subscribed. Children who do not receive a place at the ELG will continue to be supported by the Speech and Language Service. Those who are successful will be contacted by the teacher in charge and given the days they will be invited to attend, then a series of induction activities take place ready for the children starting at the setting the following September.