How we work

Pupils are based within an identified Orchard building; House, Lodge, Pod or Class.  There are opportunities for pupils to learn in a variety of ways, including individual, small group and whole provision.  When pupils are ready to access group learning, opportunities are then available to access Fred Nicholson School whole lessons.  

In key stages 2 and 3 Orchard pupils continue to access the Early Years Framework or National Curriculum, whether learning within Orchard or Fred Nicholson School lessons.   When in Key Stage 4, pupils move across to access a variety of alternative formal qualifications appropriate to their academic ability and levels of emotional resilience. 

The majority of learning within Orchard Houses is completed through structured activities tailored to meet their individual need.  The level of structure and support required will vary to meet need, however most pupils have schedules and pupil centred lessons plans clearly showing the learning objective and steps to achieve it. 

Each pupil has an individual workstation where independent or individual learning takes place.   Pupils are taught to be as independent as possible, ensuring their work station is kept orderly and they are encouraged to annotate their schedules to show when work is completed.

We recognise that our pupils have a high level of sensory need.  In order to support this, Orchard provisions are all low stimuli environments.  Regular sensory activities are built into the timetable.  Pupils are constantly supported to identify what strategies support them in identifying what is wrong and then identifying activities to help regulate.  We encourage pupils to take ownership of developing self-regulation skills. 

Every opportunity is taken to encourage and support the pupils to interact socially, both during formal learning opportunities and unstructured time.  Staff use a range of strategies and programmes to help pupils understand the nuances of social interaction, including Social Stories, Comic Strip Conversations, Social Use of Language Programme and TEACCH. 

Some pupils within Orchard have very limited use of verbal speech.  These pupils are supported to communicate using a variety of tools, such as Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS, Signalong and pictures of reference).