Teaching Approach

Young lady working at the body shop SEND careers Joy written in the background. The young lady is smiling

The Curriculum

This approach should require no amendments to the curriculum. Its ethos relies heavily not on what you teach but how you teach it. Any school should ensure that its curriculum meets the needs of all learners. Everything that is delivered throughout the day is accessible, meaningful, and relevant to each child.


How the environment a child learns in is set up can have a tremendous impact on how they are able to focus and can impact levels of stress in the classroom. This list is based on an article about adapting the learning environment for all learners. This section is as much about accessibility as Joy. If the child can't access the room how can they learn?

  1. Make sure there is room around furniture for those who need space.

  2. Foam pads on sharp corners for those who are a little less steady on their feet.

  3. A nice grippy floor surface for those who like to expend energy.

  4. Carefully plan wall displays to limit visual overload.

  5. Create links with nature, naturalness in terms of light, temperature and air quality.

  6. Ensure each learner has the space THEY need to feel comfortable (this may vary throughout the day/week).

  7. Use learning bays for individual work to reduce stimuli.

  8. Use flexible lighting, lamps, LEDs, warm or bright white. This can be adapted throughout the day.

  9. Reduce strong odors, perfumes, air fresheners.

  10. Limit sensory overload from external smells, like dinner halls, traffic smells. Sealing foam around the door and a fan pointing out of the window can help. Have some calming smells available in pots or scented candles.

  11. Ensure there is good ventilation, fresh air.

  12. A retreat area that is quiet, without visual stimulation and has soft cushions, able to be fully dark if needed.

  13. Ensure the light is not in anyone’s eyes.

  14. Soft surfaces/soft furnishing to absorb the noise, classrooms echo so much!

  15. Think calm clear spaces for working, display books rather than walls.

  16. Tables with tops that can help avoid clattering (felt in the bottom of pen pots).

  17. Have an area with a variety of textures to explore.

  18. Natural lighting, plants, places to document learning progress (question or inquiry wall), flexible seating, minimal colours, loose parts, work zones, good storage, creative materials, varied work surfaces.

  19. Ensure all resources are accessible to all – picture labels easy to open drawers etc.

  20. No traffic lights, sun/clouds or names on a board.

  21. Sit in every seat to understand why a child might be fidgeting or distracted. They may not be able to see you or hear you properly. They may be wary of a peer.

The Human Approach

Even if the environment is not perfect you can make up for it with your approach to teaching and learning. your interactions can influence a child's lesson, day or even life.

  1. Adapt your interactions to suit the communication style of your learners, if they are noise sensitive make sure you lower your voice/tone, never force eye contact.

  2. Positive Talk affirmations and recognition of success.

  3. Build safety. Inclusive classrooms are safe spaces. This may be a space, a person, an object etc. Learning, relationships, exploring the world requires a certain amount of vulnerability.

  4. If children don't feel an element of safety, they stand less chance of taking the risks needed to learn and discover.

  5. Spread optimism and hope through positive role models and responsibility.

  6. Don’t talk too much! Listen and be the presence that makes them feel safe and valued

  7. Let the children lead the learning.

  8. Share success not failures.

  9. Teach how to find safety and allow it. i.e have headphones available, acknowledge feelings. “You look like you need a break.”.

  10. Regulate, relate, reason in that order.

  11. Model expectations at all times, if you don’t want shouting then don't shout!

  12. Always try to react to negative interactions with a positive reaction. If a child lashes out verbally respond by validating their feelings and directing to a behaviour you want. “I can see you are angry, can I help.”

  13. Any addressing of unproductive behaviour is done away from the group especially away from other adults to avoid shaming.

  14. You need to be a calming, engaging and stimulating presence in the learning environment, learn what approach works for your learners and when you need to change it.

  15. Find a role for each child and know the value each child brings to the group, the good listener, the relentless optimist, the creative one.

  16. Get out of the classroom as much as possible and explore learning environments. If you can't use immersive storytelling to bring the outside in.