The rationale behind Chameleon HQ is to provide children who have Complex Communication Needs with a place to flourish and maximise their potential in all ways. It is a provision that is designed to ensure the needs of the children are prioritised, with the learning and experiences being personalised, as much as possible, to fit each individual child. The well-being, resilience and independence of the students is key to the ethos that underpins the environment in Chameleon HQ.
How does it work?
The West Moors Middle staff and Chameleon team, alongside a variety of other professionals (specialist advisory teacher, speech & language therapist, occupational therapist, educational psychologist), work to raise the student’s self-esteem first and foremost; the initial focus is on each child’s emotional well-being. We seek ways for them to achieve, be proud and build resilience in numerous academic and non-academic ways, gaining skills that can then be transferred into their curriculum learning.
Our primary aim is to enable our students to feel safe, successful and happy at school. To enjoy experiences within an educational establishment and feel that they have people that they can trust and rely on. Once that happens, they are in a better place to learn and are more prepared to try new or tricky things (and sometimes not succeed at first). It is our strong belief that children need to be ‘ready to learn’, in an emotional and physical way, in order to make good academic progress. To develop readiness to learn, we focus on social communication skills, emotional and sensory regulation, social thinking and positive, effective communication strategies.
Teachers and LSAs design learning opportunities using a suitably differentiated National Curriculum which will identify any gaps in children’s learning and seek to build on prior knowledge to address misconceptions and strengthen understanding. Learning is developed through multi-sensory approaches using a range of visual, kinaesthetic and auditory methods to best suit the individual child’s learning style.
The provision is designed to support access to mainstream lessons, when this is seen as appropriate. Depending on the situation, this may take place with the student attending lessons on their own or with a trusted member of staff. Sometimes they will attend for the lesson input then return to Chameleon HQ to complete their work in a more tailored environment and with additional support. Other times they may stay for the whole lesson. Often children will be attending lessons having completed some pre-learning so that they will be entering the classroom with a higher level of confidence and fewer anxieties. There will also be opportunities for consolidation work to take place after they have attended lessons. We aim to build up to students attending mainstream classes for 80% of the time and spending 20% of the time in Chameleon HQ, however, this may be a very gradual process for some and more rapid for others. Every decision will be tailored around the individual needs of each student.
Gaining a place in Chameleon HQ is a decision made through local authority SEN panels. A student must have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) with complex communication needs identified as their primary need. Visits to the provision are welcomed by prior arrangement but admission is decided by a local authority panel and subject to the availability of places.
Way to go, Chameleon HQ!
We are so very proud of our students in Chameleon HQ for challenging themselves, showing wonderful resilience and having such a fantastic first half term of this year. This half term has involved getting to know each other better, thinking about how we learn best, developing our own strategies for emotional regulation and making progress in our learning in all areas. We have enjoyed a whole range of learning opportunities together but of particular note has been the woodwork opportunities supported by Mrs Izzard, the ICT capabilities of our students when making iMovies, the musical enthusiasm, accessing one-to-one online maths interventions and just this week we've enjoyed a very impressive demonstration of farrier skills with Mr Thorne (parent) bringing his mobile forge to school and showing us how he adjusts shoes to fit horses and he made a 'pineapple twist' decorative rod. Such a great experience for us all! We are looking forward to next half term with more fantastic learning opportunities, a new Occupational Therapist joining the team, fundraising plans afoot and inviting our friends to Chameleon café each week.