At Milestone Academy we define pupils as having Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD) when they have a significant developmental delay, specific communication difficulties and complex medical needs which can include other significant impairments such as visual, hearing, deaf blindness and/or physical disabilities. As a school the pupils’ needs are paramount and as such we have created five PMLD focused classrooms, one in the Early Years, two in the primary department and one in the Secondary department. There is also a fully equipped classroom with accessible facilities available for pupils within the 6th Form department. Each of these rooms, and other communal learning areas, such as the Aqua Learn pool, Interactive room, Soft play and Rebound gym are purposefully equipped to ensure easy access for our PMLD pupils, this includes fitted ceiling hoists and specialist moving and handling equipment. Staff who teach these pupils are trained to carry out all moving and handling procedures along with supporting basic medical needs, such as gastrostomy feeds, administering oxygen and emergency medication administration. Each class is supplied with a direct access device to the onsite healthcare team, including an NHS nurse, who support staff training and provide any medical and clinical decisions which need to be made.
At Milestone Academy we try to look at the world through the pupils’ eyes and find a way to ensure that everything they access is offering them the best opportunities to learn and develop. We have previously re grouped from the development from chronologic grouping to ability grouping, and as such our primary pupils are now taught in two classes specifically catering for the pupils’ levels of needs. As well as developing skills inside the classroom, we look to provide a number of community based learning opportunities which offer the children valuable life experiences.
Staff training and development within the PMLD department is an ongoing process. We attend a variety of training sessions and days which develop our knowledge of sensory learning, physical development and support and relevant medical training. Milestone Academy has a team of Speech and Language Therapists and Assistants who work in conjunction with the class teams to develop and assess communication development and eating and drinking issues. As well as peripatetic support from a Hearing Impairment specialist and a Visual Impairment specialist through the Specialist Teaching and Learning Service., we also have support from a variety of visiting Physiotherapists and occupational therapists, an on-site physiotherapy assistant who oversees any programmes put in place and deliver aspects of a pupil’s Education Health and Care Plan as required. Due to the unique nature of learning for our pupils, the curriculum is a continuously evolving process. It is important for us to celebrate all of our pupils’ achievements, not just their academic ones.
From September 2020, PMLD pupils who follow the Brook Curriculum Pathway will be assessed using a personalised system which will enable tracking of the small step progress that our more complex pupils make to be more efficient. The Brook Pathway covers 5 areas of learning which include Communication, Cognition, Environmental Control Technology, Personal Social Emotional and Well Being and Physical Skills which include Fine and Gross Motor Skills. This will incorporate a more tailored and personal curriculum to support the personalised learning and assessment for our pupils with more complex needs. This assessment system allows tracking of a pupil’s progress on a set number of criteria, to record the pupils gaining levels of independence, their confidence at carrying out the skill, how well they can remember it, the lengthening amount of time, and the many different ways and places in which they can carry out their learned skills. Planned targets are always functional for the pupil with the long term aim being to develop as much independence as is possible for each individual.
As a team we value the home-school link and work hard to develop a professional and approachable relationship with all our families. We encourage family involvement as much as possible and in support of this we have successfully pioneered the development of the digital home/school diary. Using tablet technologies, both school and pupil owned, we record and photograph engaging activities and achievements frequently which are then shared at home and within the family. Through the use of this ever popular technological addition our families are now able to share and feel included in all the exciting and inspirational activities that our pupils are involved in. This has been welcomed by many families, particularly those new to school who have found comfort and reassurance through the viewing of the footage and have a valued method to share these learning experiences with their child. In the upper school our work is also recorded and photographed towards the ASDAN Personal Progress Accreditation and this information is shared with families at regular meetings and at the end of the year. Portfolios are produced which then go with the pupil when they move on to Post 19 Provision.