Extra time catches special needs earlier

16th September 2005 at 01:00
Children with special needs are benefiting from extra time with teachers thanks to the new foundation phase for the early years.

Teachers say the extra resources for the "learning through play" pilot has enabled them to identify and deal with speech and language difficulties far more quickly.

Claire Wright, a teacher at St Mary's Church in Wales school in Brynmawr, Blaenau Gwent, now has three members of staff to help her with the 28-strong nursery class. They can now offer more support to those who may have slipped through the net before.

"We're now able to cater for children's individual needs rather than work as a group and this means that everyone is achieving," she said. "The children are constantly exposed to listening and talking, with the emphasis on encouragement and gaining confidence."

Outdoor work is also a major part of the new learning philosophy and children at St Mary's are encouraged to play more sport and learn about plants and mini-beasts in the open air.

Headteacher Ian Forbes said he had seen a difference in children's communication and social skills. He said the 1:8 adult to pupil ratio was a real must for the scheme to work.

"The pilot has gone even better than we expected and I hope the Assembly can find the funding so all schools in Wales can benefit."

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