The learning team around the child is at the heart of the Gesher way. A trans-disciplinary approach is taken with every child which sees the teachers, therapists, teaching assistants, parents and carers working together, beyond discipline specific approaches. This ensures that each child has an individually tailored provision of care throughout their school day. The learning team commits to equally and continually discussing the needs of each child, and providing the most effective education and therapeutic model of practice. They aim to understand each other’s roles and subsequently work together to combine skills and understanding.
Upon starting at Gesher, a range of formal and informal assessments are used to get an understanding of each child’s needs and provide individual and group therapy based upon what is identified. Furthermore, the therapy team work alongside teachers in the classrooms in providing the appropriate equipment, environment and provision for each learner.
Gesher offers a range of core therapies including speech therapy, occupational therapy and Dramatherapy to support with their learning and developmental needs. These therapists work at Gesher on a full-time basis, and utilise a three tiered approach: universal (for all), targeted (for small groups), and specialist (for individuals). All children benefit from the therapy team working within the classroom, offering ongoing advice and providing training and workshops for staff and parents. Each of the therapy team focusses on a specific area of support, and at Gesher this is presented in the following ways:
Speech and Language Therapy
- Providing advice, assessment, and intervention to help support and develop skills in the areas of: language, speech, social communication, voice, fluency, swallowing, and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)
- Using specialist skills, to work with students, staff and families to develop functional, child-centred goals which may enable them to access their wider environment more confidently and capably
- Implementing evidence-based programmes, resources, and supports into the school environment to ensure that students are able to meet their full communication potential
- Through assessments, the OT will develop creative and holistic goal focused interventions that teach everyday life skill; these include fine and gross motor skills, as well as more specific tasks such as toileting, eating, self-care and dressing
- Support children to build a better relationship with their self, through confidence building, emotional regulation strategies, and developing an understanding of their strengths and needs
- Facilitate opportunities for children to develop skills that form the foundations for future achievements
- Providing a safe space to promote wellbeing, where a creative environment may be more conducive to therapeutic progress than more traditional psychotherapy techniques
- Utilise role-play, embodiment, storytelling and projection to help explore personal and social situations; help to develop a broader role profile and develop adaptive functioning skills
- Using play, art, movement and music as alternative means of communicating; apply psychological models and theories to promote positive mental health
- Art therapy is an effective way for children and young people to explore and create meaning from their experiences, in a safe and confidential space, free from judgement
- Different mediums and resources are used for the child to choose from and express their internal worlds. For children, play and the arts can be the common language, so the value of the arts in therapy and education can be immeasurable
- Using the creative arts can help with self-regulation and counter-balance stress hormones. In addition, sessions can help a child grow in self-confidence and empower them to make decisions, as well as, encouraging a growth mindset and helping to build resilience.
- The aim of Arts Therapy is to provide children and young people with a ‘voice’, when words are not as effective and to achieve a general sense of well-being, so children feel better equipped to learn and cope with big emotions and the stresses life can bring
All of these strategies are brought together within the school environment, and the school team works with families and carers to ensure continuity and consistency within the home also. In addition to this, Gesher has an in-house educational psychologist who works at the school weekly. They work collaboratively with the rest of the therapy team to ensure the needs of the children are thoroughly met through a multi-disciplinary and holistic approach.