01752 300101


Woodlands School, Picklecombe Drive, off Tamerton Foliot Road, Whitleigh, PLYMOUTH PL6 5ES


Staff Learning and Development 

Woodlands Friday Training: Impact and Evaluation

We have had a number of key focus areas for training since September 2018

Term 1

Term 2

Term 3

Term 4

Occupational Therapy Needs/ Physical and Sensory Needs

Communications Skills

Specific Medical / Safeguarding

Early Communication

During this term we focussed on developing staff skills in the postural management of our young people.

Staff had a series of afternoons being taught directly by an occupational therapist with additional training in the area of neurology and physicality.

Staff attended direct training then cascaded the information to class who were able to use that teaching and then feedback on benefits. This included: Tone, positioning, seating, voice modulation and swing work.


This term focussed on developing staff skills in key areas of communication which is linked to the School Development Plan.

The following areas were covered: Picture Exchange Communication system, On-body Signing, and the use of video when working with children were all covered in detail with class groups. Several sessions were led by our Educational Psychology colleagues. In each of these areas general teaching took place and then elements of very pupil specific training too.

So Safe relationships education was also covered.

A range of medical training took place this term; focussed on specific pupils in many cases and also looking at which skills we needed to increase within the school team.

The Nurses delivered some class based training sharing information about conditions were relevant and also specific competencies.

Safeguarding training was also a priority as we needed to respond to issue within the city and nationally which required compulsory training.

Staff undertook training to include; Sexual violence and Peer on Peer abuse, The Prevent Duty, Mental Wellbeing in Children and Young People and Safeguarding Young People

This term we have a focus on Early Communication in line with our School Development Plan.

Training planned includes:

Intensive Interaction,

Specific Sensory Training (VI, HI, MSI),

British Sign Language,

Early Communicative behaviours.

Educational Psychology training has also been planned to focus on

De-escalation techniques and reading the communication that takes place when behaviour becomes challenging.


Staff feel better skilled to address pupils’ positioning needs ensuring they are in the optimum position for comfort and learning. Staff feel more knowledgeable and able to engage in discussions with the multi-agency team in relation to pupils Therapeutic needs.

Staff are able to identify ways to maintain pupils’ comfort levels by modifying their position.

Improved skill levels in delivering specific communication approaches to individual pupils.

Friday sessions have also allowed time for classroom staff to meet with Speech and Language professionals and the Senior Leadership team to have discussions as a whole class in relation to pupils communication needs.

Medical training levels and awareness is the greatest it has ever been. The Nursing team have had numerous sessions with class teams to discuss pupil’s medical needs and care plans. In depth discussions have taken place where classes have needed reassurance. Medical updates and a rapid response has been given where pupils needs have changed or a medical incident has taken place; this gives a detailed debrief and future plan.

Staff have received quality input from the Speech and Language Team as well as visiting professionals from The Plymouth Advisory Team for Sensory Support. Specific discussions have taken place around pupil needs to ensure the training has been specifically directed to staff requiring it.

The feedback so far has been that they feel better able to manage the individual programmes for pupils.

Overall Outcomes for far…

One of the greatest additional benefits of the availability of Friday Afternoons for training has been our ability to respond immediately to our pupils’ and families’ needs when unexpected incidents occur. These can be in relation to changes in medical needs, serious illness, behavioural changes, bereavement, safeguarding concerns or social and emotional issues. Fridays allow us to meet with the relevant staff, put in place strategies, review plans, share information and put in place changes if needed.

Teachers, members of the Senior Leadership team and the nursing team can then revisit the team as frequently as needed to monitor how plans are going and liaise with those working most closely with the child. This was something that was extremely hard to achieve to the depth or quality that we wanted previously as there was no time to meet with our teaching assistant team without pupils present. This team approach of plan, do and review, has been proven to give the best possible outcomes for your children and we value it immensely.

We have assessed that attendance is slightly lower on Fridays than other days of the week and would encourage parents to value Friday mornings as these are highly valued by your children and young people. It really is worthwhile coming in to learn something new on a Friday morning.