Welcome Back! Our next Parent Event will be on Wednesday 3rd July. This will be an opportunity to meet with senior leaders to chat about the school year and celebrate. There are also a number of pathway events coming up - look out for the invitations to these!
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Oaklands School

Building Foundations for Fulfilling Futures

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Oaklands School

Building Foundations for Fulfilling Futures

Independence and Life Skills

The curriculum and strategies used to support development of

Independence and Life skills

What learning looks like in Willow pathway within this AoL

  • Children are supported to be independent in many ways with a focus on real life situations.
  • The children in the Willow pathway are particularly sensory and respond well to music, light and sound
  • There is consistent use of modelling and hand over hand support.
  • The children use visuals and are supported with many opportunities to use their chosen voice* to communicate what they want, such as a song, a specific toy or piece of equipment, or to use the toilet or go somewhere they like in school.(*visuals, gesture, signing, PECS or spoken language)
  • Independence and life skills links to the children’s emotional regulation. For Willow children, learning to wait, share space and resources and accept help are all key life skills.
  • We want to take these life skills beyond the school gates and so educational visits are very important. We scaffold children's tolerance for changes to routine by building up their understanding and experience through making short visits to areas around the school before venturing further afield.
  • Educational visits are planned well in advance and children well prepared by staff. This includes teaching children what they may see on the visit so they can develop their World Reading skills.
  • Independence and Life Skills understanding is also developed through role play, such as pretending to visit the dentist or shop play.


What learning looks like in Elm pathway within this AoL

  • Many children have developed skills like removing and putting on shoes and socks and are working towards independence by doing and undoing fastenings and dressing and undressing
  • They will also be developing  life skills such as personal hygiene beyond hand washing
  • Learning is embedded within the curriculum with time and focus being given to certain skills during Oakey Boost, a fun exploratory and learning session for all the children each morning.
  • The children are encouraged to transition independently around the school, contribute to preparation for their own personal care, such as getting what the need ready, and work independently during cooking sessions and food preparation, such as making a juice drink.
  • The children take part in life skill-based role play activities and go on outside school visits.
  • They are encouraged to share space and to recognise who is there besides themselves.
  • The children are supported to become more independent in their emotional regulation
  • They learn about a wider range of emotions and how to  recognise their feelings
  • They are supported to develop healthy relationships through planned play interactions and the SoSafe! curriculum. 


What learning looks like in Cherry pathway within this AoL

  • The children take part in a wide variety of activities including participating in shows and productions, trips into the wider community and developing understanding of the SoSafe! curriculum which links to their own safety and decision making.
  • The children participate in food preparation and clearing away, such as wiping tables and washing up, and work in the growing area looking after the school pets, planting, caring and harvesting.
  • They may also have opportunities to then also explore enterprise by selling produce to staff and/ or helping out at community events
  • The children learn about the Zones of Regulation and take part in wellbeing check ins, exploring perceptions and definitions of each zone.
  • They are taught life skills around making positive choices, being a good friend and classmate, and how to accept change and sudden occurrences.
  • Cherry pathway children eat in the school hall together and choose their own food independently. 


Strategies and teaching tools used to support development of Independence and Life Skills:  

  • Cookery Curriculum: We intend for our learners to leave Oaklands having mastered a good range of cookery skills built up over time, through weekly Cookery lessons, which teach a progressive set of basic skills and related recipes.
  • Growing Curriculum: Making use of our converted garden area, we want all  our children to be healthy and have a good diet and understanding of how to feed themselves well. Learning in nature and looking after our school animals promotes a bond with nature, and gardening that had been shown to support good mental health.
  • SoSafe!:  designed for use with SEND learners, SoSafe!  is a very clear rules-based approach to social safety. It uses a standardised framework of symbols, visual teaching tools and concepts to teach strategies for moving into intimate relationships in a safe and measured manner, and provides visual communication tools for reporting physical or sexual abuse.
  • Life Skills: We have identified a number of life skills that can be taught explicitly in school.  These are Eating & drinking, Personal hygiene, Dressing & undressing, Road and travel safety in the community, Out & About Life events and Basic health & safety.

Resources, training & CPD for staff & families: 


Staff CPD-see staffshare & OneDrive CPD folders: 

Planning and advice guides linked to dressing, eating and drinking, hygiene, personal hygiene, road safety, sleep and toileting.

Strengths we celebrate about teaching & learning within this AoL: 

  • All children at Oaklands have a chance to be independent wherever they are along the pathway of growth and development. 
  • Staff have a strong understanding of the needs of their pupils
  • Staff teams are able to create an engaging and purposeful I&LS curriculum for their pathways.
  • Repeated revisiting of life skills in different contexts and with cross curricular links.

Areas for development & refining within this AoL: 


  • To ensure that all educational visits and use of onsite facilities maximise meaningful learning at all stages of development, through refined planning 
  • Implementation of planning organised by stages rather than pathways
  • To develop the Growing Curriculum