Ofsted visited Woolley Wood before Easter and the report has just been published. The school was graded overall as good with some outstanding features. I had the opportunity to meet with the inspector and explain the Intensive Interaction work that I had been developing and co-ordinating and the informal feedback from the inspector on the day was great. Now the report has been published I am happy that there are some references to the Intensive Interaction work, although the direct naming of specific approaches is apparently not allowed within the Ofsted framework. Here are the relevant sections of the report:
Currently, the quality of teaching is improving rapidly as a result of the now very closely-tailored training for staff. (Quality of teaching, page 5)
I am currently teaching a 6 week course on Intensive Interaction and this is the only ‘closely tailored training for staff’. The course aims to develop skills in observation, recording (including taking a baseline and recording progress), reflective practice and practical skills such as positioning and synchronising. Techniques and methods are first modelled to staff in the classroom and the course then requires the staff to team up and try out the methods together. Staff have so far reported that the course has made a big difference to how they understand the practice. My own observation is that a genuine change in staff practice takes time and the 6 week course supporting in-class mentoring has been instrumental in affecting this change.
In the past, pupils with profound learning difficulties have made slightly less progress than their peers, as a result of less effective communication. Now, however, the rapidly developing system of communicating with pupils with profound difficulties, through intensive observation of pupils’ responses, is having a much more positive impact on the learning of these pupils. (Quality of teaching, page 5)
While the inspector is not allowed to mention Intensive Interaction specifically, the reference to the approach is clear. The reference to pupil progress “in the past” relates to 2013, before I began working at the school.
Teaching typically enables most pupils to make good progress and occasionally to make outstanding progress in communication. (Quality of teaching, page 5)
I believe that one reason why the inspector is able to say this with confidence is that staff are trained to use the Intensive Interaction recording system which involves taking a clear baseline and then charting progress against this baseline. I was able to show examples of excellent progress using video and paperwork recorded by staff who have attended the Intensive Interaction course.
Pupils make good progress in their communication and personal skills as a result of the emphasis placed on these areas and the expertise of staff. Pupils’ progress in communication has accelerated rapidly over the last year and this has had a good impact on achievement overall. (Achievement of pupils, page 6)
Another reference to the development in communication that has taken place since the Intensive Interaction project began.
Pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is good because pupils are able to reflect during high quality musical experiences and enjoy warm relationships.
I have also been helping to develop the provision of music at Woolley Wood. The inspectors observed a group music session that was co-led by myself and the Music Co-ordinator. The musical interaction approach that I have been teaching at Woolley Wood is based on the principles of Intensive Interaction and I have delivered two training days that have been attended by teachers from other special schools in Sheffield, Leeds, Chesterfield and Tameside.
Here is the link to the report from the Ofsted website.