Cherry Burton Primary is a small primary school located in the East Riding of Yorkshire. When the local village nursery closed down, we started to offer early years provision from age three. We call the nursery children our ‘Cherry Ducklings’, inspired by the school’s duckling therapy pets.
Having the nursery located within the school enables us to facilitate a smooth transition to foundation stage and help with the pupils’ development. As well as our enhanced early years offering, we have built a strong reputation for the support of SEN pupils over the years, and our numbers reflect this.
There are around 170 students in the school, with approximately 40 pupils on the SEND register who have additional needs.
Cherry Burton School
I’ve been SENCO at Cherry Burton Primary for ten years. When I joined, we had several children struggling to form sentences and working memory and processing skills were a big issue. We had a challenge with children being able to hear the information but couldn’t retain key information in their head and write it down at the same time.
We’ve had many parents seek us out because of the expertise that we’ve built up with SEN students, and we get a lot of referrals in years 2 and 3 when pupils have struggled at other schools.
Pupils experiencing language development issues
We’re a village school and very different to a school in nearby inner-city Hull in many ways. However, we still have many pupils who need additional support in their language development.
We realised that, for a wide range of our pupils, we needed to find an educational approach that could help them develop their language and communication well, and that also enabled each member of a class to move at their own pace.
The lightbulb moment
When we introduced the Chatta teaching approach into our classrooms, the effect was almost instantaneous. It was simply amazing. Children who couldn’t previously write sentences were producing sentences that an adult could read. It was amazing watching them – their sense of achievement was so high after a Chatta lesson because of what the approach had enabled them to produce.
Rolling out Chatta throughout the school
For the first two years, we used Chatta, we used it predominantly for our SEN pupils, but we quickly realised that the implications of this approach were for far more than just this group of pupils. We have since rolled it out through all of our early years, and it’s been fantastic not only in the classroom but for helping pupils to communicate what they’ve done at school that day with their parents at home.
The Chatta board gives an easy-to-use guide that jogs the pupils’ memory and helps them recall the events easily and share stories about what they’ve been up to. It’s helped busy parents at home make the most of the time they have with their children. We’ve found it stops the pupils’ ‘I don’t know or ‘I can’t remember’ responses when a parent asks at the end of the day.
I even use Chatta with my little boy. We did a Chatta board of our holiday, and it was lovely to go through it after we returned.
It’s not just a one size fits all approach.
We’ve found that Chatta is not a one size fits all approach – it’s not just for early years, not just for SEN, but everything.
Since using the teaching approach, it’s helped all of our pupils to:
- be more articulate
- develop a broader vocabulary range
- develop better processing skills
- better working memory
- be able to sequence
- improve their writing skills
- be more confident and coherent
- be engaged and learning more
- have higher engagement with their parents
The Chatta teaching approach has had a phenomenal impact. Not only has it helped with development delays, but it’s helped with pupils’ emotional wellbeing too. Since we’ve been using the approach, we’ve seen an increase in pupils’ self-esteem and that some pupils’ anxiety has reduced.
If any teacher asks me about the potential of using it in their school, I’d say, “give it a go – you’ll reap the benefits and see the improvements. It’s one of those things that stood the test of time – it works, it’s simple to follow, and it’s easy to use.
Additional help with the new EYFS Framework
With the new changes coming to the EYFS framework in September, Chatta will be a valuable resource for many. We’ve found that it helps with talking and speaking – and are excited that we have Chatta to support us on this as the new framework comes in.