The therapeutic team at Mount Tamar School consists of an Occupational Therapist and a Music Therapist. We have a school based focus. This means that our efforts are directed towards enabling learners’ access to their education, to feel motivated to learn, to experience success and satisfaction in their school day. We recognise that the ability to feel calm, ready to learn and ready to play, i.e. to be regulated, is particularly difficult for our young people. Regulation precedes the ability to have self-control. It is only from this point a young person can begin to learn.
For this reason, the therapeutic service we offer pre-dominantly focuses upon helping teachers to co-regulate their learners and learners to explore tools which help them to feel safe and calm. We help teachers to understand and manage the barriers to learning. Our work is pre-dominantly based upon what is called developmental neuro-scientific theory. This theory emphasises the importance of understanding a young person’s development, their life experience and the responses of their body, brain and mind to the daily situations they encounter. We provide assessment, consultation and intervention for the young people at Mount Tamar School. Our team is also responsible for the development of the content of the Personal, Health, Social, Emotional and Economic curriculum within the primary school.
We appreciate and welcome the knowledge caregivers hold about their child and work with them to help everyone understand the young person’s needs and how they may be best met. Caregiver workshops aim to bring people together, to share experience and to provide knowledge and skill across a range of subjects caregivers perceive as important to their child. We also provide training to members of the school team, liaise and consult with outside agencies and offer training to a broad range of people. We welcome all these opportunities.
Occupational Therapist: Ricky Netting
As an Occupational Therapist at Mount Tamar, I support class staff, parents and carers to understand the child or young person’s unique capacities and barriers which form their ability to engage in school-based activities. I support the children and young people to experience enabling; through practical adaptations to their routines & exploring their individual ways of engaging more effectively with their learning environments.
As an Occupational Therapist I’m interested in the factors that motivate learning; a young person’s interests, his/her sense of capability, the feelings and thoughts related to the ability to “do”. These are central to life.
I work alongside school staff to help build routines and environments that support a young person’s capacity to learn and promote ways of learning and teaching which help to build the regulation of feelings, behaviours, attention, organisation and memory. As a team we work to develop the student’s physical skill and social skill, develop student’s experience of personal significance, motivation and community identity as well as grow through personal experiences of success
Music Therapist: Jordan Bussell
As human beings, music is something that plays an important role in our culture, heritage and identity. It has the power to affect us all deeply, to change our mood, paint us mental pictures, bridge connections to strangers and other walks of life and open doors to thoughts and emotions. It can be exciting, it can be calming, it can be emotive, it can be joyful. It can stir memories and powerfully connect with our emotions, helping us to process and understand them, as well as express and communicate them.
We've found students having this outlet and extra means of expression to be invaluable. The enhanced ability to communicate and self-express improves self-confidence and social skills. The process of learning and practising music improves their independence and strengthens a learner's ability and confidence to teach themselves and be resilient in the face of undertaking new and difficult tasks, affirming a belief that they can achieve anything if they're patient and committed to practising.
The fact that playing and studying music is well linked with higher achievement across other subjects is also well researched and established. It has been shown over and over that it increases concentration and attention span and improves coordination and physical and emotional awareness. It also encourages creative and spontaneous play, careful listening, empathy and respect for others, as well as stimulating social interaction and the desire to communicate, in turn strengthening peer relationships. It excites imagination and creativity. It will also help develop an understanding of culture and history, within their own and others heritages.
The relaxed atmosphere rife with opportunities to express and experiment lends itself fantastically to a therapeutic environment where students feel more comfortable talking through or sharing what’s on their minds. The emotive, mood changing, brain affecting powers of music are a wonderful pairing with this, allowing us to express and experience these thoughts and feelings in different ways, and pair or prompt them with different sounds or music.
Many of our learners say having access to this environment is something that really helps them to look forward to and enjoy school, also saying that a visit to the music room often changes their mood, or turns their day around if they’re struggling. Many of them find the boost in their confidence and self-esteem to be invaluable and, even at a young age, students are aware of a maturing in their approach to learning and committing to practising something, noticeably developing patience and resilience in themselves.
Most of our students leave us with a good level of practical proficiency and technical understanding in music and even more leave with a real passion for the subject and respect for their musician peers. With our industry relevant studio set up, many have an interest in career possibilities not only in performing and composing but also in sound technology and engineering avenues, again giving young people a sense of direction and belonging whilst broadening their horizons.