Hillcrest Centre Blog

September 2019

Welcome to the new Academic year 2019-20

This year all of our classes have been renamed – with the theme of interesting places around the North East….. We also have a newly opened centre – The Armstrong Centre. Please take a look below to see what all of our classes have been up to since the start of the new term…


Janice’s Class – our new class name is Alnwick Class!

In Alnwick Class we are settling into the new school year and having lots of fun!  In Humanities we have been visiting various local woods and country parks.  We have really enjoyed being outside in the local community and looking for signs of autumn.

We have continued with our Thursday café visits and children are doing very well managing in a public environment, most are using their PECs to ask for what they want and paying for their order.

In art we have been learning about the summer solstice and creating some lovely suns!

Mollie is our SALT this year and she and Shauna (OT) have been delivering a weekly play skills lesson.  We are seeing some lovely interaction and turn taking.

Over the summer holidays, we have had a new regulation area which is proving to be a huge success with our children, and their staff!  We are using this area regularly and it is proving very beneficial to support regulation and promote positive social communication.



Michelle & Megan’s Class – our new class name is Warkworth Class!

In Megan and Michelle’s class we have been joining in with weekly body awareness and yoga sessions as part of our PE curriculum. Students have been able to identify different body parts and use our bodies to move in different ways responding to instruction cards and music. Week on week we are improving on copying and holding postures and to fit in with our celebrations around the world theme we even made carnival masks and copied some dance moves. It has been lovely to see the group so engaged working together and most importantly having fun!


Jessica G’s Class – our new class name is Chillingham Class!

This term in class we have been getting up to all sorts of things revolving around the ‘European Festivals’ topic. The Harvest Festival has been the main theme within lessons, we have made some musical maracas in D and T using Harvested pumpkin seeds and decorated these using paints and some children even chose to dip there maracas into cinnamon and exotic spices; whilst in English we have been making lists for ‘The Scarecrows wedding’.

In Science, we have all been working extremely hard and get ting creative doing lots of different experiments. One of our favourites was making our very own solar lights which lit up the room when we switched the lights off.







We have continued to make communal visits each week to the supermarket working on the children’s communication and interaction skills. We also love our weekly trip to Starbucks on our FriYAY afternoon which for the children… and staff is a lovely relaxing way to end a busy week full of fun and learning. Sonny is our keen Starbucks goer who loves to have a good read and a packet of crisps.

Our class are working extremely hard and are progressing on a daily basis, I cannot wait to see what we all get up too in the coming term. Go team Chillingham!


Claire’s Class – our new class name is Dunstanburgh!

In art this term Dunstanburgh class are working towards ASDAN Life Skills Challenge Experiencing Art Activities. Throughout the module we have been experiencing the sensory qualities of art and using different tools and equipment to make different pictures and textures. So far this term we have used our fingers, toilet roll tubes, bubble wrap and forks. One student even chose to use his nose!! All our art work is linked to our topic ‘The America’s Food and Festivals’ with a specific focus on all things relating to North America. Week one we all worked together to make an American flag which is now the backdrop for our WOW wall in class.




Annmarie’s Class – our new class name is Lindisfarne Class!

Asdan life skills challenge module – Experiencing activities related to festivals and celebrations – Day of the dead

This term during art and Asdan we have been exploring different foods and objects relating to the Mexican festival Day of the dead and students have been working on initiating interaction relating to the festival.  We have made foods like Guacamole and salsa and have made different musical instruments used throughout the festivals.

We have also explored the sensory qualities of objects relating to festivals for example foods, decorations, clothes and music.  Students have been working on initiating interaction.

Ilianna’s Class – our new class name is Ford Class!

In food technology we have been making Mango Lassi Smoothies as part of our topic this term – Asia  – by working together, following instructions and using different equipment.

In Science we have been focusing on the ‘’Little Acorn’’ book and its adventurous story to become an oak tree. We are also learning about the life cycle of various animals (bees, owls) and making lots of crafts about it.

In our Jolly phonics sessions we have been listening to the jolly phonics songs and also doing the action of the specific letter. Then pupils have been taking turns and choosing an item/object from the bag and then having to choose the correct PECs symbol from the board. Pupils have also been doing tracing and sensory writing.

Ashleigh’s Class – our new class name is Bamburgh Class!

This half term our students have been settling into their 14-19 curriculum well and are enjoying their sessions. Within performing arts we have had the opportunity to complete a weekly dance workshop with Liberdade dance company. The students have been working well as a group to create and follow dance routines.

Some of our other students have been displaying their skills throughout weekly music therapy sessions where our music therapist has been exploring various vocals and instruments.


Jen’s Class – our new class name is Raby Class!

This September, our class have been using the metro to visit local supermarkets to select and purchase an item of our choice. We are developing our ICT skills by learning how to use the ticket machine and self-service tills, whilst also increasing our numeracy skills when handling money. It is a good opportunity to practice what we learn in the classroom in real practical settings.

Whilst walking to and from our destinations, we are encouraged to carry out road safety; identifying, with support, when it is safe and not safe to cross. Learning independence skills is a really important element to our curriculum!

Ruth & Rebecca’s Class – our new class name is Aydon Class!

As part of our community access in Aydon class, we have been taking part in the Great North Elmer Parade. The children have been using their Elmer map to navigate to locations around the city and the coast to find all of the brightly decorated Elmers. They have then been using stickers to record how many Elmers they have found and where.

So far we have found the Elmers in the city centre, exhibition park and, our favourite so far, the Lion King themed Elmer in Northumberland Park. We are looking forward to much more happy Elmer hunting in the coming weeks.


July 2019

Abi’s Class

Abi’s class visited the Samye Ling temple as a culmination of their lessons on Buddhism.  Pupils toured the temple and gardens, exploring all areas.  The class found the temple peaceful and particularly engaged well with the monk who described life at the temple.

April 2019

Abi’s Class

Pupils had a topic launch day at Beamish Hall.  The pupils all accessed the new Alice in Wonderland Woodland trail, exploring parts of the story through nature.  Everyone found the cheshire cat and most of the group travelled down the rabbit hole!  Pupils are now eager to find out more about the topic this term in their school based lessons.’


Jen’s Class

Play Skills – Every Tuesday afternoon our class work with the Occupational Therapists for a Play Skills lesson. The purpose of the lesson is to teach appropriate play and encourage interaction with each other, focussing on turn taking and sharing.

During this lesson pupils are encouraged to use their preferred communication methods to make selections of what games they would like to participate in. Pupils are then supported to work in pairs, or sometimes as a whole group to engage in their chosen activity and when we are lucky enough to have some sunshine; the lesson can be taken out in to the garden; as was the case on Tuesday 30th April 2019 when the pupils clearly enjoyed their lesson in the sun.


Games included Jolly Octopus, where the pupils took it in turns to rescue coloured crabs from the octopus’s rock and Leapfrog; a game which encourages pupils to take it in turns to bounce the frog on to a numbered lily pad and which also allows for some numeracy to be embedded.

Jess’s Class

We have been doing some lovely things in Jess’ class over the last term.

We have been forming letters with different materials


In computing we have been using different devices to make muffins as part of the topic great British Bake off by working together and following instructions


And in Science we have been engaging in a range of experiments!


What a fabulous term we’ve had in Jess’s class!

Ashleigh’s Class  

Our class have continued with our weekly hiking sessions this term. The students continue to build up their stamina and core strength during each hike and can now all hike confidently up to 8 miles. The students engage in forest and coastal school activities throughout their hike which embeds communication, numeracy and team working along with exploring nature.


Michelle’s Class 

This term we are exploring the stories of Julia Donaldson and within our community access  session we have been visiting story settings from some of her books. So far, like ‘The Smartest Giant In Town’ we have been into town and visited Newcastle city library and like the ladybird from ‘What The Ladybird Heard’ we have been to meet the animals at Ouseburn farm.

Students have been following simple maps looking for key landmarks to follow a route to the venue and finding items at their given location. Whilst on our visits we have also been completing sketches of things we can see in the style of Alex Scheffler, the illustrator of many of Julia Donaldson’s books. Following our visits students are completing scrapbooks, adding photos, captions and drawings to record where we have been and identifying key features of the different environments and encouraging students to reflect upon what they have most enjoyed and anything they have not liked. In Future weeks we will visit coastal and forest areas.

Ruth’s Class 

Pupils had a great time visiting Whitley water park during their community links session. They really enjoyed exploring the water features (even dipping their toes into the cold water!), and played fantastically alongside each other.

Carol’s Class

A fantastic end of term enrichment week was had where everyone joined in the “FUN HOUSE” games on the field – we really don’t know who had more fun staff or students!!!!!!!

Our students have returned after a lovely Easter break eager to learn.

This term our topic focus is Alice in wonderland. We have been developing sentence building by describing pictures and making some lovely art work linked to the topic with lots of fun to  support our learning. 

January 2019

Annmarie’s Class

This term our topic is “Popular Culture” and we have been exploring a sensory story for The Gruffalo. Students have been watching and listening to the story on Youtube whilst exploring different sensory items that represent different parts of the story. The photograph shows Matthew exploring some sequin material for the Gruffalo’s scales! The session aims to improve engagement, turn taking, shared exploration and interaction. Everyone has a favourite sensory item  – Matthew’s is the chattering teeth!

Peter’s Class  

Peters class are investigating electricity this term. We are carrying out experiments which involve measuring, sorting and cutting different materials and observing if these materials can be moved using static electricity.

We are practicing making predictions and commenting on our findings using speech, VOCA, sign and symbols to identify and record our findings.


Ashleigh’s Class

Over the last year Michael has been progressing in his employability skills. He has completed an internal interview for ‘Karima’s Kaf’ and has completed a weekly work experience placement at Jesmond Community Allotment. This week Michael had an interview with Cherie from Hextol for a new work experience placement as a gardener. Michael was required to fill in an application before his interview with Hextol, and he prepared questions that he would like to ask about the placement. In the interview Michael was able to answer all questions confidently and even thought of another question he would like to ask while he was there. Cherie was really impressed with Michael during the interview and has arranged an upcoming trial.

Michelle’s Class 

Last week our class visited the Science Maze at the Discovery museum in Newcastle. Following on from making our own shadow puppets we went to explore the shadow wall. We all enjoyed making different shapes with our shadows and exploring how they move.

Our topic for this term is electricity and there were lots of interesting activities to try. Over the next few weeks we are looking forward to conducting our own electrical experiments and focusing on observing and recording what happens.

Jess’s Class

In Jess’ class we have been learning about teamwork.The children have ventured to The Tim Lamb centre on a weekly basis to concentrate on building friendships and communicating with each other.

All children’s targets have been set around relationship building and communication skills.The children have had an amazing time at The Tim Lamb centre and have engaged really well with all the activities set.


Jen’s Class

Once a week our class visit the local Starbucks. We practice our road safety skills on the way to the café; walking calmly along the pavement, stopping at the kerb and identifying when it is safe to cross using visual and verbal support.

In the café we use our preferred communication method (PECS, VOCA, communication board, sign and / or vocalisations) to choose a snack, and are developing our money skills to pay for our chosen items, working towards identifying different denominations of coins.


Carol’s Class

As part of our topic work this term we have been familiarising ourselves with the story of ‘Charlie and the chocolate factory’. The pupils have been enjoying a variety of tasks involving making chocolate gloop, melted crayon canvas pictures and photo booth TV’s as well as developing their individual literacy skills in describing characters and commenting on pictures.

Rebecca and Ruth’s Class

During the autumn term, Ruth and Rebecca’s class learnt about special places for our topic in RE.

As part of our community visits, this learning was enhanced through the children having the opportunity to visit a range of different places. Throughout the first half term, we visited places which may be considered as special within Newcastle and its wider areas. Some examples of the places we visited are the Angel of the North, Segedunum and Jesmond Dene.

Within the next half term, we visited specific special places linked to various cultures and faiths, for example a local mosque, Sikh temple and St. Nicholas’ Cathedral.