Gillingham Primary School

Gillingham Primary School

Complex Communication Needs Base

Welcome to Sky Base at Gillingham Primary School


What is Sky Base?

Sky Base is special resourced provision for pupils with complex communication needs (CCN). Essentially, we are a special needs unit within a mainstream school that has space for up to 14 pupils with complex communication needs.


Which pupils can attend Sky Base?

Places in Sky Base are only available to pupils with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

Schools, parents and/or professionals may recommend that a child with an EHCP is considered for a place in the provision.  They are then referred to the SEN Admissions Panel that sits at Dorset County Hall once per term.

During the panel, each child is considered on a case by case basis against the agreed criteria for complex communication needs: children will always have a significant need in social communication and, sometimes, a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC).

The panel comprises of a range of professionals who know and understand the needs of the child.  By sharing knowledge and views about each child, the panel is able to make a well-informed decision as to whether the support from Sky Base would help that child be able to access and thrive in a mainstream setting. 

What are our aims in Sky Base?

In Sky Base, we endeavour to provide an inclusive environment in which every child feels safe, confident and happy to learn; enabling them to grow in confidence and self-esteem and make progress both socially and academically.  Our aim is for every child to interact successfully with their families, friends and teachers and contribute as independent, confident, happy members of the school community.

In order to achieve this, Sky Base staff liaise closely with specialist professionals such as;

  • educational psychologists,
  • CCN advisors, 
  • occupational therapists, and
  • speech and language therapists,

to deliver highly specialist programmes that are integral to the appropriately differentiated curriculum.

How do we provide for individuals in Sky Base?

Sky Base staff ensure that every child’s needs are individually planned for during their learning time within the base and within their mainstream lessons. Targeted specialist teaching is delivered in order to develop key skills; with a particular focus on social communication and social understanding. For example, developing language skills for a range of uses including how to; ask for something, question, negotiate, express emotions and converse.

Within Sky Base our sensory room enables staff to support children with sensory needs, both through regular activities and with sensory interventions designed to meet their own individual needs. Our aim is to help the children to develop an understanding of themselves, and to feel understood by the adults working with them. Staffing and support levels and differentiation of resources and activities are planned to encourage maximum independence for each child. 

Specialist teaching assistants support children, both in their mainstream classes and during unstructured activities, such as during play time, as required.  They also help to deliver individual programmes under the guidance of the base leader and the appropriate specialist professionals.

Click here to read Sky Base Behaviour Management Policy

How do we work with parents and carers?

Many of the children in Sky Base come to school by taxi or mini-bus and their parents may not be able to meet with the Sky Base teachers on a regular basis. Therefore, we place an emphasis on communication through a Home-School book.   Adults at home and staff at school use the book to send messages, ask questions, voice concerns and give positive feedback. Additionally, parents can phone the school office at any time and leave a message - one of the Sky Base team will return their call as soon as they can.

Parents are actively encouraged to engage with the Sky Base staff to ensure that all relevant information is shared so that individual provision can be tailored to meet the needs of each child. We also hold social events regularly, which give parents a chance to meet each other, talk to the team and see some of their child’s work.

Questionnaires are sent out to parents once a year. This provides valuable feedback and helps plan for the future.

How do we review the placement in Sky Base?

The continued suitability of placement will be considered at each Annual Review of Education Health Care Plans (EHCP) and if necessary during interim reviews.  Tamar Shanks, as Sky Base Leader, will attend all reviews.