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Curriculum Statement

1) We believe all children and young people have a right to feel safe and secure.

2) We believe everyone should be valued for who they are and know they have a voice and will be listened to.

3) We believe everyone has a right to be included within the wider community on equal terms.

4) We believe learning should be stimulating , challenging and relevant for all.

5) We believe all staff should be ambitious about what they can achieve in their role and be empowered to impact on pupil outcomes.

 

We take an holistic view of education, developing the cognitive, physical, social, emotional, spiritual, and moral dimensions. The academic curriculum is a vehicle to explore these elements for each individual and through this we seek to provide multiple opportunities for rehearsing communication skills, which we see as key.  We want all pupils to enjoy learning so we make it fun!

 

We generally find that optimal learning conditions to maximise engagement for pupils with multiple barriers to learning include the following elements:

  • the provision of an organised, carefully managed learning environment;
  • the controlled  use of the learning environment and display to support learning;
  • adoption of  a generic structure to core learning activities following a structured, systematic approach, where appropriate;
  • minimising the number of things pupils are being asked to think about at any given time so as not to overload working memory and cognitive capacity;
  • teaching based on careful formative assessment allowing lessons to build incrementally on prior knowledge;
  • due consideration  given to  visual, auditory and kinaesthetic approaches to facilitate memory ;
  • taking account of individual learning preferences/and appropriate levels of sensory stimulation;
  • providing varied opportunities for overlearning, in recognition that practising little and often develops concentration, builds confidence, improves memory recall, and provides valuable feedback to teaching staff.

 

We deliberately plan for the rehearsal of skills and application of concepts,  in a range of contexts to facilitate transference of knowledge and skills and to prevent limited context-specific achievement. We try to avoid approaches that might lead to an over-reliance on procedural knowledge, at the expense of conceptual understanding, and the compartmentalised learning which results.  Capturing and maintaining an individual’s interest and working within their attention span makes for effective and enjoyable learning and teaching.

Reward Systems: We recognise attention is more likely to be held through active engagement and activities that are intrinsically motivating.  As the learner progresses they experience a deep sense of satisfaction in their achievements, however small. Consequently, extrinsic rewards are used sparingly to encourage a learner to stay on task, as they have limited impact once withdrawn.  We recognise that precision feedback is one of the most important tools in the teacher’s tool kit. We recognise positive praise (reinforcement) is effective when it is both deserved and informative. We try to inculcate a Growth Mindset, (C Dweck.) through focussing on the effort made, rather than the outcome achieved.

We deliver a varied and stimulating personalised curriculum requiring a creative and flexible teaching approach responding to specific individual needs.

Grouping: The mixed-age classes, each with a wide range of complex learning needs, require a high degree of differentiated planning of the curriculum.  We group according to the desired outcomes of any given activity. In forming each class group attention is given to both chronological age and developmental stage.  Sometimes we teach a class as one, for example, to introduce a new topic, or to revise work, at other times we may group by ability, or age.  Mixed pairings and groupings provide opportunities to share ideas, learn from each other and benefit from the range of skills a staff group can contribute working collaboratively. Focussed individual teaching, following individually prepared programmes,  is offered on a regular basis across the school.

Therapies: The therapist team jointly contribute to individual programmes and provide specific aids and equipment and close liaison between home/care staff helps ensure continuity of approaches and methods. Staff work with a range of NHS therapists, including Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language Therapists and incorporate their recommendations. In exceptional circumstances, individuals may access private speech therapy or physiotherapy on an individual needs basis, although this is kept under continual review. Attendance off-site for therapy is closely monitored to ensure that the impact on educational outcomes are considered.

Inclusion: We offer inclusion into mainstream lessons, with support, on an individual basis, across KS1-5.  Mainstream pupils join in lunchtime clubs, like Signing.  We participate in sporting and cultural events involving other special schools and local mainstream schools.

Extra-curricular activities: We support out of school hours activities by employing an Out of School Liaison officer including Art, Sports and Drama to work with families to access appropriate local leisure provision, short breaks etc.

Homework: Homework is tailored to individual need and circumstances. It may support specific individual IEP targets, activities to support advice from therapists, or activities linked to the term’s topic. Reading books are sent home, where appropriate. There is generally more emphasis on homework once students begin secondary school. The school is in the process of developing its own programme to encourage the development of Independence Skills.