Curriculum Values and Principles
The drive to build ‘safe Independent lives’ shapes our curriculum.
Our curriculum is created from evidence based research.
A child can access a ‘safe independent life’ if their school experience has been committed to developing and promoting independence at a functional level. Our students are ‘enabled, accepted and respected’ by a curriculum tailored to their needs.
We focus on developing their skills in:
- Social communication
- Social interaction
- Social imagination and flexibility
- Sensory processing
- Emotional understanding and self- awareness
- Learning to learn skills
- Academic progress, achievement and accreditation
- Independent life skills
- Community participation
These skills are underpinned by the ethos that the child/young person from 4-19 is at the heart of everything we do. As the skills above develop, (and this will obviously be at different rates, with different application, dependant on diagnosis) opportunity will be provided for the functional application of these skills within the young person’s home, their community and through community and work placement. What has been learned must be relevant to the young person and applicable to their wider world. The latter is particularly significant to our post 16 offer.
The strategies and work that staff will utilise to build reflective and functional independence for their pupils will be shared as strategies with parents and carers so that best practice for the child is always communicated and shared.
The curriculum supports learners with autism and SEMH to navigate in a ‘neurotypical’ world.
We believe our curriculum’s strategic framework effectively utilises creative, challenging and dynamic opportunities, to develop social communication skills and develop emotional literacy skills.
Our curriculum adapts national frameworks to ensure that every child has opportunities to develop the recommended key learning steps. Additionally, our curriculum ensures pupils receive experiences and opportunities to develop their social communication and interaction skills and subject knowledge. Pupils acquire new skills and attributes in ways that will guarantee that learning is relevant and prepares them for life beyond school. Our curriculum effectively promotes pupils’ holistic development, enhances their self-esteem and enables them to celebrate and feel pride in achievement.
Our diverse curriculum offer incorporates specific learning approaches to meet the needs of learners. Pupil’s timetables are personalised to their specific profile. Accordingly, pupils are grouped into cohorts based upon identified need, incorporating a core curriculum offer that is tailored to developing their strengths. To support children in accessing the curriculum, classrooms are communication friendly environments, this is important to promote positive communication skills with the social communication needs of the children. Teaching groups have 8-10 pupils per group led by a qualified teacher with learning support deployed to individual pupil need. The small group setting allows pupils to focus on developing quality social relationships in a nurturing yet structured environment where personal development learning can thrive. Monitoring of progress identifies specific areas for development and support.
We strive to ensure all opportunities for learning are embraced and therefore our priority for curriculum delivery is developing skills linked to diagnosis that tackle the barriers that could prevent the realisation of a safe independent life.
Pupil’s needs are identified in their EHCP’s with appropriate outcomes set for individuals to aspire to achieve. Progress towards these outcomes are reviewed using the Reach South autism framework or Boxall profile as well as more formally at a child’s EHCP annual review.
Academic knowledge and learning skills are delivered through a themed approach personalised to classes/cohorts/phases based around pupil interest and the development of knowledge and skills linked to their specific cohort/pathway outcomes.
The focus of our delivery is to deliver learning on a concrete basis, leading from the experiences of the child. Pupils need to be able to understand the relevance of what they are doing. To accomplish this, we actively promote meaningful engagement and feedback regarding all learning experiences to build personalised aspirational achievement.
Each cohort/pathway fosters this through the provision of:
- meaningful topics built around pupil interests
- first-hand experiences
- practical activities
- creative opportunities
- pupil independence and choice
- opportunities to work in depth
- visits and visitors
- fun and enjoyment
Cohort specific Curriculum Delivery – Primary Phase (5-13)
Autism and Cognition & Learning
Throughout the Primary Phase in this cohort the curriculum focuses on seven areas of development through a pupil led thematic approach. The areas are as follows:
- Personal, Social & Emotional Development
- Communication & Language
- Physical Development
- Understanding of the World
- Expressive Arts & Design
Learning is presented through multi- sensory formats with many opportunities for over learning new concepts that are explored in a variety of practical ways in a variety of contexts to ensure skills are transferable. Attention autism underpins learning within this cohort to provide the children with targeted, cumulative intervention to develop their attention and listening skills as a foundation for the development of communication skills, social skills and academic learning. Learning is also structured through autism friendly approaches such as TEACCH.
Communication, language and learning skills are developed cumulatively as a child moves through the cohort. The environment is communication friendly and embraces the introduction of structured language teaching approaches (such as colourful semantics) to promote language understanding and fluency and literacy skills. Pupils are supported to develop social communication skills by Elklan accredited practitioners who use a variety of communication structures to support learning.
Specific scaffolds are in place to meet the complexity of a cognition need in all areas across the curriculum. Where required children access specific additional intervention and/or specific structured teaching to help overcome barriers to learning.
Autism + Environment
Starting in Primary Phase children learn a range of subjects through a child led thematic approach as well as through discrete subject sessions. The curriculum is delivered through structures and systems that build on the strengths of the learner with autism such as the TEACCH approach. Working towards a safe independent life child is encouraged to complete activities independently using the scaffolds provided. Strategies for self-reliance and problem solving are explicitly taught as a foundation for the curriculum through to age 16. Social skills opportunities are embedded throughout all learning sessions
As the pupils progress through to the end of the key stage 3 sessions are planned and delivered within the subject specialist environments to prepare the children for the GCSE curriculum model in Key Stage 4. The systematic TEACCH approaches continue to be at the core of the curriculum delivery. There is a greater emphasis on the adult withdrawing from instruction and the pupil developing independent learning and problem solving skills to achieve a task independently.
Autism and SEMH
The ethos of the SEMH cohort is based upon the six principles of Nurture to ensure that
- The classroom offers a safe base to reduce anxieties
- Children’s learning is understood developmentally
- The response to children is to accept them ‘as they are’ with accepting attitude
- There is promotion of the development of self-esteem
- Transitions are significant and are reduced within the child’s daily experience.
- Language is a vital means of communication and is a vehicle for putting emotions into words
Underpinned by the understanding that all behaviour is communication
These principles are the foundation for learning in all areas which are then individualised in theme, presentation and activity to meet the needs of the child.
Pupils access subject specific planning through child led thematic approaches. Initial focus on building relationships, feeling safe, secure and ready to learn supported by a weekly full day LOTC provision ( our LOTC provision is well established in the county through partnership with Wiltshire Outdoor Learning Team WOLT, and through our provision of Big Outdoor Learning Days to mainstream pupils and their staff) to develop social skills. The curriculum is creative and predominantly delivered practically. The ‘end product’ provides motivation to engage the learners. Pupils are supported to develop their social emotional literacy skills with the support of accredited ELSA staff. During the Primary Phase pupils develop the foundation skills to enable them to access the most appropriate Key stage 4 outcomes based upon aspirational academic outcomes.
Key Stage 4 (14- 16):
Specific curriculum pathways
In addition to the core offer, all pupils will follow one specific curriculum pathway related to an area of pupil’s interest, outcomes in the EHCP and preparation for transition into adulthood. These pathways (list below) will deliver a range of key outcomes that include:
- A range of accreditation within this chosen pathway (in line with cognitive ability)
- Accreditation in relation to the key aspects of preparation for adulthood that include, health, employability, community inclusion and independent living. All pupils will be expected to complete work experience and travel training.
- CIAG and supported transition into post-16 provision.
The proposed curriculum pathways are:
- Sport, leisure and tourism
- Business, enterprise and creative media
- Outdoor learning, environment and countryside management
- Engineering and transport
- Hospitality, catering and event management
- Creative art, customer services and beauty industry
Entry level cohort/Functional Skills: Learning builds on the foundations and approaches of link primary phase cohort. Learners benefit from a positive relationship with their tutor who delivers their learning in core subjects through a thematic approach. Pupils attend ‘pathway’ learning of special interest alongside peers from their phase.
GCSE cohort. Pupils are supported to manage transitions and organisational requirements around accessing and making progress within an age appropriate curriculum through approaches such as TEACCH. Pupils learn from subject specialists where there is a greater focus on depth of knowledge within the subject.
Flexibility – Academic Pathway
Our experience indicates that pupils with a diagnosis of autism may have a ‘special interest’ that they excel in e.g. Maths. As a result, we will look to provide opportunity for pupils to follow an entry level pathway in a range of core subjects but then study their area of ‘special interest’ at a higher level e.g. GCSE Maths
Additional Learner Support
Learning Support Base:
The Learning Support Base is a hub for specific academic, communication and social intervention. All Learning Support Assistants are skilled in a wide range of interventions to support academic gaps and misconceptions, scaffold the development of communication skills and enable social skills to flourish.
High Needs Provision:
High Needs Provision supports those students who display a demand avoidant profile. This provision is for students who are supported by a one to one/ high adult ratio for needs identified in their EHCP in order to build relationships, develop social skills and learning skills. The model is based on the TEACCH framework building on pupils’ strengths to support educational, communication, social and therapeutic goals.
The structured approach of the High Needs Provision implements:
- External organisational support to address challenges with attention and organisation.
- Visual and /or written information to supplement verbal communication.
- Structured support for social communication.
The aspiration for this provision is to equip more complex students with the skills to successfully engage in social and academic group situations working towards a ‘safe independent life’. By teaching using the TEACCH priorities, we endeavour to focus on the individual pupil’s skills, interests and needs, incorporating these into everyday learning.
High Needs is set up with individual learning pods, which pupils can personalise so that they are in an environment which enables them to access their learning. Adults working with the pupils will also develop visual structures to organise this environment and learning tasks, again making them accessible for the children.
Our community outreach workers develop personalised provision aimed to re- engage disaffected learners, when pupils EHCP outcomes target areas of need that require outreach approaches.
The purpose of the Outreach Team is to support children/young people at the point of need through planning and delivering targeted outreach services. For some children/young people the free school curriculum and high needs core offer may not be accessible due to a heightened level of need requiring a more individualised and bespoke approach to their timetabled support.
Our curriculum benefits from integrated therapies in speech and language, occupational therapy and active listening/wellbeing support.
In addition, pupils benefit from discrete therapeutic support as identified in their EHCP or through staff assessment in speech and language, occupational therapy, counselling and drama therapy. Our tiers of therapeutic provision enable our learners to access the curriculum effectively in order to make maximum progress. In addition to the diversity of the ‘in house’ therapy offer, pupils also benefit from accessing the Wiltshire Local Offer and the expertise within the local authority and local health trusts.
- Speech and Language Therapy – Developing functional understanding of language is integral for the learners, many of whom have a diagnosed communication need.
- Occupational Therapist - The Occupational Therapist is responsible for ensuring an autism/social communication friendly environment. The OT will work with an integrated approach to therapy advising on individual, group and whole class interventions that can be embedded within the environment and curriculum (e.g. using specific seating to help ‘ground’ a child)
- Wellbeing support/active listening/counsellor – The tiers of wellbeing support cater for a range of escalating need. Pupils will access Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA) support as their first wave of intervention.