Curriculum

Vision for the School

The school will develop to become a centre of excellence, serving autistic pupils with learning needs, not only in our school but the wider community.  Our mission is to provide an inclusive, holistic provision that will enable all members of the school
community to attain their full potential in an encouraging and supporting environment which is happy, safe and secure, caring and positive with every pupil central to our ethos. It aligns with the mission of Victoria Academies Trust ‘to make our people the best they can be’.

The Specific Aims of the School

To provide a warm and safe environment in which everyone is valued and enabled to develop as happy and confident individuals who appreciate their own worth  

To develop skills, qualities, knowledge and understanding for life   

To ensure the pupils have a voice in all aspects of school life   

To prepare our pupils for the next phase of education – becoming caring, confident and
responsible, independent citizens in the community and experience a good quality of life

To enable individuals to become informed, responsible and caring through use of appropriate learning and teaching styles and practice   

To offer at an appropriate level a stimulating, challenging and enriching curriculum in a variety of environments during school and beyond which enables the achievement of full potential   

To create a broad and balanced curriculum offer based on individual needs and personalisation

To promote a climate of high expectation in which the achievements and successes of all are celebrated   

To create an environment in which individuals are empowered to accept responsibility for their own development  

To encourage mutual respect and understanding of others so that our pupils become caring and responsible individuals both within school and the wider community   

To have an inclusive and shared leadership and management that respects and takes
account of the views of all

To continually evaluate current working practices to ensure work/life balance, staff well-being and good continuing professional development  

To encourage individuals to participate in the growth and development of the school environment 

Curriculum Strategy

Our curriculum will not only focus on academic outcomes but also on developing communication and interaction, emotional and sensory regulation, independence and self-care and quality of life. This includes enhancing skills and interests to enable our young people to prepare for the next phase of education from early years onwards. Underpinning this will be a focus on the SCERTS approach.
SCERTS – Social Communication, Emotional Regulation and Transactional Supports

SCERTS provides guidelines for supporting individuals to become confident communicators who are able to advocate for their needs and actively engage in their environment in meaningful ways. It is designed to help autistic individuals, families, educators, and clinicians collaborate in a carefully coordinated manner to select objectives that are research-based and are designed to match the preferences of an individual, developmental needs and the environment. Our curriculum will be personalised and multisensory. There will be the need for continued opportunities for over learning, application and generalisation, supported by staff with the skills and expertise to assess the correct level of support required. Through thorough assessment, monitoring and tracking we will ensure every child has their individual needs met and can be the best they can be.

Our Curriculum

Intent 

The intent of our curriculum is to equip all pupils with the skills and knowledge they need to be effective learners and have as happy, fulfilled and successful future. Our curriculum will be developmental, personalised and provide progression pathways from individual starting points.
Pupils may begin their learning within pre-subject specific areas, focusing on engagement, interaction and communication and sensory experiences. They will then progress to subject specific learning and national curriculum.

 

Curriculum will: 

  • Meet the needs of autistic children with additional language and learning needs 
  • Be broad and balanced 
  • Included an emphasis on communication, wellbeing, sensory processing, independence and life skills 
  • Included methods and approaches that meets the needs of each individual child 
  • Support the outcomes described in each child’s Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)

  

 

Our curriculum model aims to: 

 

  • Maximise each pupil’s engagement 
  • Support progress across all areas of learning 
  • Provide motivating and relevant learning opportunities  
  • Adopt a personalised approach that allows staff to plan in response to a pupil’s individual needs and interests  
  • Promote the development of self-care and life skills to ensure that pupils are well prepared for the next phase of their education 
  • Lay the foundations for pupils to have a meaningful and independent adult life and are well-placed to make a positive contribution to life beyond school 
  • Base learning opportunities on real-life experiences in engaging, cross-curricular, innovative, and stimulating and inspiring ways 
  • Provide children with the learning opportunities to achieve and progress at their own pace 

 

Curriculum planning should: 

  • Be highly focused on communication and interaction through a language rich, total communication environment  
  • Be responsive to the child’s needs
  • Focus on play and cross-curricular learning opportunities in order to embed essential early learning skills in an inclusive and holistic way 
  • Provide opportunities to generalise skills across a range of contexts through a learning challenge approach which links cross curriculum experiences, working towards a challenge outcome.
  • Provided well-planned sessions using multidisciplinary approaches that maximise engagement, achievement and progress  
  • Use outdoor learning experiences so that children learn within real world contexts 
  • Use educational visits or external visitors to motivate and engage learners

 

Core Areas 

The curriculum will be based around 4 Core areas of:  

Achievement  

This covers physical development, social development, subject specific learning or the five areas of engagement (pre-subject specific learning). The five areas of engagement are: realisation, anticipation, persistence, initiation and exploration.   

 

Communication  

This includes initiation, interaction, friendships, social and opportunities, alternative and augmentative methods of communication (AAC)  

 

Wellbeing  

This includes self and mutual regulation, celebrating diversity, physical and emotional health, identity, community belonging, pupil voice, special interests, and understanding of autism as appropriate, and quality of life.

 

Independence  

This includes being part of the school and wider community, life skills, making choices, safety (personal, online, road and travel) and accessing services.  

 

Learning environment 

Underpinning the school environment and approach will be a ‘Total Communication Environment’ utilising signs, symbols and language individually tailored to need.  Each child’s personalised
communication method will be incorporated into every aspect of school life from lunch time, to lesson time, to independent travel and all staff will be trained to support these systems effectively.

The sensory environment is paramount and the school and teaching takes into account sensory profiles, ensuring low stimulus environments. A low arousal approach will mean pupils are able to access learning to their full potential and will promote wellbeing and reduce anxiety.

Teaching is structured at small group and individual levels with a high level of personalisation within classes. The curriculum will be delivered to ensure that children make the best possible progress.  Consistent structure and routine in embedded to promote understanding of their school day and provide predictability, security and safety. The curriculum is planned to ensure the pupils have a broad range of experiences throughout each key stage appropriate to their level of learning.

 

Implementation 

At Elm Tree, learning will be broken down into small steps and scaffolded by a team who know each child’s targets extremely well and are able to support and scaffold as required. We encourage learning to be applied in a range of contexts in order to ensure depth of knowledge and skill before moving on. 

Engagement model, Towards Independence Hierarchy, Tapestry and/or Skills Ladders and SCERTS are used to underpin every child’s learning journey. Through precise understanding of each child’s attainment, next steps can be planned that precisely supports progress and achievement. 

Lessons are planned to target communication, life skills, and subject specific learning through learning challenge related opportunities and activities that allow children to practice, develop and learn in a range of subject areas simultaneously. We believe that this approach supports each child to maximise progress and to engage more successfully in their learning. 

Our curriculum approach focuses on project based learning, with learning challenges designed to be real, immersive and purposeful.  Learning Challenges will be set each term. Families and communities will be involved in the process and outcome to make the learning more contextualised and transferrable to outside of school.   

Sessions will be planned carefully to the individual learning pathways of the children. They will include whole class teaching and individual learning targets linked where appropriate to the learning challenge.  

Transition between sessions will be carefully planned, where pupils are prepared for change and able to take part in activities to enable them to regulate and be ready for the next session.  

Sensory breaks and regulation opportunities will be provided at key times throughout the day to enable pupils to be regulated and to access learning.

We understand that the importance of routine, consistency and predictability for children with autism and so our approach will carefully consider these. Within everyday lessons and learning experiences, children will be supported to manage change and new experiences. 

 

Outdoor Learning 

Outdoor and physical learning will be used to develop fine and gross motor skills, balance and co-ordination and core strength. Outdoor learning will also encompass other areas of the curriculum such as science, geography, sensory integration and linked to learning in English and maths as appropriate. Wellbeing and regulation will also be supported through outdoor learning and we will make use of other outdoor learning spaces within the community.   

 

Multi-agency working 

Support from children’s therapies (Speech and Language SALT, Occupational Therapy OT and Physiotherapy PT) will be an integral part of our curriculum. Class teams will have opportunity to receive support and training from therapists as will our parents and carers. Therapy teams will be able to ensure classroom practice meets the specific needs of individuals on a day to day basis.  

 

Progression 

Progression for pupils children is not simply attainment of knowledge and skills and therefore must be viewed as a broader picture. Some children make progress through the acquisition of attainment – vertical progression. However, for some children, progression can be viewed horizontally, whereby a skill needs to be generalised and reinforced through a repeated series of planned and varied contexts, thus broadening and widening the experiences presented to a child to embed their learning.  

The pace of learning can be very varied from pupil to pupil and makes the individual and personalised journey of learning even more important.  

Progression may be seen in the following ways and needs to be credited for each child:  

  • Vertical, linear progression 
  • Horizontal, lateral progression- including levels of engagement in their learning. 
  • Progress in one particular area
  • Maintenance of skills 
  • Significant reduction of staff support 
  • Generalisation of skill 
  • Sustainability of a skill 
  • Reduction of regression 
  • Length of time to make progress 
  • Increased length of concentration and persistence in learning tasks.a

Progression Pathways

Early Years
Pre-Subject Specific Learning
Subject Specific Learning
National Curriculum
Curriculum Experiences
  • Communication
    and Interaction
  • Communication
    and Literacy
  • Thinking
    Skills/Maths
  • Physical
    Development
  • PSED
  • Understanding
    the world
  • Creative arts
  • Food
    Tech/therapy
  • Communication
    and Interaction
  • Communication
    and Literacy
  • Thinking
    Skills/Maths
  • PE
  • PSED
  • Understanding
    the world
  • Music
  • Arts & Designs
  • Humanities
  • Computing
  • RE
  • Food tech/therapy
  • Science
  • Communication
    and Interaction
  • Communication
    and Literacy
  • Thinking
    Skills/Maths
  • PE
  • PHSE
  • Understanding
    the world
  • Music
  • Arts & Designs
  • Humanities
  • Computing
  • RE
  • Food tech/therapy
  • Science
  • Communication
    and Interaction
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Maths
  • PE
  • PHSE
  • Social Development
  • Music
  • Arts & Designs
  • Humanities
  • Computing
  • RE
  • Food tech/therapy
  • Science
Approaches
  • Intensive
    interaction (and
    additional AAC)
  • Multi-sensory
    learning
  • Early
    phonological
    awareness
  • Independence
    skills
  • Play based
    learning
  • Intensive
    interaction (and
    additional AAC)
  • Multi-sensory
    learning
  • Early
    phonological
    awareness
  • Independence
    skills
  • Play based
    learning
  • Early phonics
    book and story
    concepts
  • Number concepts
  • Multisensory
    learning
  • Independence
  • Play based
    learning
  • Personalised
    communication
    and interaction
    strategies
  • Blending and
    segmenting skills
  • Comprehension
    Thinking and
    problem solving skills
  • Number concepts
  • Recording
  • Multisensory
    learning
  • Independence
    play based learning
  • Personalised
    communication and
    interaction
    strategies
Assessment
  • Tapestry
  • Engagement
  • Model
  • Development
    matters/
    SCERTS
  • Engagement
  • Model
  • Tapestry
  • Development
    matters/
    SCERTS
  • Tapestry
  • Skills Ladders
  • SCERTS
  • National Curriculum statements
  • SCERTS

Subject Specific Learning 

Subject specific learning is linked to the learning challenges that allow balance and breadth across the curriculum where appropriate. Pupils’ learning will be planned at a level appropriate to their development, needs and rate of progress. 

 

Impact 

Pupil information is gathered, moderated and analysed in a number of ways using various measures. Tapestry, Engagement Model, Skills ladders, Towards Independence Hierarchy, EHCP targets, SCERTS and other individualised approaches are used to capture and demonstrate the impact of our curriculum approach. 

 

Targets 

All pupils have individual targets in areas of the curriculum, SCERTS, and specific targets derived from their Education Health and Care plan (EHCP). This data is used to provide rich information with regard to the progress of individual pupils, cohorts and the whole school. Senior leaders use this information to inform school developments and plan future interventions. Individual teachers and therapists also use this information to inform teaching and learning and therapeutic interventions. Progress against targets is tracked termly. 

 

Assessment should be accurate, precise and used to clearly identify: 

Attainment and progress of engagement, communication, self-care and life skills and subject specific learning. 

Pupils’ stages of development and learning.

Appropriate next steps that allow pupils to access meaningful, appropriate, personalised learning opportunities. 

  

Behaviours for Learning 

Staff will encourage and support pupils to: 

  • Engage in learning opportunities and maximise progress and achievement 
  • Follow basic rules and expectations by using a consistent and positive approach 
  • Develop mutual-regulation and self-regulation strategies 
  • Develop self-esteem and confidence across all areas of learning 
  • Develop each child’s resilience and thinking skills 
  • Achieve and succeed with a ‘can do’ attitude that reduces barriers to learning

 

Communication 

Staff will encourage and support pupils to: 

  • Develop enjoyable, meaningful connections and interactions 
  • Develop personalised communication methods and approaches 
  • Develop receptive and expressive communication skills 
  • Develop social communication and interaction 
  • Develop shared attention and listening skills 

 

Personal Independence 

Staff will encourage and support pupils to: 

  • Develop life skills including self-care and personal organisation  
  • Understand personal safety and how to stay safe in a range of environments 
  • Access formal and informal learning opportunities as independently as possible

 

Relationships and Social Communication 

Staff should encourage and support pupils to: 

 

  • Develop play skills and social communication with peers and adults  
  • Build trusting positive relationships, including friendships 
  • Understand social contexts and environments 
  • Share and build upon their interests 

Sensory breaks and regulation opportunities will be provided at key times throughout the day to enable pupils to be regulated and to access learning.