Southview School Curriculum
Southview School is unique in being the only PNI provision in Essex, and we cater for children with varied and complex needs from 3-19 yrs. The range of abilities varies from children requiring a sensory curriculum throughout their journey at Southview, to those able to attain examinations in academic subjects. The challenge for us as a school is meeting that wide range of abilities, and ensuring that pupils’ academic learning is part of a holistic approach, where pupils’ physical, social and emotional wellbeing, and independence with communication, are considered in equal importance. Our curriculum reflects this, and is fluid, cross-curricular and multi-layered. We consider communication and physical wellbeing as the foundations of learning here at Southview. Children are unable to access lessons if their physical or medical needs are not being met, and this may require multiple changes of position and medical interventions during the day. They are unable to access learning until they have the means to communicate, so these two areas underpin the work that we do here, and this is reflected in their EHCP targets and provision. This is explained in our model-Southview Pillars of Curriculum (SPOC). Many of our pupils have life-limiting and medically complex conditions and we have incorporated PLI-positioning for learning and independence, and PCI-personal care and independence into our timetables as we value their importance to the learning and wellbeing of our children here at Southview.
Each class is broadly ability grouped and can comprise of children from different key stages in order that we can best meet their needs. Learning here at Southview takes many forms, and in addition to giving our pupils access to a more formal curriculum, we also focus on skills such as courage and resilience and preparing them for adulthood.
Children here at Southview are nurtured to become as independent as they can be; physically, socially and communicatively by providing a challenging and varied curriculum, and by giving them the opportunity to achieve academic potential. We were delighted last year that one of our students gained a GCSE in maths.
We have our EYFS, school and College curriculums running concurrently across the school, which meet the needs of all pupils irrespective of age and ability. Each of these curriculums have intent, implementation and impact clearly mapped out.
Our journey to our the curriculum.
The curriculum at Southview is driven by the needs and interests of the children. By asking the children what they enjoy learning about, we have endeavoured to create a varied and captivating rolling programme, whilst also ensuring that it is broad and balanced, apt and relevant. Pupils were given a variety of means to communicate their opinions including using hi-tech and low-tech communication devices to aid comprehension and expression. In response to a questionnaire sent to all parents and carers, self-esteem and the ability to express needs and wants were seen as very important. Many of our young people spend a lifetime having their physical needs met by family and care givers, and their right to be seen as autonomous free-thinking and assertive young people is seen as vital, and is an aspiration shared by pupils, staff and parents/carers. Life skills, and giving young people the tools to live safely and fully within society, are also key components of this evolving curriculum. We have a thematic approach to the curriculum and this is deliberately left quite open so that teachers can tailor lessons to the interests and ability of the pupils within their class.
The way our curriculum is broken down;
This is explained in detail in our curriculum overview.
We follow the EYFS curriculum within Sunshine Class, and this is adapted for those children with a visual impairment as it was recognised that, for this particular cohort, progress was not being recognised using the usual learning goals. We have also removed the age expectations, which is inappropriate for our pupils, and replaced them with levels. This has been fully embedded within this phase of school.
Within the main part of the school, we have developed a new and innovative curriculum which covers national curriculum subjects adapted to the ability of the children. This is taught thematically and broken down into KS1&2 and KS3&4 ensuring it is age appropriate and relevant to the pupils within that phase.
Firm foundations is a specialist PMLD curriculum for those children working at early developmental levels and who need a sensory curriculum. It was developed by a member of our leadership team and recognises that children with PMLD have distinctly unique abilities and ways of learning.
Building on. This curriculum focuses on skills which relate broadly speaking to the old P levels 3-5.
Reaching higher focuses on skills relating to old P levels 6-8 and beyond, and extra content has been added for those pupils able to access greater academic studying. Within Key Stage 3&4, pupils also have access to a variety of ASDAN courses. Where appropriate, pupils will follow individualised programmes, for example, functional skills, entry level, or GCSE syllabuses.
College- Following in depth meetings with all stakeholders, comprehensive and challenging targets are set on seven key areas of learning and development, namely;
- Community links and participation
- Health and Wellbeing
- Managing and Developing Relationships
- Functional Maths
- Enterprise and work-related skills
- Creative Development
In each of these areas Students experience a range of appropriate activities thoughtfully planned and designed to promote their independence and creative thinking. They practice these skills in the class, in other areas of the school and out in the community in real life situations. This provides students with real life opportunities to practice and transfer their skills and become more self-confident and independent. The Enterprise and work related skills area focuses on a different skills set which gives students an insight into different vocational areas. Running a College Café, setting up a Christmas Catalogue and organising Fundraising activities have all been important activities to promote a more adult environment and way of learning giving students and insight to work and activities they would like to pursue beyond Southview. The introduction of Route options has allowed students to trial new pathways which may interest them and to gain internal certification at different levels. Running alongside the College Curriculum is the essential element of developing relationships and social skills. College provides social occasions such as a Prom and residential trip to promote and embed these skills in a safe and measured environment.
The teaching of reading across the school;
Reading is an integral part of what we do here, and each child will be nurtured and challenged to reach their full potential as they move through the school. We have developed the Southview Reading Scales which lays out in detail how we teach reading across the school. We recognise that some of our children need an inclusive literacy programme, laid out in our PMLD curriculum, and others will follow a more ‘traditional’ route. At Southview, the functional use of reading is also considered very important as pupils move through the school enabling them to live as independently as possible. Our children also face additional challenges with communication which can make learning to read phonetically difficult for them, and most use AAC as a support.
‘The reading framework’ published by the DoE July 2021
The reading framework stresses the importance of talk and stories as a way of children meeting words they ‘would rarely meet or use in everyday speech’ (DoE reading framework, 2021, p7). At Southview we recognise this can be especially important for our pupils who may have particular gaps in their life experiences due to complex health and physical challenges. This needs to be balanced carefully for many children, so that they do not become overwhelmed with too much language when their brain injuries cannot process more than a word or two at a time. Poetry, rhymes and songs with repetitive words or phrases, accompanied by symbols and signs are particularly effective in teaching vocabulary at early levels. Repetition is particularly relevant at Southview, and even with our pre-formal readers, most will go on to anticipate and respond to a story told in a sensory way. Story time is part of the everyday routine in KS1 and 2.
The framework also notes that parents who engage their children in books and stories can ‘transform their attitudes to reading’ (p12). We have recently produced a guide to supporting children’s reading which has been used to support staff training and has been published on our website to support parents. This outlines how best to support children working at every level of reading throughout school.
The framework also talks about the importance of language comprehension (p16/19). Reading and communication are linked throughout school to enable children to make sense of words, sentences and wider language, as the great majority of children need support with AAC to access language. Our reading scales clearly make the link between interactions with adults and the development of language skills. Regular meetings are held between staff supporting communication and class teachers, and teachers think ahead about what prerequisite skills children will need to access lessons. Vocabulary using AAC is pre-taught, enabling children to actively participate in the learning experiences offered. The questions outlined on p20 eg ‘What do we want children to know and think about?’ ‘What vocabulary is associated with this knowledge and thinking?’ is a fully embedded concept at Southview. Children working at similar levels across school with communication are often taught together to enable them time to process and respond to questioning.
Similarly, when talking about writing (p17), our students have obvious physical challenges which require them to use other ways to produce ‘writing’. These include using a scribe, or using AAC to join symbols/words together.
The school uses the Jolly Phonics scheme. Phonics is taught in KS1 and 2 for all pupils and beyond for some pupils. The framework asks for this to be taught for an hour a day in reception (p47) which may not be suitable for all our cohort with their limited concentration and medical/physical interventions which need to be prioritised. There is a professional dialogue that takes place between staff, Parents and Speech therapists for pupils as they move into KS3. For some, it will be entirely appropriate for them continuing to work with this as it may support their ability to access vocabulary on the devices, and for some the reading focus may move onto more functional words that they will need to recognise to support their independence. There may be a move away from phonics as the main method of learning to read, but pupils will continue to follow the reading strategies as laid out in the Southview Reading Scale. Learning to read high frequency and social sight words become more important if children have not been able to learn to read phonetically.
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