Crowdys Hill School Curriculum
Here at Crowdys Hill special school we value the many talents that our pupils have to offer. We are a vibrant, happy school where pupils enjoy learning and staff enjoy teaching.
What are the aims of our curriculum?
We provide a broad range of national curriculum subjects, from primary phase to sixth form. We also offer a wide range of opportunities, outside of the national curriculum, to develop self-esteem, engagement and independent learning. Our ethos throughout is to develop strong minded, independent citizens. With this in mind, we offer a variety of subjects where social skills, life skills and independent skills are embedded.
Learning for Life
Our curriculum is rich in experiences, positive learning, building the feeling of self-worth in our pupils, and developing the love of learning.
At the heart of this learning is communication skills. We understand that the best way to ensure that our pupils feel part of their community, whether in school, home or in the world, is to promote their ability to communicate effectively to the best of their abilities. This begins in the primary phase, through access to SEN trained staff, with experience in using Signalong, PECS (picture exchange communication systems), AAC (augmented assistive communication) and use of visual aids to consolidate understanding. Our emphasis is on cooperative learning, with many opportunities to develop conversation and discussion.
This continues through to the secondary phase, where pupils are encouraged to use their social skills to wider audiences, such as in assemblies, or on the school trips and other events that we offer.
In the sixth form, this is further developed through the wide variety of work experiences and social and educational trips which take place.
‘Crowdys Hill School is a happy school where everyone gets along.’ ‘All groups of students achieve well because they are offered an interesting and varied curriculum that meets their needs and aspirations.’ (OFSTED Oct, 2013)
How does the curriculum differ from mainstream schools?
Whilst we follow the national frameworks from year 1 to year 14, they are highly adapted and differentiated to meet the needs of our pupils. We understand that our pupils learn key concepts at different points in their life, which may not follow the age expected trend. We ensure that all of our pupils can access all areas of the curriculum through adaptations to content, resources, and experienced SEN trained staffing. So whilst a pupil’s timetable may look similar to a mainstream one, within that are many opportunities for pupils to acquire new skills, succeed in education; and, most importantly for any child, to build resilience. We supplement this curriculum offer with evidence based support sessions, where staff take pupils out of lessons for interventions. This is scheduled as needed, and the tutors work together with staff to advise on what is needed to improve the pupils’ progress. For our more complex pupils, whose needs cannot be met using our main curriculum, we offer a more tutor-led curriculum. We call these classes the Thematic Learning Centre, or TLC for short. Here the pupils can socialize with the rest of the school and join in with school activities. Their timetable is based mainly with their tutor to minimize movement between lessons and staff. These pupils will study English, Maths, PE and ICT. In addition they will study art, cookery and My Future My World (MFMW) which incorporates RE, careers, ASDAN and citizenship.
‘The students make excellent progress in developing their social skills. They show terrific enthusiasm for learning and their behaviour is often exemplary. They feel safe and attend regularly.’ (OFSTED, Oct 2013)
Who teaches this curriculum?
We are extremely proud of our staff who have dedicated years to learning about how best to teach pupils with special educational needs. All of our staff have completed autism awareness courses, and many have taken further study in this area. All teaching staff are trained in SEN updates and initiatives weekly. All teaching assistants undertake SEN induction, first aid training, manual handling training, and basic phonics sessions. Some of our staff are subject specialists, and others are primary phase teacher trained staff, with a sound knowledge of phonics.
In the primary phase the staff to pupil ratios are higher, as we are just beginning to build independence. On average classes have ratios of 1:2 at key stage 1, and 1:3 at key stage 2.
In the secondary phase, as a pupil’s learning engagement and independence skills are improving, the staffing ratios change to 1:5 on average. In the Thematic Learning Centre the staffing remains higher due to the more complex needs of the pupils.
‘…lessons have a high level of challenge that generates an excitement in learning and teachers support students well so that they try new experiences and extend their thinking.’ (OFSTED, Oct 2013)
What’s different about the Sixth Form?
Our Sixth Form opened in September 2016, from a need to ensure that our pupils continued their education with the focus on learning for life. We wanted to make sure that our pupils in year 11 had the opportunity to further develop their social, independence and life skills. We wanted to make sure that our pupils were given opportunities to develop their employability skills, with opportunities for work experience and making links with their community, to give them the best chance of finding employment and building a sustainable life for themselves and their families.
We feel that we are achieving this.
Our staff have high aspirations for all of our pupils. Our staff and our parents/ carers want equality for our pupils, as they become young adults. To this end, we match learning experiences with the desires and talents of our Sixth Formers. They have the opportunity to learn new skills, through choosing a vocational course, and develop their work skills through work experiences, whilst continuing to study their English and Maths skills. All pupils undertake work experience placements, these may be for part of a day, one day, weekly, or termly. Pupils have the opportunity to try a variety of careers, and some of our pupils secure paid employment as a result of these experiences.
There are many opportunities for trips, both educational and for leisure, as we believe that young adults need to be aware of what’s on offer to them in their community, and how they can make friends and develop hobbies.
For those pupils who need the extra support, we continue to offer some of the interventions, such as hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and social/ emotional literacy (ELSA). The aim of these support sessions become more functional in this setting. Those pupils needing the use of AAC or specialist physical disability equipment, will continue to have access to specialist support. Most of our pupils will have access to a speech and language therapist, as they work with the teachers rather than individual pupils to develop their functional communication skills.
‘The school’s farm provides excellent opportunities for students’ social and spiritual development through teaching the students to recognise the importance of giving regular attention and commitment when caring for other beings. The students learn about the importance of work routines and cooperation and apply this well in the classroom.’ OFSTED, Oct 2013
What do pupils think they should be learning?
We recently asked 68 pupils in key stage 3, what subjects they would like to study more often. Year 7, 8 and 9 were overwhelmingly positive about cookery and enrichment and wanted to have more time in these sessions. In enrichment pupils choose a new activity each term. This may be crafts, cheer leading, minecraft club, choir, bingo, jewellery, football, and modelling/ lego.
In cookery pupils get the opportunity to cook tasty and easy meals, such as fish pie, pasta dishes and a variety of multicultural dishes, which they can take home (if they last the bus journey home). They also learn about safety aspects in the kitchen, and how to eat healthy diets on a budget.
Swimming was popular in years 7 and 8, and we are very proud of our success in the swimming sessions, as nearly all children can swim by the time they have completed the sessions. Music was another popular choice for all years, as the music lead ensures that all lessons are relevant and practical so that all pupils can participate. Some of our pupils struggle with certain noises, and using instruments in a classroom can sound very loud, however they all seem to enjoy making musical noises. This teaches them about different types of music which they may not have heard before, and develops their self-esteem through finding music which can calm or energise them.
Needless to say, our pupils wanted fewer academic lessons, and as many of our pupils have struggled with literacy and numeracy over the years this was not surprising. As pupils would not be able to access their favourite lessons without the expertise and dedication of our teachers building their literacy and numeracy skills, we will continue to provide excellent academic study along with the arts and practical subjects.
What do our parents want for their children?
Our parents/ carers would like their children to learn about life skills, such as cooking, cleaning, gardening, and shopping. From year 1 onwards, our emphasis is on encouraging independence. In key stages 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 pupils study My Future My World topics. These include: personal health and hygiene; keeping healthy; citizenship; recycling; handling money; gardening; and going shopping with the group. Some parents would like their child to learn about public transport, and what to do if they miss a bus/ train, which can be particularly confusing for our pupils. Pupils learn about this in MFMW topics, and gain confidence on public transport, as well as developing their independent travelling skills in Sixth Form.
Some parents wanted more music to be available. We are hoping to extend music to key stage 4 and 5 this year. We are offering an option session in music for those with a desire to extend their knowledge or love for music.
Parents wanted more humanities in key stage 4. We teach humanities from year 7 to year 9. This year we are also offering a ‘hands on history’ option, which is more practical in nature, and should appeal to those pupils who enjoy history but not coursework.
Following our ethos for ‘Learning for Life’ we have worked hard to embed careers into all areas of our school curriculum. As part of KS3 and 4 My Future My World we have introduced 6 themed career weeks where different employment sectors are investigated. This will include visits from employers from each relevant sector. These themed weeks will enable pupils to begin to consider their future career paths. At Key Stage 4 we will also host a ‘Careers Day’ which will include sessions from independent careers advisors and visits to places of work. Also as part of the careers programme Year 11 students will undertake a week’s work experience placement with local employers or participate in our world of work week.
At Key Stage 5 our curriculum is heavily focussed on developing our students’ independence with a focus on employment. All students follow an employability course and choose a vocational course such as Retail, Hospitality, Health and Social Care and Horticulture. These are nationally recognised qualifications.
All Key Stage 5 students have the opportunity to undertake work experience and the school has now formed a partnership with Nightshelter to open a shop and café and our students can gain even more work experience at this setting.
We additionally have 2 career drop down days which focus on mock interviews and CV building as well as a ‘careers fair.
The school has built relationships with outside agencies and we can refer our students as they move on for continued support.
Click below for the Learning at Home Booklet
Date this page was last modified: 6 February 2019