Intent, Implication and Impact: Curriculum Rationale
The Mendip School is committed to and passionate about the learning and progress of our pupils. Staff and governors have high aspirations for our children and we aim to provide a high quality, relevant and balanced education for all our pupils that focuses on individual, personal and academic achievement. There is a happy and positive atmosphere in which children can fulfil their potential and grow in self-confidence with respect for the people and environment around them.
We want all of our pupils to leave school as independent as they can possibly be in a fulfilling paid jobs or supported employment opportunities.
To achieve this our curriculum is broad and balanced curriculum and aims to create an educational experience that prepares pupils for adult life.
Our pupils represent a very wide range of abilities and in response the curriculum provides a number of pathways that lead to a variety of post school destinations.
A strong emphasis upon a vocational and life skills approach to our curriculum creates opportunities for our pupils to develop those skills which will be important to them in adult life. For some pupils this may mean a focus upon independence skills whilst for others academic qualifications provide the key to access post-16 Further Education courses.
We conducted a curriculum review between March 2019 and March 2020. Local stakeholders such as local authority colleagues, local community representatives, governors and parents were invited into school to meet to discuss our curriculum. Staff and pupils gave their views on how we meet the needs of everyone we support.
Our formal curriculum is our academic and EYFS curriculum, each curriculum area has a framework to support teaching, learning and assessment.
Our Holistic curriculum encompasses everything in school we do to support our pupils learning and social and emotional wellbeing. This curriculum includes life skills, community access and careers and therapies. This is a key element to our school curriculum provision.
Characteristics of effective learning
All pupils in school are supported and assessed against characteristics of effective learning. This area equips our pupils with the key skills they need to live an independent and successful life as possible.
Core- non negotiables
This is the core pedagogy, approaches and strategies that inform an important part of our school. These are systems and strategies that we use which support our pupils. This area also includes the training that ALL staff have at The Mendip School to ensure we support or pupils effectively. We sometimes call these our ‘Non Negotiables’.
They include but are not exclusive of;
- Behaviour Support: PROACT-SCIPr-UK
- TEACCH- Structure, predictability, routine
- Visual information
- Autism training and awareness
- Speech and Language
- Schedules, predictability and routine
For teaching and assessment purposes pupils are organised into 4 learning cohorts. Each cohort will have their own learning pathway through our bespoke curriculums. Each pupil in each cohort will access a slightly different personalised journey throughout their time at school. Cohorts are not fixed and can be moveable as pupils grow and develop.
We use a whole school topic approach for some areas of the curriculum, this provides a whole school approach and sense of community for our leaners. These topic area of based on pupils interests, our local community and are focused on what is felt to be current, they are reviewed every year.
Our cohorts are;
Ready to learn 1
These students will be working mostly on our formal curriculum; these pupils may go onto to take formal qualifications such as GCSE’s or Entry Level qualifications. These pupils will continue to access holistic curriculum where appropriate. Characteristics of effective learning and core non negotiables also play a daily role in their teaching and learning.
Some of these students may be educated at our offsite provision at Ansford Academy in Castle Cary.
Ready to learn 2
These students are those that are more ready to learn and make up the majority of the pupils in school. Many will need support with their emotional regulation and behaviour. They will follow an equal pathway in their formal and holistic learning opportunities. Formal subjects may be grouped into topics rather than individual subject specific lessons. Children are taught through whole school topics to maximise interest and a sense of a whole school community. Characteristics of effective learning and core non negotiables also play a daily role in their teaching and learning.
Learning to learn
These students are those who have a higher level of need in terms of social and emotional development. These students will have a higher proportion of their curriculum in the holistic areas with some formal curriculum. Our goal is to reduce anxiety, increase resilience and teach our pupils to be in a classroom environment with other learners. Characteristics of effective learning and core non negotiables also play a daily role in their teaching and learning.
Learning for life
These students will mostly follow the holistic curriculum in order to support them to live as independent a life as possible after leaving school. Pupils will focus on formal skills in maths and English. Characteristics of effective learning and core non negotiables are a larger and key part of their curriculum.
Sample timetable 1
Sample timetable 2
Each subject area in the formal curriculum has a framework from which teachers can plan and assess. Every child is treated as an individual and may be included in elements of each cohort.
Whilst books and physical work in class shows progress we also use systems called Evidence for Learning. Evidence for learning provides a long term learning journey for all students throughout our school. Progress along frameworks is evidenced here. Teachers are able to use this tool to effectively plan for each child according to their own needs and next steps.
Evidence for learning is also used to monitor and document progress against Education and Health Care Plans and pupils personalised learning plans. This may be photographs, annotated work and teacher comments.
We employ a full time speech therapist, a play therapist, art therapist and a music therapist
As part of the holistic curriculum therapeutic work takes place in class on a daily basis including speech and language, sensory support (occupational therapy) THRIVE, social emotional and mental health support and zones of regulation.
We are lucky to be surrounded by a rich outside environment which we make use of every day. Children enjoy well walks and take their learning outside to experience in real life.
We positively support behaviour and use the PROACT-SCIPr model. We believe in teaching students to manage themselves rather than using behaviour control systems that do not teach students to understand their owns needs and emotionally regulate themselves. Rewards and motivators and positive praise and emotion coaching helps our students learn to self-regulate.
Impact – How we measure progress
We know that the majority of pupils at The Mendip School are happy and enjoy coming to school. We know this from our pupil and parent surveys and the general atmosphere around school.
Parents comment that starting at The Mendip School has a dramatic impact of their whole child both in school and at home.
How we measure progress.