Castle School – Curriculum Overview
In Castle School we aim to provide a rich and stimulating curriculum which caters for the individual needs of our pupils.
In doing this, Castle School aims to;
- Create a happy, safe, caring environment for all our pupils.
- Create a friendly and stimulating environment where learning is fun and interesting.
- Provide a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum appropriate to the needs of each pupil, taught and assessed through individual learning programmes.
- Personalise learning through accurate assessment, pupil tracking, intervention and access to appropriate pathways that meet their needs.
- Provide relevant opportunities and experiences out of the Academy to help our pupils understand being part of a wider community.
- Develop the self esteem, self awareness and confidence of each of our pupils.
- Provide pupils, where appropriate, with curricular and social opportunities for contact with their mainstream peers.
- Provide flexible timetabling to support learning styles and opportunities for different
Flexibility in terms of balance within the curriculum is essential if we are to ensure relevance for individual pupils at different stages of their education. Therefore not all pupils will experience all aspects of the curriculum all of the time. Balance in the school curriculum should reflect the needs of pupils at various age related stages of their Academy careers. As pupils move through Castle School, we aim to give them the opportunity to develop academically, socially and to increase their levels of independence; preparing them for the next stage in their education and ultimately, life beyond school.
In order to facilitate pupils’ transfer of concepts, attitudes, skills and knowledge they have developed within school, appropriate use will be made of the local and wider community. This will be appropriate to the individual needs of the pupil.
We offer each child a curriculum drawn from National Curriculum core subjects and an essential curriculum that covers all aspects of Personal and Social Education. In addition we offer a sensory curriculum which supports the needs of our children with Profound and Multiple Learning disabilities. We use a ‘topic’ approach within Key Stages 1 and 2 to deliver the National Curriculum foundation subjects with the themes being differentiated to take account of the range of needs in Castle School. Within Key Stage 3 and 4, subjects are increasingly taught as separate lessons. Within sixth form the curriculum focuses on personal development, life skills and preparation for life after school.
Teaching objectives are focused and based on assessments made by teachers and other professionals. They are presented in small steps so that the pupils experience success.
English and Communication is an essential area of the Castle School curriculum. Communication includes several different areas; receptive and expressive communication skills, reading and writing. Castle School, with the support of Speech and Language Therapists, is committed to providing an environment which is adapted to the communication needs of all our pupils. We use a range of strategies to support communication, including;
- Spoken word.
- Signs and symbols – the Makaton signing and symbol system is used throughout the provision to augment verbal communication skills.
- PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) is also used with some pupils.
- Written communication – using words, pictures and symbols and photographs.
Pupils are supported to develop their understanding in a range of ways and their capacity and confidence to express themselves in a variety of ways.
Reading is interpreted as any activity that leads to understanding from visual or tactile representations and can include the use of real objects, photos and symbols as well as the written word. Where appropriate, strategies will include the teaching of phonics skills and whole word recognition.
Castle School aims to create a love of reading in our pupils, using carefully chosen materials which are relevant for the ages and abilities of our pupils. In addition to a range of books, both fiction and non-fiction, some classes use sensory stores which include multisensory approaches to accompany text and facilitate learning.
Writing includes any activity that communicates and records events and experiences, information, thoughts and feelings. This may be done in a variety of ways, including using photos, symbols in addition to the written word.
Handwriting is developed where appropriate as well as basic literacy skills. As pupils get older, the emphasis is much more on functional literacy skills which will support students in their life after school.
We aim to develop cognitive and mathematical understanding through experiences that are meaningful to the individual pupil. Children and young people are encouraged to develop skills of problem solving in everyday situations. Functional numeracy such as the use of money and understanding time are important aspects of the curriculum.
The programme for maths includes developing the concepts of number, time, money, shape, space, measures and data handling. We ensure that skills are developed in practical situations and also build in opportunities for pupils to practise their skills and understanding in a range of practical situations.
Personal and Social Education
This area includes;
- Developing self-esteem, confidence, positive attitudes to learning
- Fostering social interaction by teaching co-operation, participation, tolerance and acceptable attitudes to others
- Developing independent functioning, supporting pupils with basic self-care skills such as personal hygiene, eating and dressing skills. As the pupils progress, the emphasis is on social independence – including shopping, cooking and home making skills.
This area is taught through;
- identified targets on IEPs
- topic-based activities
- specialised learning modules for groups or individuals
For some pupils an Individual Behaviour Support Plan will be drawn up to ensure consistency of approach, and is shared with parents. IBPs are monitored regularly and focus on helping pupils learn to manage their own behaviour in a positive, supported framework. Behaviour support plans are focused on pupil need and the strategies which meet those needs which in turn reduces the likelihood of more challenging behaviours.
We aim to create a positive and secure learning environment. expecting the highest standard of behaviour possible but also having realistic expectations of our pupils.
Pupils are encouraged to develop confidence in physical skills. They are encouraged to develop skills of co-operation, turn-taking and an understanding of why we need healthy bodies and how to be healthy.
In addition to National Curriculum programmes of study for PE presented through PE lessons, some pupils also have access to activities such as swimming, trampoline, pony riding (Riding for the Disabled at Tranwell, Morpeth) and outdoor pursuits.
Hydrotherapy, assisted aerobics, aromatherapy and rebound therapy are also incorporated into the curriculum for children with profound and multiple learning disabilities.
Once students reach sixth form, they are supported to access a range of activities in the community, including the gym, swimming pools and leisure centres.
In order to develop knowledge and understanding of the world, learners are encouraged to discover things for themselves by handling materials and equipment. We aim to try and develop learners’ curiosity, observation skills and an understanding of themselves and the world around them. Pupils are encouraged to try simple experiments and to try to predict what the outcome might be, encouraging thinking skills.
Pupils have a dedicated science lesson each week or science features as an area of focus within some of the half-termly topics.
Information Communication Technology
ICT is used in a range of ways within Castle School, including;
- developing ICT capability, e.g. presenting information in different ways, keyboard skills, using the internet for research.
- using ICT to support other areas of the curriculum, e.g. literacy, numeracy, science
- using ICT to communicate with others, including the use of communication aids
Our pupils have access to a range of equipment in Castle School, including;
- Computers in each class base
- Interactive Whiteboards in all class bases
- ICT suite – fully accessible including touch monitors, switch access.
- A range of software
- Internet Access
- Teacher/support staff devised software – developed to meet specific learner needs
In addition for our pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties, to develop skills such as tracking, attention and cause and effect – we have additional resources in the form of;
- the lights and sound system in the multisensory rooms
- the hydro pool
The National Foundation curriculum foundation subjects – art, history, geography, design & technology, modern foreign languages – are covered through topic cycles in Key Stages 1, 2 and 3. Topics – each lasting for half a term – have a specific subject focus. The topic cycle gives pupils the opportunity to revisit topics to develop and extend skills and knowledge during their time in Castle School.
The nature of the provision here at the Academy means that children and young people are included in ways that meet both their social and learning needs.
- Social Inclusion is provided through assemblies, lunch and breaktime activities and a range of Academy activities.
- Functional Inclusion is provided for some children across mainstream areas – PE, music, literacy, numeracy, DT, science & art. Pupils are always supported initially in integrated activities by staff from Castle School. If a child is ready we will encourage them to develop more independence in this area.
Pupils have the opportunity to work and communicate in a different environment, meet new adults and take part in a variety of different experiences, yet still have the security of a member of staff that knows them well and understands their special needs. We also believe that for some learners these activities are not appropriate for a variety of reasons. Again we offer a flexible approach to take into account individual needs but do constantly review our decisions and planning to offer the very best opportunities to all of the learners in our care.