Whole School Curriculum Provision Overview
Castle School is an all-age school for children and young people with severe/profound and multiple learning difficulties. We are dedicated to providing a broad, rich, deep and aspirational curriculum at levels appropriate to the developmental understanding of our pupils. In considering the curriculum, it is underpinned by asking ourselves ‘what do our young people need to learn?’ We do this by looking at the pupil’s needs and developing planned learning outcomes to meet those needs. The curriculum provides a ‘vehicle’ through which those learning outcomes are delivered. The curriculum provides a natural progression from Early Years to Key Stage 5 with programmes designed for and implemented at an appropriate level.
Our curriculum is designed to help our pupils to become:
- Successful learners who are engaged in and enjoy their learning – making excellent progress and experiencing achievement
- Effective communicators who can express themselves, make choices and build positive relationships with other people and have increasing control and influence over their lives
- Confident individuals who having had a variety of successful experiences are able to take a full part in activities within school and the community. Also, to provide the appropriate level of challenge and risk taking in order to develop the resilience and aptitude to be able to cope when things go wrong.
- Active participants in developing a healthy, safe lifestyle, supporting good relationships and respecting differences between people, enhancing positive mental and physical health, happiness and a sense of well-being
- Well-prepared for their adult life where they have increasing control and influence over their own lives and develop into young people who are as independent as possible Whilst the overall aims of the curriculum will be the same for all children and young people attending Castle School, the styles of teaching and learning may be different according to the specific learning needs of the pupils. Throughout the curriculum, the central focus will be on what the pupils are learning, which will be different for different pupils, rather than simply what are the pupils doing.
“Education’s starting point should not be about us, it should be about them (our students), their needs, their aspirations and goals”
Dr Maggie Atkinson, Children’s Commissioner for England, September 2013
The curriculum is highly personalised as each pupil has planned progressive steps in learning and individual targets based on their assessed previous skills and knowledge rather than for their age or year group. Due to the particular special needs of an individual pupil, some pupils may not have an ‘even profile of ability’ across the provision and consequently rigorous assessment is key to identifying progressive steps in learning. The curriculum provides the opportunity for pupils to access broad and balanced learning at a differentiated level meeting statutory requirement.
Castle School has ambition for all children and young people and as such we strive to provide a meaningful, aspirational curriculum which is a framework for learning that we deliver through a ‘spiralised approach’. (See below Pedological Approach)
This approach has three key principles
- Planning is cyclical-pupils return to topics throughout their time in school
- Increasing depth is planned each time a topic/theme/programme is revisited at a mastery of skill level
- Prior knowledge is utilised when a topic is revisited so pupils build upon a strong foundation.
The school’s approach consists of year on year skills and knowledge being revisited and built upon to provide depth as learners master skills and apply these in functional situations. Within this we acknowledge that progression is not necessarily about movement up a ladder of skills and knowledge. Lateral progression is important in being able to master the skills and knowledge that have been learned e.g., to different contexts, situations, with less scaffolding and support, with different people and in different environments. Retention of fundamental skills and knowledge which embed into the long-term memory is also important- to know more, do more and remember more.
Castle has mapped curriculum provision by:
The Castle curriculum map has been designed to:
- Provide an overview of the work we have planned in school
- Include our intentions, implementation, of the specific areas of the curriculum, and the expected impact
- Collate termly overviews for each subject so teachers know what they are teaching and when.
- Utilise progressive documentation to ensure a sequential approach
- Allow teachers to develop and deliver the curriculum through planned programmes of work or through a topic/thematic approach, utilised dependent upon the age and needs of learners. Topics are mapped across each term and identified skills and knowledge are identified to ensure a breadth in learning.
- Develop three specific curriculum pathways including pre-formal, semi-formal and formal
Pre-formal (Engagement Model)
- Learners may have profound and complex needs, a severe learning difficulty or medical condition, sensory impairment or physical disability. They will be learning at an early developmental stage and will require a high level of adult support to meet their educational and personal care needs
- Young people become secure in their environment in a way that is meaningful and purposeful to them. The focus is upon enabling them to establish positive interactive relationships with others, to proactively explore the world around them and to gain environmental control skills. All pupils will be given maximum opportunities to achieve the highest level of independence possible.
- These learners will have significant intellectual or cognitive impairment and may have difficulties with sensory processing, communication and self-help skills. These learners are likely to need support to access all aspects of the curriculum often 1:1.
- Life Skills based programme which are flexible and have a holistic approach
- Young people will learn most effectively when what they are learning about is tangible and real to them. They will learn best when learning is related to their own experience. Structured play, topic-based work and a high level of functionality are all relevant approaches regardless of age. The approach to learning is based upon stage of development within the context of chronological age. A cohort of pupils have ‘splinter skills’ whereas they may be able to decode but are not yet able to understand and apply knowledge.
- These learners access a range of National Curriculum subjects modified for their developmental level. The teaching sessions are more ‘formal’ and are taught in a structured way drawing upon pupils speaking, listening and communication skills.
- Access to an adapted National Curriculum, emphasising Life Skills and independence is emphasised for ‘formal’ learners.
- While still needing a high degree of practical and functional based work these young people are able to learn about more abstract concepts seen through a National Curriculum ‘lens’.
- Life skills and independence skills will also form a large part of the curriculum. A high level of structure and first-hand experience is required to achieve success.
- Teachers ensure that learning is linked to practical activities and consolidated and applied in practical sessions.
- Older pupils working at the formal level may pursue accreditation pathways (e.g., Entry Level and Level1 courses and exams) and they follow the appropriate syllabus in each exam subject.
Through an in-depth understanding of each child’s needs (cognition and learning; communication and interaction; social and emotional mental health and physical and sensory), we set personalised and ambitious learning outcomes as the foundation for tailor-made curricula activities.
The curriculum is coherently planned and sequenced through robust assessment systems (iASEND, Cherry Garden, Routes for Learning and MAPP).
SEND Code of Practice 5.33, January 2015, ‘The special education provision made for a child should always be based on an understanding of their particular strengths and needs’.
Our intention is for the curriculum to provide ambitious stretch and progression for all learners with an understanding that each child is on their own bespoke journey and will progress at a different rate and trajectory. We are determined to ensure the same inclusive ambition for all pupils regardless of background or starting point.
Our curriculum intends to respect and reflect the national curriculum and is contextualised to our unique school community and the entitlement of learners, allowing space and time for the careful integration of specialised approaches, therapies and interventions.
Castle School uses a SEND evidenced based tool for planning and assessing the progress and achievement of pupils. The iASEND curriculum and assessment tool is a well-established tool specifically designed for SEND pupils.
Each letter of iASEND is a curriculum and assessment tool which represents a specific route for learning for cohorts assessed at a level which can be appropriately supported and challenged by set intentions linked to, for example the ‘S’ curriculum/assessment route. Each letter of iASEND links to pathways in all subjects and this ensures we cover all aspects of the curriculum mapped to pupils’ needs. All aspects of learning for pupils, identified by rigorous baseline assessment, is covered in iASEND which is used as a planning and assessment framework. The iASEND routes map directly onto both the National Curriculum and Castle’s bespoke approach to assessment. The assessment statements can be used as learning objectives, which target learning opportunities at the next steps on an individualised basis. In addition to capturing ‘vertical progress’ (new learning and skills), iASEND captures ‘horizontal learning’ (depth of learning and understanding).
The ‘A’ curriculum – Bridges the gap from non-subject specific ‘Engagement Model’ learning to ‘Pre-Key Stage’ subject specific learning.
The ‘S’ curriculum – For learners accessing subject specific learning at a ‘Pre-Key Stage’ level, below the national curriculum level.
The ‘E’ curriculum – For learners accessing subject specific learning at a ‘Key Stage 1’ level, following the national curriculum through incremental steps.
The ‘N’ curriculum – For learners accessing subject specific learning at a ‘Key Stage 2’ level, following the national curriculum through incremental steps.
The ‘D’ curriculum – For learners accessing subject specific learning at a ‘Key Stage 3’ level, following the national curriculum through incremental steps.
- The ‘Semi Formal’ pathway follows the A and S curriculum (The Pre-Key stage 1 curriculum). This allows pupils to build the prerequisite skills needed to access national curriculum learning through the achievable steps of the E curriculum. Highly effective transition ensures continued progression.
- The A and S curricula form a strong foundation for learning, built upon a pedagogy where real understanding is assessed before a pupil can advance to the E curriculum (KS1).
- In the ‘Semi Formal’ pathway we aim for pupils to transition to the ‘Formal pathway’ (in a specific subject or whole curriculum) by being able to access the E curriculum. This prepares pupils to access accreditations when they move into Key Stage 4. This epitomises Castle’s ambitious approach to learners developing their full potential.
- For those pupils within the Semi Formal pathway, who are unable to access more formalised accreditations, functional use of maths and English skills are developed through the ASDAN and preparation for adulthood areas; Employment, Friends, Relationships and Community, Independent Living and Good Health. At all points in a pupil’s curriculum journey Castle has a highly ambitious approach to optimise pupil’s ability to learn, applying skills and knowledge in functional situations.
- In the Formal pathway, pupil’s access either the S (Pre KS1), E (KS1), the N (KS2) or the D (KS3) curriculum depending upon assessed need. This prepares pupils to access accreditations when they move into Key Stage 4.
- When a pupil begins Key Stage 4, they will access accreditation suitable to their iASEND curriculum attainment level.
iASEND A: ASDAN – Transition Challenge Sensory
iASEND S: ASDAN -Transition Challenge
iASEND E: Entry level 1 or 2
iASEND N: Entry Level 3 or Level 1
iASEND D: GCSE Foundation
- When a pupil begins Post 16, they will access accreditation suitable to their iASEND curriculum attainment level and previous accreditation outcomes.
iASEND A / ASDAN – Transition Challenge Sensory: Towards Independence Introduction Units
iASEND S / ASDAN – Transition Challenge: Transition Challenge Sensory: Towards Independence Progression Units
iASEND E / Entry Level 1 or 2: Functional Skills Entry Level
iASEND N / Entry Level 3 or Level 1: Functional Skills Level 1
iASEND D / GCSE Foundation: Functional Skills Level 2
- Teachers make explicit links to the iASEND (Cherry Garden and ASDAN) curriculum content through their medium-term plans. Assessment includes evaluation of pupil’s work following a standardised marking policy and formative and summative assessment. Reporting includes Annual Review feedback and end of year pupil reports.
Cherry Garden, a system built upon the popular Routes for Learning framework, is used for EYFS and Year 1 learners at Castle. Cherry Garden is a child centred framework for learners working at a level expected for typically developing children aged 0-5, with an additional bridging framework for branch maps 11 and 12 in key areas at a level expected in Year 1. This allows for a robust baseline that influences the decision of a future pathway that a learner will follow.
iASEND A: Branches 1-4
iASEND S: Branches 5-9
iASEND E: Branches 10-12
Impact of Castles approach to the curriculum.
The outcome of the curriculum is highly individual. All achievement and progress are celebrated. Progress for our pupils can be demonstrated by:
- Pupils making progress towards/achieving their intended outcomes set with parents/carers for 12 months within the EHCP annual meetings. These outcomes are informed by any relevant professionals working with the pupils.
- Pupils making progress towards meeting EHCP outcomes and personalised targets on a termly basis.
- Pupils making progress/achieving across the curriculum planned by teachers. Progress and achievement in all subjects are reported to parents in EHCP -Annual Review Report. Reporting procedures include -Principal’s reports to governors and the Executive Board
- Achieving external accreditation for secondary aged pupils e.g., ASDAN.
- Using existing skills in a wider range of contexts.
- Supported transition within, in and out of the setting.
- Stakeholder feedback
- Performance management
Click on the different curriculum areas below to learn more about them.
At Castle we have designed an English curriculum which prepares children for life as caring and thoughtful citizens within the context of their SEND diagnosis and assessment of need. We use the child’s Education, Health and Care Plan to build on prior learning in English to ensure the development of key concepts and knowledge. We recognise the value of broadening children’s vocabulary in support of independence and inclusion. Within our school cohort a high percentage of EHCP, long term targets include the development of communication, comprehension and vocabulary. As such this has influenced our approach to the English curriculum. We intend to give every child the opportunity to access literacy/reading commensurate to ability.
We recognise literacy and English is fundamental to improving life-long opportunities.
The foundations of reading are:
– listening and attention
– engagement and enjoyment
The core foundations are integrated into all curriculum delivery and staff will work with parents/carers through EHCP outcomes in all areas of learning.
Love of reading to develop engagement, understanding of language and communication.
Across Key Stages, pupils have multiple exposures to story time sessions where, whenever possible, pupils read or are read to in relation to whole school shared texts. Rhymes, songs and drama may also be used to engage pupils individually or within a group. Many opportunities are created for pupils to become familiar with stories through repetition, encouraging engagement and exposure to vocabulary and the language of stories. A small cohort of pupils in school can decode text with meaning (SEF). Most pupils at Castle are learning pre-requisite skills with an emergent approach using Launchpad for Literacy planning and assessment. All pupils are involved in literacy/English activities on a daily basis.
Stories are shared in many ways, such as, sensory stories, use of ICT, through drama games and role play.
Texts have been carefully planned linked to phases in school to ensure we foster a love of reading, including provision of a wide range of stories, non-fiction texts, and poems. Resources include a range of books set in the UK and around the world, both traditional and modern, with engaging illustrations from different backgrounds and cultures. Teachers select texts that create opportunities for pupils to develop their:
- Engagement and enjoyment
- Communication and understanding including reinforcing known and new skills and vocabulary.
- Personal and social development including increasing awareness of self, their own emotions, and relationships with others.
All pupils at the Castle access the accredited Essential Letters and Sounds -ELS- phonics scheme and the Launchpad for Literacy approach which provides a systematic programme of sequentially planned learning opportunities. ESL and Launchpad for Literacy provides an inclusive programme beginning with listening and attention and progressing through to all levels of decoding and encoding which subsequently supports reading fluency and accuracy
The Launchpad is an approach to literacy readiness for pupils. It also gives practitioners and leaders a tool to clarify what children CAN do, identify developmental skill gaps and set next steps, enabling school to:
- Incrementally close gaps in relation to vulnerable groups.
- Build skills to work towards group listening, participation and learning, supporting older children who find this problematic.
- Target specific language and vocabulary skills involved in a ‘Love of Reading’ and pave the way for reading comprehension, inference and building knowledge.
- Bridge the gap between spoken language and literacy by focussing on incremental sequences of skills.
- Improve phonic and longer-term literacy outcomes for reading and writing.
- Avoid using ‘blanket’ approaches to literacy readiness and speech & language by embedding informed interventions into targeted practice and Quality First Teaching.
- Implement ‘progressive support’ by setting appropriate next steps for children with more specific needs or where progress has plateaued, ensuring progression for all.
- Avoid cycles of repeating what a child cannot do during interventions in order to facilitate progress.
- Make more informed decisions about interventions based on diagnostic assessments, making communication with outside agencies more specific and two-way.
- Focus on the language and social communication skills involved in PSHEE and appropriate behaviour.
Launchpad for Literacy also affirms and supports current good practice and pedagogy, allowing school to make more specific decisions about what to do and why, based on the skills children have now and the skills they need.
Essential Letters and Sounds-synthetic phonics accredited scheme.
- Combines continuous and reactive assessment
- Provides robust intervention
- Is rigorous and engaging
- Supports teachers to ensure the lowest attaining children keep up rather than catch up
- Aligns with books from Oxford University Press
- Provides immediate, in the lesson intervention
- Provides whole school training, accessible at times that suit your school timetable
- Supports Reading and Phonics Leads
- Training subscription includes an assessment tracker and analysis dashboard
Where appropriate, every class in school has a timetabled phonics session. The length of these sessions is dependent on the needs of the pupils in class.
We believe that communication is a key element of our English curriculum provision for our most severe and complex pupils, some of whom are non-verbal. This is key to children developing character and resilience in being able to ensure their needs are met, they access community to the best of their ability and they can express thoughts and feelings effectively. This supports well-being, self-esteem and confidence. We work closely with NHS therapists to optimise opportunities for pupils to communicate effectively. This includes a highly specialised approach to visual communication, PECs and AAC use.
Much of the English curriculum is based upon pre-requisites to literacy learning. This includes:
- Good sitting and listening
- Sharing the focus of attention
- Predicting and anticipating events and actions
- Developing effective visual and auditory processing skills
- Building vocabulary and a motivation to interact with people/peers.
- Identifying key words/symbols
Development of further skills-commensurate to ability includes:
- Synthetic Phonics and small steps approach to literacy development mapped against pupil’s ability.
- Motivation to read, access literacy/communication
- Phonological awareness skills
- Decoding and a systematic approach to reading.
For many learners, reading will not be a realistic aim due to the severity and complexity of their SEND. For this cohort communication is key to meeting needs.
Communication development includes:
Communication development at Castle links to a personalised approach. The school supports pupils with a range of systems of communication, for example:
- Interpreting body movements and reactions-Engagement level
- Use of signing
- Use of gestures
- Use of objects, photos and symbols to make choices and communicate as different levels of complexity.
- Use of communication aids e.g., Big Macs, use of communication books, PECS etc.
- Use of vocalisations and speech. For some pupils work will take place on the development of oral motor skills.
Castle’s English teaching is adapted to the meet the needs of the whole child based on their individual needs, providing opportunities to access and succeed within a highly bespoke approach based upon rigorous baseline assessment. We understand the long-term value of knowledge and deep understanding, and give many opportunities to revisit English concepts so children gain deep understanding of literacy/communication.
The school has a progression of skills and knowledge linked to writing. Work takes place based on each pupils assessed skills and knowledge and their next steps and the development may include as examples:
- Fine motor skills that can support the physical development of writing.
- The understanding of cause and effect with the awareness of making marks
- Further control within mark making
- Using a range of materials understanding that print conveys meaning
- Representational drawings
- Letter and word formation
- Working on spelling and punctuation
- Use of wide range of stimulus for writing that may link to wider curriculum or to a specific motivator for a pupil.
- Using alternative forms of writing and recording. The school has a whole school symbol system and also a wide range of adapted key boards and computer access.
- Involvement in planning and drafting work including selecting photos, symbols and words to appropriate to a curriculum activity
- Accessing print in the environment
- Functional life skills work
- Access to IT resources to record written output
- The specific, discreet teaching of letter formation, sentence production and prose using story boards.
Writing is implemented in a range of ways and may include the following as examples:
- Multi-sensory approaches
- Use of different media
- Access to writing areas when appropriate to the group of pupils
- Access to wide range of access to computer based on assessed understanding and skills
- Access to range of equipment and environments to motivate and engage e.g., sensory rooms with UV writing screens, IT writing programmes
Impact of Castle’s English curriculum
Outcomes are reported on individually within each pupils learning journals and these include the impact of English/literacy development for each learner’s based upon progress and achievement.
As pupils make progress within their personalised curriculum we build upon knowledge and skills and provide a high degree of challenge as we aspire to provide opportunities for pupils to communicate beyond school in keeping with our vision for an inclusive, supportive community which pupils enhance life chances. We believe a child’s ability to communicate effectively is key to this vision.
The intent of our mathematics curriculum is to provide children with a foundation for understanding number, reasoning, thinking logically and problem solving with resilience so that they are fully prepared for the future as far as they are able. We acknowledge how important it is for our population of children to understand mathematical concepts and apply these to everyday life experiences.
Our mathematical curriculum gives children opportunities to connect mathematical concepts to familiar situations, counting the number of objects in a sensory bag for example. We acknowledge children do not learn mathematical concepts in isolation and as a result, we provide a broad and balanced approach to teaching math through an integrated, often topic-based approach linked to real life experiences.
Our ambitious, high-quality mathematics curriculum provides a foundation for understanding the world, an appreciation of the beauty and power of mathematics in relation to real life experiences and a sense of enjoyment and curiosity about the subject within the context of pupil’s ability. At Castle we believe strongly in teaching for understanding and mastery of skills and knowledge leading to true understanding. We are passionate about ensuring our pupils are able to apply taught skills and concepts to everyday life experiences in order to improve outcomes long term. We know mathematics is a key curriculum area which will support pupils’ ability to access community life.
Our curriculum provides opportunities for pupils to apply mathematical knowledge to enhance their life experiences. This is determined by developmental need not chronological age. We know that language and auditory processing deficits can affect the ability for our complex leaners to retain and apply mathematical knowledge to everyday experiences. We know many of our children cannot share the focus of attention, for example, and as such this can hinder a child’s ability to understand abstract concepts and to master the problem-solving skills conveyed when teaching math concepts. Most children at Castle have receptive or expressive language problems that can substantially affect their learning and ability to express what they do not understand, or to show how they solved problems. As a result, we intend to ensure pupils have concrete opportunities to learn mathematical concepts first hand. Maths is taught throughout school including at an Engagement Model level and as appropriate. Curricula mathematics learning includes number, shape/space and measures and using and applying.
Key elements of mathematics learning:
- The school has collated key skills and knowledge progression for all pupils working from early stages of development upwards so there is a progressive sequence.
- The teacher will base each pupils works and next steps on their previously assessed knowledge and skills.
- The teacher may break down skill and knowledge into smaller steps or decrease scaffolding and support.
- The teacher may need to widen or consider the next steps carefully based on each pupils learning needs, engagement and access to the curriculum as some pupils may not follow the usual sequenced development.
- Engagement is key to the learning process.
- Cross curricular outcomes are utilised across school to support the embedding of mathematical knowledge particularly for pupils at early development level.
- Maths may be taught in daily functional skills sessions and in time-tabled maths lessons. Functional skills enable repetition and reinforcement.
- Application across the curriculum, when relevant, and in everyday situations of skills and knowledge that have been learned.
- Teachers use personalised strategies to engage pupils.
- Whole school consistency e.g. consistent symbols use.
Pupils learn to generalise mathematical knowledge, demonstrating skills in everyday situations, in order to access life beyond school, for example in shopping and managing money. This is commensurate to ability but all will have access to learning and developing an understanding of maths and progress will be recorded within Learning Journals which will provide evidence of a sequential approach to mathematical understanding.
For pupils working at early stages of development, the science units provide a theme/context for multi-sensory delivery. The stepped approach to learning enables pupils to access a wide range of creative and exciting planned activities to extend and build on known interests and motivations. The approach enables repetition as pupils revisit skills and knowledge appropriately. (Spiral approach)
For pupils who can access subject specific learning in science, the work has a focus on engagement in order to develop early subject specific knowledge and skills. Communication and personal/social development remain an integral part of the science curriculum.
We aim to stimulate the children’s curiosity in the world around them through our integrated approach to science teaching. For many of the cohort discreet teaching of science is not appropriate due to the severe and complex needs of pupils. However, we are highly committed to providing every opportunity for pupils to develop a curiosity about their world with an expectation this is developed into an interest in how things work and how to use this knowledge in functional situations. Pupils will begin to make links through a broad and balanced range of opportunities to consider cause and effect for example.
Every child will be given the opportunity to reach their full potential by ensuring they have the skills and language to question and discuss how science affects their lives now and in the future. Pupils, as far as they are able, will be taught how to observe, explore, investigate and ask questions, indicate interest through highly motivating activities linked to science. We will aim to extend the learning environment for our pupils via our environmental areas in school and the locality. Our teaching and learning will also support the promotion of a healthy lifestyle for our pupils in terms of food choices and physical development.
For pupils working at engagement levels of development personalised learning outcomes will be planned in line with pupils 12-month outcomes linked to their EHCPs.
Curriculum implementation for pre-formal learners will include, for example:
- Reaching towards and handling a range of sensory media.
- Co-operating with shared exploration and supported participation e.g., accepting hand over hand support to explore new/different types of media.
- Showing a preference for a particular type of media e.g., showing a preference for wet media by visually attending and smiling when exploring it.
- Requesting for ‘more’ of a preferred material/media using preferred mode of communication.
- Visually attending to their actions.
- Responding to effects made when printing by vocalising /stilling / turning towards / smiling / displaying animated body language / requesting ‘more’).
- Remembering learned responses over a short period of time e.g., dipping fruit in paint and making a print.
- Sustaining concentration for specified periods of time. Impact Examples of pupil’s individual responses and progress:
For pupils able to access semi-formal/formal learning pathways implementation will include:
- Independently exploring a range of objects and materials provided.
- Communicating their actions before and after a change to materials e.g., melting ice.
- Recalling some simple facts from the previous week’s learning.
- Responding to some scientific questions through their preferred method of communication e.g. ‘Is it hot or cold?’
- Using basic tools/utensils to create a ‘change’ in materials e.g., mixing water and hot chocolate powder using a spoon.
- Observing the effect of their own and others’ actions.
- Locating familiar objects from a small selection.
More formal learners will access a differentiated National Curriculum science framework. Delivery will involve the ‘spiralised approach’ to learning where skills and knowledge are revisited throughout school at a greater depth to allow for consolidation.
Developing scientific skills and knowledge are considered important aspects of learning at Castle. Children are naturally curious and building upon this to ensure further learning within a progressive and sequentially planned curriculum will support pupil’s independence.
For pupils working at early stages of development, the PHSEE units provide a theme/context for multi-sensory delivery. Pupils work on cross curricular priority areas of learning often including those set in the 12-month outcomes of the EHCP. The PHSEE curriculum will focus on social and emotional development to provide opportunities for pupils to tolerate others and learn to share and turn take. Pupils, who can develop self-awareness will be able to optimise access to the community and improve independence.
Some pupils will develop understanding and skills that are specific to subjects or may access particular skills within the subjects based on their needs, interests and motivation. For pupils who are subject specific learning in PHSEE, the work has a focus on engagement in order to develop early subject specific knowledge and skills. Communication and personal/social development remain an integral part of all curriculum delivery. PSHEE helps pupils develop as individuals in a wider society. Pupils learn to understand themselves physically, emotionally, socially and sexually and to understand their relationship with others. Through different experiences they learn to celebrate successes and achievements alongside their peers. This is in addition to work on British Values and Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural awareness.
Within PSHEE lessons pupils access learning activities to develop their:
- An understanding of emotions
- Ability to recognise and manage feelings
- Social skills
- Communication skills
- Understanding of respect
- A sense of belonging
- Own aspirations
Pupils also explore healthy lifestyles, personal safety, drugs education, economic understanding and relationship and sex education, at a level appropriate to their individual understanding
Pupils are encouraged to develop an awareness of self, to grow and develop as individuals with their own characters, skills and abilities. Castle recognises the important of personal development in supporting mental health and well-being. As a result of the teaching and learning opportunities within PHSEE pupils are able to access a range of situations with confidence. They are able to apply learnt social skills in functional situations to the best of their ability.
We define ‘relationships and sex education’ as learning which equips children and young people with the information, skills and values they need to have safe, fulfilling and enjoyable relationships and to take responsibility for their sexual health and wellbeing.
Many of the health needs of the children will already have been defined in their EHCP. This plan explains the extra help that will be given to meet those needs and how that help will support the child or young person to achieve what they want to in their life.
We view the partnership of home and school as vital in providing the context in which we teach our pupils and to develop a bespoke RSE curriculum based on what children, young people, parents and carers indicate that they want and need to learn about.
Our school’s overarching aims for our pupils are to prepare them well for life and relationships and to give them secure, safe knowledge and an awareness of their rights. We ensure RSHE is inclusive and meets the needs of all our pupils, including all aspects of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) by ensuring that we tailor the curriculum to (for example) neurodivergent, non- verbal, visually and auditory impaired pupils.
We ensure that RSE fosters gender equality and LGBT+ equality by including different families in our curriculum and providing regular opportunities to talk about and explore young people’s experiences of LGBTQ+ identities, including their own.
At primary age, pupils are taught about:
Families and people who care for me
Online relationships and being safe
Preparing for adolescence (puberty) and life cycles
Physical Health and Fitness
Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco
Health and prevention
Basic First Aid
Changing Adolescent Body
At Secondary Age, pupils will continue to build upon prior learning and cover the following areas
Respectful relationships, including friendships
Online and media
Intimate and sexual relationships, including sexual health
Physical Health and Fitness
Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco
Health and prevention
Basic First Aid
Changing Adolescent Body
Relationship and Health Education prepares pupils for the onset of puberty, gives them an understanding of sexual development and the importance of health and hygiene, creates a positive culture in relation to sexuality and relationships and ensures pupils know how and when to ask for help and where to access support. By the end of their education pupils will have developed resilience and feelings of self respect, confidence and empathy in preparation for the responsibilities and experiences of adult life.
ICT is a means for pupils, at the earliest stages of learning, to develop focus and engagement. As learners progress ICT/Computer access includes specific taught skills.
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
- 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
- Eye Gaze
The computing curriculum at Castle is structured to include computer science, information technology and digital literacy (detailed briefly below).
Pupil’s complete activities relating to these areas in termly plans and through functional application of skills related to each area in wider curriculum contexts. A developmental framework is also in place to provide guidance on skills-based progression for individual learners.
• Programming – use of control technologies.
• Using early programming techniques to manipulate information within programs.
• Using search technologies effectively.
• Using technology purposefully to create, organise, store, manipulate and retrieve digital content.
• E-Safety • Recognising common uses if technology beyond school.
E-Safety Curriculum: Online technologies play a key role in teaching and learning across the whole school curriculum. Therefore, the E-Safety curriculum is not exclusive to teaching within the computing modules. Instead, a broad and balanced online safety education is embedded into practice across each class, appropriately, to ensure pupils are supported to navigate the online world safely and positively, across a wide range of technologies. This is particularly linked to PHSEE and the wider safeguarding of pupils.
ICT is crucial to pupils being able to output learning within Castle School. Communication aids, help non-verbal children to express themselves, supporting learning and pupil voice.
For pupils working at early stages of development, the geography units provide a theme/context for multi-sensory delivery. The curriculum enables pupils to access a wide range of exciting planned activities to extend and build on known interests associated with their real-life context. The chosen themes/topics also enable repetition to sustain each pupil’s achievements. (Spiral curriculum delivery)
For pupils who are subject specific learners, geography work has a focus on engagement in order to develop knowledge and skills. The geography curriculum provides pupils with opportunities to explore different people, countries and cultures, natural and man-made environments, their own locality and environmental issues in a very multi-sensory way. It promotes curiosity, fascination and an understanding of the world around them. Work focuses initially on their immediate locality, their homes, town and school and then simple comparisons are made with contrasting locations to ensure that content is as meaningful as possible. Pupils are encouraged to make choices and express their own opinions in a method appropriate to them and also to consider environmental issues and how they can play their part in looking after our planet. Through a growing awareness of their own surroundings, we can encourage involvement and interaction with the world and ultimately facilitate as much independence as possible.
Through the modules there is a focus on the key themes of:
- Geographical enquiry skills
- Knowledge and understanding of places
- Knowledge and understanding of patterns and processes
- Knowledge and understanding of environmental change and sustainable development
Commensurate to ability pupils have a strong sense of where they belong, can recall specifics in relation to their home, community, area, country and world and use this information to develop further interests to benefit their lives as members of society.
Some children will develop an understand of their immediate school environment and be able to locate specific parts of school. This gives them a sense of achievement and grows independence as they are able to move around school more independently.
Pupils, learning within the Pre-Formal pathway are encouraged to develop pre-requisite skills for learning in terms of focus of attention, exploration of equipment and resources.
For pupils working following the Semi-Formal curriculum, knowledge and skills relating to the teaching of history are promoted within the context of everyday activities. Examples include:
- Responding appropriately to a ‘Now and Next’ communication time lines indicating they understand what is going to happen in their immediate future.
- Recognising themselves and other people in pictures of the recent past.
- Beginning to use some common words, signs or symbols to indicate the passage of time, for example, now/then, first/then, now/next.
- Understanding what happened yesterday communicating this through their preferred mode of communication.
- Recalling some simple facts from the previous week’s learning.
The Formal curriculum includes the development of self-awareness, the realisation that things change over time, and that these things can affect pupils lives and provides opportunities to compare their own lives and experiences with those of others from the past. It promotes curiosity and basic comparison skills and an understanding of the world around us. Work focusses initially on pupil’s personal history and how they and the people and places closest to them have changed within their lifetimes, simple comparisons are made within significant periods in history. Content is delivered in a very experiential and multisensory way through exploration of artefacts, clothing, food, music, job roles and leisure activities to make the content as meaningful as possible. Through the modules there is a focus on the key themes of:
▪ Developing knowledge and understanding of the sequences, routines and chronological patterns that make up their world.
▪ Promoting understanding of personal history and events.
▪ Experiencing representations and develop knowledge and understanding of how people lived in different times and how those times were different to today.
▪ Using a range of evidence to find out about the past.
History is imperative in allowing pupils to understand a sense of self, in relation to their past and understanding where they have come from. History is included in the curriculum as part of ‘Understanding the World’ and is taught in a cross curricula way. Evidence of the focus of historical information is recorded within learning journals and through the EHCP annual review process.
Art and design, which includes design technology, stimulates creativity and imagination. It provides visual, tactile and sensory experiences, and is a unique way to understand and respond to the world, and to communicate with others. Pupils learn about the place and role of art, design and craft in life today as well as in different times and cultures.
The art and design curriculum sets out to engage, inspire and challenge pupils by providing opportunities for:
- Experiencing and experimenting with a range of art and design techniques including colour form, shape, space, texture, line and pattern.
- Creatively using a range of materials to explore processes and to produce creative artwork (in two and three dimensions)
- Responding to and communicating what is seen, felt and thought.
- Keeping a record of their artworks and evaluating and valuing their own and others’ achievements/creative work.
- Developing proficiency in techniques and at an individual level
Art and design, including design technology, allows pupils to express emotions and learn techniques across a range of creative experiences. Art and design is included in the curriculum as part of ‘My Creativity’ and is taught in a cross curricula way. Evidence of the focus of art and design learning is recorded within learning journals and through the EHCP annual review process.
Through its design the Music curriculum offers pupils to opportunity to develop their ability in making choices, showing preferences and progressing musical skills. There are also opportunities to work collaboratively in an ensemble to develop their skills in attending to a group, taking turns, imitating sounds and contributing to performances.
Music allows pupils to express emotions and learn techniques across a range of creative experiences. Music is included in the curriculum as part of ‘My Creativity’ and is taught in a cross curricula way. Evidence of the focus of music learning is recorded within learning journals and through the EHCP annual review process.
Schools must teach religious education according to the locally agreed syllabus. Castle uses the revised Northumberland SACRE documentation as the basis of our planning and delivery of RE. This reflects the fact that religious traditions are in the main Christian, whilst taking account of the teaching and practices of other principle religions represented in Great Britain. Castle is part the Northumberland Church of England Trust and as such we instil Christian beliefs and behaviours across our school and communities.
The Northumberland Agreed Syllabus of Religious Education advises that “Special schools may follow the agreed syllabus as it stands however it should be used in a way that is helpful to them and which is appropriate for meeting individual pupils’ needs.” In response to this the local agreed syllabus has been adapted in our curriculum to reflect and enhance our pupils’ experiences. The RE Curriculum is informed by our practice relating to British Values.
Castle is committed to ensuring all learning is planned commensurate to ability. For pupils at an early stage of learning, outcomes include, for example, building tolerance and awareness of others.
RE is planned according to ability, and the need to include an understanding of the beliefs of others and the diversity within our communities and beyond.
The overall aim of Castle’s RE and Cultural Studies approach is to instil strong Christian values within our school community which supports the pupils to thrive in a caring and supportive environment. This includes children developing British Values of life and respect for our neighbour.
We believe in teaching our learners how to access and enjoy physical activity to promote positive health and well-being as they mature. Key to this is ensuring that learners have maximum opportunities for functional movement each day to support them in adopting a healthy lifestyle as they mature.
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 (RDA) 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.
Physiotherapists and Occupational therapists work in partnership with teachers to develop outcomes for learners who require identified EHCP support to meet targets.
The NHS nursing team are highly proactive in supporting the health and medical needs of children at Castle.
At Castle we believe supporting our pupils to be healthy is crucial to their quality of life, as such we set targets for well-being, delivered through the PE framework, as well as other curricula areas within school. Evidence will be considered, referenced as appropriate within Individual Learning Plans and Learning Journals. The impact of progress towards EHCP, well-being targets is part of the Annual Review process. These outcomes are broken into smaller, manageable steps on the Individual Learning Plans, these are assessed on an ongoing basis but formally reviewed at least once a term. This approach supports our pupils to be healthy as possible so they can enjoy life, access activities and opportunities and thrive within the school environment.
At Castle School our careers programme is tailored to meet the needs of learner groups and individuals throughout Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5. Our programme consists of learning, advice and experiences across:
- The World of Work
- Life Skills
- Transition into Adulthood
In December 2017, the D. of E. produced a Careers Strategy: Making the most of everyone’s skills and talents. The document lays out plans to raise the quality of careers provision nationally. Its aims are:
- We want all young people to understand the full range of opportunities available to them, learn from employers about work and the skills that are valued in the workplace, and have first-hand experiences of the workplace.
- We want all young people in secondary school and college to get a programme of advice and guidance that is stable, structured, and delivered by individuals with the right skills and experience.
- We want everyone to get support tailored to their circumstances at any time. All adults will be able to access free face-to-face advice with more support for those it need it most.
- We want everyone to get the information they need to understand the job and career opportunities available, and how their knowledge and skills can help them in considering suitable careers.
The DFE Careers strategy names the Gatsby Benchmarks as the measure of excellence in careers provision.
- A stable careers programme
- Learning from career and labour market information
- Addressing the needs of each student
- Linking curriculum learning to careers
- Encounters with employers and employees
- Experiences of work places
- Encounters with further and higher education
- Personal Guidance
At Castle School we are committed to supporting the transition into adulthood of all our learners through fulfilling the aims of the DFE strategy alongside meeting the diverse needs of our young people.
Preparation for adulthood is part of the careers provision at Castle and our aspirations are that students have opportunities to develop their understanding of life beyond school. This includes an awareness of what is available in terms of courses, social care, volunteering and the world of week. Information is recorded within the annual review process where we work with parents and students, in partnership to decide future pathways.
Would you like to know more?
If you have any specific questions about your child’s learning in a particular subject area, contact the school office on 01670 844322 and a member of staff will be happy to assist you.