Beverley School: The Curriculum for Children with Autism
Draft revised version May 2008
Our Aims and Purpose Our overall aim is to be an outstanding School and Service for Children with Autism. This means that we aim to: provide a relevant, broad and balanced education for every individual child create a culture of achievement, by stimulating a desire to learn, raising aspirations, opening up a wide range of opportunities and working towards external accreditation for all our pupils promote health, well being, happiness, enjoyment, and independence in a stimulating yet safe, secure and caring environment value and respect individuals, recognising their strengths, encouraging them to develop their interests and abilities, and helping them show positive attitudes towards others be proactive in developing, using and promoting consistent asd-specific approaches, with a focus on social interaction and communication, and the reduction of anxiety and unnecessary stress invest in the long term quality of life of our children, by preparing them for an independent and purposeful role in society as adults, through explicit teaching of life skills and socially acceptable behaviour and by fostering confidence, self-esteem and a realistic understanding of themselves as people affected by autism prepare our children for the challenges and opportunities of a complex and technologically advanced society through creative, innovative and motivating approaches to teaching and learning
We believe that we can achieve these aims because Beverley School is an inclusive, accessible, friendly, and approachable organisation where teamwork flourishes. Being a Specialist Technology College adds to our capacity to achieve our aims. We are proud of our successes, whilst remaining committed to self evaluation and professional growth. We are amenable to changing how we do things where this will lead to further improvement. We believe in cooperation and partnership with families, as well as with others in the local community and further afield, who share our commitment to improving the lives of anyone affected by autism..
Putting these aims into practice Our whole curriculum and our policies and planning for individual subject areas reflect these aims. These aims also inform our decisions on managing pupil behaviour, lunchtime activities, classroom organisation and everything else that affects the pupils' experience of school. This means that Beverley School provides an autism-specific learning environment for children and young people in the age range 3-19 years. Beverley School places particular emphasis on the development of communication skills and fosters personal and social development in a context designed to minimise stress and to accommodate and manage behaviours associated with ASD. Appropriately challenging expectations of progress are based on balanced assessment of the needs, interests and abilities of individual pupils. We ensure that pupils with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) have access to a broad and relevant curriculum through significantly modified teaching arrangements and methods. The approach we used is based principally on the “structured teaching” methods advocated in “TEACCH” (a paper summarising the TEACCH system is available from school). TEACCH is complemented by other specialist approaches, including PECS ™, sensory integration, intensive interaction and Social Stories™. Although we can often build in a higher degree of flexibility for older pupils as their communication and social skills increase, asd-specific approaches are used to meet individual needs right across the age and ability range. Aspects of structured teaching methodologies and specialist support strategies are therefore apparent throughout the school. Because we provide an autism-specific approach to education, work on communication and social interaction is central to everything we do, and this must, of necessity, influence the balance of the curriculum. We also feel that it is important to encourage enterprise, and to emphasise the practical skills and attitudes which underpin life skills and independence. We have additional flexibility to develop and implement appropriate curriculum initiatives because pupils at Beverley School receive Statements of SEN disapplying or modifying National Curriculum requirements.
However, we still believe that our pupils can benefit from access to much of the National Curriculum (and the Foundation Curriculum for younger pupils). Most classes study the following subjects: Maths, English, Science, Design Technology, Music, Art and Design, History and Geography, PE, RE, Information and Communications Technology (ICT), and Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship Education (PSHCE). As a Technology College, we have a particular focus on Design Technology, Maths and Science, as well as on the use of ICT to raise standards across the curriculum. Whilst we aim to provide ageappropriate learning experiences, some of our planning draws on Programmes of Study from earlier key stages to ensure relevance to the learning needs and prior attainments of our pupils. Although we do not routinely include Modern Foreign Languages in the curriculum, older Primary pupils have some experience of French and the culture of France through a pilot project, and secondary students with particular interests and aptitudes can access MFL classes in our mainstream partner school. Sex Education We want our pupils to develop as happy and confident individuals, who respect others and who want to look after themselves. However, we know that teaching about issues such as drug abuse, alcohol and sex is particularly difficult in a school such as Beverley. We look for opportunities to discuss relationships and attitudes throughout the school, and we are piloting a structured programme for Sex Education with some of our older pupils.
We are currently reviewing our overall Sex Education policy, and looking for more resources to support relevant teaching of these difficult issues in a way that meets the individual needs of our pupils. Parents do have a right to withdraw children from Sex Education lessons, and we keep parents informed about the topics that are being covered in their children’s classes. RE and Collective Worship Religious Education is based on the Local Education Authority’s Agreed Syllabus. It is taught as a separate subject, and may also be part of PSHE or History/Geography topics. Assemblies provide for collective worship by including some songs with religious content. Our approach is non-denominational and covers Christianity and other major world religions. We are sensitive to the special needs of our pupils, and to the range of beliefs among pupils and their families, but parents do have a right to withdraw their children from RE and/or collective worship. They are invited to discuss this issue with their child’s teacher or the Headteacher if they need more information.
Visits and Other Activities Out of School We support work in the classroom with a variety of visits and activities out of school. Every class spends some time studying the local environment or using facilities in the community. This is important in academic subjects, and vital for PSHCE. PSHCE is about becoming as independent as possible, and learning to be involved in society. This has to involve real-life experiences, such as shopping, journeys on public transport, and using leisure facilities. Some older pupils also have access to work experience out of school. As well as these visits during the school day, which form part of our regular educational programme, we organise residential trips and other visits that extend beyond the school day. There is a regular fun activities session 4 nights per week, which is run in partnership with the MAIN Project and provides families with another option for respite and childcare. There are other lunchtime and afterschool clubs, with specific themes, which operate at different times throughout the year. The Friends of Beverley School works with us to organise a summer playscheme, and details of this are sent home before Spring Bank each year. The Governors have agreed a detailed policy on Visits and Out of School Activities. A copy of this policy is available on request. Extended Education in the Sixth Form Beverley School provides a distinctive curriculum for young people who choose to stay on to continue their learning at school after the age of 16. The extended education programme has an emphasis on life skills and work-related learning, as well as opportunities to continue academic studies where relevant. Students of all abilities follow personalised programmes with a range of community-based activities, including links with local schools and colleges. These links help to prepare students for transition and give them the capacity to make informed choices about their futures. Relevant schemes are used to accredit students’ attainments (more details are given in the next section).
Working with Parents to Monitor and Review Progress Annual Reviews are held once a year. Teachers provide a report summarising our view of the child’s overall development and particular needs. We use the review to look together at progress, discuss the pupil's report and draft a new Individual Education Programme. Reports detailing attainments within each subject are provided during the summer term. These subject reports complement the annual review report to provide a full and balanced picture of each child’s achievements and needs. We hold an Open Afternoon around October half term. This gives another opportunity for parents to meet their child’s class teacher and discuss the Individual Education Programme (IEP) early in the school year. We also look together at any opportunities for contact with pupils in other schools, and we can arrange inclusion placements in mainstream schools whenever this helps to meet an individual child’s needs. We hope that parents will make further contact throughout the year to discuss educational programmes. Such contact is always welcome as a contribution to effective home-school partnership, whether it is initiated directly with the classroom staff, via members of the Leadership Team, or through our Parent Support Adviser. Although we do not routinely provide homework for every pupil, we may ask pupils to complete some tasks at home where appropriate to individual needs and abilities. There are many ways in which parents can support and encourage their children at home, including the use of MyClasses on our learning platform. Where there is a clear benefit to learners, we can provide more formal personalised homework by agreement. We invite parents to talk to their child's teacher if they are interested in having more work to complete at home on a regular basis. Staff
will aim to provide activities that are motivating and manageable, and will make a genuine contribution to progress. The subject reports that are provided at the end of each school year give a clear picture of the work that has been done in each curriculum area. Wherever relevant, we include National Curriculum levels in our reports. Pupils are entered for SATs when they are working at the appropriate level, but for many pupils, "SATs" are not applicable. Assessments of National Curriculum Levels are based on our own judgements of pupil attainments, and we use the “PScales” when pupils are still working towards level one. In some subjects, we also use the PIVATS scheme to support more detailed target setting and monitoring of progress.
Target Setting and Accreditation We are committed to improving standards of achievement for all our pupils and we have set targets for future attainments, to help monitor progress. Our targets cover a variety of important indicators of success, including attainments in the key curriculum areas at the end of each Key Stage. The targets are detailed in a separate paper, and a summary of the data we use to monitor and evaluate progress towards the targets is also available for staff to refer to. Beverley School uses a range of accreditation to recognise the progress and attainments of our KS4 and Sixth Form students. These include GCSEs, Entry Level Certificates, Unit Awards, ECDL, Duke of Edinburgh Award and the EQUALS “Moving On” scheme. In some subjects, GCSEs and other recognised qualifications are accessed through our links with a nearby neighbouring mainstream school, and with Sixth Form and FE Colleges.
Rewarding Good Work and Good Behaviour We know it is important to reward good work and behaviour. Much of this is done in the course of everyday activities, but we also give merit points, certificates and special group and individual rewards.
Learning from comments, criticism and compliments We promote an interest in, and understanding of democracy, and we encourage our pupils to express their views, for example through the Student Council. We welcome parents' comments about curriculum (as with any other aspects of our work), and we invite parents to get in touch with the Headteacher, Deputy Head, Assistant Head or the staff in their child’s class if they want any information or have any concerns. Alternatively, families may wish to use our Parent Support Adviser (based in the MAIN Project) as a point of contact. By paying attention to constructive criticism (and to any compliments we may receive) we know that we can discover more ways to make Beverley a happy and effective school. We hope that parents will make use of the many informal channels available in the event of any concerns, but details of the School’s Complaints Procedure can be provided on request.
Policy revised following review by staff in May 2008. To be considered by Governors June 2008. To be reviewed again Spring 2010.