EARLY YEARS CURRICULUM
All children in Nursery and Reception, (for which there is an Early Years Lead in place to co-ordinate this) as well as some children in Years 1-3, follow a conventional Early Years curriculum. This curriculum is delivered with differentiated adult-led tasks and child-initiated learning taking place. These well-planned activities match each individual child. This method develops each child’s cultural capital and the teaching of relationships, social interactions, and culture. At the core of this is the ‘Unique Child’, who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident, and self-assured’ (EYFS, 2017). We ensure that all children experience the awe and wonder of the world in which they live, through the seven areas of learning.
The classes that follow the Early Years curriculum follow an EYFS Long Term Plan, with carefully planned Early Years sequential projects, lifted directly from the Cornerstones curriculum, and then further differentiated by the class teachers. Alongside this, is planned daily time for the teaching of Communication and Language, early reading and phonics, wherever appropriate.
Each child’s learning is assessed through Development Matters and progression recorded through a ‘Learning Journey’.
Some children with Profound and Multiple Learning difficulties follow a sensory-based Engagement Curriculum. These children are between years 1-6 and are not yet engaged in subject-specific learning. These children experience a holistic curriculum, which is a sensory-based approach to learning where subjects all intervene in one curriculum offer. This is a child-centered approach is based on carefully planned activities, where some learning is teacher-led but then also incorporates incidental learning. All of this learning takes place through experience and participation.
Children who follow this curriculum have Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties. Therefore teaching happens continually throughout the school day, raising self-esteem through nurture and focusing on a sense of collaboration and belonging. Children who are taught through this curriculum have their progress recorded in their Learning Journal and assessed through the engagement steps profile using B Squared as the assessment tool to underpin this summative assessment. This framework is divided into key developmental areas that reflect the four areas of need listed in the “Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice: 0 to 25 years”.
These areas are:
• Cognition & Learning;
• Communication & Interaction;
• Social, Emotional & Mental Health; and
• Sensory & Physical.
Children will not always work progressively through each step but experience and engage with skills across multiple levels, thus developing skills across multiple steps simultaneously.
LIFE SKILLS CURRICULUM
Some children in school need to follow a Life Skills curriculum. These children are aged between years 4-6 and are mostly non-verbal children on the Autistic Spectrum. All of these children’s destinations will be ‘highly supported living’ of one kind or another when they reach school leaving age. Therefore, we have created a curriculum that is well matched to these children’s learning levels but also prepares them for life after school. Within the structure of the classroom, there are symbolic play opportunities that directly link to real-life community experiences that the children will face in life, such as ‘going to the dentist’ as well as an area where children are able to regulate their highly complex sensory needs. Alongside this, carefully planned activities give the children the chance to practice and develop key skills around a topic, giving each child some breadth and developing some basic English and Maths Knowledge. widening their experience of life.
Children who are taught through this curriculum have their progress recorded in their Learning Journal and assessed through the Autism Progress profiling tool, which has been created by B squared. This summative assessment tool is designed for use across the classroom and has been developed by the assessment specialists B Squared, in collaboration with experts from three leading charities – Autism Wessex, Scottish Autism and the North East Autism Society. Experienced Special Educational Needs teachers, Speech and Language Therapists and Occupational Therapists have also helped to develop and finalise the content.
This tool helps to build a profile of a child through a set of progressive levels in the following areas of autism:
• Flexibility of Thought
• Social Interaction
• Emotional Regulation
In some circumstances, a child may also have their progress assessed through the Pre-Key Stage standards. This approach ensures that every child is given a personalised approach to the curriculum and has the opportunity to access the learning and progress they need.
Some children with Moderate to Severe Learning difficulties follow a Functional Curriculum. These children are between years 1-6. This curriculum is largely based on the Cornerstones Curriculum (for which there is a middle leader in place to co-ordinate this) with each class following a carefully planned sequential Long Term Plan. This plan has a set of projects, lifted directly from Cornerstones, and then further differentiated by each class teacher. As shown below each class has a set time for Phonics; Maths; Project (incorporating English, Science, Art, D&T, History, Geography, Music and Computing); Swimming and PE; Forest Schools; RE; Languages and PSHE. All of these subject areas are assessed through Pre Key Stage Standards and end of year expectations with progression recorded through different subject-specific books.
All ‘Cornerstones Projects’ have a corresponding lesson sequence. This carefully maps out the objectives and aims from the National Curriculum to ensure curriculum coverage. It also sets out the content of study and builds a coherent sequence. They have been designed to encompass knowledge and understanding of the world in which we live, and also the events that have shaped it in the past to make it what it is today. The topics have been designed to complement and build on one another with clear progression and links so that in subsequent teaching, the children will be able to explore concepts deeper, applying their knowledge in different contexts. The knowledge sequence provided through the cornerstones projects links to retrieval practice.
This practice strengthens memory and makes it easier to retrieve the information later (Barenberg, Roeder & Dutke, 2018).
Alongside these ‘Cornerstones Project’, whose methodology is highly research-led are other subjects which are also taught and delivered through an educational approach underpinned by research evidence.
All Foundation subjects are assessed through the progression guidance implemented by Fountains Primary School, which end of year expectations from Year 1, this is called Standard 5. Progression is recorded through individual trackers which links to work in books.
READING, COMMUNICATION & LANGUAGE: How it’s taught:
At Fountains Primary School we aim to foster a love and enjoyment of reading which encourages all children to read regularly both at home and in school whilst experiencing a range of books from a wide range of genres and authors.
All children are taught phonics/communication skills daily. Reading is taught through the Read Write Inc programme. This programme is a structured synthetic phonics programme that teaches both reading and spelling. The child progresses through the scheme according to their individual needs. A lot of revision and repetition is built-in, as well as the application of phonic skills in all reading and writing. Research shows that children are best taught using this approach leading to better word reading, spelling, and reading comprehension. (Johnson et al, 2012)
We are very keen for all children to enjoy books and to progress as far as they are able to with independent reading. We teach reading using phonics and we have a well-stocked library with a wide range of books for children to browse and choose themselves. All children are able to change their books in the library on a daily basis at lunchtime, these books can be taken home and enjoyed with parents/carers.
Some children will also receive a Read Write Inc (RWI) ‘Bag book’. This book will be matched to each child’s reading ability. This is a finely graded approach to the teaching of the wider skills of reading and enables children to apply what they have learned in phonics lessons. These books also give the children a very meaningful approach to reading, using pictures, whole words, and their own experiences.
Every child in school has a reading book (library and or RWI) and therefore progress of their reading can be recorded in the home school diary, which has a reading record incorporated within it. Reading is regularly assessed and monitored by class teachers and the Lead Teacher for English. Parent Workshops on reading are offered at least every year so that parents/carers can learn more about how to support their child with reading.
English is summatively assessed through the progression guidance implemented by Fountains Primary School, which uses Pre-Key Stage Standards and mainstream end of key stage 1 expectations. Read Write Inc provides formative assessment from which teachers can plan a child’s next steps in reading.