In order to provide pupils across the school with experiences that are relevant, interesting and challenging and to identify opportunities for progression, we have adopted a curriculum structure with 3 broad levels: pre-formal, semi-formal and formal. These levels are not defined by age but by need and achievement; pupils may therefore move from one level to the next at any point in their school career. Each level covers skills, knowledge and understanding across a range of subjects.
Pupils at very early levels of development (typically assessed at P1 to P3) access a curriculum that enables them to develop a sense of security in the school environment, to establish positive relationships with familiar adults, to explore the world around them using their sensory and physical capabilities to the full and to establish behaviours through which they can communicate with other people.
Pupils following our semi-formal curriculum learn best when learning is related to their own experience. Some may learn through structured play; others will learn more effectively through functional activities, and yet others will respond well to a topic-based approach. The curriculum content broadly corresponds to the ground covered by the national curriculum (P levels 4 to 8) but the teaching approach will reflect the age and learning style of the pupils concerned.
Pupils following our formal curriculum access the range of National Curriculum subjects for their Key Stage, modified in the light of their developmental level and special educational needs. Specialist areas (the â€˜additional curriculumâ€™) are covered both within National Curriculum subjects (e.g. Signing will be developed within English lessons) and in discrete lessons (e.g. a pupil may be withdrawn to work on visual perceptual skills or independent mobility). As the term â€˜formalâ€™ implies, there is a high level of structure. We nevertheless avoid making the formal curriculum too abstract; teachers ensure that learning is linked to practical activities and consolidated and applied in practical sessions.
As each curriculum level has a clearly defined content and approach, planning and teaching is most efficient where a class works within one level. There may, however, be valid reasons for mixed grouping; for example, in order to provide pupils with a peer group of their own age or to challenge pupils who are making good progress within a particular level by enabling them to work alongside pupils who are addressing the next level.