Curriculum Development and Rationale
A personalised curriculum leading to the best possible outcomes for pupils.
The new Nether Hall curriculum was first piloted in September 18. This followed an extensive period of research, consultation with staff and key partners and, driven by our vision and values, the building of a curriculum that best meets the needs of the pupils in school.
2018/19 was run as a pilot year for the new curriculum and we are very positive about the impact that the new approaches are having and the outcomes it is leading to for the pupils. The introduction of the new curriculum was implemented alongside a new assessment framework, centred on individual learning priorities.
The curriculum is split up into key learning areas:
- Problem Solving and Thinking Skills
- Personal and Social Development
- Physical Development
- Exploring the wider world
In addition there is the whole school focus on communication which over arches everything.
Pupil’s following the Nether Hall curriculum will be on one of three pathways:
The curriculum is very much still evolving and we are excited about the impact it is already having and the potential for truly individualised learning that is at its’ heart.
Asteroid Pathway Link
Comet Pathway Link
Meteor Pathway Link
Our Asteroid curriculum provides a wide range of sensory experiences through thematic learning. It involves working collaboratively with other professionals inside and outside of the school environment. As facilitators for the pupils learning it is key that all agencies (for example nursing, speech and language therapy, occupation therapy, physiotherapy) work together in an integrated way to maximise the learning opportunities.
The Comet pathway is a curriculum that recognises our learners who have a range of severe and complex learning difficulties and disabilities.
We provide a curriculum that gives them the best possible opportunities to develop life skills and is designed specifically for their needs rather than a differentiated or adapted version of the National Curriculum.
The Meteor pathway extends the experiences of the Comet pathway into deeper subject specific knowledge and understanding. The Meteor pathway also is for pupils who have severe learning difficulties.
The Comet and Meteor pathway have much in common in that they both provide an individualised curriculum.
Curriculum Overview and Rationale
Whilst there are the key learning areas. There will often be overlap between the skills and activities that may be learnt in each area. For example, a drama lesson might be focused on problem solving and thinking skills, or physical development activities used to develop sequencing skills in maths. Teachers should be clear about the outcomes that they want for individual pupils and use the learning areas to deliver these rather than focusing on delivering a discreet curriculum subject.
Problem Solving and Thinking Skills
Problem solving and thinking skills is a huge area of learning for our pupils. Much of the area content will cover what would have been within the English, Maths and Computing curriculum. Pupils at all levels will have priorities around developing their problem solving and thinking. For asteroid pupils this may be around early communication and understanding of what is happening around and to them. For our meteor pupils, their priorities will be much more focused around discreet reading, writing, maths and communication skills. As pupils progress through the school this learning will be focused on independence and skills for future life beyond school.
Creativity is a huge area of learning for our pupils and one that can often ‘unlock’ potential for communication, self-expression and personal development. Creativity will be observed in lots of forms across school from role play and imaginative play as part of continuous provision to more structured opportunities in art, drama, music, DT and dance. Creativity and creative thinking will also overlap with other areas such as cooking, creative writing and story telling. At Nether Hall there is great potential for creative learning in classrooms as well as many additional curriculum opportunities that our pupils will get through school performances, music club, singing and performing in theatres, dancing at Curve and many more. We are also developing a strong partnership with Attenborough Arts to develop creativity opportunities and provision at Nether Hall in the coming years.
Personal and Social Development
When thinking about the skills we need to teach our students at Nether Hall, we start by thinking about what we want them to have achieved by the time they leave our school to help them survive in the big wide world! The skills to be as independent as possible, to be able to socialise appropriately with other people and to keep themselves safe are 3 of the most important things that we want them to leave Nether Hall with. Which is why PSD is such a key part of every child’s learning.
PSD is taught throughout every day of the school week in all the daily routines that take place i.e. coming in from the bus, getting their own work out, break times, using the toilet, cooking. We teach discrete aspects of PSD such as Relationships and Sex Education, Drugs Awareness, through clearly planned lessons and activities. Students also have opportunities to develop important PSD skills though out of school activities such as trips to the shop, work experience and visits to Flat 108.
Physical Development encompasses a broad range of activities and stages for our pupils. For our asteroid pupils there will be elements of physiotherapy and hydrotherapy as part of their curriculum. This is coordinated by a team within school. Physical development includes both fine and gross motor skills so for some children their physical development target may be around independent eating or holding a pencil correctly. For our comet and meteor pupils, physical development will also include traditional physical education elements with the development of skills, participation in games, outdoor and adventurous activities and taking part in external sporting events. All pupils have access to hydrotherapy or swimming sessions. Physical Development happens across the school in the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles.
Exploring the wider world
Exploring the Wider World encompasses aspects of science, geography, history and RE which are not taught as stand-alone subjects. Often within our themes, several aspects of ‘Exploring the Wider World’ are covered and incidental learning which occurs at break times, out and about, assemblies and other learning outside the classroom also encapsulates learning through exploration.
One of the key aspects of this area of learning is our developing outdoor learning space which provides amazing opportunities for being outdoors and learning away from the classroom. We have an orchard, five forest areas, two tree stump trails for balancing on, log piles, bird feeders, bug hotels and seating areas which all enrich our students understanding of the world. In addition, it promotes a desire to care for wildlife and protect habitats and hopefully will instil a desire to look after their own world. Aspects of creativity, physical development and problem solving can also be taught in this fantastic space.
We work closely with Leicester City Council Eco Team and have achieved Silver Eco Award. We are aiming for Green Flag this year. We hope to develop an allotment area so we can grow our own grub and also develop a mindfulness trail and quiet areas for meditation on the field to help our students with stress and anxiety. Hopefully the area will continue to develop and provide more and more opportunities for our students to Explore the Wider World as the years go on.
Communication overarches everything at Nether Hall. We are a ‘total communication school’. Effective communication strategies and teaching allow our pupils to express their needs and wants, supports them in being independent and making real informed choices and allows them to interact with the world around us.
Pupils have access to a wide range of strategies and personalised communication programmes. These include ‘Sign along’, symbol supported text, photographs, objects of reference, switches, communication books and passports.
We have a communication lead who supports in the implementation and quality assurance of communication across the school.
The Nether Hall curriculum is designed to truly meet the needs of individual pupils. It allows them to make the best possible progress and reach their full potential. The curriculum is driven by our vision and values.
Nether Hall is a vibrant, thriving and fun learning environment where children truly achieve.