Our Integrated Curriculum
At Pegasus, the uniqueness of every child is recognised and celebrated. Our curriculum embraces each member of our school community, recognising their diverse backgrounds and starting points. The curriculum is sufficiently broad and balanced and includes sensory, social, emotional and physical development. It is designed to give each individual learner the knowledge, skills and cultural capital they need to maximise independence. We are constantly adapting learning journeys to meet the needs and interests of our pupils, providing opportunities to build life-long memories and helping children to learn through their mistakes, but recognising everyone’s unique abilities and skills.
Who are we?
The school opened in 2017, established to provide a complete education for Autistic children aged from 4 – 19 years of age. As of September 2022, we have 90 students on roll, spanning primary and secondary, with ages currently ranging from 5 to 15 years old.
All our students have a diagnosis of Autism and have personalised Educational Healthcare Plans (EHCPs). The majority of our students are boys (diagnosis of Autism is considerably higher in boys than girls). Many of our children have issues with communication. Most of our students are working below age related expectations (ARE), either due to mild learning difficulties or simply missed learning opportunities from lack of engagement and low attendance at previous schools.
The number of pupil premium students in the school is close to the national average, which is 28%. Approximately one third of our children join us having had multiple adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) which have significant negative impacts on their development. Studies show that ACEs, “Can cause fear and chronic anxiety in children and that these states trigger extreme, prolonged activation of the body’s stress response system. These experiences cause changes in brain activity and have been shown to have long-term, adverse consequences for learning, behaviour, and health.” (National scientific council on the developing child, 2017).
Building opportunities for cultural capital is important for all children but even more so for children with SEND. We offer lots of opportunities for students to experience the wider world. This includes trips into Bristol, residential visits, visits to local colleges and universities and experiences in school such as African drumming and Indian dance workshops. All students in the school have an opportunity to discuss world events through the daily communication café. This takes places after break or lunch and gives students the chance to debate and talk through topical issues. A starting point is usually the BBC’s news programme for children: Newsround.
The school is organised into two corridors with classes organised according to stage not age. The lower corridor has a “primary” curriculum structure, so classes remain with the same teaching team throughout the week. All classes in the lower corridor have lessons in English, Maths, Science, Humanities, ICT/Computing, PE, Art and PSHE. As well as sessions which target specific areas such as: speech and language, sensory needs, attention autism and other EHCP targets. Each class offers a bespoke curriculum for the students in each class which means the numbers of particular subjects each week will vary from class to class.
In the upper corridor, students remain with their classmates but are taught by a range of subject specialists. This year we have our first Year 11 class, who have embarked on a GCSE programme including English Language, Maths, Science and BTEC Personal Growth and Wellbeing. We also offer functional skills qualifications for students who struggle to access the GCSE curriculum. All students in the upper corridor have lessons in English, Maths, Science, Humanities, ICT/Computing, PE, Art and PSHE. KS4 students will have GCSE options in Design Technology, Food Preparation, History, Geography, Computer Science and BTEC Sport. We do not narrow our curriculum at KS4; all students continue to have lessons in non-examined subjects such as humanities and computing. KS4 students are included in all of our enrichment activities as this remains an important part of school life.
A bespoke Curriculum That Meets The Needs Of Every Student
Our curriculum is designed to cater for our unique student body, providing personalised learning opportunities that meet the child at their point of learning. Autistic students come to school with complex and inter-related needs; we provide an integrated curriculum to meet those needs throughout each day.
Different cohorts of children across the school have varying levels of academic ability; some of our Year 3 students are pre-verbal, whilst our most able Year 11 students are on course to achieve high GCSE grades. However, there is a consistent curriculum structure across the whole school based on our five Cogs. We are committed to the highest possible academic standards but recognise that these are only achievable when we meet all the needs associated with Autism.
The academic cog sits at the top because it is the key determinant of future life chances. But for our students to succeed, all the cogs need to turn together.
We provide learning opportunities and personalised support to ensure that all students develop their social skills and emotional self-regulation. Sensory stimulation is important for all children as it can affect a child’s development and ability to learn, if they are not met. A focus on sensory needs is especially important for children who have autism. Our sensory circuits and personalised sensory diets ensure that sensory needs are a focus. Through outdoor play, our PE curriculum and our enrichment programme, we provide a range of physical activities across the school to stimulate and challenge.