Our Integrated Curriculum
We are a relatively new school (opened in Sept 2017), established to provide a complete education for Autistic children aged from 4 – 19 years of age. As of January 2022, we have 76 students on roll, spanning primary and secondary, with ages currently ranging from 7 to 14 years old. All our students have a diagnosis of Autism and have personalised Educational Healthcare Plans (EHCPs). Most of our students are boys (diagnosis of Autism is considerably higher in boys than girls).
All our students have significant social and emotional difficulties, whilst most also have specific sensory and physical needs. 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. As a result, very few of our primary students take part in external testing.
The school is organised into two corridors. The lower corridor has a “primary” curriculum structure, so classes remain with the same teaching team throughout the week. 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 10 class, who have embarked on a GCSE programme including English Language, Maths and Science. We also offer key skills qualifications for students who struggle to access the GCSE curriculum.
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). As a result, many of our children have complex social, emotional and mental needs that make engagement in academic and typical classroom learning challenging.
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 10 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. Our full-time Occupational Therapist draws up sensory profiles, oversees daily in-class sensory provision and provides personalised interventions for targeted students. Through outdoor play, our PE curriculum and our weekly enrichment programme, we provide a range of physical activities across the school to stimulate and challenge.