Intent - Aspire Curriculum Design
Aspire School is founded on an ambition to transform the life opportunities of young people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). Our mission is to provide children the support they need to learn, thrive and succeed.
At Aspire School we believe it is important that all of the children are treated as individuals and, as such, require a curriculum that meets their individual needs and responds to the unique ways in which they learn. In order to achieve this, it is important that we start from their individual starting points and respond to what they want and need most; based upon what we know about them and the priorities of parents, carers and other professionals.
We recognise the need to provide a broad and balanced curriculum, but also that this broad and balanced curriculum will look different for different learners. In order to achieve this, pupils will follow a learning pathway that allows access to academic learning, provides opportunities to develop important personal development and life skills, allows for time to focus on individual learning goals, and has communication at the core. The weighting of these learning focuses will be different for different learners and will be determined by the pupils’ starting points.
The curriculum aims for pupils to:
- Enjoy their education
- Build upon existing skills and understanding
- Develop their full potential
- Develop their social communication skills
- Develop their functional academic skills
- Develop their independent living skills
- Develop safe and healthy lifestyles
- Develop their self esteem
- Develop emotional regulation skills
- Benefit from community based learning
- Access a wide range of enrichment opportunities
- Become increasingly independent learners
Implementation - Design Principles
We do this by considering our overarching purpose, to be 'Individual for All, Aspirational for Everyone'.
It is important all of our children are treated as individuals. This means learning starts at the individual starting point of each learner and the strategies used to support them are based upon the unique ways in which they learn.
The learning focus for all children is highly relevant. This is because it is based upon their individual starting points and their priorities, as agreed upon by themselves, their parents, carers and other professionals.
The learning goals for all of our children are aspirational. They aim to begin the journey of equipping the individual with skills which will lead to a future where they can be happy, communicate as well as they can and be as independent as possible.
All pupils at Aspire School have a primary need of ASD or SLCN and will therefore have barriers which prevent them from being fully effective communicators. It is therefore essential that we identify the pupils’ communication needs from the outset and then provide them with a curriculum which allows consistent opportunities to develop their communication skills using the approaches that work best for them.
The aim for all pupils at Aspire is that they will be able to draw upon approaches which make them effective communicators who are able to interact with other people, make choices, follow instructions and access the key concepts needed for learning.
At Aspire School we believe it is important that the pupils are treated as individuals and have access to a curriculum that is centred around their own learning needs. It is therefore imperative the curriculum allows opportunities for pupils to focus on a wide range of holistic outcomes that encourage the development of their communication and language skills, as well as their personal, social and physical needs. Where appropriate, pupils will also have outcomes that are based upon their cognition, whether these are developed around a formal academic curriculum or more functional academic curriculum.
To be eligible for a place at Aspire pupils must have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). A significant part of the EHCP process is a parents meeting with professionals to discuss the provision required for their child based upon outcomes that are important for their current and future lives. As a result, we feel that it is key that these EHCP outcomes, and short term targets to meet these outcomes, are built into the pupils’ everyday learning, through planned and spontaneous opportunities. This is to ensure that they act as the core personalised outcomes within their curriculum.
To ensure that these outcomes remain individual, relevant and aspirational, several formal and informal opportunities are built into the academic year to plan and review them. Regardless of when the EHC review meeting is due, teachers are required to meet, either digitally, in person or by telephone, with all parents within the first six weeks of the academic year to ensure that the outcomes and shorter term targets are still appropriate. Once agreed these can then be added to the pupils’ Individual Learner Profiles.
The purpose of the Individual Learner Profile is to ensure that all the personalised learning outcomes that contribute to an individual pupil’s wider curriculum are collated in one place. It is the teacher’s responsibility to then ensure that the pupils have the opportunity to work towards these outcomes. It is important that the outcomes on the Individual Learner Profiles are reviewed regularly in order to ensure that they remain relevant and aspirational. Progress that pupils make towards their personalised outcomes will also be evidenced and measured using the Evidence for Learning assessment system.
All pupils at Aspire School have the opportunity to access academic learning, providing that this responds to what they want and need most at their current stage of learning. The weighting of the academic content to their curriculum will be decided by their individual starting points, their views and the views of parents and professionals, and the learning pathway that they follow.
The content for academic learning will be personalised and will include targeted elements of the National Curriculum which will provide a broad and balanced learning plan with a range of learning from a wide range of subjects.
Initial assessments will be carried out in maths, reading and writing using the Aspire ladders to determine a clear starting point for the academic year. These subjects can then be tracked consistently throughout the year and shared with parents and carers at key points.
Other academic subjects from the National Curriculum will also be taught and we are developing an curriculum and assessment profile for these subjects during the academic year 2022 and 2023. These subjects may be taught discretely, as part of a cross-curricular topic or as an experience day, and evidence will be collected in a variety of ways, including on Evidence for Learning.
Pupils that are not considered to be at the stage of learning to access the discrete teaching of academic subjects will not be assessed against these subjects. They may however still access elements of them in class as appropriate to their level of development.
Personal Development and Life Skills
At Aspire School we aim for all pupils to be able to live as independently as possible in their future lives. In order to achieve this, we believe that Personal Development and Life Skills is an essential part of the curriculum and, as such, there need to be opportunities for it to be taught discretely as well as through other parts of the school day, e.g. practising eating and drinking skills during lunchtime.
At Aspire we use a specially designed Life Skills framework to provide the content for the teaching of Life Skills. This framework consists of a series of ‘ladders’ which outline developmental milestones in many of the areas that are key to future independence (See below for examples of Life Skills ladders). The aim is that the framework does not act as a curriculum, but instead supports teachers in recognising the starting points of their pupils and the next developmental steps in the acquisition of these skills. The expectation is teachers then plan the context for how they will support the pupils in acquiring these skills.
The key areas that are covered in the framework are:
- Eating and Drinking
- Cleanliness and Health
- Social Skills
- Domestic Tasks
- Independent Travel
As progression in Life Skills for the pupils at Aspire is heavily predicated on their developmental stage and individual starting points, as opposed to chronological age, it is challenging to use the framework as a predictor of expected outcomes. It is therefore used most successfully to demonstrate the skills that pupils have acquired and then identify what they need to be able to do next. Progress in acquiring skills is measured using the Evidence for Learning assessment system, which is discussed in the Assessment section.
At Aspire School pupils will be assessed on the progress they make in:
- Academic subjects (if appropriate to their developmental stage of learning)
- Personal Development and Life Skills
- Personalised Outcomes, including communication, social skills, emotional regulation skills and physical development.
1. Academic subjects
For pupils that it is appropriate for, progress in the core subjects Reading, Writing, Maths and Science will be measured using the assessment ladders, which are based upon the content within the National Curriculum. Teachers will complete formative assessment to demonstrate the skills that pupils have acquired over a term. At the end of the term, a summative judgement will be made which will demonstrate what progress looks like for pupils in these subject areas. As our curriculum grows this academic year, we will update how our assessments will be carried out across a variety of subjects.
2. Personal Development and Life Skills
The progress that pupils make towards different areas of Life Skills will be measured using the Life Skills framework ladders. These ladders outline key developmental milestones in many areas that are key to future independence. The Life Skills ladders are most effectively used to highlight the progress pupils have made in acquiring skills and identify their next steps.
3. Personalised Outcomes
All progress towards personalised outcomes on Individual Learner Profiles (ILPs) will be measured using the Evidence for Learning assessment system. Evidence for Learning is a photo and video based assessment system, which allows all stakeholders in a child’s education to gather evidence and link it to their personalised outcomes. The system supports any assessment framework and any assessment model, which lends itself perfectly to a curriculum that is centred around the individual learning needs of the pupils.
At Aspire, the pupils’ core personalised outcomes will be derived from the EHCP process. These outcomes will be added to the pupils’ Individual Learner Profiles and to the Evidence for Learning assessment system. From this point, any video or photo evidence that links to a personalised outcome can be added to Evidence for Learning to support the progress that has been made in that area. This evidence can then be shared at EHCP Annual Review meetings with parents, as well as to provide evidence of progress during Pupil Progress meetings.