Delivering a Curriculum for Excellence

Delivering a Curriculum for Excellence
October 2010
‘One day it will not matter how much I have in the bank, the car I drive or
the house I live in, but that once I was important in the life of a child’
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Vision, Aims and Values
The statement above best exemplifies our absolute commitment to making a
difference to the life of every child educated at Hampden school. Although
our pupils have complex learning needs, we aspire that every one of them will
be enabled to reach their fullest potential and become successful learners,
confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens. All of
our learning and teaching approaches will begin in response to the needs of
the individual child.
We continually self-evaluate our practice at every level as a learning
community, building our capacity for improvement and we aim to put in place
opportunities for the children themselves to exercise personalisation and
choice in their individual learning in terms of their aptitudes and enjoyment.
In all we do, we aim to provide an educational experience which is relevant,
broad and coherent and tailored to the needs of each child. It is our hope
that this will bring them challenge and enjoyment as they progress and
deepen their understanding.
As part of our self-evaluation process, we have audited our present progress
towards ACE, using Glasgow TACLE materials and referring to Glasgow’s
Learning and Teaching Strategy (2009). (See also Vision, Values and Aims
document written by Staff, December 2010).
The Rationale and Design of the Curriculum
Our pupils have complex learning needs and all require an ASP and, in some
cases, a CSP. In the first instance our learning targets will be drawn from
these identified individual needs.
Our Curriculum Design
Over a two year period, we have successfully piloted, adapted and embedded
a programme of major and minor learning contexts, corresponding to the 8
curriculum areas. These are –
Mathematics and Numeracy
Health and Wellbeing
Expressive Arts
Literacy and English
Social Studies
Religious and Moral Education
During the coming session, ‘Curriculum Champions’ will be appointed for each
of the 8 curricular areas. They will have responsibilities for resource
organisation and leading learning. In keeping with the recommendations of a
Curriculum for Excellence, we have ensured that opportunities for learning in
Mathematics, Literacy and Health and Wellbeing permeate all our learning
The 7 Principles of Design are –
Challenge and Enjoyment
Personalisation and Choice
We aim to deliver an education which makes the best possible use of ICT to
engage and support pupils. We expect our curriculum to be delivered in
exciting, innovative and interactive ways. We want our pupils to be actively
experiencing a wide variety of environments in the wider community, learning
through play and enjoying learning experiences outdoors as well as within a
conventional classroom setting. We plan to offer opportunities for pupils of
different ages and developmental stages to come together and share
learning, eg enterprise. In our new school, we aim to offer increased
opportunities for the whole school to come together to enjoy celebrations,
achievements and religious observances.
Whilst Literacy, Numeracy and Health and Wellbeing flow across all our
learning, our learning blocks are planned across cross-curricular themes
where there is specific focus on selected outcomes and experience. These
learning contexts are used to deepen learning as the child makes planned
progress through the school.
All our pupils have Additional Support Plans and some have Co-ordinated
Support Plans. When staff are working within the class team and consulting
with their mentor, they will regularly revisit their long and short term
targets to ensure that these needs are addressed within the plan. All
appropriate partners and parents are regularly consulted too.
Application of the Principles
The environment for learning in our complex needs setting promotes a high
degree of challenge and enjoyment and personalisation and choice through
planned opportunities to explore different activities, materials and contexts
and imaginative, creative use of both indoor and outdoor learning
environments. Learning within any particular activity will prompt different
aspects of learning in individual ways for children. Approaches which involve
children in planning mats and respond flexibly to their interests and needs,
eg Talking Mats also contribute to personalisation and choice.
Learning activities provide rich opportunities for progression and depth of
learning. The learning activities and environment should be planned and
organised to offer opportunities to extend skills (for example language
skills) and deepen understanding.
Active learning will promote the
development of logical and creative thinking and encourage a problem-solving
approach, where possible.
The adult role in supporting progression is very important. It will vary,
sometimes observing and supporting, other times facilitating and skilfully
intervening in, or extending, the activities and experiences to promote
progression and learning in depth. Direct teaching and focused work with
groups or individual children will help to develop specific skills and knowledge
in particular areas of learning or will take account of additional support
needs. We are mindful that the balance between self-directed and adultinitiated learning opportunities needs to be carefully considered and
Learning through a wide range of well-designed activities will also offer
relevance, coherence and breadth. Activities will often build directly on
what is familiar to the child and the local environment and events can be
used to provide interesting, real-life contexts for learning. Learning in a
variety of contexts supports and reinforces the development of numeracy,
literacy and health and wellbeing across the curriculum.
The experiences and outcomes at the early level can be used in suitable
combinations to plan motivating and challenging activities. Taken together,
as appropriate to the stage of development of each child, these activities
should provide breadth of learning across the curriculum areas. Activities
planned in this way and which build on what is familiar should enable children
to make connections, give coherence to their learning and enable them to
understand the relevance of what they are learning.
We are committed to broadening every child’s experience of local, national
and global contexts eg, the local allotment project ,St Andrew’s Day and the
World Cup. To this end there is a busy schedule of visits and excursions
planned every term. Our annual MILAP party aims to ensure that all pupils
have the opportunity to connect with their cultural heritage.
To ensure relevance for learners with complex additional needs, many of our
learning contexts remain ‘close to home’ in order to ensure that the child can
see relevance and engage in the learning.
We regularly share our curriculum content ideas with parents and
carers, through our specially designed Standards and Quality
Report and parents’ evenings. There is a year plan provided in the
home-school diary which details the topic titles and curricular focus of
each learning block. Teachers use this to make suggestions of how
parents can become more involved in their children’s learning.
Senior Managers will regularly work alongside class teachers, looking closely
at one of the seven principles of design and providing feedback on curriculum
The Development of the Curriculum
‘How we teach is as important as what we teach’
Glasgow ‘Learning and Teaching Strategy’ May 2009
All of our pupils experience some difficulties in communication. We must
therefore engage them in active and experiential styles of learning that are
not overly reliant on verbal and written learning alone. We make considerable
use of ICT to enhance communication.
Value Adding our Curriculum – Wider Achievements
At school assemblies and in classes, we embrace every opportunity to
celebrate the achievements of individuals. Through eco and charity related
activities, we prepare our children to participate as citizens eg Water Aid.
We have a long established and highly successful tradition of enterprise
education where our pupils can see and experience the world of work eg
Dog’s Trust.
We have devised an annual programme for religious observances to ensure
that we celebrate several cultural and religious events.
The curriculum, then, is not an inflexible fixed list. It is a carefully
constructed framework of experiences in context where outcomes are
planned from Early and First stages material and tailored to meet the
evolving needs of our very individual learners.
In line with the recommendations in ‘Building the Curriculum 5’, we hope to
identify staff members who will build and share curricular expertise in the
discrete curricular areas. They will take on responsibilities for resource
management and organisation when the school refurbishment is complete.
They will also make additional suggestions for the best possible methods of
collecting evidence to support our judgements regarding assessment.
Planned Learning, Including Programmes and Courses
The Planning process
Cross curricular topic plans are written and saved electronically in a shared
area, eight times per year, (See school calendar for dates for this
session).Teachers write only a group plan for the four ‘minor’ topics. They
write individualised topic plans for each child for the remaining ‘major’ topic
plans. The curricular focus for major and minor topics alternates annually.
For children under three, individualised learning is described using the
Learning Steps from The Birth To Three Curriculum.
Topic plans will be read by a member of the SMT who is the teacher’s
appointed mentor for the session. Mentors provide timely written feedback
and also offer verbal guidance and support at the mentor meetings which are
also scheduled throughout the school year. The mentors will have a
particular focus on the self evaluation comments from the previous topic and
discussion will seek to ensure that the next steps, where they are identified
for each child, are the most appropriate. These discussions will also ensure a
focus on appropriate levels of differentiation. Mentors also encourage
teachers to reflect on and self evaluate learning and teaching in their
classrooms. Teacher and mentor comments are recorded electronically in a
shared area.
Mentor meetings, written feedback and guidance are also further
complemented by Mentor Monitor visits which are scheduled four times a
year. Here, the mentor will work alongside the teacher and offer further
observations or guidance. These visits will have a pre agreed focus such as
one of the 7 principles of curriculum design.
In keeping with the AiFL approach, all new planning should be based on a
clear picture of what the child has accomplished so far, based on careful
evaluations of learning and teaching, leading to appropriate next steps. Class
teachers refer to the long term targets established for each child at review
meetings, as recorded in their PEP-r, ASP or CSP documents. These are
referred to throughout the session as necessary. In addition, all children
have a programme of individualised educational activities which may be
informed by, for example the ASP. PEPr assessment or teacher observation.
These activities provide opportunities for individualised teaching of new
skills .They also allow the child to consolidate existing skills with the help of
a Pupil Support Assistant.
At the class team meeting, teachers work alongside support staff when
finalising the learning plans.
The observations of support staff are
important in the identification of next steps for learning.
Teachers will consult with the other professionals who support the child eg
Nurse, Physio, SLT. There will also be an ongoing dialogue with parents who
can deepen our knowledge and understanding of the child. Parents/carers
are encouraged to seek the advice of the mentor or Headteacher during the
course of the planning block as required. On some occasions, it may be
necessary to change or augment plans in response to children’s needs or the
issues the parent has identified.
At Hampden School and Nursery, all staff are expected to be fully familiar
with the pedagogical approaches referred to in the toolkit for teaching
within Glasgow’s Learning and Teaching Strategy. We will, of course, adapt
these approaches if required to make them relevant to the needs of our
Assessment and Reporting
At the time of writing, we are continuing to assimilate ‘Building the
Curriculum 5’ and will continue to look for the best possible methods to
assess, and record our pupil’s progress towards their learning targets.
The PEPr assessment is appropriate for some of our pupils. This tool
measures children’s developmental level across a range of domains. It
produces a Developmental Age as baseline information. It also indicates the
child’s Emerging Developmental age. Teachers use these emerging scores to
create Teaching and Learning programmes. After approximately two years,
children are re tested using PEPr to demonstrate progression.
Since many of the pupils cannot be assessed using standardised tests, we
continue to make considerable use of photography and video recording to
‘capture’ the sometimes small steps towards this progress. Each term, short
term targets, drawn from agreed long term targets, are updated and sent
home for Parent’s information. Staff offer opportunities for daily contact
with parents in our Home/School Diaries. We schedule regular reviews to
include all the agencies who support a child where we share progress and
concerns with each other and the child’s parents. Formal reports are sent to
parents, with a page inviting their comment, at the end of every school year.
These again utilise ICT wherever possible to help the documents come alive
for the reader. These documents are intended to be celebrations of
As previously stated, our class teams identify next steps in learning, each
block based on the formative assessment evidence we have collected. (See
Assessment Policy)
It is recognised that whilst all children are vulnerable at times of change,
our pupils may need even more support at these times. Therefore, time is
allocated in every school year to ensure that for Class to class transitions
all our receiving teachers have the best possible assessment information on
each child. It is a process and not an event!
A published timetable ensures that the child is prepared for the move and
given every opportunity to become accustomed to their new learning
environment and personnel.
We offer an induction procedure for children who join us from other
establishments and work closely with parents to ensure a successful start
with us.
When a child leaves our school, we prepare a transition passport document
which includes all the personal and assessment information to support a
smooth move. All who have supported the child are involved in drawing up
this document.
The Role of Parents
Parents are acknowledged to be the main educators of their children in many
ways. We regard them as vital partners in securing the best educational
outcomes for our pupils. We believe that effective two way communication
is essential when planning relevant learning experiences. Our home school
diaries are used by all parents and teachers to exchange important
information on a daily basis. Parents are invited to reviews to seek their
views on next steps in learning. Parents are invited to Special Information
Evenings as well as Progress Evenings and Open Afternoons in order to share
information about the work of the school as a whole and how it impacts on
their child. They are also made aware of our open door policy, are welcome to
phone the school and parents themselves welcome members of teaching and
therapy staff into their homes for highly valuable home visits.
Throughout the session we also offer one to one surgeries where parents
can discuss any concerns or issues they have surrounding the wider provision
for and support of their child. We seek feedback on our formal reports
from parents and are always available throughout the year to informally
discuss concerns should they arise. We are delighted to involve parents in
the delivery of the curriculum, whether through sharing their knowledge or
expertise with us or acting as helpers or fundraisers. We will continue to
seek their views as we set up the learning areas in our new accommodation.
We make every attempt to inform all parents regarding the life of the
school, through regular newsletters and soon hope to set up a website to
offer additional information. Our new accommodation will offer a Parents’
Room where they can meet on an informal basis to chat with each other. This
may be used to host parent events and guest presentations or to talk to
staff and advisers from school or other support agencies.
As previously stated, all our learning and teaching approaches start with the
child at the centre. We aim therefore to design and deliver a curriculum
that is constantly re- evaluated and refreshed in response to those needs.
Our children need and deserve nothing less than a curriculum for excellence.