Within our Primary Phases, we ensure our pupils have a rich and diverse, topic-based curriculum offer throughout their primary years, enabling them to experience and make progress in a wide range of meaningful ways.
It is important to us that, alongside having shared topic themes, we also enable our individual teachers to be creative within their classrooms and produce timetables, lessons and activities that are personalised to meet the needs, interests and motivators of their pupils. We encourage our teachers to bring their passions and individual flare to their planning, resulting in a wide range of exciting and varied lessons being delivered throughout the Primary Phase.
We have the highest expectations for our pupils, and strive to ensure we provide a curriculum full of diverse experiences and opportunities, including a varied and rich range of subjects. As such the following subject areas (taken from the Equals Curriculum) are taught at least once a week in a way that works for each class:
My World – A combination/choice of ICT, History, Geography, Religious Education.
My Independence – A combination/choice of Skills for Life, Cooking, Learning Outside the Classroom.
My Physical Health and Wellbeing – A combination/choice of Relationship Education, Physical Education, Gross and Fine Motor Skills, PHSE.
My Expressive Arts – A combination/choice of Drama, Art, Music, D.T.
My Play and Leisure – A combination/choice of Games, Social Skills, Playtime, Choosing, self-occupancy/hobbies.
In addition, we ensure that My Communication – A combination/choice of Literacy, Phonics, Reading, S&L and My Thinking and Problem Solving – A combination/choice of Numeracy, Sensory Exploration are taught at least three times per week in a personalised and pupil specific way.
We are very proud of our cross curricula approach and believe that our subject areas should be used as vehicles for learning. For example, the subject area may be ‘Art’ but within the multi-sensory Art lesson, pupils will be focusing on learning and making progress within very different skills from one another. One pupil may be focusing on a Communication skill such as using their preferred means of communication to request which colour paint they want to use, whilst another pupil may be focusing on a Social, Emotional and Wellbeing skill such as learning to wait for their turn or identifying how the Art session made them feel.
As well as ensuring our pupils experience a wide curriculum coverage, we also make sure that all of our pupils experience a range of Cultural Capital opportunities.
Cultural Capital is 'the essential knowledge that pupils need to be educated citizens, introducing them to the best that has been thought and said, and helping to engender an appreciation of human creativity and achievement.’
In our school and for our pupils we take this to mean that we provide our pupils with as many different meaningful opportunities as possible; this could be going to a museum, an art gallery, a temple, a church, finding out how children live and what they experience in different countries or in different types of families and households. All of which we provide in a way that is accessible and appropriate for each of our pupils. Within our teaching and lessons, we ensure we use all of our pupils’ senses to immerse them fully in experiences to help bring learning to life. This could be listening to music from around the world or sharing the music pupils listen to at home with one another, to encourage our pupils to feel a sense of pride and belonging. It could be smelling or tasting the different foods that we experience in each other’s homes or those that we may experience when travelling to different parts of the world.
We ensure that our pupils EHCP outcomes are a central feature and driving force within their curriculum. As such we produced two sets of Personalised Learning Plans (PLPs) each year for every pupil, and ensure their PLP focus feeds directly into and complements their EHCP outcomes. This ensures consistency of approach and makes sure the EHCP continues to be a valued and important document in the lives of our pupils and their families. We are confident that our PLPs support this process and ensure that every pupil has every opportunity to fulfil their potential and Be All That They Can Be. We signpost our PLP focuses to ensure that each of the four areas of the SEND Code of Practice within the EHCPs are referenced within our PLPs, thus ensuring consistency and best practice.
The four areas are:
1. Cognition and Learning
2. Communication and Interaction
3. Sensory & Physical Needs
4. Social, Emotional Wellbeing
In addition to our pupils’ curriculums being personalised and driven by their individual PLPs, we also use three personalised learning pathways to support us to best group our pupils and classes in order to most effectively plan lessons, activities, experiences and social opportunities best suited to their needs and levels. These are based on the approximate R Levels that pupils are working on and towards:
- Blue Pathway – For those pupils working at approx. R1 – R4. Within this group there is also a big focus on supporting pupils to make progress within the Five Engagement Areas.
- Orange Pathway – For those pupils working at approx. R5 – R8
- Yellow pathway – For those pupils working at approx. R9 and above.
Our School Assessment system; The Riverside Progress Scale enables us to recognise, work towards and celebrate the various strengths and needs which our pupils have in different aspects of their skill development, for example, a pupil’s ability to maintain skills in relation to their ability to refine them or to work without support.
We do this by referring to four individual aspects of skill development. These are not hierarchical:
- Independence – pupils progress from being wholly dependent on support towards being completely independent of support
- Fluency - performance progresses from being hesitant and approximate towards being smooth, swift and accurate
- Maintenance - performance progresses from being inconsistent towards being consistent and reliable
- Generalisation - progress is from practising a skill in a single context towards practising it across a range of settings with different people and materials.
In order to work towards and achieve vital skills such as generalisation, it is crucial to positively work alongside our pupils families. Home school collaboration is extremely important to us at Riverside School and we strive to work consistently with our families to support the needs of their children and young people. To support our PLPs we also create personalised ‘Home Learning Plans’ (HLPS) for all of our pupils twice a year with ideas and strategies that can be tried at home to further support and consolidate our pupils learning.
Learning Outside the Classroom is so important for all of our pupils as it provides a range of enriching experiences. It also allows further opportunities for our pupils to generalise skills that they have learnt in the classroom and within the safety of our school environment. We believe that if we were only to teach and practise skills within our school context then we would be unable to provide our pupils with the necessary skills and opportunities to further embed learning and use new skills in real life situations. For example, it is wonderful if a pupil is able to select and order their lunch in the school dining hall but, if we haven’t given them the skills or opportunity to practice ordering a meal within the wider community, they may be unable to transfer this skill successfully.
We use a SCERTS ‘Social Communication, Emotional Regulation, Transactional Support’ Approach throughout the school and we offer and provide teaching through a wide range of ‘Riverside Approaches’ as appropriate to meet the needs and learning styles of our individual pupils. This may be a combination of Attention Autism, TEACCH Tasks, Intensive Interaction, PECS, Makaton, Eye Gaze and so on.
We believe that Happiness, Wellbeing, Fulfilment and Belonging are crucial areas for us to support within our pupils education and lives. We believe that we need to strive towards our pupils being happy and regulated foremost in order for any meaningful learning to be able to take place. As such all of our pupils have a personalised Happiness Passport which is written to support everyone’s understanding of how best to meet their personal needs. They include the supports and strategies that need to be put in place in order for all of our pupils to succeed, flourish and be at their optimum level for learning; including identifying and meeting Sensory Physical, Medical, Communication, Wellbeing, Cultural, Engagement and Regulation Needs.