At Waverley main school we have one curriculum, organised as a continuum of skills, further divided into three levels. The new curriculum was implemented from September 2020.
Level One has been designed for learners with complex learning styles and learning needs. Although some consideration has been given to overlaps and links with mainstream school subjects, it has been developed around the starting point of their individual needs, rather than from a forced attempt to make what is traditionally offered by schools “accessible”. Four key areas of learning are “taught” via a vast array of opportunities. The fundamental structures underpinning this level are the twin pillars of communication and cognition (Dr. Penny Lacey, Educational Provision for Pupils with Severe and Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (Research Report for Mencap). All pupils are learning to communicate and to think and learn. At this stage, “communication” and “cognition” form half of the curriculum. The other half consists of “physical development”, and “personal health education” (including self-care and independence). There is no mention of National Curriculum subjects, although pupils use some subject areas, such as the arts, physical education, and the humanities, to provide the contexts for their learning. These subjects are part of a thematic approach to the curriculum adopted by the whole department.
We recognise this group of learners is working in the “here and now” and as such need repeated opportunities to practice and revise their learning. It is expected that this group of learners will require a multi-sensory approach.
The content of the curriculum for pupils with such complex needs was developed through studying the historical perspective on curriculum design, typical child development textbooks, published curriculum materials and curriculum documents from other schools, and our own staff expertise.
Level Two has been designed with our learners who have Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD). This group of learners also requires repetition and a consistent approach. They may be able to demonstrate learning over time and some understanding that symbolic representation carries meaning. This curriculum builds on prior learning which has enabled the learner to demonstrate skills that encourage developing relationships with others, effective engagement, and understanding of cause and effect. This level teaches through six main subject areas (Communication, Language and Literacy, Cognition, KUW, Personal development, physical development, and creative development). It is expected that there will be regular overlapping of teaching which will enable generalisation of the skills and knowledge taught. This level is designed to address the “gap” often found between learners who are not yet able to access subject-specific learning.
Level Three has been designed for our learners who have more moderate learning difficulties. Some of these learners may have a spiky profile which means they may need to dip into level 2, but have specific skills in one area. This level allows these learners to straddle curricula and/or use the curriculum in its totality. There are eleven subject headings (mind map below) that are taught in more traditional stand-alone sessions. These learners continue to require real objects, modeling, and a carefully differentiated approach.
Across the school, the curriculum is further split into Primary, Secondary, and Post 16. Each phase is expected to deliver sessions that recognise the age of the learners whilst using key motivators for our learners.