Our aims are to provide a foundation curriculum through a topic based approach that:

  • Gives our pupils richer learning experiences through a breadth of creative, cross-curricular links and cultural experiences whilst promoting a development of subject specific skills and knowledge
  • Gives our pupils a curriculum that respects and reflects the National Curriculum but allows space and time for personalised, wider and holistic curriculum, through the use of autism specific approaches, therapies and interventions
  • Gives our school staff opportunities of ownership, collaboration and creativity as well as improved staff well-being

The Prosper Learning Trust curriculum philosophy has a focus on nurturing the whole individual.  We offer a curriculum which allows our pupils to develop the knowledge, skills, and character required to move on to the next phase of their education.  We ensure our curriculum is challenging, yet inclusive, so that all can work hard to fulfil their potential, regardless of background or starting point and strive to ensure that disadvantage of any kind is not a barrier to pupils achieving success.

At the centre of this philosophy is a commitment to the health and well-being of our pupil community; we believe that it is of paramount importance to the physical, mental and emotional health of our pupils that individuals feel they are making progress and attaining at an appropriate level.

At Harry Watts Academy some content of the National Curriculum may be inaccessible or irrelevant to pupils, wherever possible it will be the aim of teaching to make learning meaningful and relevant to pupils and will therefore need to be continuously evolving and adapting.

At Harry Watts Academy the principals of TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and Communication related handicapped Children) will be used in the structure of lessons, the scheduling and the layouts of classrooms. TEACCH works to alleviate difficulties relating to receptive andor expressive language difficulties; the need for familiarity; poor sequential memory; Inability to organise self and limit own behaviours; Hypersensitivity and distraction.

A “Total Communication System” will be used with all pupils as required, including speech, symbols, photographs, objects of reference and Makaton signing.

Some pupils will require the use of the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) as their main communication strategy.

PECS uses specific prompting and reinforcement strategies which lead to independent communication. The system uses automatic error correction procedures to promote learning.

There are 6 phases to the system, from single action cards building to sentences, responding and questioning. Some pupils can progress from PECS to developing speech and others to using speech generating devices.

We recognise that our pupils can, for a variety of different reasons, have significant gaps in the knowledge or skills development and central to our curriculum is the acknowledgement that we have a duty to support pupils in addressing these gaps.

Teaching Approach

The curriculum will promote a balanced mix of ‘process based’ (a more holistic and immersive approach) and ‘skills based’ (highly structured) teaching. We will support and encourage our teachers to use both approaches in relation to what is being taught and by doing this we aim to link the learning in different subject areas more effectively for the pupils.

We will utilise six unique ‘Areas of Learning’ in conjunction with Thomas Bewick School to help make links between subjects. These are:

  • Science and Technology (Science, Design Technology, Computing)
  • Physical Development (PE – including rebound therapy, swimming, horse riding)
  • Independent Living Skills (PSHE, Life Skills, Relationships & Sex Education)
  • Community Awareness (RE, Work Related Learning, Citizenship)
  • Creative Development (Music, Drama, Art & Design)
  • The Wider World (History, Geography, Languages)

Unit descriptors of work for Key Stages 1, 2 and 3 link to the ‘Areas of Learning’ whilst fulfilling the statutory requirements of the National Curriculum. Each unit aims to be an ‘experience’ to help link the learning in different subject areas in a fun and stimulating way for pupils.

The curriculum will be flexible in that it can be widely differentiated to suit the needs, abilities and interests of all pupils. Underpinning it is a strong emphasis on developing communication, personal, social and independence skills and a commitment to promoting physical and emotional health through our half-termly ‘Super Skill’ focus:

There are six ‘Super Skills’ and there will be a whole academy focus on a particular skill each half term.  The idea is inspired by research around Guy Claxton’s ‘Magnificent 8’.

The Super Skills are:

  • To be independent
  • To be caring
  • To be part of new experiences
  • To be sociable
  • To be confident
  • To be active

Super Skills aim to:

  • Promote positive learning behaviours from pupils
  • Promote physical, social and emotional health and wellbeing
  • Have a focus on the important skills that many pupils lack and therefore need to develop
  • Encourage competencies and dispositions that lead to successful learning and a better quality of life (happiness, motivation, engagement)
  • Focus on the ‘long term perspective’ and to prepare pupils for the wider world, enabling them to cope in a range of situations
  • Promote the development of functional life skills and independence
  • Be meaningful and relevant to the lives and experiences of pupils

Weekly Key Stage assemblies will be used to hand out Super Skill certificates to pupils who have demonstrated competence in a particular Super Skill area.

Early Years Foundation Stage

The Foundation Stage follows the ‘Early Years Foundation Stage’ curriculum which is adapted to meet the needs and requirements of the children. It will also be based on the non-statutory support materials in Development Matters with the four guiding principles:

  • every child is a unique child, who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured
  • children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships
  • children learn and develop well in enabling environments, in which their experiences respond to their individual needs and there is a strong partnership between practitioners and parents and/or carers
  • children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates, including children with special educational needs and disabilities

The curriculum will be modified and personalised to reflect the developmental needs of the individual pupils. ASD specific strategies will be used with a strong focus on communication and interaction.

We will use the foundation stage profile at the end of the Reception year to assess the children against government standards.

The children are assessed termly against our ‘Early Support Developmental Journal’ which highlights the targets the children work towards. They also have achievement and levelled work files which are added to on a half termly basis.

On a day to day basis staff use record and observation sheets as well as photographs which contribute towards the children’s assessment files which are filled out at the end of every week with evidence as to what they have achieved during that week.

The aim of the Foundation Stage is to provide a safe, happy, caring and stimulating environment in which each child is educated at a level appropriate to their individual needs, interests and abilities. We aim to build confidence and self-esteem by ensuring that each child makes progress and regularly experiences success and a sense of achievement.

How do we implement the curriculum?

We implement the curriculum by considering the following areas:

  • Entry, journey, exit (this is unique to each class)
  • Planning fun, creative lessons
  • Resources and educational visits
  • Embedding autism specific approaches, therapies and interventions
  • Progress of pupils

Useful information

Working with local authorities, schools, employers and agency partners we provide all pupils every opportunity to enjoy their education and achieve their potential. Our education is excellent and tailored for all pupils, challenging them to succeed and support their personal growth.

Prosper Learning Trust