Tag Archives: #LocalOffer #SpecialSchool #primary

Curriculum under the spotlight

The summer break is a good time for reflection about key aspects of school as well as planning next steps. I am taking this opportunity to blog as I reflect on our school curriculum, after all it is central to the day to day experience of our pupils in school so worthy of high regard and consideration.

I am writing this from the starting point of our school having been inspected by Ofsted in January 18 and am pleased that our curriculum was praised in terms of offering  “a high-quality curriculum to pupils. It is both motivating and exciting. In addition to English and mathematics, you offer a rich, imaginative and varied, learning experience that significantly contributes to developing pupils’ self-belief,confidence, personal development and life skills”. Ofsted Jan 18

I embrace some of  the increased freedom which is being offered to us around curriculum and assessment – the autonomy of being able to respond to the specific needs of the children in the school and establish a bespoke curriculum which meets their needs and an assessment system which effectively demonstrates progress and achievement. Understandingly however, with increased autonomy comes enhanced accountability and in addition to whether our assessment systems have the rigour and accuracy required, we are now finding our curriculum increasingly under the spotlight. Curriculum is likely to become an increased area of focus in Ofsted inspections

Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s Chief Inspector,  has talked about how Ofsted would be looking at how schools’ curriculum is impacting on pupils’ school experience and what makes a “really good curriculum”.

The school’s curriculum is organic. The position we are in today follows many years of review, changes and adaptations in relation to our school population first and foremost as well as local and national requirements. It is also not the work of one person. The curriculum is a whole school endeavour. Our senior leadership team are supported by forward thinking subject leaders and value staff meeting discussion giving input to the whole school team on aspects of curriculum development and how this is experienced by the pupils each day . This includes meetings of curriculum teams which include groups of teachers and teaching assistants planning and working together on curriculum areas including STEM, K+U, Health  and emotional well being, communication and language, Expressive arts and design and EYFS.

Our curriculum is relevant to the group of pupils and the context we are working in as well as underpinning the ethos and philosophy of  our school in terms of what we believe is important for our pupils to learn and therefore I would not expect it to be automatically transferable to other schools,  however I find it useful considering how others approach aspects of school improvement as a stimulus for review and discussion and I hope that maybe reading this might give others a similar opportunity to reflect on their own curriculum in a helpful way.

Where we are now

Core curriculum: We believe our children have an entitlement to a core curriculum of National Curriculum subject areas. In addition to Maths, English and Science, Foundation subjects are delivered in a topic based way through our spiral curriculum

Enhanced curriculumThe school enhances and enriches the core curriculum offered to the pupils in a range of ways including Open Futures, Rights Respecting Schools, ECO Schools, Forest Schools, Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural, British Values, Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning, peer massage, yoga, pupil voice, school council, and Friday Fun Clubs.

Personalised curriculum :

All children attending Camberwell Park School have an Education, Health and Care Plan. These outline their individual educational, health and social care needs, the provision they need to meet these and outcomes expected across the next stage of their life.  We see the EHCP as an integral part of the children’s curriculum planning and use the outcomes to identify the children MLT’s (my learning targets). The areas of personalisation include: Mobility, Behaviour, Characteristics of Learning, Communication, Life skills, Personal and social development and sensory skills. Our highly skilled staff then use the MLT’s and their own knowledge of the children to plan a personalised curriculum offer for each child.  This can include but not exclusively ; support plans from our multi-agency partners; pediatrician, school nurse, SaLT, Physio, OT,  specific subject intervention groups, opportunities for social development or opportunities for emotional development.  This was also acknowledge as a positive aspect of our work in our January inspection as in relation to our pupils’ EHCPs it states : “These goals are then broken down into small achievable steps, and a personalised curriculum is developed to enable the pupil to work towards achieving the goals”.  Ofsted Jan 18

As the needs of the pupils vary across the school and in different classes, teachers have autonomy over the structure of their timetables and the weighting they give to different areas of the curriculum in their timetables however they must be able to evidence how their timetable meets the individual needs of each of the pupils in their class.

Our next steps

The needs of our pupils are changing and it is essential that we continue to respond to this in terms of our school organisation and curriculum and therefore our ongoing programme of curriculum review will support subject leaders and curriculum teams to work with the leadership team in ensuring that the Intent of each area of the curriculum is clear, we implement the curriculum in a way that is meaningful to the pupils right across school and that we are able to measure the impact – the important ‘so what’ question  to make sure what we offered our pupils has made a difference in a way that is relevant to them.

 

Thank you for reading

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#SENreforms: One year on – a special school perspective

The revised Code of Practice for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disability has now been statutory for a full academic year. On the publication of the Final Impact research report from the pathfinder Local Authorities I wanted to record the story of Camberwell Park School .

There was a general consensus that the statutory assessment process for children with special educational needs needed to change – an over bureaucratic and excessively lengthy process in which often the child and their needs was a by-product (that was my experience of it).  All of the  messages about the new Code of Practice in which we move away from Statements of Special Educational Needs towards Education, Health and Care Plans -The philosophy of  a more child / family centred process right from 0 – 25 years which is responsive to local need and has all agencies working together for a fully co-ordinated approach – what’s not to love?

Whilst I fully acknowledge it is not yet a perfect system – far from it – despite the challenges we have faced, our overall experience and the feedback we have had from the families, has been of a much more positive way of working – the children, their needs and their outcomes are now much more at the forefront. Let me tell you our successes, challenges and next steps…………………..

As a Manchester headteacher I was pleased that the Local Authority took a proactive approach. They had been a pathfinder for the reforms for young people with SEN from 16 – 25, but also established a multi-agency working party during summer 2014 to prepare for implementation of the reforms the following September.I was pleased to be invited to represent the special school sector in this group. During this term we also wished to be proactive as a school – training key staff in person centred planning and identifying a small cohort of families for us to pilot the revised annual review process. Where ever possible we already included our pupils in annual reviews and they prepared their own report prior to the meetings using symbol communication where needed. We set about updating our pupil booklet however in line with person centred planning tools and requirements for what was then the draft Code of Practice as well as establishing a parent voice booklet.

As a special school, all of our children have already had a statement of special educational needs so our year has been one of conversions of statements to Education, Health, Care Plans. We embarked on an ambitious programme to complete conversions for all of our 93 children in one year!

Our key successes

  • The annual review meetings in the new person centred format have been fantastic! They are very child centred and we have had much more open, honest and informative discussions enabling us to establish meaningful and relevant outcomes for the children and their families. The feedback we have received from parents / carers have included these comments in the most recent parent / carer questionnaire:

‘I think the way the new EHCP have been conducted was a lovely change. Having everyone to contribute was effective and positive.’

‘School meetings have always been informative. The teachers have always wanted to know my thoughts and feelings on subjects that have been discussed.’

  • As already mentioned, pupil voice has always been important but we have worked hard on developing further the tools the children have to express their views  and they continue to amaze us with their ability  to express their likes, dislikes, aspirations for the future and what others can do to help them using their pupil views booklet as a framework. Parents / carers too we have found have valued the family views booklet to help them prepare for discussions in the reviews
  • We grappled with how we relate the outcomes set in the annual reviews / EHCP match to our existing Individual Education Plan programme in which personalised targets focussed on ‘barriers to learning’ are established. The timing of the two things were not marrying therefore the process was not co-ordinated enough. We needed to find a way of setting targets following annual reviews and making sure we follow up  on progress each term including parents / carers and other agencies. We have now established a programme of holding all annual reviews in the autumn term following which all pupils have personalised ‘My Learning Targets’ set using EHCP / annual review outcomes. These are then updated each term including feedback / discussion from parents / carers at parent’s evening and information from other agencies where appropriate and then updated / amended as necessary.
  • We are have worked closely with the high school which most of our pupils move to in terms of the transition reviews to ensure that the move from primary to high school is as smooth as possible for both the child and their family. We have recently included gaining pupil views on their transition programme into our questionnaires to see how prepared the pupils feel for their next stage of education and to inform any changes we might want / need to make to the process.
  • We have worked hard on the SEN Information report on our website – consulting with parents / carers on what they wanted included and trying to make it  as user friendly, informative, relevant and meaningful as possible

Our main challenges

Whilst the results of the changes have been mainly positive, I cannot pretend the year has been without it’s challenges – some of which we have resolved and some are work in progress!

  • Each of the annual reviews are taking much more time – on average one and a half hours, plus all the preparation time and putting together paper work afterwards. Not for one minute am I complaining about giving what is essential and valued time to the children and their families and as has been said, the meetings are one of the biggest successes, however, we feel that the meetings are important enough to ensure it is always a member of the senior management team which leads them, therefore, logistically it has placed a much bigger challenge on our time – not insurmountable but has needed lots of adjustments of roles / responsibilities and timetabling
  • The administration is a nightmare! We haven’t  got this one fully sorted yet and I would be delighted to know if anyone out there has cracked this? We are paying for additional admin time to minute the meetings, however, the meeting format does not lend itself well to direct minuting and doesn’t match directly to the paperwork required by the LA so is requiring a lot of additional time for us proof reading and amending after the meetings have finished
  • Multi- agency involvement continues to be a challenge – one of the central themes of the reforms is that it is a ‘health and care’ plan in addition to education. We have had lots of support from other agencies in trying to find ways forward and for the most part we are now getting multi-agency reports to be included in meetings. There are two key reasons for this challenge – one is that multi-agency team members are much less available than they were due to cut backs in services so often are not able to allocate the time to attend meetings. In addition, when are families are so complex and have many agencies involved, it is difficult to schedule meetings when everyone is available, even well in advance. Working with our multi agency teams we have had some improved success for the forthcoming year identifying the priorities for each child and who it is most essential to attend e.g. nurse, speech and lang therapist, with others contributing a report  – but as the discussion is so valuable at the meetings, in an ideal world they would all be there!

So our next steps……………

I think the honest answer is that it all continues to be work in progress!

Our programme of annual reviews for 2015 / 2016 is already in place and all members of multi-agency teams have had the dates. We will continue to be Passionate about ensuring our pupils achieve the best outcomes possible, be Respectful of all of the individual needs of the pupils and their families, be Organised in making sure everyone has the information they need to contribute, be Understanding of individual circumstances and how we can best support and be Dedicated in ensuring we are the best we can be. Camberwell Park continues to be a school to be PROUD of