For all our Semi-Formal learners, we provide a curriculum that reflects the needs of the whole child. Our curriculum aims to prepare our learners for life as adults after St Francis School by offering functional and personalised learning to enable them to hold a positive place in their community. The curriculum has a strong foundation of life skills and promoting independence in our learners. Our curriculum also includes functional English (My Communication) and functional Maths (My Thinking and Problem Solving). We provide real-life opportunities for the pupils to feel part of and understand their community and wider world as well and encouraging social communication and opportunities to apply these skills in their local community. The curriculum also provides opportunities for creativity and the development of their physical well-being, through PE, Games, yoga and mindfulness as well as Physiotherapy and Swimming. With the right environment and support, we strive for our pupils to become confident communicators, early readers, independent thinkers and problem solvers.
Our Semi-Formal Curriculum follows the principles and format of the EQUALS Semi-Formal Explore and Challenge Curriculums. This approach has allowed us to promote what our learners need, rather than being constrained by subject areas.
Semi-Formal 1 learners are offered Core Skills Stories, covering personalised learning intentions for each learner. Whilst discrete lessons are offered for My World, My Cooking, My Art and My Social Skills, a continuous curriculum is at the heart of a Semi-Formal 1 pathway. The continuous curriculum environment is created so that learners can engage with all areas and able to make progress in multiple learning intentions within the different areas. It also offers opportunities for paired and group interaction, promoting social skills, whilst the timetabled, core skills stories offer a more focused, individual learning context.
Lessons for a Semi-Formal 2 learner are delivered in discrete subject-specific lessons where students can learn the skills required. However, there are many opportunities for learning intentions to also be achieved in subjects such as; My World, My Cooking, My Independence and My Social Skills, allowing them to apply the skills in another learning context.
Communication and Literacy skills are incorporated across the curriculum and are not specific to Communication lessons. Opportunities are made throughout the school week for reading and writing as well as speaking and listening through discussions and social conversations. We aim to expand the pupil’s language and vocabulary through all the work we do. Our pupils love reading and stories and all of our pupils will have reading books, whether that is to read themselves or to be shared with others through engagement. Each one of our Semi-Formal learners are on one of the 3 available reading pathways: Phonics, Grammar and Vocabulary and Engagement. Semi-Formal learners have access to symbol supported software which enables learners to be more fluent in their reading. We also use Clicker Writer and other iPad accessible apps to enable learners to have more support to promote independent writing.
My PSHE and Citizenship
This curriculum is integral to all we do. Although pupils will take part in discreet lessons their will very much be a cross-curricular approach. The pupils also have their own individual ‘Communication and Interaction’ and ‘Social, Emotional and Mental Health’ targets as outlined in their EHCP. Where appropriate, some children may take part in the ‘special friends’ programme or other targeted interventions. We have a mental health first aider and two ELSA trained staff. Our SMSC leader is available to support staff. We maximise opportunities to explore cultural diversity across the whole curriculum in a variety of different ways. This could be delivered in discrete lessons, collective worship or a structured theme day.
ICT is a massive part of our pupils’ lives through supporting their independence in reading, writing, communication and enjoyment! The school accesses training and is fortunate in owning some fantastic equipment to support this. There is a multi-interactive sensory room and also specialist equipment in the swimming pool. There are lots of portable pieces of equipment which can be used in different classes. We have a large number of iPads and computers, including eye gaze computers, with up to date, current and useful software which the staff are trained in using. Part of the ICT curriculum also educates our learners around internet safety, online relationships and how to ask for help.
My World encompasses Humanities and Science as well as RE. The learning is focused about understanding the world in which they live in and how it works as well as learning about the parts of the world they are yet to discover. My World offers a thematic approach to ensure we offer a broad and balanced curriculum.
My Thinking and Problem Solving
Our My Thinking and Problem-Solving lessons are a combination of skill-based learning and repetition as well as using the learned skills to be able to solve real-life problems. Problem solving is taught by using a 5-tiered approach from EQUALS, working towards independent problem solving and generalisation of the skills that have been learnt in the first stage. There are also opportunities to embed these skills in our independence area by visiting the St Francis convenience shop and tuck shop each week as well as opportunities to visit the local community.
This will be incorporated through all subjects and all routines throughout the day. Developing independence is essential to improve a pupil’s self-confidence and self-worth. Therefore, it is our aim to make everything that we offer is functional and purposeful to the individual learners. For example, this could be understanding healthy diets, writing a shopping list, going to the shops to purchase the items and making the food. We also work closely with parents to enable learners to be able to transfer their skills between home and school.
During the final year of Key Stage 3, our Semi-Formal 2 learners will take part in Careers sessions. They will have lessons exploring different jobs, providing them with the opportunity to interview people in those job roles as well as experience these first hand. Within school, pupils will explore the job roles of our different teams around school covering the broad range of job types.
Pupils will also have the opportunity to explore jobs outside of the school, within our local community. These can take place through visits to places of work as well as special visits from people to our school. Some of the jobs or places of work our pupils will explore are:
My Physical Wellbeing
My Physical Wellbeing is a combination of PE and Games, Yoga and Mindfulness and Healthy Body/Healthy Mind. The school environment is well equipped to meet the physical needs of the pupils. The school has and on-site hydrotherapy pool with swimming teachers. There is also on-site support from NHS staff (nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists). Many staff are rebound therapy trained and staff are able to meet the pupils’ physical needs. The outdoor environment is also accessible for all pupils. There are a number of adapted bikes and playground equipment.
Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) is delivered in relation to the statutory government guidance (September, 2020). As the teaching of RSE can be a sensitive topic, it is delivered taking into account age appropriateness as well as an individual’s cognitive ability in relation to their physical age and parental agreement.
All Semi-Formal learners will be taught the importance of meaningful and caring relationships and friendships, online relationships as well as being safe when browsing online.
Semi-Formal 2/Formal learners will also be taught about intimate/sexual relationships and how to stay safe, online media, different types of families and LGBT as well as respectful relationships. Semi-Formal 2/Formal learners will also explore the Law in relation to: physical and mental wellbeing, menstruation, the changing adolescent body, the importance of healthy eating and fitness, drugs, alcohol and tobacco misuse, health prevention and basic first aid.
My Creativity is a combination of Art, Drama and Music. Pupils have opportunities to access further creative experiences through lunchtime clubs such as choir and karaoke. Pupils are offered access to one to one music lessons which include: drumming, keyboard and guitar. The school understand the value of the arts and specialist theatre companies and music experiences are regularly booked for the children to take part in. The Creative Arts teacher will involve pupils in productions throughout the year where parents are invited to watch and celebrate.
Learning Intentions and MAPP
The pupils are set learning intentions in 5 areas: My Communication, My Thinking and Problem Solving, My Physical Wellbeing, My Independence and My Social Skills. These are set on a termly basis: in conjunction with parents and other professionals. The pupils are also involved through their person-centred plans. We measure the outcomes using the MAPP assessment tool. MAPP provides the opportunity to track the learning intentions set and review achievements against The Continuum of Skill Development focusing on prompting, fluency, maintenance and generalisation. There is greater emphasis on the pupils mastering their skills so that they are transferable in different situations and can be achieved as independently as possible.
For non-core subjects, pupils are tracked on the progression of skills framework for each curriculum area. This ensures that the pupils are taught at their correct starting point.
Seesaw Learning Journal
Seesaw is a secure online portfolio that allows teachers to document and reflect on pupils’ engagement within school whilst also sharing these with families. Each pupil has their own individual journal where pictures, videos and messages can be shared between school and home. This also allows practitioners to reflect on learning within the five key areas of need within in our curriculum. All parents have the opportunity to connect with their child’s journal where they are able to view, like comment on the learning journey that their child is making throughout the year. This also provides a good communication platform and an opportunity to share all that their child is involved in at school.
Holistic Assessment Meetings
Previous standardisation meetings became irrelevant so now practitioners meet together at the end of each term to reflect on pupil journeys over time. In these meetings we discuss pupil progress, the impact of the curriculum and the pupils’ engagement within the sessions offered.
Practitioners hold pupil discussion meetings to identify curriculum areas where added support is required. As a team, intervention plans are devised, and practitioners work together to solve the on-going challenge of finding extra pockets of time to provide the necessary support. These meetings are held alongside updating the MAPP sheets, but time is regularly set aside during curriculum meetings to discuss interventions when a need arises.
The Formal Curriculum offers the same subject range as the Semi-Formal 3 Curriculum but is delivered at a higher cognitive level through delivery of discrete subjects. Although there are elements of a mainstream model, consideration is given to an adapted curriculum which reflects the whole child’s needs. We have high aspirations for all of our pupils and they will have the opportunity to access work at their level and where appropriate it may be necessary to obtain off site support. Pupils who are working and progressing within the national curriculum framework and who are continuing to make good linear progress, will carry out this curriculum. During Key Stage 4 these pupils will be expected to carry out accredited courses.
A Formal learner is offered English and Maths lessons which are functional to their life. They cover a range of topics which will enable them to be as independent as possible in their community and wider world. Learners will also have regular lessons of Independence Skills and My World which will better equip them with the knowledge and skills they need when they leave St Francis School. Lessons are taught in discrete subjects whilst working towards multiple targets which are relevant to their individual needs.
Learners will also have the opportunity to enter for accredited courses through the WJEC and AQA examinations board. Accreditation consists of a range of coursework modules and external assessments to earn credit value which will contribute to an award, certificate or diploma in different subjects at Entry Level. This coursework-based approach will also prepare them for their transition into Upper School where they will complete Functional Skills examinations.
The Science and Humanities accredited modules are delivered in relation to the meaningful and motivational rolling themes for the Semi-Formal Curriculum.
Students will access an English accreditation through the WJEC examination board and achieve an Entry Level certification in Additional English. The course is delivered through modules of coursework which will earn credit values to form an award or certificate. Students on the Formal English Pathway will follow one of the 3 reading pathways, with many of them being fluent readers and following the Grammar and Vocabulary reading pathway.
Students will access Science accreditation through the WJEC examination board and achieve an Entry Level certification in Science Today. The course is delivered through modules of coursework which will earn credit values. Students will explore and learn about plants, animals and their habitats as well as human biology. Students will also learn about materials and their properties and how to carry out a variety of experiments through scientific enquiry.
Students will access a Mathematics accreditation through the AQA examination board and achieve an Entry Level certification in Mathematics. The course is delivered through a combination of coursework and external examinations. The Maths lessons are practical with a focus on real-life problems, teaching the students skills that they need to be successful in life.
Students will access a Humanities accreditation through the WJEC examination board and achieve an Entry Level certification in Humanities. The course is delivered through modules of coursework which will earn credit values. These modules of coursework can be a combination of History, Geography, PSHE and RE units.
My PSHE and Citenship
Students will access a Humanities accreditation through the WJEC examination board and achieve an Entry Level certification in Humanities. The course is delivered through modules of coursework from a number of different subject modules which will earn credit values to form the certificate. PSHE is one of the subject modules which will form the entry level certificate in Humanities.
During the final year of Key Stage 3, our Formal learners will take part in Careers sessions. They will build upon their prior knowledge of different job roles and begin to think about their next steps in transition to adulthood. In addition to this, students will be given the opportunity to take part in enterprise projects where they will develop the following skills:
The students are set targets for the core subjects of English and Maths where multiple targets can be worked on throughout the academic year. Additionally, they will be set targets based around social and emotional development and physical/independence skills. We measure the outcomes for English and Maths using our ‘Onwards and Upwards’ tracking system using the St Francis Stages outcomes, which is updated termly, marking any progress against the objective statements. The students will also undertake accredited courses at Entry Level 1, 2 or 3 or Level 1, where appropriate across a range of subjects.
Seesaw Learning Journal
Seesaw is a secure online portfolio that allows teachers to document and reflect on students’ engagement within school whilst also sharing these with families. Each student has their own individual journal where pictures, videos and messages can be shared between school and home. This also allows practitioners to reflect on learning within the four key areas of need within in our curriculum. All parents have the opportunity to connect with their child’s journal where they are able to view, like comment on the progress their child is making throughout the year. This also provides a good communication platform and an opportunity to share all that their child is involved in at school.
Holistic Assessment Meetings
Previous standardisation meetings became irrelevant so now practitioners meet together at the end of each term to reflect on students journeys over time. In these meetings we discuss students’ progress, the impact of the curriculum and the pupils’ engagement within the sessions offered.
Internal moderation meetings take place for our formal learners to scrutinise marked accredited coursework prior to submitting to the WJEC examination board for external moderation. This moderation takes place with other experienced teachers in Semi-Formal and Upper School.
Practitioners hold student discussion meetings to identify curriculum areas where added support is required. As a team intervention plans are devised and practitioners work together to solve the on-going challenge of finding extra pockets of time to provide the necessary support. These meetings are held alongside updating the MAPP sheets, but time is regularly set aside during curriculum meetings to discuss interventions when a need arises.