The Russett School, Middlehurst Avenue, Weaverham, Northwich, Cheshire CW8 3BW
Tel: 01606 853005 | Fax: 01606 855833
The Russett Curriculum- aims, rationale, design and assessment
1 What is the curriculum?
The curriculum is all the planned activities that we organise in order to promote learning and personal growth, development and independence. It includes not only the formal requirements of the National Curriculum taught in classrooms, but also any other activity organised by academy, for example, educational visits and any other activities designed to enrich the experience of the children.
At The Russett, we believe that our curriculum should be broad, balanced and relevant and meet the needs of our pupils at our learning difficulty school Cheshire in a highly bespoke way. It should meet the needs of all children whatever their ability and staff will be supported to deliver the curriculum in a creative way through a thematic approach. By providing a range of opportunities we believe that our children have the potential to achieve and be the best they can be. We aim to enable our young people to have developed as far as possible the skills, knowledge and understanding that will enable them to play an active part in their community and have skills for lifelong learning. Developing pupils spiritually, morally, socially and culturally is an important part of this.
4 Why our partnership with you as parents/carers is important
Before your child starts at the academy , you will be invited to come and see the classroom and meet the teacher and senior members of staff in order to set up a partnership with you that will last throughout your child’s time at the academy . We place a high value on dialogue and exchange of information with parents/carers because we need to take your expectations and priorities for your child into account if we are to plan and deliver the best provision. This will include agreement on individual outcomes for pupils identified at the annual review meeting for the Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
How our curricular programmes are organised
Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
At this key stage, the statutory framework for EYFS is taught to our pupils by providing routine, structure and carefully planned, targeted play activities. Individual targets for children are set with the purpose of enhancing opportunities for learning and personal development. There are seven areas of learning in the EYFS framework: literacy, mathematics, understanding the world, expressive arts and design plus three ‘prime’ areas of learning:
Our timetable allocates a lot of time to these three ‘prime areas’. All the learning that goes on in EYFS is designed to promote these core skills and to provide opportunities for children to generalise them.
Key Stage 1 – Key Stage 3
At The Russett School we are following a thematic approach to teaching the National Curriculum as this enables pupils to link skills and knowledge taught across the theme. Pupils, depending on their age, usually follow a two- or three-year rolling programme. Each term, we follow a theme, such as Jungle/Circus in the summer term for Key Stage 1. Taking this as an example, pupils then work on focused texts, such as The Tiger that Came to Tea, use numeracy skills to ‘pay’ entrance to the circus and count the spots on animals, learn geography through exploring which countries circus animals come from and listen and perform music from the circus.
Throughout these key stages, we continue to emphasize communication skills because they lie at the heart of teaching and learning. We adopt a ‘total communication approach’, drawing, for instance, on signing, Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCAs) and objects of reference. This model enables a shared understanding between adult and learner, without which no true learning can take place.
Learning activities are organised through schemes of work which are derived from the National Curriculum but adapted to suit the learning needs of the individual. Students are set challenging targets but there is a commitment to fun and enjoyment whilst learning. There are also increasing opportunities to participate in educational visits and extra-curricular activities, as the learners progress through the key stages. These include opportunities to work as volunteers and to participate in community events, such as the Christmas tree decoration competition at Arley Hall.
Each ‘ability’ group covers all the National Curriculum subjects, but the balance of the curriculum will vary from group to group. For instance, pupils with identified sensory processing needs will follow individual programmes to develop their ‘readiness for learning’. Each lesson is highly differentiated in order to meet the different needs of all the pupils in the class.
As pupils move through these key stages, the expectations placed on them become more demanding, including an emphasis on developing their independence and responsibility, as part of the preparation for later key stages and adulthood.
14-19, including Sixth Form
Accredited courses, starting in Year 10, boost learning opportunities and raise achievements in a caring ethos which nurtures positive relationships and fosters the growth of responsible behaviour. All students will have the opportunity to:
In the Sixth Form, we continue to deliver a curriculum linked to nationally accredited courses which is tailored to students’ individual needs, interests and priorities. Our curriculum offers opportunities for our older students to develop their learning, functional and personal skills in real-life settings in the academy, the workplace and college placements, for instance. Students take responsibility for planning and making lunches, as well as acting as positive role models for younger students through taking on a range of responsible ‘jobs’ in the academy .
For the sixth form, we have identified three clear learning pathways, each linked to accreditation: Coastal, Countryside and City.
Students following the Coastal pathway are likely to require a high level of staff input to access the curriculum and access to multi-sensory teaching. They are also likely to require a high level of physiotherapy and/or medical input.
Those following the Countryside pathway still require a high level of support. They are likely to be able to participate, whilst in the sixth form, in a college part-time programme, supported by familiar staff and benefiting from travel training. Work experience for those on this particular pathway is likely to be in-house.
City students will follow Entry 1/Entry 2 accredited programmes of study, will participate in external work placements and will secure a post-academy college/FE placement or take up a supported internship.
The optimal pathway for a student to follow is largely determined by prior assessment. The curriculum design allows for a degree of flexibility, so that, for instance, even if a student does not completely switch pathways there will still be opportunities to experience elements within another pathway. This flexibility is possible because students on all three pathways are grouped and taught in the same class.
As a simple illustration of the differentiated provision made within each pathway, students on all three pathways learn about European cultures and lifestyles. In the case of Coastal students, the emphasis would be on experiential learning, identifying personal tastes and preferences; the Country students would shop for, and prepare, a simple snack, whereas the City group would engage in more complex work around planning, budgeting, shopping and preparing a meal.
In room 10, the pupils follow a curriculum written by staff at Victoria School MSI Unit in Birmingham. There are four phases and eight curriculum domains:
The class follows a termly theme with a focus on whole class, small group and individual work. On the timetable subjects may be identified but also activities such as Intensive Interaction, sensory stories, Rebound Therapy and individual programmes will also be evident.
In this class there is an emphasis on multidisciplinary working with staff from Health and the Sensory Service supporting the pupil’s progress and wellbeing.
Developing pupils’ ability to respond, to listen and to understand lies at the heart of our curriculum.
In particular, science offers pupils the opportunities to use their senses to explore and investigate, to develop an awareness of, and interest in, themselves and their immediate surroundings and environment. We also encourage pupils to participate in practical activities and develop an understanding of cause and effect.
Our Job Coach works with individuals and small groups to help students to identify and pursue their own career aspirations, offering real life experiences of the work place, an understanding of lifelong learning, and developing skills to enable students to contribute to society.
In particular, RE offers pupils opportunities to develop their self-awareness, understand the world they live in as individuals and as members of groups, develop positive attitudes towards others, respecting their beliefs and experience, reflect on and consider their own values and those of others and deal with issues that form the basis for personal choices and behaviour.
We are very proud to have been awarded the RE Quality Mark- Gold standard.
In particular, PE offers pupils opportunities to develop their skills of coordination, control, manipulation and movement, promote a healthy lifestyle and contribute towards their physical development. PE also develops the personal qualities of commitment, fairness and enthusiasm.
Learning history helps pupils develop curiosity in, and an understanding of, the past and how their local community has changed. In particular, studying history offers pupils opportunities to develop knowledge and understanding of the sequences, routines and chronological patterns that make up their world.
We use different methods and procedures to check that the curriculum is well-matched to pupils’ needs and achieving what it is designed to do. These include:
10 How do our arrangements for assessment work?
It is vitally important that our arrangements for assessment are fully aligned with our model for the curriculum. We need to be confident that we are assessing correctly what we have been teaching and what pupils have learned.
Assessment takes a variety of forms. These include:
In addition, formal assessment tools are used to generate summative achievement data which allows us to evaluate individual, group and whole-academy achievement. These tools include:
Clicking on the ‘related downloads’ within this Section.
These will provide you with more detailed information in downloadable form about the curriculum taught in particular year groups.
Other ways you might wish to use to find out more include:
 Ofsted inspection report for The Russett – July 2014