Key Stage 3 Curriculum
At Firwood we have worked hard to ensure our curriculum is meaningful and relevant to the needs of every student. We want all students to learn without limits. We encourage students to enjoy learning and aim to ensure this prepares them for life as a long-term goal. At Firwood we use pathways and specialist approaches with clear purpose. Our pathways work alongside one another to offer a tailored and adaptive response to the needs of our learners, whilst still offering the same curriculum in an inclusive and supportive way. Our curriculum is age-appropriate and includes diverse experiences, texts and learning opportunities. We ensure we are responsive to student’s specific needs, with targets from education, health and care (EHC) plans weaved through our curriculum, as a golden thread running through everything we do.
We consider parents/carers priorities for pupils and build in opportunities for this within the curriculum, to ensure we work in partnership with parents/carers to build on the skills needed for our students to live a life which meets their aspirations. Targets and aspirations from parents are included on personalised learning plans. To further support our students holistically, we include targets set by other professionals, such as speech and language therapists or occupational therapists. Specialist input is woven in to the daily life of our students, and we dedicate curriculum time to supporting our students with these goals. Whilst we are adaptive, responsive and ensure our curriculum caters to the different needs of our students, we also ensure that the curriculum promotes literacy, numeracy and good communication at all times, as a core focus. We have a further focus on prompting independence, where appropriate and supporting the Preparing for Adulthood agenda to ensure student’s meet their destination outcomes.
Our curriculum is highly personalised and creative and is led by outcomes that will make a difference to our students. Our learners are placed into one of three pathways, all of which run alongside one another, following the same thematic approach and strands of learning. Each pathway however offers a different pedagogical approach to learning, in order to respond and adapt to student needs. Such a flexible and adaptable curriculum model informs personalised learning pathways for pupils whose learning may be at an experiential, contextual or discrete/concept level. The pathways are all interchangeable and there is fluidity between the pathways to allow students to move across pathways where appropriate. Students may have their own personal timetables and individual strategies and interventions are described in class planning. Our accreditation offer supplements this, and bespoke/personalised accreditation is sourced and offered if appropriate.
The five core areas of learning at Firwood for KS3 and KS4 are Communication, Discovery, Movement, Independence and Enrichment. These strands of learning all ensure there is a broad and balanced coverage of the national curriculum framework, where appropriate for our learners. We ensure a long-term overview in every area encompasses all areas of learning which will ensure our learners get a breadth of experience. Curriculum teams map out coverage of National Curriculum subject areas which are linked to our long-term thematic overview. The subjects are then weaved holistically into different lessons across each strand, as subject specific learning is not beneficial or appropriate for our students.
Students at Firwood High School have learning difficulties which cover a wide range of needs, including moderate learning difficulties (MLD), severe learning difficulties (SLD), where children are likely to need support in all areas of the curriculum and associated difficulties with mobility and communication through to profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD), where students are likely to have severe and complex learning difficulties as well as a physical disability or sensory impairment. As such, students need an adapted pace of learning to allow time for consolidation and ensure understanding. We ensure in our leaning we give adequate time to re-cap and re-visit essential skills and knowledge, building upon learning in a logical and practical way.
Our adapted and personalised curriculum not only encompasses an age-appropriate and creative approach to thematic study at KS3 & 4, but a real, relevant, broad and balanced sixth form curriculum. We aim to prepare our learners for life beyond Firwood, with a focus on preparing for adulthood from KS3. Our Preparing for Adulthood curriculum in the sixth form draws upon the themes and prior learning which have been woven through KS3 & 4.
Each pupil follows an Individual Learning Plan (ILP). EHCP targets are central to this learning plan, and they work alongside the skill-based targets which are chosen for each area of the curriculum. The EHCP targets inform the Individual Learning Plan (ILP). During the Annual Review process, and throughout the year, we work closely with families to ensure all targets are inspirational and meaningful. Individual Learning Plan targets are set by the class team, in liaison with multi agency partners and in consultation with parent/career aspirations.
Formal assessment takes place every term, using a lateral progress measure: MAPP. Students are assessed on skill-based targets, along a continuum scale from 1 – 10. Progress is measured across for areas for every skill; fluency, maintenance, generalisation and independence. Students have varied opportunities through the curriculum to achieve these targets. This includes academic learning, social emotional and sensory development and a range of specialist interventions including MOVE, Sensory Profiles and intervention and accreditation opportunities.
Both formal and informal assessments are captured and evidenced in Evidence for Learning and may be recorded and celebrated as qualifications from nationally recognised awarding bodies such as AQA and ASDAN or in-house awards and celebrations of achievement. Our accreditation offer is bespoke and tailored to each pathway and will encompass what we believe our students need and can achieve through the vehicle of the curriculum.
We believe that by offering a personalised and responsive curriculum we will be able to support our students in achieving their destination outcomes. We hope to ensure every student who attends Firwood has a breadth and variety of experiences, within their school community and in the local community where appropriate. We hope to embed lifelong learning, which supports our students to live as independently as possible, supporting their ability to communicate their own wants/needs/desires. We work alongside parents to ensure that the impact of our curriculum and offer here at Firwood supports the whole family, with support from our extensive multi-agency partnerships. We hope to remove as many limits as possible for our students, to ensure that every student reaches their full potential.