The curriculum at Riverside Bridge School offers pupils curriculum experiences that are broad, balanced, relevant, differentiated and progressive and which promote the spiritual, intellectual, personal, social and physical development of all our pupils.
Accommodating the educational needs of all its pupils and enabling pupils to acquire the knowledge, concepts, skills and values that are relevant to their present and future lives is core to the school culture, management, organisation, curriculum content and approaches to teaching and learning. Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development is threaded throughout the curriculum via our project based learning.
Our curriculum vision is to unlock every child’s potential, by increasing social inclusion, addressing mental health and well-being and promoting social and emotional development. We want all our pupils to be able to gain as much life skills and independence as possible whilst with us so later on in their life they can thrive in our community and become resilient, respectful and accomplished citizens .
Our pupils come with complex layered needs including Severe Learning Difficulties, Moderate Learning Difficulties, Communication Disorders, Sensory Needs, Physical Needs, and/or Social, Emotional Mental Health Needs. Attainment on entry of all pupils is well below those expected of pupils of a similar age nationally and the majority of our intake is on the Autistic Spectrum; hence a curriculum adapted from the Autism Education Trust framework, which is more geared towards meeting the needs of this lifelong neurodevelopmental condition that affects how people perceive, communicate and interact with the world. However even our cohort of young people is not a homogeneous group. Like all children and young people, our pupils as individuals vary in terms of their intellectual ability, their personality, their profile of strengths and needs, and the presence of other conditions (e.g. learning disability, ADHD, epilepsy, visual/hearing impairment) and their life experiences; and even those of the same apparent developmental age may not necessarily progress through the stages of development at the same rate.
Thus a curriculum which aims to provide a developmentally sequenced framework that ensures quality first education for all our pupils, with a specific focus on promoting spontaneous communication and emotional regulation in everyday activities and across different settings such as school, home and community. Our curriculum is above all the reflection of our school vision which fosters the belief that learning should enable all pupils to thrive and develop with the ambition to lead a fulfilled, happy, rewarding and as far as possible independent life, integrated into the society they choose to leave in. This is our commitment to all our pupils regardless of gender, needs, ability, ethnicity, religion or culture.
Through a mix of behavioural, developmental and educational approaches, with the goal of enhancing cognitive, communication and social skills whilst minimising behaviours that challenge, we offer all our pupils a unique and well-structured curriculum that is broad and balanced and designed to give them the knowledge, skills and cultural capital they individually need to succeed in life; meet all their needs; and address potential social disadvantages.
We ensure our curriculum the curriculum is flexible enough and adaptable enough to meet the needs of each child through careful consideration of each pupil’s learning styles and needs leading to distinct pathways which strive to be responsive to each learner, build on individual strengths and interests and enable every pupil to shine. Hence a curriculum model delivered into three broad pathways: informal – Seeds & Roots; semi-formal – Branch & Leaf; formal – Accreditation. This allows us to offer a means of making subtle distinctions between not only groups of learners but also the degree of curriculum formalisation they will experience in either building the prerequisites for, or working within, a more ‘conventional’ National Curriculum type approach. Our curriculum allows pupils to reinforce continuously prior learning and it increases in cognitive complexity, widening out as pupils move through the pathways, revisiting concepts in greater depth. These pathways are not defined by age, but by need and achievement. Pupils are identified on entry or baselined at the beginning of each year through their Individualised Development Profile as to which curriculum pathway is better suited to meet their needs and there after they are able to move flexibly between pathways at any point during their school career. Some pupils may even be able to access a more ‘fluid’ curriculum, meaning that they may benefit from aspects of two from the three possible pathways, all based on individual needs which are reviewed regularly.
We believe our three distinct and differentiated pathways offer the best way for:
achievement to be maximised;
each pupil to have a personalised curriculum appropriate to their needs;
teachers to deliver lessons at an appropriate pace;
expectations and targets to be set and reinforced;
pupils to be challenged and supported at the right level;
a positive learning environment to be nurtured and maintained;
pupils to develop confidence and self-esteem through appropriately differentiated pastoral programmes.
Pupils will be helped to build upon their learning and gradually develop as more independent learners. The atmosphere will be one of supportive collaboration where pupils feel that their needs are being effectively met and all are making progress together. The key character traits of confidence and resilience will be developed through the differentiated approaches to teaching and learning.
Our curriculum is constructed around the twin pillars of communication and cognition. Although we make reference to the National Curriculum and adapt as appropriate to meet the needs of our pupils, for our pupils there needed to be a more developmental perspective, with communication and cognition being the principal areas of development . For a majority of our pupils with severe learning difficulties, subjects such as geography, history, art and music should provide a context for learning communication and cognition rather than represent the focus of learning. As the extent to which our pupils engage with the National Curriculum vary, according to their attainment levels and nature of their needs; hence our curriculum model based on three pathways which enable our pupils to access the full national curriculum, in contexts where it is best placed to meet their needs.
The Speech and Language Therapy Service will be integral in delivering support which ensures progression for all pupils in the school.