Working together for success
Across the nation, pupils with Education, Health, and Care plans, along with their families, often experience significant barriers to the enjoyment of their basic human rights and to their inclusion in society. At Cherry Oak, we want our curriculum to show a rigorous and determined commitment to remove these barriers and hence we have a culture of never overlooking our pupils’ abilities, never underestimating our pupils’ capabilities and always making their needs our highest priority. Sadly, nothing can ever absolutely guarantee that no pupil and their family will ever experience barriers when they leave the school grounds. However, our curriculum Intent, Implementation and Impact are in place to make sure that these obstacles are as small as is humanly possible.
We want to make sure these barriers are significantly reduced by developing pupils who have a way to communicate, problem-solve, keep themselves safe, understand the information in their environment, regulate their behaviour and take on opportunities with confidence. Pupils can then leave Cherry Oak with a tool bag of skills and knowledge to overcome challenges they will inevitably face in life.
For our pupils, the acquisition of knowledge is not about social mobility but rather social engagement and participation.
At Cherry Oak, we believe that all pupils are entitled to a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum that gives them the skills and knowledge to form strong foundations for further learning. We want our pupils to leave the school with functional communication, be able to understand visual information within the community and develop a love of reading. All our pupils are encouraged to achieve their full potential and to be included in the social and academic life of the school and the local community. We aim to provide educational experiences that consider the individual needs of pupils, appropriate to their age and level of ability.
As a school, we have moved away from a thematic approach to learning and have instead focused on skills specific learning with a skills-based curriculum that is progressive and developmental. We call this ‘Exploring Connections’. The curriculum has 7 stages where pupils will learn specific skills based on their stage of development. Although it is one curriculum, there are two distinct pathways; Explorers; and Connectors. However, all pupils received the Early Years Framework in reception and the assessment of their early learning goals determine where pupils begin their learning pathway, either in Explorers or Connectors class group. The main difference between the two pathways are the developmental stages they operate at and the approaches to teaching the curriculum. Rudimentary, the differences in approach relates to a more formal style of learning for Connectors and a more Sensory style of learning for Explorers. The reason the curriculum has been designed as a continuum of developmental stages is so pupils are not ‘pigeonholed’ into one approach. With our 7 stages, there is always an overlap, that way pupils can hop from one pathway to another seamlessly.
In each Key Stage, there is a heavy focus on Reading and Communication. We recognise that many of our pupils are at a pre-literacy stage and developing basic skills is needed before a more formal version of reading and communication can be achieved. These basic skills are embedded into the early stages of the curriculum to develop pupils’ opportunities to become as functional communicators and fluent readers as possible. To support this further every pupil has dedicated daily phonic sessions linked to Read, Write, Inc.