Welcome to Hamilton School

Curriculum Rationale

Our aims

At Hamilton School, students experience a creative and purposeful curriculum.  The curriculum underpins our mission statement of ‘striving to be a great school where people work together to transform lives’  We see the curriculum as all of the planned experiences that we provide for our students that are useful and / or interesting, whilst reflecting the diversity of our students’ lives. Our ‘What We Stand For’ document reflects our ethos and vision
http://www.hamilton.bham.sch.uk/vision.html, with the ultimate goal of creating happy, independent and
inter-dependent learners whom are given the knowledge and skills to manage their own life as they get older.  We equip them to grow up in British Society and have high aspirations for their future possibilities.

Our curriculum is built on knowing our pupils needs, not only academically, but also socially and emotionally. The curriculum is developed by all the teaching and learning staff and takes into consideration the learning styles of our students, all of whom who have a diagnosis of Autism.  It is co-designed with staff and students get options and choices within it.  We seek to provide curriculum opportunities that will also benefit families.  For example, shopping and visits to airports!  We prepare the students for the secondary phase of their education and try to instil good habits that will help them flourish into adulthood.  We do not wait for secondary school to teach skills and important knowledge if it is appropriate to do so whilst with us.  We employ autistic adults at school and this helps to keep our eyes very much on the future ambitions of our students and what they are capable of achieving.

Developing hobbies and interests is a key priority for our curriculum.  For example, we work closely with the Music Service to provide personalised opportunities for students who have real talents in that area (this culminated in a group being the first from a special school to perform at the Birmingham Proms in Symphony Hall in July 2019).  We have a partnership with The Albion Foundation that enhances our Physical Education work in school and provides comprehensive opportunities for holiday provision.  This is supported by SevenUp.

We provide a wide range of lunch-time clubs that students can choose to access.  These are based around their interests and give opportunities for social development.  For example: Dance Club, Dinosaur Club, Sensory Club, Lego Club.

These are examples of way in which our strong intent is for the curriculum to also support the physical and emotional wellbeing of our students. Developing social communication skills runs throughout the curriculum and personalised approaches to developing reading for all students are evident through our early literacy and phonics programmes.

How we do it

The curriculum is organised in a way that supports our curriculum aims. ​ The subject areas of English and Maths are taught in a very structured and discrete way but we always look to develop cross-curricula links so that students can apply their learning between subject areas and to real life situations.  This is a particular challenge for our students. Computing and Science are also taught separately.  Many of our other subject areas are then taught thematically so as to increase the engagement of students.  We follow the P levels and National Curriculum, whilst also personalising our provision so that different students have different experiences based on their academic levels and personal talents and interests. Our curriculum is designed to engage, challenge and extend our students capabilities. We celebrate small and big steps with students who get appropriate feedback from staff regarding all aspects of their work.

The curriculum is structured into curriculum areas which link to the EYFS curriculum framework. These are; Communication Language and English, Maths, Physical and Emotional Wellbeing, Expressive Art and Design and Understanding the World. Within each of these areas are the topics we teach; http://www.hamilton.bham.sch.uk/bigpicture.html

For other Curriculum areas, our 'Long Term' planning is organised within Thematic and Module Overviews. The Module Overviews were created by taking inspiration from a variety of sources. Our intention is to provide a curriculum that nurtures our students and is rooted with skills that they can apply in the real world whilst being relevant and engaging. If something isn’t either useful and / or interesting, we don’t teach it.

The structure of the modules is that they are broken into curriculum strands and within those strands are the P Level and National Curriculum Objectives. In some cases, we have developed our own objectives to ‘bridge the gap’ between levels and to teach skills we felt our students were missing and that they need.

All of our students are baselined using a range of assessment strategies for all of our curriculum areas, although we only assess and formally record for the core subjects (English, Maths, Science, and Computing). Our staff know their students and through formative assessment and observations, are quick to assess, check where their students understanding would be and identify any misconceptions within each of the curriculum areas. A great deal of effort is placed on transition at the end of each year. Using knowledge, team discussions and moderation, our staff are able to plan what their student’s sequential steps within their curriculum learning would be and how their learning links together. Our teachers are confident with their subject areas and relevant CPD is provided whilst ‘sharing good practice’, joint planning and focused time in each others classrooms is encouraged within the teaching community at Hamilton School. We try to create a ‘buzz’ around our curriculum and encourage staff to take calculated risks in terms of what they provide so as to have breakthrough moments with our students.

Our students have a voice in our curriculum, including them in choice within what they would like to learn within their lessons, behaviour support strategies and what activities we provide through our comprehensive programme of lunch-time activities. We have worked hard to develop our curriculum and our own ‘Assessment Criterias’ in a wider range of subjects (a recommendation from the Ofsted report January 2016). The P levels and National Curriculum continue to be the backbone to our assessment. However, through the knowledge of the staff, work with other schools and the strength in knowing our students, we have been confident enough to fill in the gaps and amend some of the objectives and targets so they fit more specifically for our students, and broaden their learning experiences and progression opportunities.

We have devised our own Personal, Social, Health and Emotion (PSHE) Curriculum. This was built using a range of resources alongside a broad group of professionals to ensure it is a curriculum that is not only suitable for Primary aged students, but also students with SEN, particularly Autism. The goal is for our students EHCP outcomes to be set using our PSHE curriculum with the support of key pastoral and inclusion staff. These are to be embedded and displayed within the classrooms for half termly focuses to make for personalised and purposeful lessons and activities, not only during PSHE but throughout the school day.

Our curriculum is organised so that students can take an active approach in the local community.  Our students experience educational visits out of school to a range of places from shops, sporting facilities and cultural centres to both enhance their learning and equip them with knowledge and skills for later life.  This work helps parents and families to be able to access the wider community in a less stressful and more inclusive way.

As a school, we use the Engagement for Learning Framework to address any barriers to learning for our students and this has proved extremely successful. As well as working closely with our Speech and Language Therapist, Occupational Therapist and Clinical Psychologist to ensure all our student’s needs, academically, emotionally and physically are considered.

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Hamilton Road, Handsworth, Birmingham, B21 8AH Email: enquiry@hamilton.bham.sch.uk