The concept of 'Independence' underpins our curriculum provision. We are committed to supporting the students to develop the practical skills and knowledge that will enable them to thrive throughout their lives.
We have developed a shared view as to what 'Independence' means at Hamilton and a set of practical things that we do to support this. Click on the link below to see what we use as a practical guide. We work with families to develop a consistency of approaches so that we can really transform lives.
Engagement at Hamilton School is embedded within our school ethos and curriculum big picture. We are continually striving to ensure every child is reaching their full potential with learning opportunities that create the right environment for our students.
The Engagement Profile and Scale created by SSAT (The Schools Network) will be used at Hamilton as a toolkit to target a number of our students to ensure all of their learning needs are being met and progress is being made.
The Engagement Profile and Scale is a classroom tool developed through SSAT’s research into effective teaching and learning for children with complex learning difficulties and disabilities. It allows teachers to focus on the child’s engagement as a learner and create personalised learning pathways. It prompts student-centred reflection on how to increase the learner’s engagement leading to deep learning. By breaking down ‘engagement’ into seven elements – awareness, curiosity, investigation, discovery, anticipation, persistence and initiation – the Engagement profile and scale enables teachers to actively personalise activities for the student in a way which will invite their engagement. It allows them to explore such questions as: ‘How can I change the learning task to stimulate Robert’s curiosity?’ ‘What can I change about this activity to encourage Shannon to persist?
Please click on the link below to see how Hamilton School will use the research and findings to enhance our students learning experience.
Please find more information regarding the Engagement Profile and Scale at http://complexld.ssatrust.org.uk/
Birmingham Curriculum Statement
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, 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.
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.
We see the curriculum as all of the planned experiences that we provide for our students. It is vital that we provide experiences that are useful and / or interesting. Our students are entitled to access a broad and balanced curriculum that will enable them to make great progress both academically and socially. Our curriculum aims to reflect the diversity of our students’ lives and to also prepare them for the diverse multicultural society that they live in. Our curriculum will play a huge part in helping us to meet our aims.
We are increasingly operating a mixed approach to our curriculum. The subject areas of literacy and numeracy are taught in a very structured and discreet way. ICT is also taught separately. Many of our other subject areas are then taught thematically so as to increase the engagement of students. We follow the National Curriculum and we also personalise our provision so that different students have different experiences based on their academic levels and personal talents and interests.
We have refined our provision for 2014/15 and this can be shown on our ‘Curriculum Big Picture’
The Module Overviews were created by taking inspiration from a variety of sources and are based on the National Curriculum. As a school team we have personalised and refined the work so that it is relevant and engaging for Hamilton School students.
Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
In the EYFS at Hamilton School we aim to develop and broaden the range of learning experiences in order to give the students opportunities to develop skills in each of the 7 areas and 17 Early Learning Goals outlined in the Early Years Outcomes. At the end of the Foundation Stage we inform parents and carers as to whether or not your child has met each learning goal, has exceeded the learning goal or are still at the ‘emerging’ level of development on a particular goal. The majority of students who attend special schools will be at an ‘emerging’ level of development in each early learning goal.
All students at Hamilton School experience difficulties in communication and we aim to ensure that all activities are underpinned with providing opportunities for students to develop their communicative skills and give them the tools to enable them to communicate at whatever level is relevant for the individual child.
Outdoor activities are planned for students throughout the day and are based around teaching students basic play skills, encouraging students to interact with one another and with adults and teaching students to explore their environment in relevant and meaningful ways.
For more information please contact Katie Williams (HT) | firstname.lastname@example.org
Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2
In Key Stage 1 and 2 we look to embed and build on skills and interests established in the Foundation Stage. Approaches to learning continue to be underpinned by the pupils’ communication abilities and needs, and staff strive to find motivating and appropriate styles of teaching, so they are very individual to class groups. We teach subjects at an appropriate level and personalise our curriculum so that at any given time it is common to see each student in a class engaging in different learning activities. The curriculum focus changes and develops in line with the academic and personal development of the students. As we move through the years, the focus in terms of PSHE changes. Students are well prepared through the curriculum for the transition to secondary education.
Many of our students at Hamilton School are pre - verbal and our approach to reading and the assessment of reading has been developed with the support of a specialist speech and language therapist. Our students begin school missing many of the pre-requisite skills that are required for learning to read through the usual method of phonics. These skills have to be first taught in a highly structured way through our early literacy programme. When a pupil gains these skills and has reached an appropriate academic level that means they can access mainstream phonics, we then begin to teach them to read in this way. Staff have recently been trained to teach Ruth Miskin’s approach to teaching phonics. Following a successful pilot, approximately half of our students are now on the phonics programme. For some of our students phonics isn’t an appropriate approach to reading. This is either because they are ‘whole word’ learners or rely on pictorial representation (symbols). Where phonics isn’t appropriate students continue with our early literacy programme and learn to read whole words – beginning with words they are most familiar with and extending their vocabulary through structured taught activities within literacy lessons.
We encourage our students to look at books appropriately right from the beginning, and we carry out an assessment of book skills within our early literacy programme. For those who can read there are formal activities that take place such as comprehension activities and 1:1 sessions but our students are also encouraged to read for pleasure. There are several books available for students to read within schemes - Oxford Reading Tree for our younger pupils and Story Street for our older pupils, there is also a range of non-fiction and fiction texts in many of the classrooms for students to choose from.
For more information please contact:
Katie Williams (HT) | email@example.com
Jess Derrer (DHT) | firstname.lastname@example.org
Home Learning principles
Our curriculum can be reinforced through effective home learning. We take a broad view of what we mean by home learning. If we are striving to transform lives by working together, it is vital that there is a strong relationship between the home and the school. We are looking for a consistency of approaches so that our students are best placed to learn really well. We are explicitly focusing on the wider aspects of our students’ development alongside subject specific home learning. For example, it is really important that students have effective bedtime routines so that they can sleep well and are ready to learn. We work together to try to implement strategies. Our curriculum is underpinned by the principles of independence and engagement and home learning should seek to develop these areas. For example, we are currently taking our EYFS students swimming at a local swimming baths. We are encouraging families to do the same so that the important skill of swimming can be developed.
For many of our students, at particular times in their development, traditional approaches to subject based home learning aren’t appropriate. It is important that we are working alongside families in other aspects. For many of our students, subject based learning is appropriate and we will provide personalised activities in line with what we provide in class time. These activities will support knowledge and understanding of learning that is happening in class at the time or may help to develop skills. The frequency and types of home learning that will apply to each student will be set out in their student ‘Passport for Learning’. Passports are being introduced on a rolling programme during 2015-16. Feedback will be provided quickly for home learning activities and we will work alongside families so that they are able to support their students effectively. Home learning should support students’ development and not become something that can reduce enjoyment of learning or increase stress levels to dysfunctional levels.
For more information please contact Katie Williams (HT) | email@example.com
Growing Up in British Society
The concept of ‘Britishness’ at Hamilton school
Our school is made up a range of different groups from different faith backgrounds and we are truly a multi-cultural school. Our focus is on preparing our students for life in British society. We have a clear set of values and an ethos that can be seen in our ‘What We Stand For’ document.
This collaborative document acts as a guide to how we conduct our day-to-day work and ensures that adults model the appropriate behaviour.
Our curriculum is underpinned by the concepts of ‘Independence’ and ‘Engagement’ and by actively developing these things with our students, through a series of practical steps, we are aiming to prepare our students for life in British society. We have a coherent approach to SMSC (Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural) aspects of school life. Religious Education sessions provide another vehicle to explicitly develop this aspect of our work.
We challenge students, staff or parents who express opinions that could undermine this approach.
There are a range of other things that we do through our day-to-day work that contributes to developing an understanding of ’Britishness’ and life in British society:
- Students explore their own identity by describing themselves in terms of; groups they belong to, where they are from, what they like doing, what they are good at, what their ‘beliefs’ are and what clubs they attend
- Organise a range of community events to highlight the diversity of British society in terms of festivals and celebrations
- Promote respect for public institutions such as the police
- Provide students with numerous opportunities to make choices throughout the day
- Develop turn taking and waiting skills as many of our students find this difficult
- Provide opportunities for students to become involved in decision making processes in school
- The vast majority of our students have difficulties with social communication so we help them to express their views
- Teach students the idea of ‘fairness’ in practical situations
Rule of law
- Ensure that school expectations are clear and fair
- Help students to distinguish between right and wrong
- Have an active relationship with the local police and include them in curriculum work
- Support students to develop their self-knowledge, self-esteem and self- confidence
- Encourage students to take responsibility for their own behaviour, as well as knowing their rights
- Model freedom of speech and ensure the protection of vulnerable students
- Act swiftly to prevent bullying
Respect and tolerance
- Promote respect for individual differences
- Help students to understand, and respect, their own and other cultures
- Organise visits to places of worship
- Develop links with faith communities
- Discuss differences between people
Religious Education at Hamilton
Religious Education in Birmingham is informed by the Birmingham Agreed Syllabus 2007. The Agreed Syllabus is reviewed every five years and was last reviewed in 2012.
We base our school RE structure and approaches on Birmingham’s Agrees Syllabus and adapt it to the needs and learning styles of each pupil. Due to Speaking and Listening Levels of our pupils and their additional needs; related to Autism, it can mean our pupils are behind or significantly behind mainstream peers. As a result class teachers adapted learning approaches and use the RE Plevels to guide the teaching and learning that takes place.
This offers some useful links and resources to inform teaching and learning.
New Modules (Introduced in Sept 2014) cover Religious Education within our “Understanding the World” curriculum. The Agreed Syllabus states : Pupils will be given opportunities to learn for a future in society by:
I – Learning from faith (Page 5)
II – Learning about religious traditions (Page 6)
Within the Birmingham Agreed Syllabus identifies these as Birmingham’s main religions: - Baha’I, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Rastafarianism, Sikhism, have a brief overview, information and ideas relating to that religion and some traditions, that can be used by the teacher to focus the teaching and learning. The religions in bold currently have most relevance to our school community, but we do revise this as new pupils join our school. Our RE provision is also enriched and underpinned by our school approach to SMSC.
The school garden is an outside learning environment that provides endless opportunities to enrich and enhance the key elements underpinning RE and strong links can be made to the Agreed Syllabus KS1 P11/12. This is most active within the curriculum from Spring 2 through to Autumn 1. We are looking for ways to extend this by working with agencies such as Gro Organic.
Staff were consulted in relation to their own religions and the main festivals and religious days within their religion to share within our school community. Where appropriate, national and local events are followed and, if appropriate, attended. Visit to religious places of worship such as Churches, Mosques, Gudwara’s and Temples are arranged.
These happen as a discreet element of each classe's timetable. They are appropriate to the needs and abilities of each class. Certificates of achievement are shared with families.
School Events and Community Links
As a school community we annually have a large bonfire night to celebrate the autumn festivals of light and link this to Diwali (Sikh / Hindu) Guy Fawkes, (History and SMSC link) and Chanukah (Jewish). Friends from our wider school and local community are invited and local businesses also make donations to contribute to this event.
Christmas is celebrated within the school. An annual whole school production is held and varies in it’s content and level of Christian messages. There is again, a strong SMSC link and families and friends of the school come to celebrate the production. Due to the expansion of the school and the range of needs of the pupils we have a KS1 and KS2 production. A whole school Christmas meal offers the chance to invite school stakeholders to come and celebrate with the pupils. Each class arranges celebrations with the pupils.
Summer BBQ is a weekend event held in the school where we celebrate with our whole school community. The Garden is open for families to see the work and garden in process.
Leaver’s Assembly and Graduation (SMSC Link) is a celebration of achievements and a farewell to our Year 6 Pupils.
Birthdays and significant life events are a fantastic opportunity for our pupils to share and celebrate with peers and school community. For birthdays, families often support the classes with ideas for their child and every effort is made to make sure every pupil in the school has their birthday acknowledged and made special. Other life events of pupils and staff are also celebrated as appropriate within the school community.
Whole school celebration in our school and local community that have an annual curriculum focus.
Other events and celebrations
Ramadan and Eid Al Fitar
Birthdays and significant life events