The Curriculum at Hornbeam Academy is child-centred. It is designed to meet the needs of all our learners. The Hornbeam Curriculum promotes building connections, problem solving skills, and coherence. It ensures on-going opportunities for active cross-curricular and contextualised learning. It addresses the needs of the broad age and ability range within the school, and meets each individual at their point of learning.
Penny Lacey (2011)suggested that a curriculum for young people with learning difficulties needs to be constructed around the “twin pillars” of “communication” and “cognition”. She argued that for these students there needs to be a “move away from a National Curriculum perspective to a developmental perspective, with “communication” and “cognition” being the principal things which are explicitly taught. She recommended that for many young people with learning difficulties, subjects such as history and music should serve to provide a context for learning “communication” and “cognition” rather than represent the focus of learning. As the extent to which different learners with learning disabilities engage with the National Curriculum needs to vary, according to their attainment levels and nature of their SEN Lacey suggested three types of curriculum for special needs schools, enabling learners to access the full national curriculum, in contexts where it is best placed to meet their needs.
At Hornbeam Academy we have adopted a curriculum structure which encompasses 3 broad levels: ‘informal’, ‘semi-formal’ and ‘formal’ . These terms, originally coined by Whitefield SAC (2009), 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.
All of our learners are on a pathway matched to their stage of learning: explorers (informal), Horizon (semi-formal) and Challenger (formal). The pathways are not defined by age, but by need and achievement; learners are therefore able to move flexibly between pathways at any point during their school career. Each pathway covers skills, knowledge and understanding across a range of areas of learning, and they are blended together, so as to facilitate a ‘learning flow’ between the three.
All curriculum planning focuses on the key skills of communication, cognition, physical development and self-care and independence, and is informed by a developmental perspective. Class timetables are constructed around the principle that every moment of the school day is a learning opportunity. Each aspect of school life is a planned learning experience, and linked to curriculum targets.
A broad and flexible rolling plan of curriculum ‘themes’ support cross curricular and contextualised learning. Teachers plan for educational visits, assemblies and events, which are relevant, meaningful, and connected with classroom learning. Long-Term and Medium-term planning ensures that all learners to encounter ICT in a variety of ways.
We have a clear and comprehensive overview of how and when aspects of the curriculum related to safe and healthy lifestyles are addressed. This ensures that they are planned for with consideration of other factors, to ensure maximum impact.
Learner voice informs curriculum development and the Rights of the Child are directly addressed through the curriculum, feature in long term planning, and support the development of positive and safe learning environments.
14-16 courses support the best possible outcomes for each individual student, and offer value-added.