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Having established positive behaviours for learning during their upper primary phase, the majority of our young people are now ready to engage with a more formalised, more subject-focused provision. Within this, students learn to work with a range of teachers, often moving from classroom to classroom for different subjects such as English, Maths, ICT, Humanities, Modern Foreign Languages (MfL). Our Art Room and Science Lab provide the opportunity for students to access specialist resources and equipment for Science and Art sessions.
To maintain stability and to ensure their provision is matched to their learning and developmental stage, students remain in the same tutor group with the same Learning Support Assistants (LSAs) across the majority of their timetable. Where the need is identified, fluidity of movement between groups ensures that a student can switch within Key Stage 3 at any time to ensure best progress is achieved.
Our Key Stage 3 curriculum is all about:
promoting independence and responsibility for learning;
preparation for the academic challenges of Key Stage 4. This includes introducing students to their first relevant accredited courses thus bringing added purpose and encouraging young people to take responsibility;
embedding and reinforcing the foundations of literacy and maths through:
Sitting alongside the academic element of our curriculum – through which we focus on maximising learning capacity and establishing independent learning behaviours in preparation for KS4 – are a range of provisions that target developmental growth:
Through weekly Social Interaction sessions, young people are presented with opportunities to explore how they can manage the day-to-day scenarios they are likely to be faced with as Young People moving into Adulthood. Sequences of learning allow students to explore life both in the wider community and within students’ own family and friendship groups. They are able to develop elements of communication - such as Body Language, Tone of Voice, Active Listening and Assertiveness - that fall outside the English curriculum as they take part in Role play, Group Discussion, Group Debate, and other active learning opportunities.
Our focus on building meaningful relationships, particularly within peer groups, extends across a range of subject areas, not least PSHE and SRE. Weekly sessions present further opportunities to explore key aspects of personal development including: self-care; how to build and sustain meaningful and safe friendships and relationships; how to enjoy safe use of mobile and online devices; how to make safe choices within our wider community. The programme our key stage 3 students follow thereby targets their age-appropriate developmental needs and helps them to build the resilience and self-awareness to be prepared for the challenges of KS4.
Within the PSHE Framework, we have identified the element of “Accessing the Community” as one of the most crucial to focus upon with our young people if we are to best prepare them for their futures beyond Fairmead School. For this reason, we have developed this aspect as a subject in its own right, initially setting programmes for Key Stage 4 students then, more recently, setting a programme for Key Stage 3. Accessing the Community is now established as a weekly provision for Key Stage 3 classes, offering opportunities to plan and carry out trips and activities that focus on the skills we need to interact with the wider community independently, productively and safely. Whilst the pillar of Community is firmly rooted in this programme of learning, it also truly challenges the resilience of our students as many of them step out into the community with a level of responsibility and independence that they have not previously experienced. They begin to apply their knowledge and understanding in real world settings, and communicate with unfamiliar but safe adults in order to achieve required outcomes.
Through increasingly formalised, purposeful learning:
Students write at increasing length using preferred way of recording (including access to assistive technologies such as typing, text to speech, speech to text)
Students establish a wider appreciation for reading as a means of communication through daily access to carefully selected, age-appropriate texts.
Students’ resilience is challenged and developed as they learn, for example, to: manage conflict and disagreement; accept that others have conflicting opinions to their own; recognise qualities they both seek and need to show in a friendship.
Students are supported to develop and apply effective strategies that enable them to access learning.