The Merefield Curriculum
Our Philosophy of Teaching and Learning
At Merefield we want to encourage and develop a strong sense of achievement within all our pupils that will stay with them throughout their lives. Our aim is that they are healthy and safe and they enjoy and achieve in all areas of their development. At Merefield our aim is to create environments in which effective teaching and learning enables all our pupils’ opportunities to enjoy and achieve as a valued member of our school community. We believe in having a positive approach towards school life and our pupils are supported to become motivated and confident individuals.
Our bespoke curriculum is taught by experienced professionals enabling all pupils to achieve at their own level. To be effective Merefield aims to concentrate on the individual to create optimum conditions for their learning. This is achieved through the utilisation of individualised teaching approaches. Our pupils begin Merefield with a variety of experiences, opportunities and needs. It is the role of all staff to encompass a holistic approach to learning, encouraging the pupils to develop a sense of pride, care and sensitivity towards themselves, their peers and the school.
It is important that every pupil feels safe, happy, respected, cared for and has a sense of belonging. We strive to build the confidence, independence and resilience of each child so that they are able to achieve their potential. We want all our pupils to access an outstanding curriculum with an array of opportunities to personalise learning to meet the pupil’s individual needs. Our planning is based on the principle that our pupils are more engaged in learning when they are interested and motivated. We are committed to meeting the needs of our pupils and valuing the contributions they make.
We aim to ensure that learning at Merefield broadens the aspirations, values and opportunities for each individual as they grow and develop, sometimes at an individual pace, with personal development at the heart of the curriculum. Merefield fosters close working relationships between other schools, providers, parents and professionals to provide and enhance opportunities.
The Merefield Curriculum consists of six strands and aims to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum that reflects the individual needs of our pupils. Each pupil has a desired aspiration or transition pathway and we aim to prepare them for this. The curriculum at Merefield has a great emphasis on the four areas of SEND; communication and interaction, cognition and learning, physical and sensory development, and social and emotional wellbeing. A thematic approach ensures that activities are planned to allow each pupil to achieve their full potential and become engaged and as independent as possible in their learning, to stimulate our pupils to acquire a continuum of learning opportunities, responsibilities and life experiences. Our curriculum is based on developing Functional skills that allows young people to prepare for everyday life, develop independence, confidence and ultimately prepare for adulthood and to embark on the next stage in their life, whether that be supported living, supported employment, volunteering opportunities, social enterprise providers or a personal budget. Each pupil has an annual personalised learning intention map (PLIM) which is derived from joint outcomes from their EHC plan and based around the four areas of SEND. These are shared with parents / carers to extend learning opportunities and reviewed regularly. Therapeutic and medical needs are integrated into the day to ensure that learning focuses on the needs of the individual. Our curriculum is constantly evolving to ensure that we are responding to a rapidly developing world around us and that we are offering our pupils the best start to their lives. The school’s aim is to engage our pupils in enjoyable learning activities that are of functional value to them now and in the future.
A thematic approach is planned to ensure that our curriculum content provides breadth and flexibility. It is relevant, inclusive, integrated and appropriate, supporting a balance of learning experiences and opportunities to meet individual needs. At Merefield we like to be responsive to what is happening in the world through our curriculum and enrichment days are planned throughout the year to bring the school community together and create a range of immersive learning opportunities.
‘Every child deserves the best possible start in life and support to fulfil their potential. A child’s experience in the early years has a major impact on their future life chances. A secure, safe and happy childhood is important in its own right, and it provides the foundation for children to make the most of their abilities and talents as they grow up.’ –Early Years Foundation Stage
Pupils enter the EYFS department at Merefield from age 3 and stay with us until year 2. Across the department, practitioners ensure that the EYFS Development Matters framework is at the heart of our teaching; A unique child + positive relationships + an enabling environment = Learning and Development.
Our Early Years curriculum is based on the three Prime and four Specific Areas of learning;
At Merefield we support children’s learning through free and planned play activities. We believe that it is important for adults to support children’s learning through play, by getting involved in the play themselves. All practitioners are sensitive to the needs of the pupils in their cohort and will plan activities to motivate and scaffold learning. Pupils are encouraged in their independence and will be supported in their transition from Early Years to Lower school by experienced and skilled staff.
We aim to:
Pupils with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities
Pupils with PMLD follow a highly personalised pathway which focuses on the holistic development of the individual. They explore all the curriculum areas through various multi-sensory experiences that are carefully planned and co-ordinated to facilitate the development of skills in responding, interacting and communicating. Many of our pupils with PMLD require a heavy emphasis on therapeutic input and support to promote physical development and communication skills such as physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and intensive interaction. These are integrated smoothly across the curriculum to encourage a continuous learning provision and is further enhanced by high quality care in a safe and nurturing environment. In post 16, pupils with PMLD access a curriculum which supports them to be as independent as possible and are encouraged to have autonomy in their everyday life through responding to stimulus and making choices. The curriculum areas allow for pupils to build their tolerance of less familiar interactions to prepare them for the next stage in their lives.
At Merefield, pupils start Lower School at Year 2 and transition to Upper School in year 7 or 8. The individual needs of each pupil are considered when deciding upon the appropriate year of transition.
In Lower School, the curriculum is specifically tailored towards the needs and interests of each pupil and based on the outcomes outlined in the pupil’s Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
Developing Communication remains a key focus and we work closely with each individual to establish their communication needs and provide a bespoke support package to enable them to reach their full potential.
We take a thematic approach to planning in order to ensure lessons are engaging, interesting and exciting. We believe that when pupils are engaged they make the most progress. Skills from all areas of the curriculum are then applied and developed through practical and real life activities. Lessons are designed to make meaningful links between all areas of development, therefore making learning consistent and coherent.
In order to support our pupils to prepare for the next stage in their lives, we learn about the importance of transitions. This starts with supporting pupils with small journeys away from their familiar classroom environments building up to getting out and about and keeping safe in the local community.
As pupils move through Lower School, they also begin to develop their independent learning skills which allows for a seamless transition into Upper School.
Upper School Curriculum
Pupils begin their journey in upper school from year 7 or 8, depending on the individual. This is where the focus begins to be based around preparation for adulthood and their goals and aspirations for the future. Each pupil will have a projected pathway for when they leave Merefield and their personalised learning plan will prepare them for this. We plan and deliver sessions that build on knowledge and skills already acquired in lower school and embed these into practical and real life situations. Access to the local community is increased and these sessions are accessed for a purpose, such as shopping for a food technology lesson, using local leisure services and making links with future providers.
In KS4 / 5 students undertake work related learning, independent living skills and preparation for external accreditation with the ASDAN Award programme which focuses on key skills – life skills, personal development and preparation for adult life. A programme of study is built on and accredited in Year 14.
Post 16 Provision
Our Post 16 curriculum provides a wide range of learning experiences and opportunities that prepares our learners to be successful independent young adults in which they can approach future challenges with excitement and confidence. Our provision aims to provide our learners with a balanced curriculum that gives them the opportunity to gain external accreditation, undertake vocational learning, experience work related learning and develop independent living skills. Learners follow a programme that stretches them, prepares them for adulthood and supports their progression into work, further study or accessing suitable day provisions. Our programme features functional skills, vocational study and personal development. Pupils have regular access to suitable long term work placements within the local community and develop skills required to obtain and maintain supported employment in the future. Learning is contextualised within real life situations whenever possible and pupils make progress developing functional and practical skills.
The aims of Post 16 are to:
The teaching in post 16 is highly individualised and when designing a personalised curriculum for each learner, we adopt a holistic approach. Aspirations and outcomes are taken into account when setting targets, facilitating learning, developing teaching and through discussion to decide on a suitable pathway.
Assessment comes in many different forms in Merefield School and each is personalised to the learner and their starting point. P Scales are used to assess English and Maths for pupils who are continuing to make progress across these strands. The EYFS assessment framework is used to assess the early learning goals of pupils from Nursery to year 2, unless they begin to show that this is no longer suitable and then an alternative will be followed. MAPP is used across all years to assess personalised learning goals based on outcomes set within the EHCP. Quest for Learning is used to assess pupils with profound and multiple learning alongside MAPP and some P scale descriptors. A phonics programme is followed for pupils who are developing early reading skills and includes assessing decoding skills as well as their ability to read ‘speedy words’. Pupils in upper school follow a range of ASDAN qualifications and accreditations that are tailored to their individual needs. Pupils are assessed on the level of the qualification and the through the QCF skill continuum.
Evidence of Learning
Merefield School follow the ‘Plan, Do, Assess, Review’ principle to record and evidence progress. Evidence is collected in a variety of ways for each pupil, both summative and formative. We use 2simple to record photographic evidence of learning with an adult observation to accompany this. Termly PLIMs are recorded against and daily observations are made to ensure all learning is captured. These are regularly reviewed and new targets are devised based on the rate of progress. Interventions may be put in place for pupils not achieving as expected and engagement profiles may be completed for these learners.