At St Dominic’s, our focus is on facilitating quality opportunities for pupils and students to learn and make progress. The Lower School curriculum is designed to blend a nurturing primary curriculum model with the interventions and support needed to meet pupils’ individual EHCP outcomes. Lower School is split across two phases: Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 (Years 7 and 8). While the curriculum is sequenced so that learning is developed as pupils move through the key stages, the approach to learning is different in each phase. Pupils in Key Stage 2 have more opportunities for learning through play and some lessons in lower Key Stage 2 are taught using a continuous provision model; this allows pupils to take some responsibility for their learning while building on their existing skills. When pupils move to Key Stage 3, we begin working towards more independent learning and more detailed subject specific teaching.
How is the curriculum delivered in Lower School?
The majority of the lessons in Lower School take place in the tutor room and are delivered by the class tutor. Our staff team is made up of a core group of primary and SEN trained specialists who offer a class-based approach. This allows each class’s staff team to use their knowledge of the pupils to modify the learning activities so they support their bespoke needs. Some subjects are taught by subject specialists, these include Forest School, Computing, Expressive Arts and, from Year 6 upwards, PE. Using subject specialist teachers enables pupils to gain a more in depth understanding and allows us to offer a wide range of subject specific activities.
Lesson One each day is dedicated to the Needs Lead Curriculum and provides an opportunity for pupils to work on their spelling and multiplication tables, to take part in guided reading and to look at current affairs or special interest subjects with their peers.
All pupils will be assessed regularly to check progress and support their learning. This will be done using some formalised assessment, teacher observation and feedback and SAVI, our in house monitoring system. Some Year 6 pupils will take SATS and some Year 4 pupils will take the multiplication check. This will be decided on a pupil by pupil basis and through a dialogue with families to ensure that the test is accessible for them. Each pupil sitting these tests will have a bespoke curriculum that will offer any support that may be needed. This includes intervention from therapies, literacy and numeracy support and exam readiness teaching and preparation in the classroom.
Pupils work towards individualised targets and are supported in this using a range of techniques. These include utilising movement breaks and using the zones of regulation. Other more individual interventions are also offered, where appropriate, to support pupils to be able to access the curriculum. These include counselling, ELSA, play based therapy and numeracy and literacy support.