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Curriculum

The Soundwell Context

At Soundwell, we recognise all our learners have experienced barriers to accessing mainstream schools, often as a result of SEND and/or social and emotional issues.

Through our curriculum, we aim to ensure pupils enjoy learning and develop a growth mindset. Through our inclusive, nurturing and innovative practice, pupils are able to make progress regardless of their starting point. They should leave the academy well-prepared for their next steps, not only in education and employment, but as successful adults able to become positive members of their local communities. Hence, our curriculum is built around Preparing for Adulthood’s four pathways: employment, education and training; independent living; friends, relationships and community; health.  See the 'pathways to adulthood' tab for more information. 

Pupils from years 3-8 are taught on a primary model, where they stay in class with the same pupils and staff all day, other than moving to specialist areas for PE, Outdoor Education, Art and Cooking. We know that transition between different spaces and staff increases the demands on pupils and can reduce their ability to engage with learning. From year 9, pupils remain in their tutor rooms and groups but are taught core subjects and PE by subject specialists in preparation for KS4. They are also introduced to mixing teaching groups and working with less familiar staff through our Wellbeing Wednesday session, where they choose an activity that will enhance their physical or mental wellbeing and promote community inclusion. These activities include cycling, gardening, board game club, lego, music, dance. 

Research has shown that all pupils benefit from trauma sensitive strategies in school and at Soundwell, we begin every day with a 30-minute wellbeing session in tutor groups. Class teams organise individual or group activities that enable pupils to feel safe, which in turn enables them to feel connected to staff and peers. Only when we feel safe and connected can we be regulated and therefore ready and able to learn.

In addition to curriculum subjects, each class has one or two tutor periods a week to help pupils work towards individual skills and targets. Break times also form part of our social skills curriculum as pupils are supported to develop their abilities to play, interact and take turns. 

Curriculum subjects 

KS2 & KS3

Our core subjects are English, Maths, Science, Reading and PSHE, which incorporates careers and citizenship. Pupils across KS2 and KS3 also learn PE, Cooking, Outdoor Education, Art and speech and language therapy (SALT). In core subjects, we have invested in evidence-based spiral thematic curricula which enable students to develop and retain their knowledge over time. These are adapted by subject leads and class teachers to meet learners' individual needs. 

KS4

In KS4, all pupils study Maths, English and Science and can gain Entry Level or GCSE qualifications in these subjects. Students also learn home cooking and many will access a BTEC qualification in this. All pupils also study PSHE, Careers, Reading and PE. We are a new academy with just thirteen learners in KS4 and our current KS4 options programme is based on their individual interests and aspirations. New subjects will be added as our KS4 cohort grows. Currently, pupils have opted for: GCSE Citizenship; Bike Mechanics; Rocksteady Training; Art or Digital Media leading to an Arts Award; Duke of Edinburgh; Sports Leaders. More information is available on the qualifications page. 

References:

Alexander, Jen (2019): Building Trauma-Sensitive Schools: Your Guide to Creating Safe, Supportive Learning Environments for all Students.