The Secondary Department (Key Stages 3 and 4)
Key stages 3 and 4 (age 12 to 16 years) form a distinctive period in the progression of the young person through their school career. There is a change of emphasis to a more adult ethos to support the student to acquire the necessary life skills to allow him/her to reach their full potential.
Communication and interaction continue to be at the heart of the curriculum and a wide range of learning opportunities are offered to extend awareness of the world outside school and the home and enable students to learn to generalize their skills across different settings.
The curriculum emphasises independence skills e.g. personal hygiene, dressing, etc, and life skills e.g. travelling on public transport, coping with crowds at an appropriate level to the students, as well as functional literacy and numeracy skills, e.g. counting, handling money, reading signs and symbols. Students are encouraged to develop an awareness and understanding of the community and become familiar and comfortable with using public facilities – leisure centres, libraries, cinemas etc as preparation for life post-school. They take part in a varied programme of sport and leisure events across the local region in partnership with other special and mainstream schools.
We have strong links with our local community of schools and can facilitate students taking additional academic pathways eg GCSEs where this is appropriate.
Work in the visual and performance arts give students the opportunity not only to develop confidence and self – esteem in themselves but also to gain skills in working in social groups, problem-solving and decision-making.
Key stage 4 sees a focus on the transition process for our students and their parents. Annual Review meetings encourage looking to the future together with parents and other agencies. Thomas Bewick facilitates the building of a support network around the students and their parents to support this transition.
Students have access to outside agencies such as Connexions and local colleges of further education. The staff work very closely with our ‘Connexions’ PA and ensure knowledge of our students and their particular needs.
Where appropriate students have opportunities to develop an awareness and understanding of the world of work through visits to workplaces, work experience placements, enterprise activities.
The Key Stage 4 programme includes adult basic skills courses in Literacy, Numeracy and ICT, accredited by OCR as well as the core units of the BTEC Skills for Life (EDEXCEL) and ASDAN Transition Challenge and Youth Award. Individual progression pathways for adult learning are established in KS4 which provide progression routes for students into Sixth Form and further education colleges.
The recent secondary strategy and 14-19 curriculum developments have offered us more scope to tailor our KS 3 and 4 curriculum around the autism –specific needs of the students in general and individualized personal learning programmes for some students in particular. All students have an Individual Education Plan which sets out a rolling programme of personalized targets which are reviewed with parents and students on a termly basis.