Teaching and the curriculum in Treetops
What is different about the curriculum in Treetops?
In Treetops, each pupil is given access to all the core subjects (Maths, English and Science) and the Foundation subjects (all other subjects) of the National Curriculum. The Treetops setting caters for a wide range of ages – from the Foundation Stage through to Key Stage 2. These abilities are taken into consideration when differentiating lessons for small group teaching. We teach the pupils using a Topic based approach. This means that instead of having individual lessons for subjects every half term, the pupils study a broad topic area, for example, China or Celebrations. The topic acts as an umbrella for many different subjects. The Class Teachers, therefore, incorporate each subject of the National Curriculum, for example, Art, Music, History, Science, and so on, into the topic that they teach for that half term.
These topics form part of the school curriculum cycle, in which all subject topics are mapped, across all key stages, to ensure breadth and balance and avoid repetition.
Although all of Treetops follow the same fixed system of Topic units, the teaching methods used to deliver lessons within Treetops may be different, to benefit the needs of the pupils, for instance, the pupils are able to accept increasing amounts of direction and intervention from others in their activities. There is an emphasis on encouraging pupils to take increasing levels of responsibility for their own learning and therefore promoting independence.
Further to what has been described above, Treetops also employs complementary strategies:
a clear routine;
Clear structure to lessons;
‘Social Stories’, as required;
Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS);
Art Therapy and
Hence, the Curriculum that is taught in Treetops provides a learning and social curriculum that is:
Practical, functional and meaningful, which promotes ‘real’ learning situations across all Key Stages in Treetops.
Aimed at preparing pupils for inclusion in the mainstream classroom environment.
What is ‘Inclusion’ and will my child be offered inclusion opportunities in Treetops?
Inclusion means that the pupils from Treetops can integrate with their peers in the mainstream provision of West Wimbledon Primary School. This can take place for various activities, including playtimes, lunchtimes and weekly assemblies. The pupils also integrate into lessons for various subjects of the National Curriculum. Inclusion may be for only one lesson or several, depending on the pupil’s needs, interests and abilities.
Pupils from Treetops are expected to attend some form of inclusion in small groups or individually, supported by a member of the Treetops team. There are opportunities for some pupils from Treetops to study for SATS, just like their peers from the mainstream provision.
Inclusive opportunities, such as these, are a positive way for the pupils with Autism to gain experience of mixing with role models from the mainstream setting, and an opportunity to gain experience of working with larger groups.
What Teaching Methods are used in Treetops?
A variety of teaching methods is used in Treetops, including small group teaching. Some skills may be taught in a highly structured way and others will be encouraged indirectly, during activities such as drama, play and off-site visits.
As pupils progress through the school, there is an emphasis on the development of independence skills, wherever possible (for example, older pupils are able to dress and undress independently for PE). Opportunities to practise, transfer and generalise skills are provided (for example, dress and undress for swimming and horse riding sessions). This is an important area for pupils with difficulties associated with Autism.
The Treetops team favours an eclectic teaching approach, incorporating elements of various disciplines, such as TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication Handicapped Pupils) where appropriate. Teaching staff liaise closely with specialist staff such as Speech and Language Therapists and Educational Psychologists.
New staff are given a suitable grounding in core skills and knowledge required to teach pupils with Autism effectively, (usually including the TEACCH and PECs courses) before going on to develop these skills through a variety of in-service training. The staff team ensures that they keep up to date with new information, developments and approaches within the field of Autism.
How will I know about my child ‘s progress in Treetops?
Following a teacher assessment, there are regular teacher assessments that take place, which allow for close monitoring of the pupils’ progress.
In addition to the above ‘Teacher Assessment’, a support plan is also drawn up for each pupil. This support plan outlines the areas of need that have to be addressed for each pupil in Treetops, over the duration of a term. The targets are always devised and reviewed in consultation with the parents of the child.
Where it is found that a pupil is not making sufficient progress, or is having difficulty accessing the curriculum in Treetops, a multi-disciplinary review meeting will be held, and the pupil and the parents of the pupil will be supported to find a more suitable provision for their child.
Below, please find the creative curriculum for each class in Treetops: