The Journey So Far
In Greenfield School we have been on a journey with Curriculum for Wales for many years and in September 2019 we started the process of planning our whole school curriculum. All teachers have been fully involved throughout this process as we believe that being part of the curriculum design process will help our teachers to fully understand the ethos and purpose of Curriculum for Wales. Designing our own bespoke curriculum for Greenfield has been an exciting but also daunting and sometimes frustrating process. However, as this process has evolved we truly believe that we are designing a curriculum that is innovative, exciting and appropriate for our learners who have a wide range of complex learning needs.
In 2019 the school’s Senior Leadership Team (SLT) started working closely with staff, pupils, parents, governors and stakeholders to update the vision, aims and values of the school so that they reflect the future direction of the school and embody the 4 purposes of learning which underpin Curriculum for Wales. Pupils played a key role in creating the school’s values and made sure that they are expressed in language that they can understand. Although much of this work was carried out during the pandemic the school found ways of involving parents through the use of surveys and discussion during parent Grwp sessions via virtual meetings. Once this work had been completed the school mapped the four purposes against the newly developed vision, aims and values for the school which allowed the school to focus upon the four purposes that are most relevant and important for Greenfield pupils.
All teachers in the school were allocated an Area of Learning and Experience (AOLE) and each AOLE was asked to complete an enquiry looking at the readiness and progress of each AOLE within the school. At the end of the academic year 2019-20 each AOLE gave a presentation of their enquiry outlining what stage the school was at in terms of how the school’s curriculum met the new curriculum demands and what needed to be done next. All AOLEs worked collaboratively with the school council to develop the vision for their AOLE which focuses on the needs of Greenfield pupils, especially in preparing them for as much independence as possible for life beyond school.
The SLT then worked closely with all teachers to develop a curriculum map and planning model for the next year 2020-21. From September 2020, there was a focus AOLE for each half term. The AOLE coordinators identified a theme that was cross- curricular and the ‘What Matters Statement’ that was linked to the theme. The AOLE coordinators also chose two of the ‘Four Purposes’ that drove the planning for that half term. The What Matters Statement based on the theme ensured a cross curricular approach. Teachers then decided upon the content of each of the supporting AOLEs as part of their mid-term plans which gave them autonomy and flexibility to meet the needs of their individual learners which is essential within a Special School.
This work was severely disrupted due to the pandemic therefore it was decided that the long term curriculum plan would be repeated for the academic year 2021-22 which allowed teachers to refine their plans. AOLEs provided teachers with ideas and resources and potential links with other AOLEs and relevant WMS to encourage a cross-curricular approach. This allowed teachers to experiment with the suggested examples and the WMS provided by the AOLE teams and use the ideas that were best suited to their learners.
Since 2018 the school has worked with Central South Consortium (CSC) on a number of projects and School Improvement Groups (SIGs) to contribute towards the development of Curriculum for Wales and to create supporting resources including case studies. The school has also worked with Professor Emma Renold at Cardiff University via Central South Consortium, to support in the development of the Relationship and Sexuality Education curriculum.
Throughout this process teachers have been given training in Curriculum for Wales, curriculum design and have been given time to work together in AOLEs and in planning teams.
During the academic year 2020-21 all teachers completed the ‘Cross-regional Curriculum for Wales Middle Leader Professional Learning Programme’. By engaging with the four assignments within this module teachers gained a deeper understanding of Curriculum for Wales and how the wider reform elements supported their professional learning journey towards successfully enacting it. The AOLEs were given time to meet after each module to discuss the content and how this could support the development of their AOLE in terms of curriculum design and development.