Springfield House Special School educates children with significant social, emotional, and mental health needs. Most of the children who join our school have missed much of their early formal education, having been permanently excluded or been on significantly reduced timetables, and many have had very negative experiences of school.
It is our role to support these children, to meet their individual needs and to provide a positive experience of education and learning so that pupils fulfil their potential and take advantages of opportunities, responsibilities, and experiences in later life. To achieve this, we must improve our children’s long-term memory: “If nothing has been changed in long term memory, nothing has been learnt.” (Kirschner, Sweller & Clarke)
We strive to provide a safe, supportive, fun, and appropriate learning environment tailored to the special needs of our pupils to enable them to achieve their social, emotional, and academic potential and become responsible, effective learners and valued members of society. We aim to address potential social disadvantage.
We believe that ‘one size fits none”. We deliver a curriculum that is planned and sequenced and which recognises pupils prior learning, meets individual needs, supports pupils to overcome barriers and provides access to an engaging, relevant, and varied curriculum. The ‘cultural capital’ in the curriculum will equip our pupils with knowledge and skills to succeed. This will enable pupils to make progress in all aspects of their development and have high aspirations for their future goals and next stages of their life.
Research proves that social and emotional skills are a better indicator of academic outcomes than IQ (Weir 2015). We believe that learning takes place with secure positive relationships and that means at the start of each term a high emphasis will be placed on building belonging; through social skills and routines to create better habits and learning behaviours.
We seek to:
- Keep pupils safe and educate them to know how to stay safe.
- Develop skills and knowledge that will support our pupils with life-long learning and enable them to be “the best me I can be”
- Enable the children to become confident and active learners who experience the joy of learning.
- Narrow the gap for those not achieving age related expectations
- Expand the range of real-world experiences
- Improve pupils’ mental health
- Improve pupils’ physical health
- Increase independence
- Improve pupils’ self-regulation
- Promote social skills
- Support pupils to take responsibility for their behaviours and engage in restorative practice
- Improve communication skills
Each child is valued as an individual. Their individual and wide-ranging social, emotional, and academic needs are considered, ensuring our pupils make the best possible progress during their time with us and are prepared for a successful secondary transition and the challenges they may face.
Our curriculum takes into account the pupils’ local context and experiences.
At Springfield House School we provide creative and personalised curriculums to cater for our pupils’ wide ranging and unique social, emotional, and academic needs, different learning styles, personalities, and range of interests.
Our curriculum implementation is driven by our stated intentions. By helping pupils to think about what they learn, how they learn and who they are in the wider world, we aim to build happy, resilient, successful, and valued citizens.
Many of our pupils do not join our school at the start of their primary education and may have gaps in their prior learning with the majority being below what would be deemed as “age expected”. As a result, our curriculum will provide our pupils with access to the National Curriculum which, following early assessment upon joining, will be pitched at their development level rather than their chronological age. The school will create personalised learning plans and targeted interventions that will be designed to accelerated process.
We look to develop everyday skills such as Communication, Language and Literacy, Numeracy and Personal and Social development. Through the use of effective teaching, we minimise the cognitive load of pupils in order to maximise the retention and transfer to the long term memory through retrieval, space practice, checking for understanding and high challenge low threat testing. (Sweller)
Our academic curriculum is implemented with inclusive Quality First teaching. In our setting this means:
- highly focused lesson design with sharp and individually targeted objectives
- short focused tasks with high demands of pupil involvement and engagement with their learning during this time
- work is challenging and builds on prior knowledge and learning
- practical and engaging activities with high levels of interaction for all pupils
- appropriate use of teacher questioning, modelling, and explaining at a level appropriate to our pupils’ mental health needs and understanding
- an emphasis on learning through dialogue, with regular opportunities for pupils to talk about what they are learning and understand
- an expectation that pupils will begin to take some responsibility for their own learning and work independently at times
- regular use of encouragement and authentic praise, matched to the pupils individual SEMH needs, to engage and motivate pupils
Adapted from (DCSF, 2008) Personalised learning – a practical guide (00844-
In order to close the attainment/disadvantage gap our curriculum is knowledge based. There are two types of knowledge: the knowledge of what (facts/declarative) and the knowledge of how (skills/procedural). Knowledge does not mean understanding – understanding means having lots of well-connected, well organised knowledge. To ensure a change in our children’s long-term memory occurs, we teach less but practise more.
The school extensive grounds, cookery room, sports hall, variety of educational visits and local community activities, are all fundamental to facilitating and ensuring progress for all. This enables our children to apply their knowledge and understanding in real situations.
We understanding the protective effect on mental health of sports and the outdoors (Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools DfE, Nov 2018) therefore, we work hard to ensure that pupils have the opportunity to participate in a variety of different activities, including PE, a variety of sports, Outdoor Learning, play therapy and music therapy.
The curriculum is enriched through educational visits and with external visitors to the school. This supports not just our pupils’ academic development but also their social and emotional development.
Our pupils’ social and emotional development is key to enabling them to achieve the goal of becoming successful adults in the 21st century, who can make a positive contribution to society. We use a wide variety of strategies to achieve this which includes the ‘PROUD Roots of Springfield which are a golden thread across our curriculum. This provides pupils with the opportunity to further develop the key characteristics of Positivity, Resilience, Open Mindedness, Understanding and Diversity.
In addition, staff consistently reinforce and praise pupils when they achieve our three rules.
- Be Ready,
- Be Respectful,
- Be Safe.
One of our school’s main strengths is our staff’s understanding of our pupils’ needs and the daily consistent approach reinforcing positive attitudes and accomplishments. Our staff have high expectations, build positive relationships between adults and pupils and support pupils to develop positive relationships with their peers. The daily “drip drip effect” should not be underestimated.
Due to the individualistic nature of our pupils needs there is no set program of interventions to be used with all our pupils. Rather we create a nurturing, safe, consistent, and positive environment which is supported by a range of evidence based interventions that are proven to work. We monitor the impact of interventions and adjust to individual needs.
We take a multi-tiered approach to therapeutic intervention to support the social, emotional, and mental health needs of all of our children. Prevention, identification, early support, and access to specialist support ensures that we provide the right help at the right time. Our tiered approach includes universal support for all learners, targeted support for some and specialist support from external agencies for children most in need. We work in collaboration with a range of agencies and therapist to provide specialist clinical assessments and direct interventions for our children who are most in need. Multidisciplinary team specialist include: Music therapy, Speech and Language therapy, Play therapy, Family Support (Malachi Trust), Community Paediatrician and School Nurses.
At Springfield House School we know that assessments are integral to planning the next steps of learning and individual progress is rigorously tracked and monitored by skilled staff. Staff set specific, measurable, realistic, and focused targets for pupils linked to their Education Health Care Plans enabling them to move through the curriculum effectively and at an appropriate rate of progress for each pupil.
Many of our pupils’ transition to schools where the primary need is no longer SEMH. Our aspiration is for our pupils to transition and return to mainstream however, we acknowledge this is not a possibility for all. The pupil’s EHCP from point of entry to point of exit shows progress across a range of areas of development.
We aim to ensure that our curriculum has a positive impact on our pupils’ personal progress, self-esteem, self-confidence and enjoyment of school and learning. We strive to ensure our pupils enjoy lessons and we believe and hope that this early love of learning stimulates children to become life-long learners.
“The purpose of curriculum is to build up the content of long term memory so that when students are asked to think, they are able to think in more powerful ways “
Dylan Williams 2018