I was inspired by the staff and young people. The innovative practice used, encouraging confidence building and following aspirations, is sector leading.Barbara Millar, Care Inspector, Care News Magazine, Summer 2014
Within Harmeny, we offer a ‘whole school approach’ to the curriculum, with our highly integrated education and care teams offering rich opportunities for children to learn and grow within and beyond the classroom. The Curriculum is built around the needs of children, with learning experiences organised in a way that gives them a clear pathway for progression and success. We believe that by learning and living together in this way our children will gain the skills they need to help them live fulfilling lives in the future and truly be:
- Confident Individuals
- Effective Contributors
- Successful Learners
- Responsible Citizens
As our learners range from P1 to S2 and our school is divided into three stages:
- Junior – which includes our early years learners
- Senior – who are S1 and S2
This allows us to ensure that the learning is appropriate to the needs of the child but is also age and interest appropriate, with children placed in the class that will best meet both their learning and social needs.
Our approach to the curriculum follows the principles of Curriculum for Excellence and we have had very positive feedback from our joint Education Scotland / Care Inspectorate inspections regarding this:
“The curriculum is broad and stimulating… There is a strong focus on developing literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing across all aspects of school life. Staff are confident in using Curriculum for Excellence guidance to plan suitable learning experiences in, and across, curricular areas.” Education Scotland / Care Inspectorate Inspection Report, May 2013.
We believe strongly in the importance of educational attainment and achievement, particularly for the group of children we work with, who have often been excluded from education or had constantly disrupted learning experiences up until their time at Harmeny. Key to this is our whole team drive to increase attainment in Literacy and Numeracy, which are essential building blocks for lifelong learning. Whilst these core areas are weaved throughout the Curriculum, particular assessment tools and methodologies deployed include: Scottish Criterion Writing Assessment, INCaS, New Group Reading, Big Writing, Storyline and Active Maths.
Our attention to the Health & Wellbeing of the children we work with has also been praised by successive inspections – and we pride ourselves in creating a nurturing, supportive and encouraging learning environment. Our programme focuses on: sexual health and relationships, food and health, physical activity and fitness, building resilience and the development of life skills. Our Rainbow Room also provides a space for children to build the essential scaffolding for learning through play, and assists with the development of emotional literacy.
In addition to our attention to Literacy, Numeracy and Health & Wellbeing, we offer the following within our curriculum:
- A range of Science topics, including ‘biodiversity’, as part of our commitment to maintaining our Eco School Green Flag Award.
- A rich array of Expressive Arts experiences, including: art and design, instrumental lessons, drumming and singing; drama workshops; and regular opportunities to perform and showcase talent.
- PE activities, with a range of sporting and dance activities offered within the school and wider community.
- A creative approach to Social Studies including history, geography and current affairs topics, with a Scottish and international slant, as well as a range of enterprise activities, linking with the local community.
- Experience of different Technologies, including: ICT to enhance learning, food and nutrition, conservation skills, bike maintenance and woodwork lessons.
- We have a good track record in delivering Modern Languages and are currently considering how we can build capacity to deliver the Scottish Government’s ‘1+2 approach’, whereby children from P5 onwards, require to a second modern language, in addition to English, by 2020.
- We are also currently reviewing our Religious & Moral Education programme, drawing on the organisation’s ethos, capturing the skills of individual staff, and building on the excellent approach to celebrating festivals and community events.
- Our Outdoor Learning team provides an exciting and enriching choice of adventurous and environmental activities within and outside the grounds of the school, allowing children the opportunity to learn new skills, build their motivation, improve their physical and emotional wellbeing, grow in confidence, problem solve, and increase their awareness of the environment.
- Our curriculum also has an increasing emphasis on Life, Learning and Work Preparation Skills, with children have regular one-to-one time with their Keyworker, in order to build independence skills, and our Outdoor Learning Facilitator (Skills for Life & Work) identifying practical opportunities for children, within the grounds and wider community, according to assessed need.
The Curricular model we have developed at Harmeny is one of interdisciplinary learning and is designed so that children learn through exploring a theme or an issue, meeting a challenge, solving a problem or completing a project. The learning is organised into themes and topics, with each having a specific block of time during the year, thus providing vital rhythms and routines which our children very much require.
Care staff support children within the classroom and are fully aware of projects and topics being covered within the curriculum – supporting children with homework tasks and encouraging the enhancement of learning within leisure time. Likewise, Education staff are fully aware of individual children’s therapeutic needs and particular interests, incorporating these into the planning and development of lessons, thus achieving a high level of motivation. Effective communication is crucial, with regular key team discussions and joint planning between care and education teams greatly facilitating this process.