The Lady Byron School (LBS) came about as a result of a growing recognition by the propreitor and headteacher that there are young people who are struggling to access a mainstream academic placement despite having the academic capabilities. However, due to the number of differences linked to their autism they were not making as good progress as they should, not only in their academic learning but also in their knowledge and understanding of how they think differently and what this means for them.
As a result the Lady Byron School offers a more flexible educational provision for autistic young people and who will benefit from a specialist provision but that works together with local mainstream schools. The school teaches a curriculum that supports key content from the National Curriculum, with a bespoke program (LBS Curriculum) to address individual needs.
The aim of our provision is that all young people feel included and accepted in order to achieve their full potential. We want our young people to be confident, happy, self-aware and independent learners. Our curriculum has been designed specifically to support this aim.
Learners are actively involved in the assessment of their progress and achievements so that they know how well they are doing, what they are aiming to achieve, how they can reach these goals and identify their next steps in learning. Progress is then recorded and shared with parents/carers regularly.
By the time they leave school, all young people will have been supported in making progress and gaining success so that they are able to continue with their next stages of education or have access to employment opportunities.
The curriculum is designed around a strand-based model with core subject areas which complements the individualised outcomes in students’ EHCPs and ensures we meet our statutory obligations as laid out in the Code of Practice.
We aim to provide an education for all our Young people that addresses individual learning needs through the combination of our LBS Curriculum and the National Curriculum. We recognise that adjustments to the National Curriculum are often needed to suit the learning of our young people. As such we deliver a modified National Curriculum that is underpinned by the LBS Curriculum.
Our curriculum ensure that students have learning opportunities in the following areas:
The LBS curriculum comprises the following five strands:
The LBS strands evolved from an understanding of the key areas of support that Young people with social communication differences require that are not sufficiently reflected in the core National Curriculum
(There is a well-established rationale for the prioritising of these four areas of focus (see for example http://www.aettraininghubs.org.uk/wpcontent/uploads/2016/02/PF-report.pdf).
Young people’ needs across the strands will vary. A baseline assessment of strengths and needs (see supporting Assessment document), alongside input from young people and their families, identifies specific targets across the four LBS strands for each young person to be working towards. We recognise that difficulties in these areas are the most significant barriers to learning for our young people. Therefore, whilst National Curriculum subjects are taught discretely, the LBS strand targets will be addressed both discretely through specific timetabled interventions, as well as integrated into all aspects of the school day. The figure below details how the specific curriculum for each young person is developed from the bottom up, with the young people individual strengths and needs providing the starting point.
Modified National Curriculum
Specific Programmes, Interventions and Strategies
Independence and P4A, Social C & I, Emotional Understanding and Self Awareness, Sensory and Physical, Cognition and Learning
Individual Strand, Individual Learning Plan and Education Health Care Plan Targets
Baseline Assessment of Individual Strengths and Needs
The nature of learners with autism creates an uneven academic profile both within the individual young person and within the year groups. Additionally, heightened anxiety and school refusal are frequent traits within our learner community, many of whom have experienced lengthy periods out of school and / or had a history of multiple school placements. This presents particular demands to ensure that each learner has the opportunity to achieve their full potential in all areas of the curriculum.
The Lady Byron School offers a differentiated curriculum that meets the range of different ages, aptitudes, needs and interests of the learners and is permeated with a specialised autism-specific curriculum and delivered within an ethos of empathy, understanding, and structure.
The primary focus of The Lady Byron School curriculum is to prepare learners for transition back into mainstream education, where appropriate, and develop the skills for living and working independently in modern day Britain. This involves ensuring our young people are ‘ready to learn’ by prioritising their social, emotional and mental health as well as their spiritual, moral and cultural development.
The curriculum offered to each learner is based upon their individual needs as outlined in their Education Health Care Plan (EHCP). Their individual timetables reflect their personal needs and abilities with opportunities throughout the week to mix with a variety of people in a wide range of situations.
The students at The Lady Byron School have, very often, been disengaged with education having had a negative experience of their previous placement. The majority of students have not been in education full time for some time. Hence, it is imperative that we work gradually to introduce students back into education, ensuring their experience is as positive as we can make it.
Appropriate provision is made for young people who need to use:
We recognise that:
As previously discussed, The Lady Byron School offers a bespoke curriculum that is tailored to the unique strengths and needs of our autistic students, made up of a modified National Curriculum and LBS curriculum strands. As such much of our learning is done on a 1-1 or small group basis by appropriately qualified staff.
For all subjects, students will have access to suitable learning and teaching for their level. This may mean working towards or at GCSE level, Functional Skills, ASDAN qualifications etc. This will be discussed with students and families prior to planning the learning journey for the young person.
As well as having access to core academic subjects, we recognise the importance of the 5 strand LBS curriculum to complement our young person’s journey with us. We are lucky enough to have access to several different subjects and activities which are detailed further on. These additional activities ensure that we can concentrate on all what is important to ensure that the young person has an effective and well-rounded personalised learning programme whilst with us. This will ensure the young person has the best opportunity of achieving in their next stage of transition.
Below an example timetable of a Key Stage 3 student:
We recognise that the young people at Lady Byron School have the potential to succeed in all areas of the curriculum however, we also consider the students educational experience before they came to us. Some young people may have been out of learning for some time or have had previous negative experiences. Therefore, we use a thorough assessment process in all areas to ensure that we prioritise the appropriate learning. This may mean that, initially, we concentrate on the social, emotional, and mental health of a young person before looking at the academic side.
We also realise that students may have gaps in their learning and need some ‘catch up’ time. Using 1-1 and small group learning means this can happen much quicker than in a classroom of 30 students. Again, using the thorough assessment package and discussion with the young person and family we can identify the ideal starting point for a young person.
Students may access GCSE Programmes of study; we may continue the work that they have been doing in their previous placement or we may look at using alternative teaching programmes such as Functional Skills and/or ASDAN.
What is important to us at Lady Byron School is the young person to see the value of what we are teaching, and they are learning.
The Lady Byron School is an ASDAN registered centre (https://www.asdan.org.uk/) , offering curriculum programmes and qualifications to help students develop knowledge and skills for learning, work, and life. ASDAN is an internationally recognised awarding body who offer courses which can be tailored to individual needs and interests. Their programmes are challenge-based, meaning students can immerse themselves in longer projects, or choose a range of shorter ones, to suit them. ASDAN courses are also relevant to vocational interests and the development of life skills, as well as more traditional curriculum subjects.
The Lady Byron School makes use of ASDAN courses that fall into two categories:
We use ASDAN to ensure our curriculum covers the essential areas detailed previously:
PSHE education is a subject through which students develop the knowledge, skills, and attributes they need to keep themselves healthy and safe, and prepared for life and work. PSHE programmes have an impact on both academic and non-academic outcomes for students, particularly the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. At Lady Byron School we use the https://www.pshe-association.org.uk/ to support our planning, teaching, and learning. This includes Relationships Education at key stage 2, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) at key stages 3 and 4, and Health Education in both primary and secondary phases.
We utilise the ASDAN short courses and towards independence to frame our PSHE curriculum – students study the following programmes: PSHE, Citizenship, Beliefs and Values, Relationships and Living Here.
The LBS programme takes a thematic approach to PSHE education, covering all the core themes of the Programme of Study (Health and Wellbeing; Relationships; and Living in the Wider World) over the school year.
The LBS programme takes a thematic approach to PSHE education, covering all three core themes of the Programme of Study (Health and Wellbeing; Relationships; and Living in the Wider World) over the school year, with three topics per half term. This approach allows different year groups to work on similar themes at the same time, building a spiral programme year on year, whilst offering flexibility in terms of medium-term planning. The colour-coded topic areas can be adapted to meet planning requirements, pupils’ stage of development and needs and also to reflect the context of the school and local community.
Opportunities are presented for students (where appropriate/possible) to:
SMSC is defined in the Ofsted School inspection handbook November 2019:
The spiritual development of students is shown by their:
The moral development of students is shown by their:
The social development of students is shown by their:
The cultural development of students is shown by their:
SMSC is a wide umbrella of learning that takes place across several classroom subjects, including PSHE. At the Lady Byron School, we look at giving students rounded SMSC curriculum by planning across different subjects to ensure we cover all areas.
The statutory requirement to provide Health Education does not apply to independent schools, however at The Lady Byron School we consider it a relevant part of our curriculum.
Relationships and sex education (RSE) is learning about the emotional, social, and physical aspects of growing up, relationships, sex, human sexuality, and sexual health. It should equip young people with the information, skills, and positive values to have safe, fulfilling relationships, to enjoy their sexuality and to take responsibility for their sexual health and well-being.
The statutory Government guidance ‘Relationships education, relationships and sex education (RSE) and health education’ (2019) sets out what students should know by the end of primary school and by the end of secondary school. It also emphasises that high quality teaching that is differentiated and personalised is key to accessibility of RSE for students with SEND.
When planning RSE for students with SEND it is important to work towards accessible provision of the content set out in the Government guidance, but it can also be helpful to think about four interconnected areas of learning:
At The Lady Byron School, we use the Lexia Intervention Programme, which supports and monitors intent, implementation and impact of our literacy curriculum. Lexia’s 3-step personalised learning model motivates students with their own success and students have their own personalised learning paths. Performance data is easy to access and simple to interpret, and teachers have the resources they need for face-to-face instruction and independent student practise.
Numeracy Ninjas is a numeracy intervention designed to fill gaps in students’ basic mental calculation strategies and to empower them with the numeracy skills and fluency required to fully access Maths concepts. Furthermore, through the incorporation of Science of Learning principles such as retrieval, spacing and interleaving, to ensure students’ learning is retained over time and transferrable to many different contexts. Numeracy Ninjas is a project driven by the belief that all students can leave school functionally numerate.
We have access to a qualified sports coach and the facilities at Fleckney Sports Centre. The sports centre is a small but friendly sports centre consisting of a small sports hall, lounge, all weather pitch, football pitches, cricket pitch and small rugby field. There is also have a skatepark, MUGA & children’s play area.
ASDAN also offer several sports programmes such as football, cricket short courses plus sports and fitness.
TALKABOUT uses a hierarchical method of teaching social skills which means that having assessed the young person using the TALKABOUT assessment, you choose the appropriate level or book to start work at. At Lady Byron School we see the importance of our young people developing foundation skills and nonverbal skills before the more complex ones such as verbal skills and assertiveness if they are to make good progress with social skills. This order means that you may start by developing a young person’s self-awareness and self-esteem before progressing onto body language. You will then move onto conversation skills and then onto friendship skills and assertiveness.
The Talkabout programme begins with a basic assessment procedure to evaluate the student’s self-awareness, as well as the awareness of others, it is divided into six levels:
“Social thinking” or thinking socially refers to a process we all go through in our mind as we try to make sense of our own and others’ thoughts, feelings, and intentions in context, whether we are co-existing, actively interacting, or figuring out what is happening from a distance (e.g., media, literature, etc.). Our ability to think socially is part of social emotional learning that begins at birth and evolves across our lifetime. Social thinking, in this context, is also referred to as social cognition and has a deep and rich base of support in developmental research.
Social emotional learning is a lifelong process, we are all social emotional learners. Over the course of our lives, we cycle through different phases of gathering knowledge about how the social world works and then use that information to work (navigate to regulate) in the social world. Being a social emotional learner is a lifelong process.
The Social Thinking Methodology has age-based and strength-based products and materials for social emotional learners of varying abilities. We define social emotional learners as individuals who experience neurologically based challenges (e.g., ASD levels 1 and 2, ADHD, social communication disorders, social anxiety, twice-exceptional, sensory processing challenges, etc.), learning-based challenges (developmental language disorder (DLD), specific learning disability (SLD), etc.), or have experienced physical or emotional trauma resulting in a gap, delay, or challenge in their social competencies. Social emotional learners who benefit from our methodology are those who “learn with language” and can “think and talk about thinking.”
The ASD Girls’ Wellbeing Toolkit An Evidence-Based Intervention Promoting Mental, Physical & Emotional Health
This 30-session programme aims to ensure that girls can and do develop good mental health including appropriate levels of autonomy, emotional resilience and open communication.
The activities will:
The sessions address contemporary issues that are relevant to young people, including:
We use the principles of the Girl’s wellbeing toolkit to develop wellbeing sessions for our boys group, focussing on the above areas but from a male perspective.
The Lady Byron school has joined the Eco-Schools network which is a seven-step framework that thousands of schools, nurseries and colleges around the world use to introduce, manage and complete environmental actions in their organisation and local community. Uniquely, the Seven Steps aim to place young people at the heart of these environmental actions. This approach engages, motivates and empowers young people to care for our planet now and throughout their lifetimes.
The seven steps are:
When creating an Action Plan, Eco-Committees choose three topics to work on. Eco-Committees select the three topics they would like to work on from the Ten Eco-Schools topics below.
We support our Eco Schools work with ASDAN ‘Environment’ short and towards independence courses.
The Lady Byron School can utilise the expertise and environment of Soft Touch Arts, who use arts, media, and music activities as a tool to engage young people with additional needs and/or challenging behaviour. It is here where students have access to a creative and aesthetic curriculum that is tailored to their interests. Soft Touch Arts run several projects that support young people them to develop creative, social and employability skills.
“Soft Touch understands that the school environment can be challenging for some young people for a variety of reasons and that involvement in creative activities can help with confidence, communication and self-expression and offers an alternative way to learn a range of skills.
For young people who lack opportunities or have challenges in their lives it can be hard to look forward to a positive future. Our projects help them get back on track when have gone wrong, build the confidence and resilience to change negative or risky behaviours, and progress to lead more fulfilling lives.
For the past 10 years our well-respected youth arts charity has been running an alternative education programme based around creative educational activities. The sessions take place during term-time at the Soft Touch Arts centre on New Walk which has full disabled access and offers an inspiring and safe environment for children to learn. Students can complete an Arts Award as part of the offer. Students aged from 9 upwards with an interest in art, music, video, craft, fashion or anything creative get a tailored package of support either in small groups or on a one-to-one basis with our skilled staff team.”
The involvement of families and the young people themselves in their education process is central to achieving the aims of The Lady Byron School. The opinions of parents and young people are always sought when setting targets.
Furthermore we believe that by engaging and working in close collaboration with families and/or carers of our young people we can better facilitate the generalisation of skills learnt in school to life outside of school.
Nationally a number of factors have been identified that affect consistent underachievement at school and in various curriculum areas. These have been specifically (but not exclusively) identified as gender, disability, race and class. It is recognised that underachievement can be attributed to pre-conceived expectations and attitudes of teachers/support staff, as well as to teaching styles and to the content of the curriculum. When planning the curriculum, content is drawn from human and material resources both in school and from the wider community and every effort is made to give equal representation to young people and others’ cultures.