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Valence School

Our Learners Are:
Respectful - Resilient - Independent - Positive - Passionate

Our Curriculum

The Ofsted Framework 
Intent - the extent to which the school’s curriculum sets out the knowledge and skills that pupils will gain at each stage and how the curriculum has been designed, planned and sequenced to help pupils get to the planned end point; 
Implementation - how the curriculum is taught and assessed in order to support pupils to build their knowledge and to apply that knowledge as skills; and 
Impact - the outcomes that pupils achieve as a result of the education they have received. 


What is the overall intent of the curriculum?  

Valence School Response: The intent of our curriculum is for all students to achieve meaningful, individualised qualifications and outcomes. Our three learning pathways enable students to follow a bespoke curriculum which considers their EHCP targets, academic trajectory, and character development. It is our mission to enable student independence in preparation for navigating the wider world in all that we do. We always place students at the centre of all decisions and have a relentless focus on overcoming challenges presented by disability to achieve the best possible outcomes for everyone. Our school values of respect, resilience, independence, positivity, and passion are paramount in helping us to achieve our vision.   

How does the curriculum reflect the school’s local context? How does it address typical gaps in knowledge and skills, including as a result of the pandemic? 

Valence School Response: Our school is unique within the maintained sector in the whole of southern England.  We cater for students aged 4 to 19 and have both day and boarding places.  We have a large site with high quality teaching, social care, and health care facilities.  A staff team of over 200 people provides specialist teaching, social care, therapies, and nursing care to an exceptionally high standard. There is excellent support to enable students to achieve functional communication, mobility, and skills for daily living. In addition, we are a Foundation Special School and are part of the Kent SEN Trust, a cooperative trust of ten schools working together to improve outcomes for all the children and young people attending the schools.  In 2008, Valence became a specialist Sports College, and this status plays a significant role in raising students’ achievements and their participation in high quality physical education and sport. 

To what extent is the curriculum ambitious and designed to give all pupils, including disadvantaged, the knowledge, character, and cultural capital they need to succeed in life? 

Valence School Response: An ambitious curriculum is an inclusive curriculum. At Valence school, our curriculum is very inclusive, as it considers the needs and abilities of all students. When students arrive at Valence, their needs are assessed, and they are split into three different pathways (Keller, Simmonds, and Hawking). The approach to teaching is completely different in each pathway - Keller students follow a curriculum adapted from ImPACTS, which is designed for students with profound and multiple learning disabilities, whereas KS1-3 Simmonds students follow the Equals Semi-formal curriculum, which promotes what children need, rather than constraining them to specific subject areas. In contrast, Hawking students follow the National Curriculum. It is important to note that movement between the pathways is fluid, as we regularly review the placement of students to ensure they are in the most appropriate pathway. Whilst we follow certain curricula, we adapt the Schemes of Work to meet the needs of the students at Valence and we aim to think as creatively as possible. We are developing our character curriculum to ensure that we are offering a breadth of courses, a strong careers programme, and a varied co-curricular provision. 

How do you plan and sequence the curriculum so that new knowledge and skills build on what has been taught before? How does this build towards the end point?   

Valence School Response: Our school curriculum begins in the primary phase, in which students follow the National Curriculum, which is adapted depending on students' individual needs and ways of working. All students follow the RWI Phonics programme and are grouped homogenously. EYFS students follow the EYFS curriculum and students in KS1 and 2 follow the National Curriculum and elements of the EQUALS curriculum (students in Simmonds 1). All knowledge taught is adapted and revised to ensure students have mastered particular skills across a wide range of areas. In the secondary and post 16 phase, the curriculum is based around subject areas, in which students work towards different qualifications depending on their learning pathway. 

 How do you plan for students to have opportunities for learning outside the classroom?   

Valence School Response: The extra-curricular provision at Valence is exceptional. Lunchtime clubs are offered every day in the timetabled enrichment session, which means that all students can take part in an activity. The clubs range from Hamma Beads and art club to car club, science club, homework catch up, sports clubs, Lego club, and many more. Furthermore, important events such as European Day of Languages and Harvest are celebrated, and teachers plan different activities for these events, which take place outside of lessons. Arts week gives students the opportunity to be creative and experiment with different materials. Collaboration with local schools, such as Sevenoaks School, allows students to experience working with others outside of their usual class, which they really enjoy. Finally, trips form a key part of our extra-curricular provision and enhance students’ cultural capital. For example, Hawking 7 students recently attended a mental health conference, which they found very insightful, and we are planning on using some of the ideas from the conference at Valence school.  Furthermore, Keller 1 students visit Poll Hill garden centre, and students studying English can visit the theatre and take part in the Shakespeare School Festival. 



How do you assess students? What is the purpose of the assessment? How frequent is it? What is the impact of these arrangements?  

Valence School Response: Assessment at Valence takes an individualised approach depending on the age, stage, and pathway of the student. Appropriately adapted formative and summative assessment is used at Valence to inform teachers and leaders of the progress students make and help teachers to set aspirational targets for students to ensure they receive meaningful outcomes and qualifications. Academic progress is tracked termly and depending on the pathway is recorded on Evidence for Learning (EFL), MAPP (for S1&2 EQUALS), or on subject Gradebooks on ISAMS. Data inputted by teachers is reviewed by pathway leads in termly pupil progress meetings, in which successes are celebrated and intervention is planned for students who might be struggling. Pathway leads analyse the data presented by teachers carefully and share this with Teaching and Learning Leadership Team, with the view to improve student outcomes through intervention strategies and CPD.  
Where appropriate, students are entered for statutory assessments (e.g. the Reception Baseline Assessment and Phonics screening). EHCP targets are also integral in our approach to holistic assessment and particularly in the Keller pathway, these targets are at the heart of the curriculum. In Simmonds and Hawking, the EHCP targets run closely alongside the class or subject curriculum. EHCP targets are reviewed at least termly by teachers and formally at the annual review, in which new targets can be set.   

How do you ensure that pupils read, or have access to books at an age-appropriate level?  

Valence School Response: At Valence school, we understand that the ability to read enables students to flourish in other aspects of their education and reading exposes students to a plethora of interesting language and unique storylines. We strongly believe that it is our responsibility as a school to give all students ample opportunity to read, and to ensure that students have the necessary support in place to access age-appropriate books. We have therefore introduced ERIC time, which stands for 'Everyone Reads In Class'.  Every day, all students from Keller 1 to Hawking 5 read for 15 minutes at the start of period 4. Some students will read independently, whereas others will need more support and we ensure that class staff are able to assist students. In some primary and Simmonds classes, the teacher may choose to read one book as a class and then discuss together. Whilst the majority of students enjoy reading books, some prefer listening to audio books on the computer. At the end of the 15-minute reading session, students complete a reading log, which shows how much they have read and allows them to keep track of where they are in the book. The reading log is checked by class staff and the student's family. We acknowledge the importance of phonics in teaching students how to recognise, blend, and pronounce the sounds and combination of sounds that letters make. Furthermore, phonics helps children to build up a word bank that they can access quickly and easily. Therefore, our primary students follow a very robust phonics programme (Read, Write, Inc), which has been adapted for the students at Valence. Structured phonics lessons are built into the timetable and primary students sit termly phonics assessments, which are used to inform future planning. Where appropriate, students also access Accelerated Reader and complete the Star reading assessment to assess their reading age and level. Students then choose their reading book based on their colour. 

 How did you respond to the challenges of remote education during the pandemic?  

Valence School Response: During the pandemic, we felt that it was our responsibility to provide students with the best education possible and to support them with the challenges they faced as a result of COVID -19. During the initial period of time when everyone was at home, we had weekly keeping in touch meetings with key students which enabled us to check in on their mental and physical well-being. We started using MS Teams for our examination students in the Hawking pathway, with Maths and English lessons following a set timetable. Our online provision quickly expanded, and we offered daily story time sessions for all students and for the classes/students who were able to access online lessons or meetings with teachers this was arranged, and bespoke timetables were provided. When our school was open, students remained in tutor group bubbles with MS Teams lessons being delivered by specialist teachers, these were a variety of 'live' and 'recorded' lessons, depending on the students' need and practicalities of the teaching timetable. Our most vulnerable students remained at home for an extended period of time and arrangements were made so they could still access the Teams lessons from home (a hybrid approach to learning). Our HCA's spent time in student homes supporting them with their learning until they were able to return to school.  Whole school events, such as celebrations and assemblies took place on Teams, and we also recorded a whole school performance of 'Macbeth' in various 'bubble' locations as part of the Shakespeare School Festival. After the pandemic, we spent time analysing pupil progress and put in place bespoke catch-up provision for those most in need. 

How do you adapt the curriculum to meet the needs of all students?  

Valence School Response: At Valence school, we cater for students with an incredibly wide range of needs, and we understand the importance of tailoring our approach to meet the needs of all students. All students have a personalised support plan, which details the support they need both medically and educationally, and all staff are instructed to read these plans. At the beginning of the academic year, teaching staff use the support plans to complete student profiles for each of their classes, which they refer to when planning their lessons, to ensure that students can access the curriculum. Resources are adapted and, in many cases, they are bespoke for individual students. When students apply to Valence school, we hold Placement Assessment meetings, where we assess the student's needs and their ability to understand and process information. We then use this information to decide which pathway is most appropriate for the student. Each pathway follows a different curriculum (Keller - Impacts, Simmonds - Equals / semi-formal approach, Hawking - the National Curriculum). The approach to teaching and learning is very different in each pathway, which enables all students to fulfil their potential. For example, many of the Keller students are non-verbal and unable to write. We therefore use VOCAs and Big Macs to help them communicate, and the Big Mac activities are often incorporated into lessons. Each pathway assesses students in very different ways, but all students have the opportunity to obtain a qualification of some degree. 

 How do you adapt the curriculum for more able students? 

Valence School Response: Within each pathway, teachers adapt their teaching to allow all students to flourish. We do not believe in a 'one size fits all approach' and we understand that there are a range of abilities within each pathway and class. In most classes, we aim to teach to the top and scaffold appropriately to expose all students to the most challenging content. For example, in the Hawking pathway, all KS4 students are taught the content for the English GCSE, but we may decide that some students will sit the Entry Level exam. Structuring the curriculum in this way ensures that we are stretching our most able students. Due to the nature of our students, it would not be appropriate to have a whole school homework policy, but we do set homework for our most able students. Furthermore, we write curriculum overviews at the start of each term for each subject, which contain information about what students can do at home and links to different websites students can access. Finally, our older Hawking students have private study periods each week, which support them with fostering a more independent approach to their work. 

Do lessons reference previous learning? How confident are teachers with helping students to develop their memory and recall skills? 

Valence School Response: One cannot underestimate the importance of developing memory and recall skills for all students, but especially for our students at Valence school, as many of them struggle with processing and remembering information, and it is our responsibility to provide ample opportunities for students to recall key content. At the beginning of most lessons, students will complete a starter task, which will reference previous learning. We encourage teachers to not just refer to the lesson before, but rather content from across the year, so that students engage with a range of topics they need to be familiar with. The starter tasks take many different forms, from a quick low stakes quiz on a module, to a retrieval grid, which contains a range of questions from various topics. The questions are colour-coded to highlight the level of difficulty, and students can choose which questions they would like to answer. In some subjects, students have knowledge organisers, which map out the learning for a module, and teachers continuously refer to these in lessons. Where possible, we build in cross-curricular links and refer to other subjects in our lessons, to help reinforce learning. For example, when learning the numbers in German, we complete multiplication and subtraction to support students in developing their maths skills too. 

 How do you ensure that your teaching remains well informed and rooted in evidence? 

Valence School Response: At Valence school, we strongly believe in the importance of educational research in helping us to develop our practice. We use Friday afternoons for staff training, which provide an excellent opportunity to discuss educational pedagogy. The Assistant Principals for curriculum are passionate about teaching and learning and often lead these sessions. Furthermore, we run a weekly teachers' meeting, which offers another forum to share best practice and the last teachers' meeting of every half term is a 'show and tell' session, where staff present on some effective teaching and learning strategies. We are part of the KSent network, which is an invaluable resource, as it provides a platform for staff to meet to share their experiences and expertise. There are different groups for the various areas of education, for example, teachers can join the working parties for behaviour and teaching and learning, which meet once a term at schools in Kent. There are also subject groups, which allow staff to discuss their approaches to teaching their own subject and to moderate work. At the beginning of the academic year, staff meet with their line manager to set objectives for the year ahead. The leadership team encourage teaching staff to link at least one objective to an aspect of educational research and try to motivate staff to undertake CPD courses in a field of interest. For example, one of our primary colleagues is currently completing a course on Hearing and Visual Impairments, with the aim of becoming an expert in this area. Furthermore, we provide Makaton training two to three times a year and have 'Makaton champions', who inspire staff to learn some sign language. Finally, all staff take part in 'Team Teach' training, which equips them with the necessary skills to manage behaviour in the classroom. 

How do you lead support staff to ensure maximum support for students, whilst enabling independence, in your subject/area?  

Valence School Response: Together with the Learning Support Supervisors, the Pathway Leads and Assistant Principal strategically analyse where support staff are best placed. We have a strong understanding of their skill sets and aim to place staff in classes where they will assist students in working to the best of their ability. Where possible, Valence support staff usually work across the same classes / pathway, to give them the opportunity to get to know the students properly. When support staff join Valence school, they follow a very thorough induction programme, where they learn how to work with the students in the different pathways. For example, students in the Keller pathway need a different level of support to students in the Hawking pathway, and we stress the importance of allowing students to be as independent as possible. It is vital to give support staff ample time to read the relevant students' support plans, so that they understand the students' needs. Furthermore, support staff attend the training sessions on Friday afternoon, which provide a fantastic opportunity to share experiences and expertise. 



How do you check that students have understood what has been taught in lessons? How do you give feedback? 

Valence School Response: At Valence school, we embed assessment for learning (AFL) into lessons to check if students understand the lesson content. We use quizzes, mini whiteboards, and progress checks throughout the lesson to assess how much the students have understood, and we adapt our lesson plans accordingly. Targeted questioning is essential and the small class sizes ensure that teachers have an excellent grasp of the students' abilities and can question all students throughout the course of the lesson. We give lots of verbal feedback and praise students as much as possible to enhance their confidence. In many subjects, students receive written feedback on their classwork, which takes the form of WWW/EBI (usually in green pen). Students are expected to read this feedback and respond in purple pen to show that they have understood how they can improve their work. As part of the written feedback, teachers may set students a progress task to complete to show if they have properly understood the feedback. 

What is the impact of your curriculum, including the most disadvantaged students? [results, data, national tests, progression, future steps? 

Valence School Response: The impact of the curriculum at Valence school is very positive and powerful. The use of different pathways allows teachers to teach students based on their physical and cognitive needs, rather than their age. Therefore, all students are able achieve independence of some degree, whilst obtaining various qualifications in a range of subjects. The range of qualifications offered and the number of students achieving qualifications is increasing (2023 saw the highest number of qualifications so far). Our commitment to preparing students for life after Valence is evident in our determination to secure all students a placement of some description when they leave us. Older Hawking students are given the opportunity to volunteer, thereby allowing them to experience working in different environments (for example, our shop in Westerham). Talks from former students are a part of our extra-curricular provision and further help to prepare our students for life after Valence.