The curriculum

Learners have access to a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum. There are opportunities to access the core subjects in the tier most relevant to the needs of the pupils.  The National Curriculum is extensively differentiated and is built upon small step learning which includes repetition, reinforcement and positive development feedback.  The Beacon offers small class sizes, a high ratio of staff as well as specialist staff expertise to enable optimum personalisation.  Some subjects are taught discretely while others are incorporated into a creative curriculum approach.

The National Curriculum is blended with opportunities to develop GCSEs, functional skills, Entry Level qualifications, independence skills and skills for working life as appropriate, in line with the 14-19 Curriculum.

The National Guidance for Foundation Stage Curriculum (EYFS) is followed and a carefully differentiated and adapted National Curriculum for Key Stages 1, 2, 3 and 4, and for Post 16, the preparation for work and college independence.

The needs of the learner are considered as to whether they are taught in a class through a topic approach and one teacher delivering the majority of the curriculum, or learners moving between subject specialist teachers for the majority of the learning. The class/form teachers throughout The Beacon deliver the PSHE and Citizenship curriculum.

 

Synthetic Phonics

At The Beacon we follow the Department for Education’s Letters and Sounds phonic programme. The sessions are planned to be interactive, engaging and relevant to each pupil’s phonic stage.

The synthetic phonics method teaches children the sounds of the alphabet as opposes to just the letters of the alphabet. Once some sounds are taught, the children learn to blend the sounds phonetically to form words, and then to naturally build vocabulary, and increase fluency and comprehension.

The purpose of systematic high quality phonic teaching, at the pace of the pupil, is for pupils to secure the crucial skills of word decoding that can lead to fluent and automatic reading. Through this method children can take the first important steps in learning to read. They can also use this knowledge to begin to spell new words they hear. A systematic approach to teaching synthetic phonics means teachers take a planned and thorough approach.

The Beacon is well resourced to teach phonics effectively and we also use the following reading schemes to reinforce the teaching methods:

  • Bug Club- both hardback books and online – Pearson
  • Rapid Read/Discovery World – Heinemann
  • Dockside – Rising Stars
  • Ginn
  • Totem/Talisman/Magic Belt/Alba Series – Phonic Books UK
  • Cambridge Reading – Cambridge University Press
  • Collins
  • Project X/Oxford – Oxford University Press
  • A range of free reading books

Personalised Learning

The Beacon aims to adapt the curriculum provision to suit the pupil and where there is a need we offer personalised learning opportunities.

Within these personalised learning opportunities, pupils are offered cognitive, practical (physical, functional) and multi-sensory experiences based on individual needs and learning strategies designed to meet their EHCP outcomes, as well as any other shared goals or learning intentions, agreed by the team around the young person. A variety of assessment tools are used to show the development of early communication, social interaction and cognitive skills that are the building blocks for future learning and functional life skills.

Spiritual, Moral, Social & Cultural & British Value Opportunities

Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural (SMSC) development is an integral part of the curriculum at The Beacon.  This enables our pupils to become healthy, independent and responsible members of society and to reach their full potential. The pupils are encouraged to develop their sense of self-worth by playing a positive role in contributing to school life and the wider community. They learn how the world is organised and experience the process of equality in school through the School Council. We provide opportunities to learn about rights and responsibilities and appreciate what it means to be a positive member of a diverse society. This gives all the pupils the chance to experience and value a range of cultures in modern multi-cultural Britain.

Creative Learning Opportunities

Pupils are given opportunities to learn in a creative way and for KS3 this includes dedicated learning time, based on a theme which is delivered to vertically mixed groups, on a carousel basis. We have seven lead teachers which enable the pupil groups to enjoy a variety of experiences which include art, music, role play, dance, active learning. Pupils have explored the themes of School Values, Chinese New Year, British Values, End of Year Celebrations and Charitable Events.

Enrichment Opportunities

All pupils access our subject Enrichment days, which are designed to promote pupil engagement, curiosity and creativity.

The curriculum includes the 100 Year Anniversary of many World War 1 battles and a trip to Ypres in Belgium, to visit the World War 1 trenches and War Graves occurs for our Year 9 pupils.  This provides an invaluable first-hand experience of what life was like for soldiers fighting on the western front and also the impact of the lives lost on both sides of the battlefield. Pupils will also have the opportunity to visit the local Battle of Britain Memorial.

These experiences enrich the learning in the classroom and support students in making links to the past. Positive learning experiences for students, regardless of their needs, are valuable enriching experiences provided within the curriculum.  The pupils have frequent opportunities to experience a range of environments both locally and further afield.

The pupils participate in a variety of cultural events within the local community: for example, attending workshops with other KsENT schools, regular community choir performances, including Sainsbury’s and local homes for the elderly. Within the school there are opportunities for pupils to participate in a wide range of celebrations including Harvest Festival, Christmas and Easter, using music, dance and drama skills.  The pupils also showcase their every growing range of performance skills in ‘Beacon’s Got Talent’ which occurs regularly throughout the year. The pupils have access to providers coming into school, such as a circus skills workshop, drumming workshops and puppet shows, to name a few.

Sporting Opportunities

The Beacon offers a range of additional curriculum enrichment, which includes sporting events. Pupils at The Beacon take part in a vast array of sports trips and outings which include events, fixtures and competitions.  The Beacon attends all Kent School Games (KSG) competitions for Kent Special Schools and Disability Sport.  When the pupils win a KSG competition they progress to South East Regional Finals events and also compete there.  The Beacon pupils are also involved in the Shepway School Games (SSG) with local mainstream Shepway schools.  The Beacon takes part in a high proportion of the SSG competitions offered throughout the year where they are deemed relevant and appropriate for our pupils. The School Games Organiser makes suitable adjustments to SSG competitions, where reasonably possible, in order to cater for and include The Beacon’s pupils.  Pupils are also given various opportunities to engage in inclusive sports events throughout their time at school.

Other enrichment opportunities include Compass which builds confidence and self-esteem in Key Stage 4.  Participating in Compass enables our students to learn about the outdoor environment, bushcraft skills, leadership and team working.

Sports trips provide pupils with a highly valuable extension to their PE curriculum.  Sports trips offer students the opportunity to represent The Beacon proudly, developing pride in their identity as part of a team at The Beacon.  They offer pupils opportunities to excel in sport by competing against pupils from other schools.  Pupils also have further opportunities to be competitive, develop their competence and confidence in sport, embed positive values such as respect and team work, develop their character in areas such as resilience and courage as well as supporting them to lead a healthy and active lifestyle.

 Extended School Opportunities

At The Beacon we are committed to every child:

  1. Being healthy
  2. Staying safe
  3. Enjoying and achieving
  4. Making a positive contribution
  5. Achieving economic well-being

We believe the ‘Extended Schools’ has a key role to play in achieving the above.  There have been studies and case study evidence that extended services have made life-changing differences to pupils and in turn, this has led to better attendance and attitudes.

Our Extended Schools Aim at The Beacon is to provide a Core Offer of extended services which include:

  • High-quality wraparound childcare provided on the school site or through other local providers, available 8.30am —4.15pm, all year round or to reflect community demand.
  • Varied menu of activities to be on offer, including sport, music tuition, arts and crafts, special interest clubs such as film review, stars and planets plus Duke of Edinburgh. Residential trips are also offered on a needs led basis from overnight camping in the school to trips further afield for up to a week and may include outdoor and adventurous activities.