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DSP Curriculum – 5 Elements

Curriculum Around the Pupil

The new curriculum approach is entitled CAP and simply means Curriculum around the Pupil. There are five key elements to the CAP approach, the use of National Curriculum, the Developing Skills Curriculum and P Levels, Emotional Literacy, Sensory Diet and Total Communication.

National Curriculum

Where appropriate pupils will still benefit from National Curriculum coverage of Numeracy and Literacy at a level that is suitable for them but there will be a strong emphasis on functional Literacy and Numeracy skills even for those pupils who appear to be functioning at National Curriculum levels. These will be delivered in Numeracy and Literacy sessions but also through practical activities in the afternoon such as individual or group Speech and Language sessions, and practical life skills sessions.

Pupils will follow a ‘Theme’ approach but the Theme will act as vehicle to teach the skills that are related to the pupils’ specific areas of needs as opposed to delivering a set of National Curriculum objectives related to specific subjects. National Curriculum subjects and objectives will still be used where appropriate and where they support and extended the skills pupils need to develop.

 Developing Skills Curriculum

Where pupils are not ready for National Curriculum skills or will need a modified approach to National Curriculum then the guidance called ‘Developing Skills’ will be used to support planning for learning opportunities for these pupils alongside P Levels. This document outlines four key areas to address in a Curriculum for pupils with additional needs and then further expands on these areas:

KEY FUNCTIONAL SKILLS- including communication, application of mathematical and number skills and using information and communication technology.

SKILLS FOR LEARNING- including working with others in a team, reflecting on learning and problem solving and independent inquiry.

THINKING SKILLS- sensory awareness and perception and early thinking skills

PERSONAL SKILLS AND OTHER PRIORITIES- physical, orientation and mobility skills, organisation and study skills, personal and social skills, daily living skills and leisure and recreational skills.

Emotional Literacy

It is recognised that for pupils to fully engage in learning experiences they need to use their ‘thinking’ and ‘feeling’ brain together but strong feelings such as confusion, anxiety or anger can overwhelm our pupils and make it difficult for them to make effective use of their whole brain. In creating an emotional literate environment we are aiming to make our pupils feel CLASI

Capable- people around me are genuinely interested in enabling me to realise my potential

Listened to- I am free to say what I think or feel and it may lead to things changing

Accepted- I can explore different ways of being myself

Safe- I do not have to hide the way my emotions influence what I think, do or say

Included- I am valued for the distinctive role I play in this class and school

We will aim through developing emotionally literate environments and providing learning opportunities through activities such as ‘Check in/check out’, ‘Relax kids’ and circle time activities to enable pupils to:

  • Recognise their emotions in order to label and find them
  • Understand their emotions in order to become effective learners
  • Handle and manage their emotions in order to develop and sustain positive relationships
  • Appropriately express emotions in order to develop as ‘rounded people’ who are able to help themselves and, in turn, those around them.

Sensory Diet

For many pupils with additional needs there may be difficulties with their sensory processing ability. The term sensory processing refers to the ability to take in information through our senses (touch, proprioceptive , smell, taste, sight, hearing, vestibular), organize and interpret that information and make a meaningful response. The seven senses are fundamental to a child’s ability to learn & function in any environment. Therefore if there is a difficulty in organising or integrating this sensory information this can have a dramatic impact on the pupils ability to engage in learning experiences. This is when they will need a Sensory Diet approach related to specific senses they may have problems with in order to enable them to utilise the senses they have and integrate information from the developing senses. These activities will vary greatly depending on the needs of the pupils but could include the need for rebound therapy, sensory room, specific equipment such as physio balls, visual stimulus and auditory stimulus.

Total Communication

Underpinning this whole Curriculum is the need for the Total Communication Approach. If pupils cannot access the curriculum due to difficulties in receptive language skills and cannot demonstrate their learning due to difficulties in their expressive language skills then the Curriculum approach will be ineffective. The Total Communication approach acknowledges the need to match our expressive communication to the needs of the pupils so that they can engage in learning experiences be that through Sign, use of Objects of Reference, PECS, clear speech, body language, intensive interaction and the use of visual supports such as timetables, now and next boards and symbols such as ‘wait’, ‘help’ and ‘Traffic Lights’. The Total Communication Approach also acknowledges that we need to be adept at responding to the child’s expressive communication so as to build relationships and understand what they have learnt during activities so we can build on this for future learning experiences.