Curriculum big picture
School curriculum statement
Fundamental to our approach at TreeHouse is our commitment to personalise the curriculum to the unique qualities and needs of each pupil. This personalisation is informed by knowledge of the strengths and difficulties associated with autism in general. Our curriculum has the flexibility to address the individual and very specific needs of each pupil and is characterised by being:
- Individually planned
- Guided by pupil performance
- English Curriculum
English and literacy at TreeHouse School offers pupils the ability to shine regardless of their academic ability.
We use Bag Books, multi-sensory stories and story massages to captivate our pupils and encourage them to experience a book through their senses. Additionally, where appropriate, we run a wide-ranging reading, writing and comprehension programme to enable our pupils to become readers.
Our programme encourages pupils to develop their phonological awareness so that they can begin blending and reading words. We aim to instil a lifelong passion for reading in our young people by having daily story times, celebrating narratives from around the world and having surprise readers visit us occasionally. One of our biggest celebrations is World Book Day, when staff and pupils dress up and share their favourite stories or poems.
Maths can provide pupils with powerful ways of exploring, investigating and understanding the world; for example, the skills of making comparisons, identifying differences, investigating relationships and establishing connections — important skills that extend across the entire curriculum.
At TreeHouse School, we believe that maths can help us to make sense of things around us through developing the ability to calculate, reason and solve problems.
At the earliest stages of development, where thinking centres around concrete situations and events, pupils are supported to make sense of experiences and sensations through learning to recognise changes in patterns, quantity, space and time.
Maths is a tool that all people need in their day-to-day lives. Without an understanding of numbers and their many varied applications, such as money and time, large areas of adult life would be closed or incomprehensible. As well as a life skill, maths is also a useful language — a worldwide system of communication. It has special signs, symbols and patterns and teaches our young people to handle numbers and concepts. We encourage pupils to develop these key and fundamental skills as their knowledge and understanding of the world grows.
We regard it as essential that our pupils enjoy their maths work and gain a sense of achievement at all levels including, where appropriate, through external exams in sixth form. We aim to give our young people opportunities to develop a sound understanding of basic mathematical concepts through interactive whole- class teaching and suitably differentiated activities. We ensure that all pupils follow a broad and balanced maths programme and that they are encouraged to use and apply their mathematical skills in meaningful situations throughout each day.
“Pupils feel happy and enjoy their time in school.” Ofsted, 2017
Music is a powerful and unique form of communication and, for some children, it is one of crucial importance.
At TreeHouse School, everyone has an opportunity to develop their musicianship and forge a lasting relationship with music, regardless of natural ability. Learning within the performing arts underlines key values and can be a meaningful gateway towards future integration in community groups.
Music can also be a key part of a pupil’s heritage and therefore an integral part of building an identity as a learner, citizen and human being. Weekly music lessons with a specialist teacher are supplemented through regular in-school workshops and concerts, weekly drumming lessons, group music-making, end-of-term productions and educational trips as appropriate to each child’s targets, interests and abilities.
Pupils at TreeHouse School are encouraged to explore visual expression as a means of understanding themselves and communicating about the world around them.
There is also a strong focus on supporting the development of skills linked to creative and imaginative thinking. Art underpins lifelong learning, flexibility, problem-solving and communication and is supported at each key stage by qualified teachers and specialist art teachers.
Pupils have the opportunity to take part in whole-school art activities and gallery visits and to work with visiting artists as part of the artist
residencies programme. The artwork produced by our pupils is highly celebrated and valued as a meaningful connection to pupil voice in the school.
Personal, social and health education
Personal, social and health education (PSHE) is at the centre of the TreeHouse School mission to respond to the unique needs of each pupil and ensure that, regardless of ability, they are all supported to be physically, emotionally and socially healthy.
We provide a safe learning environment for pupils so that they can gain the maximum enjoyment and achievement. In addition to this, there is a PSHE curriculum which is delivered to all pupils and explicitly explores specific topics such as sex and relationships, staying safe and understanding different cultures and customs.
Pupils also take part in Pride Patrol where they take turns to keep the environment safe, clean and tidy. This ties into our core values by encouraging responsible choices and fostering a desire to do their best.
Physical education (PE) is delivered by our experienced team of specialist teachers, allowing learners to thrive on an outstanding curriculum which delivers a broad range of sporting and physical activities.
It promotes the development of fundamental movement skills, agility, balance and coordination and as the children progress, they begin to apply these and may develop basic tactics for gameplay/competition as well as improve their understanding of healthy living.
Inter-school competition via sports days and themed events such as Sport Relief are prominent features in the PE calendar and external competition and sporting fixtures have played a key developmental role in recent years. TreeHouse School pupils have gained success by representing Haringey at the Panathlon swimming, football and multi-sport events in London, and some pupils even achieved a Guinness World Record in skiing.
Alongside the PE curriculum and sporting fixtures, the department leads an extensive community sport programme where learners access activities including
swimming, bowling, gym, skiing, horse riding, squash, tennis, cycling and ice skating. In all PE and community lessons there is a focus on embedding Individual Education Plan (IEP) targets and developing group skills for a thorough cross-curricular approach. This all ties together and contributes towards our end goal of equipping pupils with essential skills and experiences so that they are able to engage in lifelong physical activity as they leave school.
TreeHouse School plays a key role in the local community, having built long-standing links with organisations and businesses in Muswell Hill and across North London.
We actively seek to involve our pupils in the community through a range of visits, activities and work placements. In addition, TreeHouse School has a close relationship with several local mainstream schools. We encourage a two-way flow of both staff and pupils to and from these schools. Our ‘reverse inclusion’ project brings pupils from across London to interact and learn with our pupils. TreeHouse School pupils are also given the opportunity to attend mainstream schools whilst being supported by staff that are familiar to them.
“It’s fantastic being part of the partnership programme between our schools. Our pupils gain a tremendous sense of perspective visiting TreeHouse School and benefit greatly from the experience. Through carefully planned (and fun) activities, our pupils seem to learn so much about themselves as well as others.” Naomi Levin, Teacher at Highgate School
“We’ve loved being able to get creative with the Year 12 class. The opportunity to take time out of our normal routine getting to know the children and the school has been both rewarding and fun.” Year 12 pupil from Highgate School
Work-related learning (14 –19 years)
Work-related learning can be defined as a planned activity that uses the context of work to develop knowledge, skills and understanding around employment.
Work-related learning occurs through work simulations and mock interviews, work experience or enterprise activities and through vocational contexts in subjects. Our aim is to enable young people to develop career awareness and employability skills. Furthermore, we provide the opportunity to ‘learn by doing’ and encourage positive attitudes to lifelong learning.
Since April 2018, our pupils have been gaining work experience in retail at the local FARA Charity shop and Sainsbury’s store, catering and hospitality at local cafés and office skills at Action For Kids.
Find out more
If you wish to find out more about the curriculum at TreeHouse School, please email the School Office at SchoolOffice@ambitiousaboutautism.org.uk