We design our curriculum to include the best of the National Curriculum, sequenced to give students the powerful knowledge and skills they need to succeed academically and socially. Subject specialists identify the threshold concepts which pupils need to understand in depth and achieve mastery; they then select the knowledge, including specialist vocabulary which needs to be explicitly taught.
Being able to read fluently is a key skill which is also essential to pupils’ ability to continue adding to their body of knowledge, so we place a strong emphasis on developing this throughout pupils’ primary and secondary education. All teachers have access to clear assessment data on each pupils’ ability, including their ability to read with comprehension and teachers use this to inform their teaching.
In addition to the best that the National Curriculum has to offer, we have a strong personal development curriculum to help prepare young people to be active and engaged citizens in modern Britain. Throughout their school day, they are supported to develop skills and attributes such as resilience, self-esteem, risk-management, team-working and critical thinking. Our STAR values (Safety, Thoughtfulness, Achievement and Resilience) are reinforced and celebrated by all staff, with weekly awards in assemblies and a termly reward system overseen by the Senior Leadership Team and the Student Council. Adventure Learning, Enterprise and the Duke of Edinburgh Award focus explicitly on increasing their self-esteem and personal effectiveness. They are supported to understand their own personal challenges and to explore the choices and options they have to overcome barriers.
Students receive independent careers advice and guidance and develop their employability skills through work experience and enterprise projects. We also ensure that they learn the life skills they will need to live healthy and happy adult lives, from personal budgeting to nutrition and wellbeing.
Implementation: how we teach
The class sizes at Thames Valley School are small: on average a class of six children will learn with one teacher and two learning mentors, and some children are supported individually.
In the Primary Department, the Class Teacher and team of Learning Mentors help to establish the classroom as a secure base in which they can learn. They also have their own outdoor space with a range of play equipment and access to indoor Soft Play. They develop a sense of being part of the whole school community through weekly Assemblies. There is a strong focus on helping them develop the basic building blocks of learning, including reading and mental maths. Science, Computing and PSHE are taught as discrete subjects. We carefully plan opportunities to support children to generalise and apply their learning, across subjects and into the wider community.
In the Secondary Department, we aim for students to benefit from a secondary model of education where they can be taught from Entry Level up to GCSE level 9 by subject specialists who bring both a passion for their subject and deep pedagogical knowledge and understanding. Students still have a consistent form tutor who meets with them daily and is responsible for their pastoral care and they are supported by skilled Learning Mentors throughout the school day. However, we recognise that some secondary-aged children continue to learn best when they take most lessons in their own classroom, which acts as a secure base so we continue to operate a more nurturing approach for those who need this. Our intention is to increase support and to tailor the learning context to make pupils feel sufficiently safe and confident to engage and progress, rather than to lessen our ambition for these young people to succeed.
We want our children to enjoy their studies, and to learn how they learn best. We have high expectations, which is why we ask our children to work hard, and encourage them always to do their best.
The Impact of learning at TVS
With our specialist support, most young people make or exceed expected levels of progress at the end of Key Stage 2 and then achieve comparable GCSE results to their mainstream peers (including many at grades 4-9).
We work closely with the young person, their family and local colleges to support an effective transition to further study and we are proud that 95% of our leavers are still in education and employment.
"It’s good here because they don’t ‘force’ you to do things you find hard. They help you."
"Everything is personalised. In one lesson, four children will be doing four activities."
Cookies on this site