Our Sensory Communication Group, AB4, is a specialist Key Stage 3 Autism provision within Hollinwood Academy which focuses on the development of social communication and interaction with a diverse and child-centred curriculum at its core.

We seek to provide a broad, balanced, relevant, meaningful and motivating curriculum to develop the specific strengths, needs, interests and aspirations of our pupils. We offer differentiated learning challenges and use our specialist environment and knowledge to enable pupils to recognise and nurture their strengths and to overcome potential barriers to learning. We ensure that our curriculum provides progression and coherence, systematically building on each pupil’s individual existing knowledge and skills. In this way we can respond to their individual, diverse learning needs to support their transition through school.

The curriculum is used to develop pupils’ confidence, interest in and understanding of the world around them. Differentiated, personalised provision enables pupils to become increasingly independent as they transfer learning between school, home and the wider community.

The curriculum enables the team to use the principles and strategies from a range of Autism specific approaches such as ABA and TEACCH. We are supported in this by Sarah Devlin, an ABA specialist from Ireland who periodically advises us about our practices, curriculum and knowledge. She is an independent practitioner who has previously worked with Autism Ireland. We provide a curriculum that enables all of our pupils to make a positive contribution to a society in which they are confident, apply their skills and aptitudes, and are able thereby to continue in future lifelong learning and in work and leisure activity.

At Hollinwood Academy we recognise the specific educational, social, emotional, sensory, physical and personal needs of pupils with Autistic Spectrum Condition. The design of the curriculum also offers the flexibility necessary to accommodate the needs of mixed age groups.

There are three main areas of curriculum content:

1. Core Curriculum

  • English
  • Maths
  • ICT
  • Living Skills

2. Enrichment Subjects

These are subjects we have chosen which provide pupils with the opportunity to generalise and develop their skills in a range of different contexts. They are delivered by a mixture of specialist teaching staff and staff from the discrete provisions. We aim to base the decision around who delivers these lessons on the skills base of the latter staff to ensure that the quality of teaching received by the pupils is always of the highest standard. Some of the subjects included are:

  • Art
  • Music
  • Dance/Drama
  • PE/Exercise
  • Swimming

3. Autism Specific Enrichment

These additional curriculum components provide specific input based on the communication, social interaction and generalisation needs of the young people on the Spectrum.

  • Sensory Diet
  • Social Communication
  • Community Access
  • Outdoor Education

The framework for this content uses the themes from Key Stage 2 in the main body of the school which include Ancient Greece; The local area; Castles; Chocolate; The Second World War; The Vikings and Anglo Saxons; Raw Materials and the World; The Rainforest – South America; The Mayans; The Stone Age; The Victorians; The Romans; Volcanoes, Earthquakes and Tsunamis; Potions. This provides the group with opportunities, where appropriate, to take part in shared experiences and integrated activities with the wider school. It offers them the chance to generalise skills in a range of different contexts and best fits their developmental stage. Topics may also be chosen for their individual motivating properties where they fulfil the specialised interests of the pupil(s) in the group.

We have the flexibility to offer an individualised curriculum within this framework to ensure that every young person achieves the best possible outcome for them. Our curriculum enables all our pupils to achieve ambitious outcomes and leave school to fulfil their aspirational destination.