The ARC of Success
This is a relative measure and depends on the individual. If students aren't making progress then we aren't meeting their needs. We are an outcome orientated specialist school. We primarily 'educate children' as opposed to having a curriculum based around the need for engagement as a measure of success. Our expectation is that students are in lesson, engaging with the teacher and completing the required work. We support students with health, emotional and regulation challenges, but all of our students engage academically and meaningfully for the majority of their time in school. We celebrate progress when it is sincere and meaningful, engagement without effort is not sufficient for reward or merit within the school. In our school meaningful effort leads to progress which triggers rewards and recognition.
Our school is a small thriving community, and we work as a community to help others and by extension ourselves. With the additional needs our students have, social communication is often a primary area that requires development. We structure our community in order to help our students understand the importance of communicating effectively and the role we each have to play in supporting and being a part of our communities. We have a 15 minute 'Community time' lesson every day where our students clean, organise and prepare their school for the next day. This is life skills learning in action, a sense of ownership of their environment and an opportunity to demonstrate their Resilience.
This is perhaps the hardest won, but most rewarding of the ARC's 3 pillars. Many students when they join us will have under-developed or diminished resilience. This can result from traumatic experiences, school placement breakdown or a generalised awareness of challenges they experience that their peers may not. Lowered resilience can also come from misguided or inappropriately implemented support. If students have not been allowed to experience failure, they can not have a sincere understanding of success. Resilience is primarily gained through our vigorous physical programmes of education, but also through the ethos and approach of the leaders, teachers and support staff at the school. Our lessons are planned with structured independence as a core part of the learning experience and our support staff are trained not to provide support prematurely. We are not a school that specialises in behavioural challenges, but we are of course a school and with that comes the journey of being a teenager and learning by both trial and error. We take a direct and rigorous approach to any negative choices made by our students in the course of their studies. Direct, but structured and supported challenges, develop resilience in our students. High levels of resilience prepare our students for the challenges and opportunities that life will present them with.
Our programme of study and wider learning is based around the principles of The ARC of Success. The ARC consists of 3 core pillars that we believe will give students strong foundations to build their future successes on by preparing them for adulthood.
Every week in assembly we issue a Headteacher's award in each of these 3 distinct areas. The recipient receives a certificate, 5 commendations, and has their name on the Wall of Success for the duration of the following week. We also report weekly to parents and carers using the ARC of Success as the basis for measuring challenges and progress through the previous week. All students have two week targets in each of the 3 areas to help them focus on their journey and development. It is essential that parents and carers work collaboratively with school to promote the wider learning recognised through The ARC in order to provide rigorously high expectations for their child. If we aim low, we crash land. If we aim high, we might just make it a very long way indeed.
Phonologically, 'Reading' doesn't fit into the ARC of Success, this probably counts as irony. This doesn't stop the school having a integrated and integral focus on reading throughout each subject as well as in dedicated reading sessions. The school has a phonics intervention programme for students who require support as well as differentiated reading resources to give students access to age appropriate themes and topics to give comparative cultural capital and reference points in keeping with age appropriate texts.