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As a small school, we are able to provide each pupil with their own personal timetable. Each timetable is built according to the pupil’s personal interests, strengths and areas for development, future plans and aspirations, ability and past experiences. Most pupils’ timetables consist of time in the classroom and purpose-built classrooms on-site, and time off-site. Pupils are taught 1:1 for most subjects, with opportunities for paired and group teaching throughout the week.

On-site, pupils learn in one of four classrooms; each pupil has a personal workstation, computer access and information display board. Our four fully-qualified teachers are supported by teaching assistants and visited by subject specialists. We are able to offer lessons covering the Welsh Government’s Six Areas of Learning; this provides each pupil with a range of learning opportunities and experiences. These Six Areas are: Literacy, Languages and Communications; Maths and Numeracy; Science and Technology; Health and Well-Being; Humanities; Expressive Arts. We are able to teach discrete lessons (and find this to be particularly useful for pupils working towards qualifications) led by subject specialists, as well as topic-based lessons covering a range of objectives across the curriculum. It is our aim, where appropriate, for every pupil to leave Aran Hall School with a formally recognised qualification in English and Maths. We are especially proud of our on-site facilities for art, cooking and gardening: pupils have the opportunity to explore different skills in realistic environments in our kitchens, library, potting shed and gardening classroom.

Off-site education involves our links with the local communities in nearby towns, Dolgellau, Bala and Barmouth. We are able to use the local leisure centres to further develop and promote fitness and healthy living as pupils have access to the gym and fitness machines, trampolines and hall-based activities such as basketball and badminton. A number of pupils have timetabled visits with the RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association) and take part in horse riding, stable craft and stable management, and, most recently, horse therapy activities and courses (with the opportunity of working towards Level 1, 2 or 3 qualifications). Pupils visit the local towns regularly to shop for their weekly chosen recipe; to experience a café visit and develop their social skills with our neighbours and local community.

We have strong links with Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor’s Dolgellau site and many of our post-16 pupils choose to complete courses with the expertise of tutors at college (for example, Entry Level and Level 1 Award or Certificate in Vocational Studies including subjects such as: Gardening, IT, Cooking, Hair and Beauty, Sports and Fitness, Art and Design, Drama, Engineering; A-Level study; Level 1 Vocational courses in Construction or Engineering). We are able to support pupils attending such sessions in-class, and facilitate their travel, homework and preparations.

On school grounds, we are able to provide a range of Work Experience and Work-Related Experiences and opportunities. Pupils can choose to further their weekly gardening sessions to include Work Experience sessions around the school site. Recent projects have centred around designing and building a home for the cats; planning, sourcing and creating a compost system; designing a coop for chickens; redeveloping the poly-tunnel and raised beds so that fruit and vegetables can be grown. Many pupils contribute to the termly school newsletter and experience journalism with interviewing, photography, editing and researching and writing articles. Our pupils are responsible for maintaining our school Library and enjoy organising the space and recommending new books.

The school Library is used as an additional ‘school space’, not only for pupils to browse for new books or simply enjoy a relaxing moment with a book; it is also used for PCT (Person-Centred Therapy) sessions and some PSHE teaching. It has been updated and refurbished by the School Council as one of their projects, and by pupils as a Work Experience task.

As every pupil’s timetable is bespoke, so too are the qualifications we are able to offer. Depending upon previous experiences, ability and suitability, we follow a Curriculum Map with four ‘phases’ (a simplified version can be seen below). As appropriate, pupils can work through the phases as they further develop their skills or work towards a longer-term career objective. We use transition information, some formal testing and our own teaching assessments in order to plan and implement teaching for each pupil at the appropriate level, as soon as they come to class. All pupils are able to complete a range of AQA certificates from the AQA Unit Award Scheme; some pupils will go on to prepare for Entry Level qualifications in English, Maths and Science (at Entry Level 2 or 3); some pupils will prepare for Level 1 qualifications in Functional Skills Maths and/ or English; we are able to offer GCSE teaching in Art, English and Maths – with subject specialists. Historically, we have been able to support pupils with a range of GCSEs and A-Levels through links within our local community.

Aran Hall School is busy and purposeful! With our careful, considered planning we are able to provide engaging, worthwhile and bespoke timetables for each pupil… and we look forward to celebrating further successes with our current and future pupils.

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