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HomeCollege Skills for Independence Curriculum

Skills for Independence Curriculum at The Mount

Developing skills for independence is at the heart of all our curriculum. Most students have aspirations towards living as independent a life as possible.
All students at The Mount are given the opportunity to develop their functional skills through embedded learning as well as bespoke individual or small group sessions. All students are also timetabled to attend Life Skills sessions developing, cooking, cleaning, money and travel skills. In addition, all students build work skills through work skills sessions and meaningful work experience. 

Whilst living at The Mount students develop their independence skills through the waking day curriculum by learning self-care, participating in food preparation for breakfast and supper, household tasks throughout the week, weekend trips involving travel and leisure activities such as reading, games, fitness and social activities.  This creates a holistic approach to developing independence. 


Functional Skills 
Functional Skills is an integral part of the curriculum - maths and English skills are embedded and reinforced whenever possible. 

Many students come with a need or aspiration to improve their functional maths and English skills in order to develop greater opportunities for independent living and work.

The majority of students attend 1:1 or small group functional skills sessions which give opportunity for focused learning.  ICT is embedded throughout for example by researching, using charts and diagrams, typing and listening comprehension. These sessions are delivered by a specialist tutor, Ben Gould who has worked at The Mount since 2021. Ben works collaboratively with the cross-college team of tutors, therapists and house coordinators to ensure students are supported effectively to use the skills learned in a functional way in a range of situations. 

Bespoke sessions are created to engage students in material that is of interest in relation to hobbies and their workshops and differentiated to an appropriate level. This individualised approach helps students to progress and develop transferable skills.  

As part of the functional skills curriculum, learning is approached with consideration to reflection upon nature, seasons, festivals and the world around us. The environment at The Mount provides a vast array of real and tangible resources to work with giving a meaningful learning experience. 

Sessions are delivered using a range of sensory approaches to provide students with opportunities to learn through each sense, giving a deeper understanding to their growing knowledge. 

All students have an opportunity to work towards a recognised qualification accredited by Pearson Edexcel or Laser Learning Awards at a level appropriate to them. Students are able to work towards this over 1 or more years building skills and gaining confidence in their ability to achieve. As a result students leave with an increased confidence and awareness of functional English & maths. 

Life Skills 
Developing life skills is an essential part to many of our students’ lives, particularly those whose aspirations are towards living as independently as possible and becoming a meaningful member of their wider community. Independent thinking and life skills are embedded throughout the waking day relevant to each individual student.
 
Within the houses students are given opportunities to learn and practise their skills through supporting learning in meal making, sorting laundry, making their bed, washing up, cleaning, hoovering etc. Students are allocated a laundry day to be able to learn how to sort, wash and dry their laundry. Students have daily and weekly tasks in relation to house work these are allocated for based on developing skills as well as supporting a sensory lifestyle that helps to reduce anxiety for example timing scheduling activities to give meet sensory needs.
 
Students also attend a Life Skills session once a week with a tutor. These sessions cover a range of topics including travel training, cooking, budgeting, shopping for everyday living, health and hygiene and the experience to be confident in the community.

Embedded within Life Skills is a focus on social skills and communication particularly in relation to the wider community.  This is alongside teaching students the awareness of stranger danger and safe strangers in the wider community. This supports individual targets with communication, for example asking for help, increasing confidence, using appropriate behaviours. The students are also encouraged to consider others and their own vulnerabilities in the community as well as how their own behaviours can impact situations.

The Life Skills curriculum has a strong functional maths and English impulse with much practical maths skills embedded throughout, developing a better understanding of weights, measure, money, time etc. Literacy is also supported throughout particularly encouraging the development of speaking and listening skills when in the wider community as well as an awareness of their environment to find signs and symbols to aid independence. All students have a functional skills target sheet specific for their workshop which is created and monitored in conjunction with the functional skills tutor.

The learning is structured to give routine and repetition to build their confidence and understanding, for example with small local journeys before progressing to more complex and challenging environments. Students are given reducing support towards independence. This learning is then further refined with journeys for weekend activities and work experience making the learning even more meaningful. Students are given support to use a phone and tablet to support independent living activities for example to research train and bus times and costs or to complete online grocery shopping within a budget. 

Work Skills
Developing Work skills and gaining work experience is an essential part to many of our students’ aspirations towards meaningful work.The entire curriculum that each student attends is developing skills towards an improved ability to voluntary or paid employment. This is through a cross college focus on developing social and communication skills, functional skills, independence skills as well as improved fine and gross motor skills and perseverance. All students attend a Work Skills session once a week with a tutor to build specific skills and to provide a workskills journey that builds each year on prior knowledge. This will equip the students with the confidence, skills, experience and BTEC Award in Work Skills that they will need for their next step when they leave college.

The work skills curriculum develops over the student’s time at The Mount:

In their first year the students' Work Skills sessions have a focus to run the College’s weekly tuck shop. This involves promoting the shop, stock taking and ordering stock, producing items to sell, running the shop, customer service, money skills, time-keeping and team work.

The tuck shop is a popular and busy weekly event visited by all students, co-housers and co-workers. It is a very good introduction into the world of work skills.

Once into their second year students in the weekly Work skills sessions look at all aspects of preparing for work experience and health and safety at work. They will then look at what they have learnt from their work experience and this will all be recorded in a Log Book they compile throughout this second year. The work skills sessions operate in parallel to the work experience placements that the students are attending. During work skills sessions a Log Book is maintained. This helps to provide evidence for the BTEC in Workskills Award.

In College Three students focus on building skills necessary for working in a team. This can form part of a further BTEC Award. Students engage in a variety of activities, such as providing the refreshments for up to 100 people at the Family Days. Again students will continue to attend work experience throughout the year. 

When students move on to be trainees a focus on C.V writing; interview skills and qualities needed for work; and preparing for transition from college holds a greater focus. Students also develop their communication skills through preparing and delivering a presentation about Work Experience Week. These students feel a real sense of achievement as they review their previous work experiences and relay their expertise to students starting college. Students are able to take further btec units to expand their knowledge if they wish.

Most students have the opportunity to participate in visits to an assortment of work places where they will get a ‘behind the scenes’ view of what it might be like to work there. They will also have the opportunity to take part in question and answer sessions with invited employers from a range of occupations. 

Work Experience
Whilst at The Mount all students take part in work experience, through this time their experiences develop and unfold. 

Internal Work Experience:
From the first year at The Mount, all students engage in internal work experience choosing placements such as cooking, maintenance, laundry, office, land work or preparation and delivery of our community teabreak. In each placement students work alongside the relevant professional and form part of a team. They have targets that they are working and these can build towards recognized accreditation. These placements are tweaked to suit the needs of the individual and promote confidence at work
As a student progresses through college life, internal work experience opportunities are still available, along with opportunities for external experience.

External Work Experience
The majority of our students have the opportunity to engage in external work experience, these placements vary in time and length some are for 6 week block whilst others can last the full academic year. These placements are coordinated with each student’s wishes and aspirations working with many local businesses and offering a range of placements.  Sometimes these placements are attended independently, whilst others may need a coworker to support.  Our placements include a café, bookshop, garden centre, horse stables, woodland management, garden maintenance, children’s nursery, residential care home and animal rescue etc. We endeavor to source appropriate placements for each individual’s interest and development needs. 

Work Experience Week
In addition to our regular work experience placements we arrange a focused work experience week once a year. This week gives students the opportunity to spend the entire week working either in one placement or to experience a variety of different types of work. This is a great opportunity for students who are unsure of what they may like to do for voluntary or paid work in the future providing them a variety of experiences to help form decisions for a longer term placement.  The week has a ‘buzz’ which further engages the students. During this week we host a ‘Pop up Café’ in the village which is usually in collaboration with the local amateur dramatic society.