At Drumbeat Downham, we support each pupil’s individual needs; to develop their full potential by structuring learning experiences and a curriculum that supports their stage of learning, development and interests. Drumbeat Downham makes sure that this is carried out in a motivating yet challenging way that supports each pupil’s academic abilities as well as their social, emotional and personal development, building upon their self-esteem as well as confidence.
The facilities at Downham have been carefully planned and include play equipment, fitness and gym areas, a large and versatile sports hall, two sensory rooms, a sensory garden, a soft play area, art and design room, a food technology room, small kitchen as well as additional outside play areas and a sports training space.
Each classroom on the ground floor has an additional outside space attached to it as well as a joint group room, shared with the adjacent class. Classrooms on the first floor have access to a shared group room as well as a corridor terraced area, which is communal.
Each pupil has a Personalised Plan, where targets are taken from their current EHCP outcomes as well as relevant key skills that need to be worked upon within their present academic year. Parents are part of the process in developing these Personalised Plans and engage in initial ‘My World’ meetings at the beginning of the autumn term in order for these to be set up. The areas covered centre around 4 main targets: Communication and Interaction (Community, friends and family), Social and Emotional (Independence), Cognition and Learning (Education and Employment) and Sensory and Physical (Good Health). Each pupil’s Personalised Plan is also worked on alongside targets set within the key curriculum areas of Maths, English and Computing (Core Areas) as well as the non-core areas. A range of subjects are covered and tailored to meet the individual needs of each pupil.
The Downham Site has a Choir, which is led by one of our specialist Teaching Assistant’s (TA’s). This is carried out on a weekly basis, where pupils have been chosen from a variety of classes to take part; whether this is due to the fact that they show a talent or an interest in this area.
Art as a subject is taught across the site by a lead TA, where classes get bespoke sessions on a weekly/fortnightly basis in our dedicated art and design room. As well as having lessons taught through Key Stage themes, the pupils also take part in termly art-themed block sessions, which result in a joint art project being displayed in the school’s reception area. This has resulted in the displays being highly commended as well as being housed for set times at the Horniman Museum as well as Tate Modern.
Cooking activities take place on a weekly basis. These are either carried out in class, within our large food tech room or small kitchen. Pupils have the opportunity to engage in the process of exploring a range of ingredients as well as preparing and finally eating their finished product. In preparation for such lessons, pupils would also engage in shopping for the products needed from the local supermarket.
Assemblies are carried out once a week. This is an achievement and singing assembly led by the Assistant Head. Additional assemblies are also held during the year related to a specific festival or special event. This includes events/festivals such as Black History Month, Diwali and Eid. At Christmas time, the Primary and Secondary Departments separately put on a department show, to which parents, carers and family members are invited to.
Physical activity is very important for each pupil at Drumbeat, both for their physical and mental well-being. Set sessions are timetabled for P.E. as well as time in the playground, within key stages as well as individual classes. Each class takes part in what we call ‘daily movement breaks’ (in line with the Daily Mile initiative). This could involve a 10-minute session in the playground to engaging in set physical exercises from the interactive whiteboard. Each class would engage in this area in a way that is meaningful to them.
Each pupil has a home-school communication book/planner, which travels to and from school with them every day. This helps the class teacher and parents/carers keep in contact on a daily basis. We have a strong ethos of home/school communication and this is just one way we are able to support this relationship.
The Downham Site is split into three parts; the EYFS Department for 4-5 year olds, the Primary Department for 5-11year olds and the Key Stage 3 (Secondary) Department for 11-14 year olds.
The EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) Department consists of 2 classes with 8 pupils per class, taught by a teacher and 3 teaching assistants in each. Within the EYFS, we focus on creating and building upon the fundamental building blocks that our young pupils would need to help them develop their future life-long skills for learning and development. Through a range of child and adult initiated tasks, we support our young pupils to develop their initial skills and interests through exposure within a number of situations, in order to consolidate and generalise their learning skills. As well as developing skills and needs, children will also develop social and self-care skills; peer play, turn-taking, waiting, sharing, toileting, as well as washing hands and brushing teeth. We have a specific EYFS outside play and exploration area, which is accessed throughout the day as well as their inside class based learning and play activities. Through a nurturing and supportive environment all pupils are encouraged to develop their skills through the Characteristics of Effective Learning, an integral part of the EYFS curriculum. In addition to these opportunities for continual communication, learning and development, pupils within the EYFS will also be supported through our SaLT, through the use of specifically highlighted SCERTS targets, which they are assessed on through teacher, parent and therapist meetings during the autumn term.
Parents and carers are an integral part of each pupil’s learning in the EYFS, so the department run monthly ‘Stay and Play’ sessions, where parents and carers have the opportunity to come and play with their child in the class and develop further communication with staff as well as relationships with the class parents.
The Primary Department consists of 11 classes with up to 10 pupils taught by a teacher and 3 teaching assistants in each class. The pupils are divided into classes via our curriculum pathways in order to make sure that their specific needs are being catered for and skills developed. Planning is based around a key stage topic which each class follows. This changes every term.
Specific skill-based interventions are carried out on a weekly basis. These are organised and arranged within Key Stages and focus on skills/activities such as sensory exploration, communication, emotional regulation, reading as well as mathematical development.
The children can access a range of learning opportunities both on and off site. These include our soft play and sensory rooms, as well as swimming, horse riding and forest school, which takes place locally. The class also access outside learning in the form of organised trips both locally and further afield, which are linked to areas of learning/topics within the class. Classes use our own school minibuses or pubic transport to take part in these activities. These include trips to, for instance, Chatham House, The Dulwich Picture Gallery and Greenwich Observatory, just to name a few. Pupils have also been able to visit the Cutty Sark as well as the London Aquarium. Trips are organised well in advance, where the teacher can prepare the pupils for this learning opportunity as well as parents being made aware of what is happening and when.
The Key Stage 3 Department consists of 4 classes with up to 10 pupils taught by a teacher and 3 teaching assistants in each class. The pupils taught in Key Stage 3 are divided into classes via their curriculum pathway, needs as well as individual needs and sensitivities.
The secondary curriculum focuses on increasing skills developed through their earlier years at school, whilst developing important life skills, independence, developing strategies to cope with difficulties as well as being part of the wider community. The secondary curriculum is based on continuous development of the skills and concepts worked on in primary whilst introducing the skills and concepts needed for KS4 accreditations.
We have close connections with Millwall Football Club and pupils in KS3 are involved in weekly coaching sessions in school from the EFL Trust Every Player Counts Programme, which is part of the South London League.
Pupils also have an opportunity to access a twice weekly bike club. This involves both 2 wheeled bikes as well as a tricycle, which gives pupils who have never ridden a bike before a great opportunity to learn the correct movements, posture and control. Part of these sessions also involve improving skills and knowledge regarding bike safety, with the potential to eventually ride outside of school.
Gardening is another skill development area and is carried out within school as well as outside in the local community.
Swimming is carried out on a weekly basis and all classes get an opportunity of accessing sessions during the year.
Trips and outside learning opportunities have taken place at the local cinema as well as the local gardening centre, just to name a few. These are organised related to topic or skills being looked at in a similar way to those within the primary department.
Pupils in Key Stage 3 are also part of the Shakespeare’s Schools Festival initiative and have taken part in the productions of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ as well as ‘Macbeth’ over the past few years and performed these plays to an audience at The Albany Theatre in Deptford, with other participating schools.
As you can see, throughout each department at Drumbeat Downham the pupils have access to a wealth of opportunities, which are planned for and carried out to support developing needs, abilities and interests.
If you would like to visit our school for a planned tour, please contact our reception team who would be happy to arrange this for you. Currently, these visits are being organised for those parent/carers/professionals who would like a pupil to attend the school and already have an initial diagnosis of autism.