As a Specialist Arts College we offer a broad and exciting curriculum for all of our students, enhanced by a range of additional educational opportunities such as visits at home and abroad including residential trips offering outdoor activities.
We have special days celebrating different countries taking part in cooking, dance, costume, sports, money and cultural events.
We have secured the International School Award for the second time running. Among the variety of educational visits our students have enjoyed in the UK are the Sea-life Centre in Tyneside and shows at the Theatre Royal. Similarly we hold Sports, Personal Finance/Maths and Technology ‘weeks’ organised through our staff team which uses a practical approach to look at issues affecting the students. Students are also encouraged to think about their own actions and understanding.
As holders of the Gold Healthy Schools Award we recognise the importance of health and sport therefore students have the opportunity to choose activities in addition to their PE lessons, e.g. football, basketball, badminton, rounder’s and athletics, plus table cricket, bocchia snorkelling and swimming. Our facilities include a multi purpose hall in addition to our playing fields.
We received our Leading Parent Partnership Award in November 2010 and Gold Arts Mark Award in 2012. We are committed to developing our excellent relationship with parents, carers, governors and members of the community.
All people are welcomed into school and there are numerous opportunities to be included in the students learning experiences.
Religious Education and Collective Worship
Our religious education is non-denominational and multi-faith in character. We consider that the fostering of spiritual and moral values is the responsibility of every teacher and these values permeate all aspects of the curriculum. A nondenominational assembly is held every morning incorporating a ‘Thought for the Day’. Parents have an open invitation to attend these assemblies. Praise assemblies celebrate achievement. Parents can request for their child to be withdrawn from assembly by speaking with the Headteacher.
Our sex education programme is set within the context of morality and family life and aims to prepare students adequately for adult life. A copy of the policy is available on request.
Key Stage 3
Once students have been allocated a place at Hill Top they join a tutor group and all educational needs or specific learning difficulties such as autism are catered for. Students follow the full National Curriculum spread of subjects. The students will meet different teachers for various subjects but, to help them manage change they have the same Tutor throughout the year. They also have a teaching assistant who accompanies them to lessons and is there for extra support.
Key Stage 4
In KS4 we introduce an Option structure which allows students to have some choice about the subjects they will study. Core subjects such as Literacy, Numeracy and Science remain compulsory but we add in vocational subjects such as Hairdressing, Food Technology/Life Skills, Expressive Arts, ASDAN, independent Travel programmes, Art, Humanities, International and Cultural understanding and Design Technology. There is a morning of Arts Award, currently Bronze/Silver levels for Yr10/11 which is crosscurricular and reinforces creativity and life skills choices. Around school some students’ present certificates and help with ICT in assembly, others improve the environment e.g. gardening and energy conservation.
Hill Top has its own designated Sixth Form. Students may stay on for 1 or 2 years then transfer to Gateshead College or other FE facility later. All students will study qualifications, developing their education already achieved in KS4. Learning will be appropriate to individual need and interest and be a selection of courses including English, Maths, ICT. Options include Expressive Arts, Science and Child Care.
Students with Complex Needs
Students with profound and/or severe autism who may have multiple learning difficulties benefit from a more sensory approach to the curriculum with access to innovative resources such as a sensory room, indoor/outdoor equipment. We work closely with partner schools and other professionals’ e.g. occupational therapy. Speech language and hearing impaired services ensuring that students have interesting and motivating surroundings at all times. Students with specific communication difficulties work well in our Autism centre which promotes communication through signing, picture exchange, communication systems (PECS) and the use of high and low tech communication aids. Students can access this group on a full time or part time basis. The centre works closely with the speech and language team for assessment and in developing a plan which meets their individual needs. These students are encouraged to integrate with their peers across the school and to be included in selected lessons where appropriate. All students in school learn signing in assembly as part of a whole school communication strategy.
Sixth Form (Complex Needs)
The current 6th form provision for students with severe autism/complex need is supported by the Local Authority on an individual need basis. External Accreditation is through ASDAN (Award Scheme Development Accreditation Network) and AQA (Assessment Qualification Alliance and unit ward scheme. Modules include Towards Independence, Personal development, Literacy & Numeracy in Every Day Life, Every day Living, Coping with people, Personal Safety and Water Skills at Entry level and Level 1. Students have Community Studies and Enterprise lessons providing opportunity to organise and run their own business. The school often works with Young Enterprise North East to encourage students to experiment with running a business. Making greeting cards has been a very successful enterprise as has catering via a trolley around school. Their products are sold both in school and in the community with profits being donated to local charities and the school.
- Promote the spiritual, moral, social, emotional, cultural, intellectual and physical development of all pupils.
- Help our pupils understand the world in which they live, and prepare them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life.
- Offer our pupils a broad, balanced differentiated and relevant curriculum drawn from both National Curriculum and Complementary Curriculum. This will be planned from the basis of needs, interests and aptitudes of each pupil.
- Ensure that pupils follow a continuity of curricular provision which enables them to progress and demonstrate achievement.
- Follow a common procedure of planning, teaching, assessment, recording and reporting within each subject area.
- Plan with a subject – focus which recognises the importance of cross-curricular links.
- Prepare pupils for life in a multi-cultural society, to foster respect for those with different religions, beliefs and ways of life, and promote attitudes opposed to racism and discrimination.
- Create and maintain an exciting and stimulating learning environment.
- Treat all pupils with respect.
- To promote parental, other professional and pupil involvement to take into account their views, concerns and needs in order to facilitate curriculum planning.
It is hoped that the Hill Top School Curriculum enables each pupil to feel secure, valued and confident. Our ultimate goal for each pupil is a sense of achievement acquired through learning, which they perceive as a challenging, realistic meaningful and rewarding experience, maximising their full potential.