Curriculum Statement

Introduction to our Curriculum

Our curriculum is designed in pathways to meet the needs of all our young people.

It has been significantly reviewed and refined over the last academic year by senior and middle leaders across our Trust.

Each Academy then applies the curriculum in their context, for their population.

The curriculum is developed and shaped by the needs of our young people, their age and interests and local contexts. Each academy therefore has its own unique feel, strengths and approaches.


Curriculum Intent

We will create learning environments where young people thrive, developing physically, academically, socially and emotionally. We will ignite curiosity, ambition, aspiration and aptitudes in our young people so they can play the fullest part possible within their communities.

Our curriculum is inclusive

Under the Equality Act 2010, we are required to have due regard to the need to advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations. This includes steps we are taking to tackle disadvantages and meet the needs of individuals and groups of pupils. We aim to foster good relations between those who share a protected characteristic and those who do not share it by:

  • Promoting tolerance and friendship and to develop understanding of a range of religions and cultures through different aspects of our curriculum. This includes teaching in RE, citizenship and personal, social, health education (PSHE), but also activities in other curriculum areas. For example, as part of teaching and learning in English/reading, pupils will be introduced to literature from a range of cultures.
  • Assemblies and specific programmes will be used to teach our young people about a range of relevant issues. The curriculum also includes programmes such as Eco Schools, Rights Respecting Schools Award and UN sustainability Goals.
  • Curriculum resources will reflect diversity and ensure we are inclusive of all our young people and our colleagues.
  • Working with our local community to ensure that our young people come in to contact with people from a range of cultural and faith backgrounds.
  • Our values in terms of embracing difference, celebrating diversity and promoting equality are interpreted in each academy through the curriculum offer and awards such as the Rainbow Flag Award.
  • Student voice is respected and encouraged and students are key in the development of our provision.

We have developed links with people and groups who have specialist knowledge about these characteristics, which helps inform and develop our approach.

Our curriculum supports the well-being of our young people

Our young people are at the heart of what we do, and their well-being and relationships are central to their readiness to learn. A young person who is anxious or dysregulated will not be able to focus on learning. Therefore, our curriculum ensures that there is a clear offer to support well-being, communication and relationships and therefore access to learning;

  • Time to regulate
  • Time spent in the outdoors and connecting with nature
  • Time to sing, dance and express themselves
  • Regular physical activity
  • Supportive programmes and interventions
  • Specialist support
  • Close home/school communication
  • Celebration of small achievements
  • A strong PHSE curriculum
  • Strong relationships between teachers, young people and support colleagues

Our curriculum is designed to build knowledge, skills and understanding in a developmental framework. In addition, they will access a range of broad, rich experiences that ensures that our young people are meaningfully challenged to build up schema that will enable them to begin to think and learn within subject specific content in Pathway 4.

Curriculum Implementation

Our curriculum reflects the following principles

Continuity and Coherence – refers to the logical, sequential order of learning and how aspects of the curriculum interconnect and are revisited and expanded upon overtime.

  • We begin with our learner and their assessed starting points, a stage not age approach.
  • The curriculum is personalised, and every student’s learning is grounded within their planned EHCP provision and curriculum need. Each child needs something different, not differentiated.
  • All parts of the curriculum must be logically consistent with each other.
  • There must be a “match” or a fit in the curriculum pathways and teachers recognise that children may be in different pathways for different aspects of learning.
  • Learning experiences should be sequenced so that learners build on previous experiences and move to deeper or more complex understandings and applications over time.
  • The curriculum content allows for previous learning experiences to be revisited regularly and consistently to embed knowledge, skills and understanding.
  • Curriculum content and organisation changes and grows overtime as each student builds knowledge, skills and understanding. It is important to identify the themes and skills that need to run through planned learning activity and to map how they will be addressed at each level overtime.
  • The curriculum should be planned developmentally within our structured pathway documents. There will be wider continual opportunities for developing a range of skills, knowledge, attributes and understanding across the curriculum such as literacy and communication skills, independence, well-being and building self-esteem.

Scope – The range or extent of “content” (whether information to be learned, skills to be acquired etc.) that will be included in a programme of study or scheme of work.

  • Our curriculum begins with the early foundations of learning and builds overtime to include access to wider aspects of learning, through to subject specific learning in Pathway 4.
  • The content must be sufficient to lead each learner to achieve their learning outcomes within each pathway. However, there is a constant tension between breadth and depth when considering scope. In general, when deep learning is required, “lean” is best. We adopt the belief that in-depth study of a limited number of important content will have a lasting effect. Alongside the areas for learning we will ensure that all our young people have access to a broad range of rich experiences that begin to build knowledge and understanding that leads towards subject based learning in Pathway 4.
  • There are planned opportunities to build a wealth of knowledge through wide and varied contexts for learning that build experiences for example using expressive arts to teach aspects of movement and communication or visits to a range of places and communities to develop a sense of place.

Application and Integration – refers to the relationship among major curriculum components at any given point in time and how they are applied in a range of contexts.

  • Curriculum integration should reinforce and widen key concepts, knowledge and understanding over time.
  • All learning in pathways 1 to 3 will be holistic in terms that we cannot teach cognition without communication, we cannot develop motor skills without regard to personal health and social education.

Our curriculum is a process and outcomes-based curriculum

We are clear about what we want pupils to be able to demonstrate on completion of each pathway. Entry and exit points for each stage of the curriculum are made clear in long term planning indicating a clear body of knowledge, skills and understanding to be achieved with clear progression points. We design pathway content and exit points to focus on key outcomes, with multiple indicators (including key objectives) or assessments of performance. We use a range of authentic assessments that will encourage originality, insightfulness, and problem-solving, along with mastery of important information and concepts.

However, we recognise that many of our young people may be working within a pathway for the whole of their education. We recognise the need to measure small steps of achievement within the pathway through appropriate assessment and record keeping tools. We value experiential learning and the lateral progress that many of our young people demonstrate.

Active learning – We have designed learning to encourage active involvement, so students are “doing” early in their learning. We should consider working from concrete to pictorial to abstract (CPA) as the student develops their understanding. Multi-sensory approaches ensure that students in earlier pathways secure learning through a range of sensory routes. Repetition is also important in ensuring that young people embed new skills.

Our Curriculum Framework

We have developed a secure curriculum framework that is relevant to all students in our Trust, that reflects their SEND and builds knowledge, skills and understanding that is appropriately sequenced whilst retaining high expectations. We researched a number of different curriculum approaches and models including;

  • The six areas of learning from the Northern Ireland Curriculum
  • Models of curriculum from outstanding specialist schools in England
  • The International Primary Curriculum
  • The eight Essential Learning areas from the New Zealand Curriculum
  • The Western Australian First Steps approach for maths and English
  • The EYFS framework

The ensuing curriculum work has been developed with aspects from each model.

Our curriculum begins with the child at its centre and the aims articulated within their EHCP. We devise individual learning plans with parents and where possible with our young people to ensure that we have clear understanding of what each young person can already do and understand and what targets are going to make the biggest difference in their lives. Our curriculum is organised in Pathways as detailed below;


Provision-Due to the nature of our provision, our EYFS children will most likely be working within Pathway 1 or 2. Pupils in EYFS will be learning through play and guided exploration. They will learn through engaging themes and contexts.

Pathway 1 – Informal Curriculum

Learners with profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD) have complex learning needs. In addition to their severe learning difficulties, they may have other significant difficulties, such as physical disabilities, sensory impairment or a severe medical condition. These learners require a high level of adult support for their learning needs and are likely to need sensory stimulation, specialist resources and a curriculum broken down into very small steps.

Pathway 2 – Pre-Formal Curriculum

Pathway 2 learners have severe and complex learning needs and may have a range of physical, communication, sensory and regulation needs. There may also have medical needs. These learners have high level support needs and will require routines, short bursts of focused work within a very structured day. They require a hands-on approach with the opportunity to interact or play and explore through continuous provision. There is a holistic approach to learning at this stage.

Pathway 3 – Semi-Formal Curriculum

Pathway 3 learners in primary, may have severe to moderate learning difficulties and those in secondary may have more severe learning difficulties. They have a good foundation of learning and are developing skills towards the pre-NC entry points. Learners are becoming increasingly independent in their learning, and may be ready for some aspects of more formal learning.

Pathway 4 – Adapted Formal Curriculum

Students in Pathway 4 are ready for NC learning, but will likely to be following POS in most subjects below age related expectations. Because this is an adapted approach, it is impossible to teach the full NC content due to time restraints and the need to meet the EHCP targets and aspirations and continue to support a strong element of Personal development. A tailored programme will be agreed at the EHCP meeting, detailing what the study programme looks like and how it maps to the students’ aspirations. At KS4 and 6th form, this will identify qualifications and accreditation.

6th Form

In 6th form students continue to follow pathway models, but through a ‘Preparation For Life’ focus. Students may follow a range of appropriate qualifications or vocational study and engage in relevant work related learning, including work experience. Further and more detailed information is to be found in our pathway handbooks.

Our 6th form curriculum is delivered through an informal or formal route.

Curriculum Impact

We collect trust wide annual data to monitor the effectiveness of our curriculum. This data is used to look at achievement in core subject areas and NC core subject areas in Pathway 4 and how cohorts are performing within them. Questions such as;

Are students making as much progress in reading as they are in writing?

Are the strategies effective?

Is this the same across all pathways?

Where are students making the strongest progress? Why?

Questions like this help us to evaluate the effectiveness of the curriculum, the programmes we use to support learning and the strategies that teachers use.

We also use the data to bench-mark across our academies. This also helps us to ask questions such as;

Why are pathway 2 students in academy x outperforming Pathway 2 students in academy y?

It might prompt a learning walk or a meeting for subject leaders to investigate reasons. We might query moderation practices for instance.

This helps us to ensure that we are constantly looking to improve and build on curriculum successes and identify any problems early on.

We have a target setting rationale in Ascent that looks at a probable trajectory for pupils in each pathway from their starting points. This provides us with a feel for pupil progress across a year and

can be used to evaluate individual’s progress alongside wider evidence and contextual information. We so not set targets for groups or classes as our curriculum is very individualised.

Academic Personal, Social, Independence,
Health and Well-being
Wider attributes, dispositions and attitudes and
collective experiences
EYFS Progress against learning goals and against targets in EHCP (skillsmap) Progress against learning goals and against targets in EHCP Key skills record keeping
Pathway 1 Progress against learning goals and against targets in EHCP Footsteps assessment and record keeping Stepping Out Footsteps assessment and record keeping Stepping Out
Pathway 2 Progress against learning goals and against targets in EHCP Ascent data collection strand B Assessment measures in communication and cognition Key skills record keeping
Pathway 3 Progress against learning goals and against targets in EHCP Ascent data collection strand C Examination or accreditation Assessment measures in phonics, literacy and early maths Key skills record keeping
Pathway 4 Progress against learning goals and against targets in EHCP Ascent data collection strand D onwards Examinations or accreditation Subject based assessment outcomes Key life skills record keeping
6th Form Progress against learning goals and against targets in EHCP Accreditation-subject based Destinations data Accreditation vocational or independence based