Curriculum Whole School Overview

Curriculum Overview


Our curriculum is designed to meet all our pupils’ individual needs using their Education, Health and Care plan (EHCp) as the starting point for their offer.  We focus on the 4 areas of need; Cognition and Learning, Communication and Interaction, Sensory and Physical and Social, Emotional and Mental Health and use these to develop our Long and Medium Term plans.  We have a strong emphasis on developing Skills for Life and Personal Development to enable our young people to become valued members of their community and be able to make a positive contribution to society.  Our curriculum also focuses heavily on functional skills in English and Maths and we provide a variety of experiences and opportunities for our pupils to explore further such as Outdoor Learning, Catering, Horticulture, Art and Music.


Our curriculum is organised in to four bands, in line with EHC outcomes:

  • Communication and Interaction
  • Cognition and Learning
  • Social, Emotional and Mental Health
  • Sensory and Physical

The curriculum and learning environment is offered at these four different levels depending upon: the needs and ability of the individual pupil; the subject/scheme of work being taught; the overall needs of the group and access to our specialist facilities and programmes.

In Foundation Stage, Key Stage 1, 2 and 3 we use the National Curriculum as our base and adapt and amend where necessary to meet the individual needs of our pupils.  In KS4 we use external qualifications to support progress including ASDAN, Open Awards and Functional Skills.  Our approach is supported by two main pathways semi formal learners and formal learners to ensure pupils have access to a broad and balanced curriculum, progression and outcomes.

Pupils following our semi formal curriculum are working between P1 & P8 often with profound and complex needs. There is a strong focus on engaging in a wide range of experiences to support ‘learning to learn’, through early receptive and expressive communication, engagement in learning through interests and motivators and sensory and physical skills.   Many of these pupils will follow a creative, thematic curriculum where elements of subject specific learning become part of their experiences and opportunities, as they develop their skills.  Some of the pupils may have complex medical needs and so there is an emphasis on a wide range of specialist therapies and interventions.

Pupils following our formal curriculum are working on National curriculum levels 1 and beyond.  Learning is delivered through a thematic curriculum approach ensuring that there is breadth in the subject specific learning with the National Curriculum, adapted, as required, to deliver an engaging curriculum where pupils begin to become independent learners.

All pupils will also access a range of specialist provision, both by staff, visiting professionals and outside agencies, as/if identified as part of their EHC plan, supporting not only the cognitive aspects of progress and achievement, but also communication, Sensory and physical and SEMH.


Phonics is taught with a multi-sensory approach to suit the needs of our learners, using Jolly phonics, Letters and Sounds or Read, Write, Inc programmes.  We assess Phonics when pupils enter the school and regularly across the year, assessed by the class team.  This supports pupils’ understanding of the phonics phonemes and also assesses if and how they can apply and transfer these skills independently. All staff receive regular phonics training, either in house or through external support.


Reading is an important part of the English curriculum.  Woodlands uses phonics to help assist and embed phoneme skills and pupils are listened to reading in school on a regular basis and also have a home reading diary to show their progress and highlight any areas to work on.  All pupils are asked to explore books, print, including magazines, newspapers and read at home and any comments from home are encouraged in the reading diary. Our approach to reading includes the wider world, environment and life skills.  Guided reading sessions are also used to develop not only pupils reading skills but also their interpretation and understanding on top of developing their confidence.  Some pupils receive more targeted interventions, as appropriate and at different times in order to support their progress.


Writing is taught both discreetly and as an integral part of the curriculum. We use a range of strategies to aid our pupils to develop these skills including Colourful Semantics, a colour coded system which helps pupils to structure sentences. ICT is also used to aid writing including Clicker 7 a software programme to encourage reluctant writers. ‘Literacy through Film’ uses film as a text to support communication, comprehension and written expression. Our semi-formal learners access a range of multi-sensory sessions to encourage mark making including ‘Dance Write’ and the Academy’s multi –sensory handwriting programme. For all our learners writing is made meaningful and purposeful with pupils writing for a range of audiences – themselves, peers and the wider community.

British Values

Throughout the curriculum pupils experience key learning linked to British values. Pupils are given an understanding of the democratic processes through the work of our school council; demonstrating to pupils the importance of active participation, listening to and representing the views of others within the school community. The core British values of mutual respect and tolerance of differences, where the personalised experiences developed for pupils allow us to challenge and support them in understanding the community, country and world in which they live.  We also use a Thrive approach so every child feels valued, involved and appreciated.

Global Learning

Within Woodlands, these values are reinforced regularly and in the following ways:


Each year pupils decide upon their Class Charter and the rights and responsibilities associated with these. Responsibilities are also supported through our ethos, culture and values.

Pupils have many opportunities for their voices to be heard. We have an elected school Council that has the opportunity to meet with the Leadership Team to help develop and shape our school. All children have the opportunity to talk to senior staff on a regular basis and use these occasions to share their views.

Democracy is also explained through assemblies and older pupils are encouraged to follow any current political issues.

The Rule of Law

The importance of laws, whether they are those that govern the class, the school, or the country, are consistently reinforced throughout school days and through school assemblies. Pupils are taught the value and reasons behind laws that govern and protect us, the responsibilities that these involve and the consequences when laws are broken. We use restorative approaches which are value–based and needs–led.  We recognise that strong, mutually respectful relationships build a cohesive community and these are the foundations on which good teaching and learning can grow.

Individual Liberty

Within school, pupils are always actively encouraged to share their views and make choices, knowing that they are in a safe and supportive environment. As a school we educate and provide boundaries for pupils to make good choices, through the provision of a safe environment and empowering education. Pupils are encouraged to know, understand and exercise their rights and personal freedoms and are advised how to exercise these safely, for example through E-Safety and PSHE lessons.

Mutual Respect

Assemblies and PSHE cover ‘Respect’ and pupils are part of discussions related to what this means and how it is shown. The school environment promotes respect for others and this is reiterated through our values and policies. When a member of the school team does something well, their achievement is celebrated in a number of different ways.

Tolerance of those of different Faiths and Beliefs

This is achieved through enhancing pupils’ understanding of their place in a culturally diverse society and by giving them opportunities to experience such diversity. Themed days are planned throughout the year, to make sure that pupils are able to understand what life is like in different cultures.


PSHE is integrated into sessions every day.  Pupils are greeted from transport every morning to ensure they are all ‘ready to learn’. PSHE is also taught both discreetly as well as opportunities that are exploited and built into multi-sensory experiential learning experiences that are reinforced and supported daily through discussion.

Through Assemblies and PSHE lessons we celebrate important cultural and religious festivals and commemorative days.

Relationships and Sex Education and Health Education

We use the Statutory Government Guidance to support our RSE & HE curriculum  This is different for all pupils and by using a phased approach is personalised, meeting them at their point of need.  To help parents understand this subject, the Government have created guides – For Primary pupils and for Secondary Pupils.

This learning will include an understanding of:

  • Friendships – what a good friend looks like.
  • Family relationships and that not all families are the same.
  • Looking at the safe use of the internet and social media.
  • Stranger danger
  • Relationships – what is a relationship? How do we recognise positive healthy relationships?
  • Transitions in School and beyond.
  • Being aware of risks around us.
  • Learning about the body and scientific knowledge–
  • The senses – smell, touch, seeing, feeling and hearing.
  • Body change from young to old.
  • Our likes and dislikes.
  • Recognising the different stages in life.
  • Personal hygiene
  • Health concerns to look out for.
  • Naming the different body parts including genitalia of both sexes.
  • Reproduction – in both sexes.

The curriculum is balanced with an emphasis on relationships, feelings, and values. We are focussing on ensuring our children know how to keep themselves safe, healthy and develop confidence and self-esteem to ensure they are not vulnerable or exploited in any way.