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Our curriculum

Our curriculum is designed with the understanding that each pupil will have unique starting and destination points. Our curriculum structure has three broad levels which complement our Pathways. The model is based on the work of Dr Penny Lacey and Peter Imray at Swiss Cottage School (Challenge Partners, 2017).

Our linear curriculum is based on the content of EYFS, Key Stage 1 and 2 and the Preparation for Adulthood Framework. Through teaching lifeskills we  focus on the functional skills our pupils will require in later life. For some, this means equipping them with the skills to make simple but nutritious meals or to maintain good hygiene; for others it might mean creating a CV or catching a bus independently.

We recognise that some of our pupils, due to their complex needs, may never gain certain skills. Our lateral curriculum is focused on Personalised Learning Intentions (PLIs). With these we work together with parents and professionals to decide individual outcomes. These are based on what we feel each individual requires to learn to support their development and is delieverd through the intrests of the individual child.  

Pupils are sorted into classes and have a base classroom from which all their lessons are taught. Each classroom has access to toilets and a kitchenette. All classes are teacher led, supported by Specialist Teaching and Learning Assistants. Though the holiday pattern follows that of Derbyshire Schools, the school year runs from June-June. This enables all transitions to new classes to happen before the 6-week break, it also supports transition of new starters to the school. We run a thematic based curriculum and there is a new theme every 5 weeks. Where possible lessons are taught through the theme to give cohesion and meaning to the learning for the children. All classes have access to a range of specialist resources including sensory rooms, an immersive environment, bike/scooter track, soft play, sensory playground and forest school area.

Blended Learning Curriculum 

During the COVID-19 lockdown, the educational offer took a different approach due to the school being closed to a majority of pupils. During this period we trialled several different strategies to support our families.

Parent voice has told us the blended learning offer provided:

  • Support for routine building and providing structure in the day
  • Informed ideas of activities to do with their children
  • A link between school and pupil/ families
  • Communication opportunities for the pupil to talk to peers and staff
  • Emotional/ wellbeing support to parents and pupils

Examples of feedback include (Sept 2020)

We feel that your support, commitment, efforts from the head and all staff was incredible at such a hard time. Answering e mails when I was in need of support, video calls with my son’s favourites meant so much to him. Emotions support from Fiona and so much more. Thankyou from us all. We have every confidence that if anything happened again, we would all be better prepared and very supported for harry to get through.

Our weekly check ins with jo were something we looked forward to we felt in touch with school and it was nice to stay connected.

More zoom classes so they would feel more involved and connected with school

Parents have told us they would like more online lessons and more notice of topics to help them prepare resources at home.

Moving forward, for pupils who are unable to attend school, our educational offer will include the following:

Pastoral Offer

Parents will be called at least once a week to provide wellbeing support. Staff will check in with the pupil and families to offer signposting to other services open to them. Staff will also ensure learning packs are meeting pupil needs and support the key objectives of the blended learning offer. Pupils and parents will have access to a virtual check-in which is managed by the children’s services team, who will follow up the check-ins with suggestions for wellbeing support. Click image to access webpage.

  • Social, COVID quarantine/ long term absence, after school club, homework and a safe space.
  • Safe space - a safe place to message if you need someone to talk to or just fancy a chat or distraction

Home Learning Maps

Weekly learning maps will be provided for all pupils. Pupils who cannot access internet will have packs posted. This is to ensure consistency and to make sure every student can access education. Home learning maps will include activities to support pupils to follow their usual class timetable at home.

The home learning mapss also provide back up the work packs with class lessons during teaching hours or one 2 one after school day has finished, stay in touch with students and staff. There is the option of possible provision to provide a device for students without one.

Class Video Calls

The class staff will set up at least two video calls using the online platform, Teams. Pupils and parents will access using the pupil’s Brackenfield Office 365 account. Parents will be provided with a user guide and consent letter. The consent letter outlines the expectations of all participants in video calls and the use of the online platform. 

After school club – A short fun game or weekly quiz. Ash students have suggested weekly singing, drumming sessions, games show style activities, a platform to show talents and hobbies and a digital art tutorial.

Homework club - reading a book together, writing reviews, maths blast sessions, topical research.

Online School projects and assemblies

On the school website there is an online resource bank to support families and pupils to structure their learning time at home. This includes an online resource bank. 

Virtual Enrichments

February Half term 2021

Ten students in total from decode and comprehend pathways signed up for the three afternoon virtual enrichment sessions. Some students attended all sessions others only one or two.

Tuesdays session involved playing ‘what’s in the bag’ a fun treasure hunt game and ‘play your cards right’ higher or lower game. Some older students joined into a different chat for a catch up.

Miss Leyland led Thursdays main chat with game show style quizzes and games, whilst Mrs Spurr and Mr Bozon enjoyed a story time session, a David Walliams book about a slightly annoying Elephant!

Saturday afternoon students and staff enjoyed Miss Leyland’s Bingo game, a memory game and another treasure hunt due to popular demand.

All students and staff who signed up for virtual enrichment had a great time, there was lots of laughter and fun involved. 

Virtual enrichment will continue during term times and we aim to grow this provision to support an immersive postiive online experience for our young people and their families. 

Online Learning and Virtual Classrooms 

We continue to strive to provide the best possible education for all of our pupils, and staff are always looking to develop the way in which we deliver the home learning experience.

The purpose of the virtual classroom is to support pupils learning and maintain positive relationships with their peers and school staff. The online platform being used is Microsoft Teams.

Each class have a dedicated class team. This includes all staff and pupils. Each class team has channels to mirror their timetable or remote curriculum offer. Channels will include (but not limited to) work packs, daily challenges and a class photo share. This replicates parent voice expectations. 

Our Pathways

Pupils are not taught in chronological age groups; they are placed in class groups dependent on their cognitive, sensory, social, emotional and communication needs. Classes are organised into three pathways (illustrated below). Pupils may remain in the same pathway during their school career, or transition to another one depending on their development.



Personalised Learning Intentions

Brackenfield Characters

Learning Beyond the Classroom

Preparation for Adulthood and Personal Development including Careers