Woodlands School Curriculum Rationale



Pupils have a low level of communication skills, both expressive and receptive. They find it difficult to express their feelings, needs and thoughts, as well as lacking understanding as receivers of information. Due to their lack of language, they need a curriculum with a focus on communication. For some, behaviour can be challenging for many different reasons, leading to situations of conflict. For others, poor social skills and a lack of tolerance mean that cultural differences are hard for them to understand and respond to.


The ‘Learning Means of the World’ curriculum provides a great vehicle in helping teachers focus on these areas of Communication, Conflict, Culture and Conservation, enabling them to connect skills and concepts more naturally.


Our 4 Areas of Learning which our curriculum is specifically designed to address are:-


Functional Skills

Physical Development

Independent Living

Emotional Wellbeing


Functional skills focus on what pupils need to be able to do in order to successfully function in and integrate with society.


Physical development focuses on encouraging our students to be more physically active. We want them to develop healthier lifestyles, participate in sports events and generally form healthy habits.


Independent living focuses on giving pupils the skills and experience is necessary to allow them to live more independently as adults, whether in supported living accommodation or with parents. Our aim is to improve confidence, teach appropriateness, social awareness and practical skills for life.


Emotional wellbeing focuses on mutual respect, improving self-esteem and helping pupils overcome anxieties and barriers. Our pupils need to be listened to and want validation,

acknowledgement and acceptance. Even though they struggle to communicate, they need to be able to manage emotions, make good choices and respond appropriately in a range of situations and settings.



Pupils are organised by need into 3 groups:-

  • Explorers
  • Pathfinders
  • Adventurers


Functional Skills




  • To actively respond to interactions with adults and peers
  • To tolerate sitting / sharing in a group
  • To communicate wants and needs appropriately
  • To respond to and initiate different experiences




  • To engage in positive interactions with adults and their peers
  • To participate in group activities
  • To communicate for a range of purposes
  • To develop literacy and numeracy skills




  • To cooperate and negotiate with adults and their peers
  • To use appropriate social skills in a range of settings
  • To transfer skills of communication into a range of different settings
  • To apply literacy and numeracy skills



Physical Development




  • To participate in gross motor activities
  • To participate in fine motor activities
  • To tolerate and respond appropriately to sensory experiences




  • To develop gross motor skills
  • To develop fine motor skills
  • To develop and use sport specific skills




  • To use gross motor skills in a range of situations
  • To use fine motor skills in a range of situations
  •  To use sport specific skills in different settings and locations



Independent Living




  • To be aware of sequences of events and daily routines
  • To experience self-help routines
  • To develop a sense of place and purpose
  • To experience different areas of the wider community




  • To develop their organisational skills
  • To participate in self-help routines
  • To follow simple instructions regardless of who and where
  • To develop some independence in the wider community





  • To transfer organisational skills into areas of everyday life
  • To organise and complete self-help routines independently
  • To follow more complex instructions, regardless of who and where
  • To develop and transfer skills for life into the wider community



Emotional Wellbeing




  • To tolerate denial and demands placed on them
  • To experience different emotions through a range of activities
  • To make a simple tangible choice




  • To know the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behaviour and apply learnt strategies
  • To recognise and begin to manage their own emotions
  • To make choices in a range of different situations and locations




  • To listen to feedback and adapt their behaviour accordingly
  • To develop empathy, understanding that their behaviour and choices lead to consequences
  • To make informed choices and express opinions



Our curriculum is based on extensive research. It is skill and context based and encourages active engagement in learning for all pupils. The curriculum encompasses our core learning values of independence and interdependence where learning for life is fun. It focuses on developing the key skills of communication, cognition, independence, physical development and self-care. These are all transferable skills that will equip our young people for life beyond school.

Our curriculum is enhanced by exceptional care, support and guidance delivered in a safe and nurturing environment.

Our curriculum strives to be responsive to each pupil, building on individual strengths, interests and learning styles.

We strive to develop stimulating learning environments outside the confines of the classroom, promoting learning through positive outdoor experiences and play.

A thematic plan supports a balance of stimulating contexts to ensure breadth and coverage.

At Key Stage 4 and Post 16, students prepare for external accreditation within the Asdan Foundation Learning and preparatory programmes.



The ‘Learning Means of the World’ curriculum provides a great vehicle in helping teachers focus on these areas of Communication, Conflict, Culture and Conservation, enabling them to connect skills and concepts more naturally. The school has a 4 year cycle of themes which are able to be adapted to the needs and interests of all pupils.


Medium term plans are tailored to the needs of each specific class, adapting the learning areas and opportunities to their needs and level of learning. Daily planning supports the point of learning of individual pupils and is very adaptable to changes to support pupil’s point of learning and changing experiences.

Weekly class team meetings allows staff to share information and to think through adaptions to learning opportunities..


Learning Environment

Learning is promoted through well organised classrooms and outside learning environments across the school which allow pupils to develop their knowledge, understanding and skills across the Curriculum and personal needs, and encourages independence, problem solving and contextualisation of learning. This allows them to develop through independent or supported engagement.

Pupils are grouped on need as opposed to age, therefore classroom environments are created to fully meet the needs of all pupils and to support the individualised learning requirements.  This allows classes to have the resources available to support their learning needs. The use of individual workstations are used across classrooms to further support pupils learning.

Pupils access the local community where appropriate to further support individual learning.  Everything we do is through personalised learning and supports pupils as individuals, incorporating their individual needs, interests and ways of learning.




The Teaching Teams have a thorough understanding of each child’s point of learning; their interests, strengths and barriers, developmental stage and learning level. Each of these areas are used to effectively plan for a range of learning intentions for each pupil which are personalised to that pupils point of learning across the Curriculum. These are used across the day by a range of professionals giving continuity, contextualisation, therefore giving breadth of approach and supporting pupils to achieve deep learning.

Continuity is ensured through the use of the personal learning intentions and celebrated through Evidence for Learning, this capture key achievements which develop into a record of learning for pupils from Early years to the Year 14, showing progress from entry to when the learner leaves Woodlands. We meet regularly with families, to incorporate the ‘individual pupil’ into the plans for their learning.

Assessment Systems

We aim for every child to be engaged and excited by learning, to become an effective learner and to begin to understand how they learn best. Our learning and teaching policy is at the heart of all we do. It sets out clear expectations, provides a standard uniform approach, a minimum entitlement for every pupil and can be easily monitored ensuring equal opportunity for all our pupils.

As a school we are moving from a focus on the question, “Am I teaching well?” to “Are the children learning well?”


Aims of Our Policy

·         We aim for every class at Woodlands to be an effective learning community where our pupils will begin their journey as lifelong learners.

·         We aim to ensure that the pupils at our school are provided with high quality learning experiences that lead to a consistently high level of pupil progress and achievement.


Through the application of our learning and teaching policy we aim to achieve the following outcomes for our pupils:

·         Confident and resilient

·         Successful in their learning

·         Contributing effectively to the school and community

·         Being a responsible citizen within them


We want our pupils to develop strong values that relate to:

·         themselves, as individuals capable of spiritual, moral, social, intellectual and physical growth and development

·         their relationships, as fundamental to the development and fulfillment of happy and healthy lives, and to the good of the community

·         their society, which is shaped by the contributions of a diverse range of people, cultures and heritages

·         their environment, as the basis of life and a source of wonder and inspiration that needs to be protected 

In our school we learn to express feelings clearly and appropriately and to make sense of the role that feelings play in decision making and taking action.

We believe that pupils learn best when their self-esteem is high and they feel a sense of belonging and inclusion. We make every effort to know pupils as individuals, understanding where they come from and who is part of their family. We also encourage pupils with praise. This is the responsibility of every adult in the school and we do this at all times in order to maintain and boost pupil morale.

The positive behaviour of everyone in the school will promote good learning. Pupils will follow the model of adults. We believe that a calm and purposeful learning environment is best and all staff will use supportive, quiet and purposeful voices and avoid shouting.


We encourage pupils and adults to see things from different perspectives and view points.