Our curriculum at West Oaks is a rich and varied curriculum.  We aim to enable all our pupils to develop their learning and skills to ensure they reach their full potential. Our curriculum provides breadth and balance across all subjects and promotes high levels of achievement.

Our curriculum aims to:

  • Enable pupils to become confident, resourceful, enquiring and independent learners
  • Help our pupils to make sense of the world around them
  • Develop critical thinking skills to protect pupils from power and influence online and through social media
  • Enable our pupils to achieve their full potential in all aspects of their development
  • Foster pupils self-esteem and help them build positive relationships with other people
  • Develop self -respect and encourage understanding of the attitudes, ideas and values of others, to teach respect for others’ feelings
  • Show respect for a diverse range of cultures and, in doing so, promote positive attitudes towards other people
  • Enable pupils to understand their community and help them feel a valued part of it
  • Promote an understanding of democratic ideals and British values

Developing communication is fundamental to our pupils’ futures, and our specialism in Communication and Interaction reflects this and underpins every aspect of our curriculum. The curriculum embraces all communication development strategies with a particular emphasis on Intensive Interaction for those pupils at very early developmental levels.

The curriculum is carefully planned, highly differentiated and well-resourced to meet the needs of all pupils. There is a high degree of personalisation. Life-long learning, life skills and future independence are key priorities running through all our curriculum and individual learner outcomes.

We develop the curriculum around a termly ‘big question’ theme. This is used as a vehicle through which we pursue learning challenges. The big question is ‘answered’ by our learners and creates a creative and engaging landscape through which meaningful, first hand experiences are the main teaching strategy.

We at West Oaks firmly believe that the curriculum has to be taught in such a way as to be meaningful to our pupils; to achieve this there is flexibility for teachers to plan and teach cross-curricular lessons. The big question approach supports this flexibility and seeks to foster continuity within the curriculum to avoid teaching subjects as isolated ‘compartments’.

We have a commitment to expanding our pupils’ horizons, whether through learning outside the classroom in our extensive school grounds, working in the local community, or through enterprise projects or work–related learning. We see great value in working with visiting speakers, specialists and other professionals.

The big question approach supports the community cohesion within our school, there is a shared purpose within shared events where a common vocabulary is taught and used (whether PECS , Makaton, BSL, pupils’ home-languages etc.). This creates many opportunities to showcase work and celebrate the successes on a school-wide scale thus enhancing our curriculum aims.

Curriculum and Assessment Map

Curriculum schemes and resources overview

We utilise published curriculum materials to support our planning – all based on the Early Years and Foundation Stage (EYFS) Curriculum, the New National Curriculum (2014) or Foundation Learning (14+).  All aspects of which comply with legislation and national guidance, this includes the teaching of Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) and Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance (CEIAG) across school.

We use the ‘Essentials’ Curriculum (Chris Quigley 2014) and aspects of ‘EQUALS’ (2014) schemes of work to support our long and medium term planning processes.

The ‘Essentials’ Framework has become the basis of our levelling and differentiation following the changes to the National Curriculum and the ‘Milestones’ replace the old NC levels.

In terms of specific subjects we use several published schemes to ensure that teaching challenges our more able learners. Collins mathematics scheme is used online and with workbooks, complemented by Numicon and Mathletics schemes and associated resources.

Reading is supported with the use of several schemes: Oxford reading Tree and Jelly and Bean alongside Lexia as an online resource. PenPals scheme supports writing skills. We also use Jolly Phonics and Letters and Sounds to support our Phonics work.

The Hamilton Trust online resource is used to support teaching and learning in both English and Mathematics.

 Curriculum Design 2-19

 EYFS Learning Ladders: (2-6 yrs)

  • The Learning Ladders curriculum has been designed using the EYFS curriculum and includes planning and assessment in the prime/specific areas of learning
  • The curriculum is interest-led, some aspects are linked to the whole school ‘big question’ where there is a natural link
  • The curriculum develops play-based skills,  independent learning, communication and interaction and social skills
  • Children’s own developmental play skills are fostered and enhanced alongside an individualised programme of work called  ‘Learning Ladders’ which stem from the objectives in the ‘Development Matters’
  • As our pupils, particularly those with a diagnosis of autism, require structure and routine to feel secure at school, the EYFS curriculum includes scheduled activities and predictable routines supported by visual timetables and visual communication support

Footsteps (6- 16 yrs)

  • This curriculum is designed to meet the needs of our pupils working within the lowest of the P-Scales. P1-P4
  • The curriculum is designed to take into account the needs of pupils with the most complex of needs (PMLD)
  • Within the ‘Footsteps’ curriculum there is an even greater emphasis on developing early communication and Intensive Interaction.  Technology is used to best effect to establish responsive systems to support not only social language but also to establish how much has been learnt
  • This curriculum takes a closer look at one or two aspects of the whole school Big Question theme, so as to create a curriculum that is not overloaded and reduces the focus on teaching subjects in discrete blocks
  • We design and deliver lessons that are highly engaging and responsive to the individual interests and responses of pupils who need more time to assimilate their experiences along with highly skilled, familiar staff who are able to observe and interpret their responses with a positive impact
  • The integration of pupils’ individual therapeutic programmes into the curriculum and daily lessons is also a significant feature
  • The ‘Footsteps’ curriculum is developed with reference to PIVATS, EQUALS, Barrs Court materials as well as aspects of the EYFS Learning Ladders

Stepping Stones: Key Stages 1 and 2 (5 – 11yrs)

  • Our stepping stones curriculum encompasses P-Scales 4-8 and Milestones from the Essentials curriculum
  • The curriculum focuses on the termly big question and is designed to create interesting, engaging and meaningful pathways of study within each subject as a way of exploring the answer to the big question
  • Staff work together to develop the questions and draw upon their knowledge and experience of our pupils to choose topics which encompass areas of interest as well as have wide enough scope to cater for all developmental levels
  • The medium term plans are then created by each subject leader (TLR staff ) and subject co-ordinators, using the P-Scale and Milestones objectives from the Essentials curriculum
  • Some objectives are not covered by the ‘big question’ and subject leaders/co-ordinators indicate which of these need to be taught as discrete lesson or sequence of lessons

Reaching High: KS3-4 ( 11-16yrs)

Where appropriate, pupils may spend some of their time at Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 within the West Oaks partnership base at Boston Spa Academy.  The same curriculum model is followed, with opportunities to experience a larger and wider school community whilst still receiving the same high levels of support and expertise.

  • We recognise that it is essential we help prepare our pupils for participation in the adult world. Part of that preparation is included in our upper school curriculum
  • We recognise that preparation for the adult world needs to happen long before pupils reach the end of their period of statutory education.
  • Pupils’ need to have an experience and understanding of the pressures and demands of modern society and develop the emotional and behavioural maturity to cope with it
  • They need to be able to advocate not only their needs but their personal aspirations too
  • They need to be as independent as possible in everyday life
  • They need to have an understanding of morality, sexuality and politics
  • They need to know how to keep themselves safe and well

We take this preparation work seriously and the transition planning at 14+ is a person-centred process here at West Oaks.

The Reaching High curriculum comprises of:

Key stage 3

  • Essentials  (P-scales, Milestones and Milestones Challenge), and KS3 National Curriculum (2014)
  • The KS3 curriculum is based upon the big question theme
  • The Milestones are still used to ensure progression and differentiation is carefully planned for pupils working from the lower levels of the National Curriculum
  • The flexibility remains to enable teachers to plan to teach cross-curricular lessons or discrete subject focussed lessons

Key Stage 4

  • Essentials curriculum (P-Scales, Milestones,  Milestones Challenge), KS3 National Curriculum and Personalised Progression Pathways
  • Elements of the whole school curriculum are followed but the subject coverage narrows at this stage so that 80% of the curriculum covers the common core curriculum (the National Curriculum)
  • The remaining 20% of curriculum time focuses on units of accreditation leading to qualifications in English, Maths, Personal Social Development, Independent Living Skills and vocational skills

Moving On: Key Stage 5 (16+):

The Moving On Curriculum comprises of personal progression pathways which prepares students for adulthood with a thorough study programme which embeds careers education, information, advice and guidance.

Pupils in 16+ follow differentiate units of accreditation leading to qualifications in:

  • Personal Progress (ASDAN)
  • Independent Living (NOCN)
  • Skills for Employment, Training and Personal Development (NOCN)
  • Functional Skills (NOCN)

These pathways are tailored to meet the developmental levels of each student whilst ensuring all achieve nationally recognised qualifications before the end of their time at West Oaks enabling students to progress onto higher levels of study, study and develop English and maths skills and participate in meaningful work experience.

There is a specific focus on life skills, community involvement, enrichment, employability including work related and vocational learning throughout the 16+ study programme. On entering 16+, students join and become part of the WeCanDoCo which is our student led enterprise.

Students also gain experience of settings beyond school and the community during their year 14 college carousel programme and engaging in experiential residential and educational visits.

There is full focus on preparing students for progression and reaching positive destinations in adult life. These destinations include higher education or further training, employment, independent living (which means having choice and control over the support received), good health and participating in the community.


The greatest resource we have is our body of teaching and associate staff, with their expertise, experience, creativity and enthusiasm. Staff have a wide range of expertise in all aspects of Special Educational Needs, this knowledge is used to impact on our curriculum design and implementation.  For example: several staff are trained in the use of Intensive Interaction,  PECS , TEACCH and SCERTS which support the development of our provision for our pupils with complex communication needs and those with a diagnosis of autism. Staff are also trained in behaviour management strategies to support or children with social, emotional and mental health issues.

Reinforcement and consolidation of skills and concepts is a vital component of the learning process, this is particularly important for pupils with learning difficulties.

At West Oaks we prioritise the reinforcement and consolidation of key skills within reading, writing, speaking and listening, number recognition and basic mathematical understanding within dedicated Key Skills sessions within the timetable. The key skills session aims to give the child a short dedicated session with an adult to guide their key skills work and offer opportunities to practice and revisit aspects of learning from the teaching given previously.

Planning for specific pupil groups:

Our curriculum has great scope to be adapted and developed to provide successful and suitably challenging lessons for all our pupils. It is the role of our experienced and skilled classroom practitioners to then plan lessons based on the medium term plans taking full account of all the needs of the pupils in their class.

Short term planning requires teachers to plan in detail for the pupils in their class, defining clearly the individual learning outcomes intended within a lesson or sequence of lessons. Differentiation is an important aspect of the planning and teaching process.

Differentiation can be described in several ways, all of which will be in evidence here at West Oaks:

  • Differentiation by task
  • Differentiation by outcome
  • Differentiation by support given
  • Differentiation by resource

The Learning Environment

Our classrooms and teaching areas are attractive, use high quality resources and are well maintained. It is of equal importance that classrooms take account of the learning needs of the specific learning disabilities.

There is a distinct rationale for classrooms catering for those with an autistic spectrum condition (ASC) and this is based on the good practice guidelines from the National Autistic Society (NAS) and EYFS ‘Guidance for Good Autism Practice’ .  In classrooms for ASC pupils these are low stimulus and minimal arousal, meaning that displays are kept to a bare minimum. Well-designed and produced visual support materials are used. Emphasis is placed on physical structure and classroom layout to define specific

To find out more about the curriculum please contact:

Boston Spa Learning – Sue Towers on 01937 844772

Woodhouse Learning – Keeley Murray – 0113 3235871

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