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Our Curriculum

What does it mean to be a learner at The Orchard’s School …

Education’s starting point should not be about us … it should be about them, their needs, their aspirations and goals’
(Dr Maggie Arkinson, Children’s Commissioner For England, September 2013)


The driver for the curriculum at The Orchard’s is our commitment to personalising learning for all our pupils, to ensure that their very individual needs are met in the most effective way.
The national picture has changed significantly over the past few years and there is a much greater emphasis on curriculum meeting the needs of learners rather than being prescriptive in its presentation. The QCA (2009) liberated schools stating that ‘staff should teach knowledge, skills and understanding in ways that match and challenge their pupil abilities’. This view is echoed by Lacey (2011) who emphasised the fact that as a school we now have full licence to focus on the distinct needs of our pupils.

The Orchards school curriculum has built upon this notion of curriculum autonomy and whilst ensuring that children receive their entitlement to a ‘balanced and broadly based’ curriculum (DFE, 2013) has used this freedom to plan a relevant curriculum which places children’s needs, interests,
aptitudes and achievements at the centre.

The National Curriculum (2013) statutory inclusion statement further endorses this creative freedom; `A wide range of pupils have special educational needs, many of whom also have disabilities. Lessons should be planned to ensure that there are no barriers to every pupil achieving. In many cases, such planning will mean that these pupils will be able to study the full National Curriculum. The SEN Code of Practice includes advice on approaches to identification of need which can support this. A minority of pupils will need access to specialist equipment and different approaches. The SEN Code of Practice outlines what needs to be done for them.’ This inclusion statement recognises that some children will not be able to study what everyone else does.

At The Orchards School we presume that to mean children who are educated within the exceptional context of a special school, particularly one catering for children with profound, severe or complex needs. For us this means a highly specialist curriculum which is broken down into very small steps and ensures regular opportunities for ‘practical experiences’; ‘sensory regulation’ and multidisciplinary programmes.


‘It is not the responsibility of the child to change to meet the demands of the curriculum; it is the responsibility of those writing the curriculum to ensure that it is flexible enough and adaptable enough to meet the needs of each child.’
(Imray, 2010)

For our pupils…

At The Orchard’s your teachers and other important adults such as your parents / carers, therapists and other people all think very carefully about what it is important for you to learn. We have worked really hard to make sure that what you are learning is useful for the next part of your life and one of the most important things to us is that you learn to tell people what you want and need in whatever way works best for you. At The Orchard’s we know that you all need different things and this is ok with us … we love thinking really carefully about what is important for you to know but also what will help you to be happy and safe in the future.

Your teacher will work with the other important adults to make a special learning plan for you called a Personalised Learning Intention Map. This map shows all the important adults what you are learning at the moment. It also tells you what you are learning. The adults plan these maps from your Education, Health and Care Plan. They also use something called Branch Maps to make sure you are learning things in the right order. You can find out more information about the different things that you might learn on this website or you can ask your teacher.

Early Years Curriculum

Proud to part of the Bright Futures Education Trust
The Orchards School
Audley Avenue
Stretford M32 9TG
CEOP