A curriculum is a clear and unambiguous statement of what a school plans to teach. Every school has a timetable that delivers its curriculum and lesson plans that specify teaching methods in detail. There will, in addition, be a formal system of assessment to evaluate progress made by individual pupils and the school as a whole.
Here we review aspects of curriculum that we believe are especially important for educating exceptional children. A major component of the Abbey School Model is how we approach curriculum. Our aim for pupil learning is that it should be functional, meaningful, and effective. We blend core curricula with individually tailored content.

Core curriculum

The core curriculum is everything a pupil has to learn while at school. It covers the basics of learning and learning how to learn, fundamental or foundational knowledge and skills, and a range of deeper, more advanced conceptual, philosophical, and practical content necessary for a successful and fulfilling adult life in the community.
The core curriculum spans English, Maths, Personal Social, Health and Economics (PHSE) and learning skills. Related subjects form a wider curriculum to include Science, Humanities, Technology, Creative and Expressive Arts, and Physical Development.

Personalised curriculum

It is not uncommon for pupils to present with an uneven or spiky learning profile. A spiky profile accrues when a pupil’s learning has advanced in some areas but not in others. Pupils with a spiky profile are likely to require focused support in less well-developed areas of learning.
For example, support may be needed for basic self-help and communication skills, with aspects of behaviour, or with foundation skills such as attending, imitating, or sorting and matching. Developing a personalised curriculum is one way of ensuring that a pupil’s unique learning needs are addressed.

Bespoke curriculum

A bespoke curriculum is a synthesis of core and personalised curricula. Here at Abbey School, we formulate individually tailored or bespoke curricula following detailed trans-disciplinary assessment and EHCP review. Because individually tailored curricula are designed to address the specific learning needs of each pupil, no two are the same. Although not identical, bespoke curricula correspond to key stage and topic areas and one of three learning pathways.

Learning pathways

At the Abbey School for exceptional children we’ve developed and adopted the three E’s of differentiation. These are:

• The Engaging Curriculum is designed for children with early learning skills and very complex needs. It encourages learning through consistent routines, sensory engagement, and interaction with adults. Pupils develop an awareness of the world around them and the physical skills needed to control and explore the environment.

• The Exploring Curriculum develops communication, decision-making, and instruction-following skills. Pupils learn through play, exploration, and practical activities that get them involved with the community. They begin to engage in subject specific learning, further nurturing key skills in the core and wider curriculum areas.

• The Establishing Curriculum creates learning opportunities through schemes of work based on highly differentiated national curriculum programmes of study. Pupils work at a pace that is adapted to match their individual needs. They build on prior knowledge and apply learning in different contexts. This level encourages the development of self-awareness, increased independence, and respect for others.

Abbey School and the world of work

Key stages 1-3 generate curricula that are purposefully broad in scope. Key stage 4 and 6th form curricula that are increasingly vocational and equip pupils with the knowledge and experience they need for adult life and the world of work.

Key stage 4, for example, has 6 taster courses per term in a different sector of work, followed by a mini enterprise project. In 6th form pupils choose a specialist area of the curriculum to pursue in more depth and undertake community work experience placements in the field of their chosen area.

To find out more about The Abbey School curriculum and our individualised learning journeys, get a digital copy of our prospectus at: