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Crownbridge School: Why we look forward to the new curriculum

Darllenwch y dudalen hon yn Gymraeg
Crownbridge School girl with dogWe are Torfaen’s only Special School.  We have 116 pupils on roll, who travel to us from across the Borough. We are a Pioneer school.

We want to tell you why we are so optimistic about the new curriculum, compared with a current curriculum that has at times been a challenge in the way it defines ‘content’.

Our pupils are aged between 3 and 19 years with a wide range of learning difficulties. These include Severe Learning difficulty (SLD), Profound and Multiple learning difficulty (PMLD), and Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).



Before Successful Futures:

You can just imagine how important it is that our curriculum must be relevant to our pupils’ individual needs. It must be broad, meaningful and fun.

This relevance must be sustained across all five key stages of their 16 year career with us. This means balancing a structured approach to continuity and progression in pupils’ learning journeys, with an in-built flexibility to curriculum requirements.

Crownbridge school cake better picPrioritising skill development is crucial and is long established at Crownbridge. Skill progression is highly valued as the most important element of pupils’ learning because skills are essential for pupils to build a happy, independent and successful life after school.

To meet pupils’ individual needs and entitlements teachers need to decide how and when they experience aspects of our curriculum, according to the level and nature of their needs, their interests and the pace of their learning. Teachers plan a personalised offer for each pupil’s complex individual needs.

The National Curriculum has been a significant challenge to special schools. We must give access to the full range of subjects in the National Curriculum Framework appropriate to their age, yet provided in a way that matches their stage of development. We’ve had to cooperate across Wales and the wider UK to find ways to do this.

Teachers have proved very creative at making connections between subjects to offer thematic practical learning which offers progression in knowledge and skills over time.

We’ve done this via Long Term curriculum plans for each key stage supported by associated termly Medium Term planning which capture the knowledge, skills and activities teachers plan to engage pupils with.

Cronbridge pass the parcelTo do this teachers meet fortnightly in Collaborative Planning Groups and use their professional creativity, knowledge and skill to differentiate the content, skills and activities to effectively include all pupils.

These long & medium term plans aim to offer rich practical learning experiences to develop all pupils’ key skills; i.e. communication, literacy, numeracy, thinking & problem solving, ICT and PSHE, as they move through their school career.

Since the introduction of Successful Futures:

Staff have welcomed the promise of the new welsh curriculum as we feel it endorses our existing principles and curriculum offer. It has provided an opportunity to work collaboratively with a wide range of colleagues from mainstream and special settings. It has prompted us to review our long term plans.

We are now thinking about how to promote the Four Purposes and questioning whether some content that is a current curriculum requirement is relevant to our pupils’ needs, interests and aspirations.

Teachers are meeting in AOLE groups and making adjustments to the curriculum plans according to the following questions:-

  • Is this a ‘must know, do and /or experience’?
  • Is it an engaging context for pupils to learn what we think matters to them – does it interest them and provide a rich vehicle to teach them?
  • Is it a ‘not matter’, or of no interest to our pupils?

This means that our The Long Term Plans are being deconstructed (which is a bit scary when it comes to demonstrating continuity and progression to external partners) and new ones are being developed.

Senior & middle leaders are collating teachers work and presenting back on themes arising, questions arising and lines of enquiry to consider further.

So far the journey is proving to be interesting and positive. The risks are being outweighed by the promise of a curriculum model that is slim-lined and tailored to meet our pupils’ needs.

We intend to change our planning format for spring term 2019 on the basis of our findings.

We will also be moving on to focus on developments in assessment and tracking progression

We will keep you posted!

Lesley Bush,


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