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Merefield Curriculum Policy

The Merefield Curriculum Intent:

Merefield School provides a sequenced and ambitious curriculum that includes all statutory frameworks and the National Curriculum that are adapted to give all learners the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life.  We provide a curriculum that promotes reading, communication, independence, resilience and self-help skills.  We recognise that every child is unique and has been on a personalised learning journey and our curriculum is tailored to match their needs and aspirations and goals for the future.  All of our pupils have an EHCP and a range of learning needs, sensory needs, medical needs, physical disabilities and some have secondary diagnoses of Autism.  Our curriculum has been designed to suit the personalised needs of all learners.


Pupils with severe learning difficulties, to varying degrees, have significant intellectual and cognitive impairments and may also have difficulties in mobility and coordination. Many pupils also have communication difficulties which will affect both expressive and receptive communication skills.  Other difficulties are often experienced such as understanding abstract concepts, maintaining concentration and attention, retrieving both short term and long-term memory, utilising sequential memory, exercising working memory, processing information, retaining knowledge, thinking and problem solving and generalising previously learned skills.  Our curriculum takes all of this into account and provides many exciting opportunities for skills to be learned, revisited and generalised over time at a pace that is appropriate and challenging for each learner.  Every learner is on a personalised pathway and this is achieved through:

  • The compilation of bespoke learning programmes for pupils, we call PLIMS, that draw from the sequenced areas of the curriculum, such as How My World Works and My Thinking and Problem Solving.
  • Relevant topics that have been carefully selected and broken down by Key Stage to ensure appropriateness, relevance, motivation for learning and progression.  These also have some flexibility to ensure they capture the interests of the learners.  The topic cycle also ensures that there is a broad range of experiences and access to a wealth of texts and vocabulary.
  • A clear understanding of each learner's interests, learning needs, starting point, prior knowledge and aspirations for the future.
  • Cross curricular learning approaches ensuring that every moment of their school day has a purpose and a relevant learning opportunity.
  • Use of the hidden curriculum to help reinforce learning and generalise skills, for example in staff-pupil encounters on corridors, on educational trips and at times of arrival and departure.
  • Plenty of opportunities for over learning and repetition in recognition of the individual difficulties faced with memory and generalisation of learning.
  • The use of communication strategies, sensory activities and engaging activities because without all of this provision, there is no learning.


Our aim is for all pupils to make progress during their time at Merefield School with personalised outcomes that demonstrate, over time, that pupils will:

  • Be as independent as they can be, in school, at home and in their communities
  • Communicate effectively
  • Have meaningful reciprocal relationships with peers and adults around them
  • Feel safe
  • Manage their own emotions and behaviours
  • Have an improved quality of life with the best possible outcomes when they leave school
  • Make splendid progress across the full curriculum


Communication is at the heart of our curriculum at Merefield School. We use a Total Communication approach. This broadly refers to the teaching and learning of reading, writing, speaking and listening.  We ensure each learner has the appropriate skills, resources and support to enable them to access the whole curriculum and communicate expressively and receptively.  Our pupils are supported to communicate using a plethora of augmentative or alternative communication aids, tailored to their needs.  These include High and Low Tech AAC, switches, symbols, written communication, British Sign Language (BSL) and PECS, all of which enable them to respond, initiate and engage to the best of their ability.


At Merefield School, we believe that early language acquisition is paramount to the overall development of the child to enable them to access a broad curriculum. 

Pupils are taught to read using the Essential Letters and Sounds (a DfE approved programme). 

Pupils are also taught skills to support and enhance their development in understanding of all forms of communication including spoken, gestural, signing, body language, facial expressions and the social conventions related to conversational turn taking.  The prior acquisition of expressive and receptive language with a focus on listening skills are fundamental to enable children to learn how to read.


Learning to read is essential for all pupils because it helps them to read for pleasure and develop concentration skills, access the full curriculum and extend their vocabulary, develop language comprehension, and be prepared for adult life. Pupils with severe cognitive difficulties will find it difficult to learn the alphabetic code, however all pupils will engage in phonics and read a rich variety of texts through topics, reading for pleasure and reading scheme books matched to their ability.  Some pupils learn to sight read words although we acknowledge that this will be limiting so phonics is taught alongside this.  Many pupils will remain at phase one of the phonics programme and develop their listening, responding and anticipation skills to auditory sounds through sensory stories and sharing texts with adults and peers.


Teachers create environments that immerse children in texts, they are asking and responding to questions to develop their comprehension skills and make sense of what they have read or heard.  This process also encourages pupils to acquire new vocabulary through a language rich environment.  Adults provide many opportunities for repetition and spoken language is most often accompanied by signs, symbols, gestures and prompts; sensory stories are also delivered with a range of supporting props to make learning fun and engaging.

Curriculum Implementation:



The Merefield Curriculum is organised into six strands, each of these cover the statutory requirements of the National Curriculum. The curriculum is ambitious for all pupils and is studied at a level appropriate to each pupil.  Our curriculum is based on developing Functional skills that allows young people to prepare for everyday life, develop independence, confidence and ultimately prepare for adulthood and to embark on the next stage in their life, whether that be supported living, supported employment, volunteering opportunities, social enterprise providers or a personal budget.  


Each area of the curriculum has a range of programmes of study that include a sequential ladder of learning outcomes.   Pupils with severe learning difficulties will not learn skills in the same way and their rate of progress, retention of information and acquisition of skills will be at a level individual to them.  Personalised learning intentions are derived from the sequential ladders to create a termly personalised learning intention map (PLIM) for each child.  Each learning intention will challenge pupils to make progress, retain information and develop knowledge, skills and understanding.  Teachers are highly skilled at breaking down learning into small manageable steps to enable all pupils to experience success.  EHCP outcomes are also carefully interwoven into all aspects of the curriculum and measured through PLIMs and regular reviews.  Although we have one curriculum model, this is highly personalised for each pupil and they have their own unique pathway that offers challenge and flexibility. It is through the personalisation of learning programmes for pupils that curriculum ambition is seen. Shorter term and longer-term objectives are extremely well-matched to individuals so all their learning is purposeful and stretching.


My Communication

Core Communication


Functional Reading

Physical Communication

My Thinking and Problem Solving

Work it out

Patterns in Everyday life

Functional Maths

How My World Works

Developing Independence

Investigating and Exploring


My Community

Preparing for my next stage


Community Participation

My Physical Development

Self Awareness

Looking after my body

Moving and using my body

My Emotional Wellbeing

All about me

The World I Live In



The curriculum is delivered through a thematic approach to make learning exciting, engaging and meaningful.  The topic cycle spans over four years and is also split by Key Stage, this provides up to sixteen years of different topics.  This provides pupils with a huge breadth of opportunities for any necessary repetition or overlearning and to revisit previous learned skills to gain mastery and generalisation. Each topic has a range of suggested texts to support learning and promote reading and exposure to a vast range of vocabulary.  Teachers adapt lessons, texts or write their own stories to provide sensory experiences for our more complex pupils so they are able to access the curriculum in a more practical way.  The classroom environment is adapted to meet the needs of different learning styles, abilities and also physical and medical needs.


Teachers at Merefield school are highly skilled in teaching pupils with severe and complex learning disabilities.  They attend regular training to support their subject knowledge and attend regular collaborative planning sessions and teacher meetings where curriculum information is discussed and shared. Teachers are creative in their approach to teaching, learning and assessment to ensure all pupils are suitably challenged and knowledge, skills and understanding builds on prior learning.  Evidence of learning is recorded and reviewed regularly.  Teaching Assistants also play a vital role in supporting the holistic progress of pupils and are also highly skilled in recording observations, supporting individuals or small groups and promoting high expectations for all.


As pupils progress through the school, there are many opportunities for pupils’ personal, social and life skill development; this includes access to residential holidays, Duke of Edinburgh Awards, access to the community leisure centres and local library, and work experience opportunities.  We also offer a range of enrichment opportunities within our timetables and pupils benefit from sessions delivered by specialist music, PE and Food technology teachers.  Other enrichment sessions include horse riding, cycling, gymnastics, rebound therapy and regular swimming sessions for all pupils.


We use a range of assessment tools to measure progress and learning.  The EHCP forms the basis of measuring success against aspirational targets.  Challenging, smaller step targets stem from the EHCP and curriculum outcomes are measured within the PLIMs.  All PLIMs are reviewed termly and monitored and moderated by senior leaders.  Evidence of learning is captured through ‘Evidence Me’ to show progress over time and identifies next steps to build upon.


All pupils leave school with a range of external awards and qualifications that are tailored to their interests, ability and intended destinations.  We work closely with the child, families and other professionals to identify the most appropriate post 19 destination and support successful transitions to ensure that pupils remain at their chosen destination for at least two years.  Pupils leave Merefield School ready for adulthood with the relevant communication skills, social skills, independence skills, confidence and resilience to be happy, safe and secure throughout their adult life. 


Merefield Curriculum Vision