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Curriculum Overview: What is our Intent?

The Russett School offers education for pupils with Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD) and/or Complex Needs from 2 to 19 years of age. Our phases of education are the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), Key Stages 1 to 3 and 14 to 19 (Key Stages 4 & 5)

Our ambitious curriculum has been carefully designed to ensure all pupils have access to a wealth of exciting and enriching learning experiences. It is our intent to provide all of our pupils with bespoke opportunities for learning in order to ensure maximum personal growth in order to develop vital skills required for a happy and successful future..

Enjoyment and motivation for learning is firmly situated at the heart of what we do, focussing on developing skills in confidence, character, individuality, independence, resilience and tolerance.

Our bespoke curriculum aims to:

•Provide outstanding educational opportunities through a personalised and challenging curriculum

•Maximise skill development in the four areas of need; cognition & learning, communication & interaction, mental health and wellbeing and physical & sensory needs- including Positive Behaviour Support

•Ensure that no pupil/young person leaves without a means of communication

•Fully prepare our children and young people for the next stage of education and transition into adulthood

•Prioritise skills of independence and for a happy and fulfilled future

Our curriculum is underpinned by EHCP outcomes, Individual Education Plans, Positive Behaviour Support Plans, Multidisciplinary Plans and our Preparing for Adulthood PFA Framework.

For a full overview of our Curriculum design and information about learning pathways, please download the PDF below:

Implementation; How do we implement our aims and intent for learning?

Learners within the EYFS follow a play based approach to learning, introducing specialist strategies where appropriate. The EYFS provision at The Russett School provides the opportunity to get to know our learners and their families and make early baseline assessments in order to identify the most appropriate pathway for them to follow.

Beyond the Early Years Foundation Stage, pupils engage in either pre- subject or subject specific learning. Learning pathways have been created to suit the needs of each learner profile. This personalised approach enables us to provide an appropriate, challenging curriculum for all of our pupils ensuring that pupils meet the outcomes of their individual Education Health and Care Plans (EHCP).

Our three pathways are; the Coastal, Countryside and City.

The pathway a pupil follows is regularly reviewed and pupils are given opportunities to move pathways where appropriate. Each pathway has been designed to meet the varying academic, sensory, communication, physical and independence needs of our pupils. Each pathway supports pupils to fulfil their potential and prepare them for the next stages in education and ultimately their transition into adulthood. Whilst our pupils are set challenging targets, we want all learners to have fun and enjoy their learning.

Our broad, balanced and relevant curriculum is overseen by our teams of specialist subject leaders. Please refer to our subject statements which detail the Intent, Implementation and Impact of each particular subject area (English, Phonics, Handwriting, Mathematics, PSHE & RSE, Science, PE, RE, Humanities, Arts, D&T, Music, Computing, Careers)

Russett Phonics / Reading Scheme

Twinkl Phonics; a DfE validated scheme, is implemented throughout school across all learning pathways. This systematic phonics programme gives our pupils the tools required to develop their literacy skills in a way that compliments individual learning needs. Phonics teaches children to recognise sound patterns in words, so they can systematically read and understand how to pronounce words they are not already familiar with. Rhino Readers offers decodable reading books ensuring a broad and diverse collection featuring fiction, non-fiction, poetry and a play, Rhino Readers inspires a love of reading, creating firm foundations and confidence for future learning. Please refer to our Pre-Phonics and Phonics & Reading Statement for further information.

Key Stage (KS) 4 Acreditation

As pupils reach Year 10, opportunities are offered through accredited courses. All learners have the opportunity to work towards achieving a nationally recognised accreditation in the form of either;

  • An award, certificate or diploma in Personal Progress (ASDAN)
  • A diploma in Life Skills (ASDAN Entry 1/Entry 2)
  • An Award in Personal and Social Development which embraces personal, social, health, citizenship and ICT, and enables candidates to develop skills that prepare them for independence and working life. It offers imaginative ways of supporting young people in becoming confident individuals who are physically, emotionally and socially healthy, being responsible citizens who make a positive contribution to society and embrace change and managing risk together with their own wellbeing, as well as introducing them to new activities and personal challenges.
  • An award in Skills for Further Learning and Employment (Open Awards Entry 1/Entry 2)


Pupils in Post 16 access accreditation and assessment routes tailored to each learning pathway;

Coastal pathway – Pupils access ASDAN Towards Independence PMLD modules/Transition Challenge (sensory) modules

Countryside pathway – Pupils access ASDAN Towards Independence modules

City pathway – Pupils access Open Awards, Functional Skills examinations and BKSB profiling


Cultural Capital

‘Cultural capital can be described as the knowledge and skills that can help to improve children's life chances. It's the essential knowledge that children need to prepare them for their future success.’

We believe in offering our pupils as many opportunities as possible to enagage in new experiences, enrichment and variety. We want Russett learners to take part in outdoor learning, visit places of cultural relevance, visit museums, theatre and cinema and have the chance to meet people from different communities and backgrounds. We believe these experiences will help our pupils develop skills and abilities that they can transfer into their life outside of school.

We also offer enhancement through;

  • Forest School- a programme for opportunities for learning outside the classroom (LOtC) – please see supporting statement
  • ELSA – promoting positive mental health and wellbeing through targeted support. please see supporting manual
  • Sensory approaches to learning- meeting individual sensory needs through individual programmes, sensory diets, specilaist support through commissioned OT and specialist resources
  • Visitors into school- linked to in class learning, community links, celebrations or theme days programme
  • Wider commissioned services- Speech & Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Music Therapy, Play Therapy

We are fully supported through our dedicated NHS Speech & Language Therapy team and Physiotherapy Team who work directly with all staff to provide a consistent approach for all learners. We adopt a ‘total communication approach’, drawing on signing, Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCAs) and Objects of Reference. This model enables a shared understanding between adult and learner, without which no true learning can take place.


Please see the PDF below for an overview of assessment tools used to assess our bespoke learning pathways:


  • Successful outcomes for learners at all stages of education – improvement and progress in learning new skills; independence, tolerance, communication, behaviour
  • Academic progress- individual tracking of pupil progress, Evisense, impact of interventions
  • Wide range of learning opportunities – Enrichment programme promoting cultural capital; rich in pupil voice driving forward our core offer
  • Careers and Work Experience – outcomes, raising expectations and maximising opportunities
  • Destinations – Securing the future and learning from experiences post Russett / Alumini focus group
  • Parent & Carer partnerships- support for families from EYFS to Post 16
  • Happy and confident learners fully prepared for the next stage of Education or support
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