Curriculum Overview 

The Observatory School is a specialist provision for pupils aged 7 years to 16 years with learning difficulties, Social, Emotional and Mental Health Needs. 

At The Observatory School all pupils have a right to access a curriculum that is enthralling, meaningful and appropriate to their individual needs, whilst not compromising their entitlement.  Lessons at The Observatory School motivate, engage and excite our pupils.  Clear routes of progression and development within the curriculum planning result in continuity and coherence throughout the school.

With the complex learning and behaviour needs of our pupils, we acknowledge that the needs of each individual are central.  The provision offered is sufficiently flexible to enable pupils to be placed at an appropriately challenging point on the continuum at any time during their school career.

We offer a curriculum which is broad and balanced and which builds on the knowledge, understanding and skills of all children and young people, whatever their starting points, as they progress through each key stage. The curriculum incorporates the statutory requirements of the National Curriculum 2014 and other experiences and opportunities which best meet the learning and developmental needs of the pupils in our school. The aim of our curriculum is for pupils to have the skills to be successful, independent and motivated learners in readiness for their next stage of education.

Pupils are challenged to make appropriate progress in their learning and pupils who find aspects of their learning more difficult are appropriately supported so that they too are enabled to experience success. National requirements and school requirements are mapped out as a whole school and then individual year groups and subject specialists plan the curriculum for their pupils accordingly. The curriculum is underpinned by the school’s values and these are taught on their own and through other areas of the curriculum, including assemblies. The spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of our pupils and their understanding of the core values of our society are woven through the curriculum.

You can view in depth information on each key stage using the submenus in this option.


Curriculum Aims

Our curriculum aims to:

  • Ensure that all pupils have access to a broad, balanced, challenging curriculum based on the National Curriculum.
  • Ensure quality curriculum content through systematic curriculum planning, monitoring and reviewing procedures.
  • Ensure that all pupils have access to an appropriately differentiated curriculum.
  • Ensure that pupils cover programmes of study for subjects and develop their learning strategies needed to transfer between special school and mainstream provision.
  • Provide pupils with access to accredited courses at key stage 4.
  • To identify progression pathways for children in year 9 including access to further education, vocational courses and work-related learning.
  • Ensure that there is an equality of access to all Programmes of Study.
  • Promote pupils’ spiritual, moral, social, cultural and physical development in order to assist them in becoming thoughtful and respectful citizens.
  • Embed ‘cultural capital’ as the characteristics,  knowledge and skills that promote social mobility, both now and in the future.
  • Develop pupil’s independence and life skills through experience and activities such as cooking food, mobility, residential trips and work experience.
  • Prepare pupils for the opportunities and responsibilities of adult life.
  • Monitor and assess pupil’s progress for the purpose of ensuring high standards of their achievement.
  • Engage pupils in understanding how they make improved progress through Assessment for Learning.
  • Equip pupils with an understanding of and respect for the Fundamental British Values.
Details Of Key Phases

Key Stage 2

We currently have 4 classes in key stage 2 which are based at the Leasowe site.

Head of Leasowe Campus: Mrs Drew

Key Stage 2 currently offers an ADHD and ASC friendly approach and environment which uses visual resources such as regulation charts to allow the pupils to settle in and take ownership of their space and learning. This provision is designed to cater for a range of complex needs and support pupils in developing the skills and confidence as they transition into secondary education. This is supported with a social, emotional and personal development programme, alongside identifying any academic gaps with an individualised planning and assessment model.

The taught primary based model means the children spend the majority of their time in class with their key adults. This allows children to build secure relationships with both their staff and peers, allowing them to develop and strengthen a range of skills to support their social and emotional well-being. Pupils do, however, move around the main school for some lessons, such as P.E and cooking, where they are able to work for short periods with other members of staff and access specialist rooms and equipment.

The timetable outlines the lessons the pupils take part in each day with some examples of subjects covered and activities that take place across the year. The timetable is a visual for the pupils so they always know what to expect throughout the week.

Key Stage 3

Within Key Stage 3 (Years 7, 8 and 9)  we have a dedicated and caring team of teachers and teaching assistants.

We have 7 groups in Key Stage 3:

In year 7, 8 and 9 pupils (apart from the year 9 groups) are taught in base classes where they have 1 teacher and TA for most of the day.  They have specialist teachers for Science, PE and Computing. 

In Year 7 to Year 9, the curriculum is broad, balanced and relevant; it allows pupils time to explore, deepen their understanding and embed skills for life. There is an emphasis on connectivity between different subjects so that the pupils develop their understanding holistically and make the connection between what they are learning in class and the wider world.

Pupils complete ASDAN awards which are embedded into their curriculum. Year 9 pupils work towards their Functional Skills tests in English and Maths. 

All subjects have delivered a ‘Recovery Curriculum’, identifying gaps in learning due to the lockdown, with subjects adapting their curriculum to ensure no student is left behind. Wellbeing and RSE are also a central focus. 

Key Stage 4

We currently have 4 Key Stage 4 classes.

Pupils in key stage 4 have a base classroom where specialist teachers teach them. They also have specialist lessons in the art room, science room and food technology room. 

In Year 10 and Year 11, the curriculum is broad, balanced and relevant; it allows pupils time to explore, deepen their understanding and embed skills for life. There is an emphasis on connectivity between different subjects so that the pupils develop their understanding holistically and make the connection between what they are learning in class and the wider world.

Pupils are placed on their key stage 4 pathway based on their end of key stage 3 progression chart. If a pupil achieves progression step 9 and above in a majority of their subjects they are placed on the Academic Pathway. If they achieve 8 or below they are placed on the Vocational Pathway. The Academic Pathway has a strong focus on GCSE and BTEC qualifications. The Vocational Pathway focuses on Functional Skills, ASDAN and Entry Level certificates. 

Our key stage 4 curriculum encourages pupils depending on their ability to undertake external exams. We follow a range of exam courses including, Pearson, Edexcel, WJEC, BCS and AQA. We also offer ASDAN, BTEC and other alternative qualifications where applicable. 

A full CEIAG curriculum is also on the curriculum. Pupils get extensive support with transition in year 11 when it is their time to leave us and move onto their future destination. We work closely with Careers Connect to deliver our CEIAG program. 

PSP (Personalised School Program) 

The PSP is a pathway which supports pupils who require a very personalised program of support. Pupils follow an individualised timetable which mostly involves working offsite with 1:1 support. If you would like more information about this please contact Mrs Dowd who leads the program.

Details of Implementation

The Sensory Pathway

Our first Nurture Base opened in 2017 and has been a resounding success.
With a focus on ASC-friendly teaching and behaviour regulation, there has
been an evolution in the mindset of pupils who attend this highly
specialised provision. There are zones within the Base for sensory recovery and time out. We have a separate playground and sensory garden for the Nurture Base pupils. A total of 12 bases are now open across the school.

Aims of the Sensory Pathway:

  • To develop and facilitate a pathway for pupils with sensory needs; sensory processing difficulties, Autism, anxiety disorder, sleep disorder and medical needs
  • Within individual base classrooms, provide an environment with visual clarity in regards to a safe, sensory-friendly and accessible classroom, not to overstimulate or distract
  • To provide a therapeutic curriculum, developing social, emotional, communication, physical and academic progress
  • For all pupils to access specialist teaching and learning
  • Year 8-11, classes will have a blended and personalised curriculum within the sensory pathway creating flexibility of year groups

The Social Pathway

The Social Curriculum at The Observatory School has been developed through research, We have consulted with our SENCo and ADHD Experts about the development of the Social Curriculum. The base class structure has been designed to reduce sensory need and not overstimulate pupils who access the provision, giving them the ability to access the school curriculum.

Aims of the Social Pathway:

  • To develop and facilitate a pathway for pupils with social barriers to learning; social communication, behaviour, relationships, background, home life
  • To enable pupils on this pathway to successfully access the school curriculum
  • To support pupils to communicate effectively
  • Guide pupils to make the right choice through whole-class strategies
  • Recognise personal situation and provide a tailored support plan during difficult times
  • To promote and prioritise positive relationships between staff and pupils also, peer and peer relationships
  • Inform a strategic approach form outcomes set in EHCP
  • For all pupils to access specialist teaching and learning

The Intervention Pathway

The Observatory School supports the progress of all pupils within the four broad areas of need: cognition and learning, communication and interaction, social and emotional and physical and sensory. Our intention in addition to our sensory and social pathways in the school, is to reduce and/or remove barriers to learning and to be able to develop the skills to function within their environment as independently as possible through the Intervention pathway.

Effective interventions within our school are achieved using a combination of types including, one to one, social communication, emotional regulation, attendance, pastoral, literacy and numeracy, along with adaptations to the environment, differentiation and levels of adult led support. We believe in and apply the graduated approach to support the progress of all pupils where needed. This can result in a number of avenues within the pathway;

  • Specific
  • Targeted
  • Group
  • Transition
  • Alternative providers
  • Intervention base form group
  • Personalise School Programme


Details of Impact

These include:  

  • Progress measures using formative and summative assessment, these are recorded formally using SIMS and BSquared
  • Senior Leaders/Phase/faculty leader work scrutiny
  • Reviewing Sleuth reports of behaviour data
  • Monitoring of EHCP provision plan targets
  • Reviewing individual pupil behaviour plans to assess the impact of strategies and interventions
  • Reviewing pupil attendance data
  • Pupil surveys (for pupil voice
  • Parent surveys
  • Parental feedback at EHCP reviews – completion of Section A form
  • CAT testing
  • Accelerated Reader testing/monitoring
  • Observation of pupil engagement during regular drop-ins, lessons observations and learning walks
  • Assessing the impact of transitions through pupil well-being at the start of the new academic year or following a change in class.
  • Destination data and follow up calls to pupils, parents and carers to ensure post-16 transition to college, apprenticeship or employment has been successful.
  • Feedback from other agencies such as social services, local colleges and employers.
  • Reviewing the impact of Safeguarding referrals and parents support and engagement.
Curriculum Faculties

Subjects taught at The Observatory School are managed within 4 faculty areas:

  • Communication
  • Knowledge
  • Personal
  • Creative

English, literacy, computing, digital literacy
Key Stage 2 Lead: Miss O’Hare
Key Stage 3 Lead: Mr Hart

Maths, science, STEM, humanities
Key Stage 2 Lead: Mr Blaylock
Key Stage 3 Lead: Miss Herbison
Key Stage 4 Lead: Mr B and Mr Dickson

Key Stage 2 Lead: Mrs O’Connor
Key Stage 3 Lead: Miss Scott
Key Stage 4 Lead: Mr Wood

Art, DT
Key Stage 2 Lead: Mr Smith
Key Stage 3 Lead: Mr Smith/Mrs McGlynn
Key Stage 4 Lead: Mrs McGlynn