Marchbank’s curriculum is all planned activities that we organise to promote learning, personal growth and development. It includes not only the formal requirements of the National Curriculum, but also the various extra-curricular activities that the school organises in order to enrich the student’s experience. It also includes the ‘hidden curriculum’ – what the children will learn from the way they are treated and expected to behave. We have incorporated some Steiner principles into our well established and proven curriculum to suit the very specific needs of children with SEMH.

The curriculum is designed to offer discrete teaching in Literacy and Numeracy with other subjects largely being integrated into a topic based approach using a carefully planned development which is based on the sequences of the International Primary Curriculum to ensure students can move from Marchbank with the same knowledge base as their peers in school.


A discrete lesson of literacy is delivered each day. This incorporates reading, writing and speaking and listening with a dedicated phonics and spelling element. The National Literacy Strategy will provide a framework and supplemented at other parts of the when children will be afforded opportunities to engage in various speaking and listening activities and daily story time which will include familiar stories, traditional tales, poetry, rhyme and drama. Within KS1 and KS2 we use the Read-Write Inc Phonics scheme and the Read-Write Fresh Start scheme for our older pupils.


A dedicated numeracy lesson is delivered four times a week. The National Numeracy Strategy provides the framework and teaching staff identify opportunities in their planning of other areas where they can extend children’s skills by using every day maths.

The Main Lesson

All other National Curriculum subjects are incorporated into a topic based approach and delivered through two hour main lessons during the afternoons. Each main lesson topic continues for an extended period of time with most lasting three to four weeks. This approach allows children to gain unhurried and in-depth experiences to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the topic area whilst developing key skills. The topics follow a carefully planned developmental order and incorporate science, history, geography, religious education, design technology, art, crafts, music, PSE and ICT.


The use of Computing is encouraged in all topic areas as a subject in its own right and in both the teaching of the topic in the main lesson and in the opportunities for children’s independent learning.


PE is taught discreetly with a large element of this being orienteering and other outdoor adventurous activities within our extensive school grounds. Within the confines of our school building there are recognised limitations for the delivery of PE therefore dance and gymnastics are delivered on site and students access the EV for swimming and games during winter months and periods of bad weather.

Modern Foreign Languages

Modern Foreign Languages is delivered discreetly as French lessons.

Children access regular Forest School sessions in the wooded area within our school grounds. They follow a developmental curriculum which involves learning how to use full size tools, how to build fires safely and how to build shelters. It also includes knowledge based and experimental learning of the flora and fauna and allows children to observe the changing seasons first hand. Once groups are established in the woodland and routines are set up the projects develop through a child led approach with opportunities for projects being taken back to the indoor setting.


On a Friday afternoon students have the opportunity to choose from a number of creative activities which include movement, dance, drama, singing, cookery and handcrafts. This enhances the curriculum opportunities and helps the children to develop rhythm, repetition and reverence.

Teaching staff are encouraged to capture children’s interest and broaden their experiences by using magnificent mature gardens and wooded area where possible.

Children’s achievements are celebrated regularly through displays in classrooms, around the school and more formally during weekly shine assemblies.

Motor Skills

Children take part in a personalised fine and gross motor skills programme. This programme has been specifically designed by Future Steps and it runs twice a week.

Distinctive features of the school include

A focus on developing literacy skills - an ability to listen, read, write and spell are priorities for all children and once acquired help to unlock the curriculum

Close home/school partnership – encouraging parents to be partners in their child’s progress by offering access to a variety of parent activities;

Class sizes are small with a teacher and a teaching assistant with each group.

Access to learning in an outdoor environment for part of everyday - this includes a forest school curriculum, some outdoor education activities and a curriculum that helps the children to understand the natural aspects of their world;

A stage not age approach – allowing children to learn at their own pace and revisit areas of development that may have been missed or not previously secured;

Early assessment of needs allowing targeted intervention to address those areas that are forming barriers to learning in the mainstream setting; and

A wholly nurturing approach aimed at developing the whole child; emotionally, socially, behaviourally and academically.