School Curriculum

At Gibside we follow schemes of work developed from the new National Curriculum and highly differentiated to suit our pupil needs. This ensures all of our children progress to the best of their abilities. Teachers are highly creative in their delivery of the topics and work closely with other professionals to ensure the curriculum is personalised to each child and matched to their stage of development, interests and life experiences. Pupils have access to a range of different learning environments within school and learning is also enhanced by visits in the local community and special events across the year such as subject focused weeks and themed days ensuring a full and varied curriculum.

A high priority is placed on ensuring the curriculum is motivating and challenging and that the children work within a safe and secure learning environment. There is a strong focus on communication and developing independence. We also aim to promote and reinforce the British Values of democracy, individual liberty, mutual respect, tolerance and the rule of Law which have been outlined by the government and these values are an integral part of the curriculum.

In each year group children are taught English and Communication and Math’s through discrete lessons. English and Math’s are also embedded in other curriculum subjects which provide a vehicle through which these skills can be developed further. Curriculum based interventions for children are in place for those who require more focus in a particular area and these are closely tracked and monitored.

ASC (Autistic Spectrum Condition) Curriculum

In our ASC bases we have specialist provision to meet the needs of these pupils and support the difficulties that they experience. A variety of teaching methods, approaches, interventions and strategies are used to ensure access to the curriculum. The curriculum recognises the core challenges that children with ASC face in communication, social interaction, imagination and sensory issues and how to enable them to successfully access their learning. The curriculum is carefully planned and delivered with emphasis on how to overcome difficulties in these areas.


We use the SCERTS (Social Communication Emotional Regulation Transactional Support) framework to identify and develop skills in the areas that our children with ASC have particular difficulties with. This multi-disciplinary approach involving Speech and Language Therapy and Occupational Therapy, ensures that strategies to support Social Communication and Emotional Regulation benefit the children throughout the school day, as well as at home.

Early Years

Our Early Years classes for children who are in their Nursery or Reception years are based across both sites with our main Early Years provision being at the Blaydon site. We follow the Development Matters Framework with most learning taking place through play and child initiated activities. The main focus is on the three prime areas of Communication and Language, Physical Development and Personal, Social and Emotional development. The curriculum is further divided up into the specific areas of Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design. The Early Years classes access the main site at Whickham for therapy based activities and regularly meet up so the whole department spends time together. We have two wonderful outdoor learning gardens which enable the children to learn in an active and enjoyable way and the classrooms are adapted to suit the needs of the children.

Pre-formal Curriculum

Pupils with PMLD are at very early stages of development and it is more appropriate for them to access a more focused curriculum that addresses the interplay between the sensory impairment, motor disabilities and medical conditions.   Emphasis is given to their individual needs and requirements so they are provided with a curriculum that is more meaningful to them.

What does this look like at Gibside; the pre-formal curriculum is broken down into 4 essential areas:

  • Communication
  • Cognition
  • Physical Development
  • Personal Care / Independence skills

Assessment Tool

To assess the children making progress in their pre-formal curriculum we use Routes for Learning. This is an assessment tool provided by the Welsh Assembly that breaks down the early P Scale descriptors into 43 small steps. Pupils can progress through the steps by using either the main route or alternative routes, seven of the steps are listed as ‘key milestones’ that the children might go through.  The ‘pathways’ through the ‘route map’ can be individual depending on the interests, needs and abilities of the children.


Please contact the school if you would like to know any more information about the curriculum at GIbside.


At Gibside we develop children’s reading through various approaches and activities. We incorporate visual & pictorial discussions and sensory experiences, along with phonics and word recognition skills to approach reading. We support our children to be immersed in books, whatever their ability to engage.

Our aims are:
To enable children to read to the best of their ability.
To develop an interest in books and reading for pleasure, including enjoying a wide variety of texts such as fiction, non-fiction and poetry
To ensure children can read with confidence, accuracy, fluency and understanding
To become independent readers, using these skills across the curriculum
To use books as a start for their own imagination and creativity
To prepare children for the next stage in their education

Early Reading and Phonics
At Gibside we use a combination of Jolly Phonics and approaches from Read Write Inc, Speed Sounds. For those children, particularly those with an ASC diagnosis, where sight recognition appears to be their approach to reading we use word fading and colourful semantics to support their Early Reading development.

Reading Curriculum
We follow the National Curriculum objectives, supported our own Scheme of Work that provides objectives prior to the National Curriculum. Differentiated and inclusive lessons are planned which focus on the key skills reading and comprehension. In addition to these Speech and Language therapists may support children in 1:1 sessions. They also give guidance to teachers with using colourful semantics and subject, verb and object boards for comprehension when reading. Additionally, children visit the school library selecting a book from a wide range of good quality, appealing fiction and non-fiction texts. This can either be enjoyed in class or at home as part of our Home Reading Scheme.

Reading Schemes
Gibside uses a range of reading schemes including Oxford Reading Tree and Project X to support the development of our children’s reading skills. We also have books created in school which reflect children’s individual interests. For those with Visual Impairments we have sensory/tactile books and books from the VI team with larger font and less visual clutter. Books appropriate to the child’s ability are selected to ensure success and progression. All children are also given a reading book at an appropriate level to take home with an expectation of at least one book going home each week.

For more information on the curriculum vision please see the statement below.

Curriculum Statement

For more information on our curriculum overview please click on the link below.