School Curriculum

At Gibside School we provide access to the curriculum through a couple of pathways – differentiated to suit the needs of individual pupils. This ensures that all of our pupils progress to the best of their abilities. Techers are highly creative in their approaches to remove barriers to learning and incorporate advice and support from a range of multidisciplinary professionals. In addition to this children access a range of learning environments to apply and consolidate their learning.

Early Years

Our Early Years classes (taught at our Blaydon site) 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 also encompasses Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design. Our classrooms are adapted to suit the needs of the pupils, however, a huge amount of learning is carried out through outdoor learning spaces which enable children to learn in an active and enjoyable way.

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.

The pre-formal curriculum is broken down into 4 essential areas:

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

 We use an assessment tool called Routes for Learning to assess children on this pathway. It was developed by the Welsh Assembly and breaks down the early P Scale descriptors into 43 small steps; in addition to this we have devised our own system to be able to create comparable data for these children. 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.

National Curriculum

The majority of our pupils follow the National Curriculum. This has been adapted and enhanced to create appropriate learning objectives across all subjects; delivered through motivating and challenging lessons. The Schemes of Work reflect various approaches to learning; from exploratory, sensory based opportunities through to skills and knowledge led learning in theoretical and practical activities. 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.


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.

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

Teaching is supported through 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. We progress on to follow the National Curriculum objectives, supported by our own Scheme of Work. 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. 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.

Religious Education

Religious Education is part of a pupil’s entitlement from Reception through to the end of Sixth Form. All maintained schools are required to provide Religious Education for their pupils and headteachers must ensure that this is done. All local authorities are required to establish a Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education [SACRE] to provide advice to the local authority and to periodically review the Locally Agreed Syllabus. At Gibsie we have created our RE scheme of work from the Gateshead Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education 2018.  The agreed syllabus must reflect that the religious traditions in Great Britain are principally Christian. Parents have the right to withdraw their children from all or part of religious education. Headteachers should refer to Section 386 of the Education Act 1996 and also to “Religious education in English schools: Non statutory guidance 2010” for more information in relation to this right.


 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.


Curriculum Statement

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