Key Stages 1 - 3

English and Communication

Language and communication skills are essential for our pupils and we place great emphasis on their development, which includes the use of Makaton signing, PECS  (the Picture Exchange Communication System), symbols, objects of reference, visual timetables and the use of Moon script for those pupils with a visual impairment. Staff work closely with the speech and language therapists, who establish programmes which are either delivered by them or by the class staff team. A range of Augmentative Aids are used, for example switches, Big Macs and Step by Step aids.

Pupils need to be able to communicate in a range of social situations, depending on their individual needs and this may include speaking, listening, reading or writing. They follow the National Curriculum programmes of study, adapted for pupils with learning difficulties, and as part of their English lessons they use a wide range of literature. The curriculum is enhanced through visits eg. by theatre companies and class trips and teaching strategies are adapted to meet individual learning needs.


All our pupils are encouraged to investigate and understand the world around them and Maths is taught using their own environment and experience eg at snacktime, using items which are familiar. Pupils also have discrete Maths lessons where they develop skills such as matching, sorting, sequencing, counting, using money and learning to tell the time. Pupils follow the National Curriculum through the Fordwater School Schemes of Work, where activities are differentiated  to meet the needs of all pupils.


Science enables our students to find out and learn about the world they live in. This includes themselves and the relationship and impact they have on things around them. Students are encouraged to be curious and ask questions about how things work and why things happen; developing their skills in ‘scientific enquiry’.

Science is taught discretely, at least once a week, for most classes and is built into cross-curricular work for our PMLD classes. All classes have opportunities to cover scientific concepts across the school week, for example when observing and discussing weather and seasonal changes at circle time or when using playground equipment at play times. Classes study biology, chemistry and physics, following the National Curriculum through Fordwater’s schemes of work, which is then adapted to each pupils’ individual needs.


Computing is fundamental in today’s world, and we have a comprehensive range of specialised hardware and software to support our pupil’s learning and to develop a range of computing skills, including iPads, Plasma Screens, Touch Whiteboards, touch screens, switches and switch software. All pupils have the opportunity to use a variety of  equipment and to explore and utilise to access other curriculum areas. New technology offers our pupils increasing opportunities to work with increasing independence in communication, language and literacy, and to become fully involved in physical and practical activities using ‘switch technology’ which allows control of the immediate environment and aids mobility.


This area includes History and Geography.

The study of history enables pupils to explore different people and events from the near or distant past. They take part in practical activities such as visits, handle artefacts, look at photos and develop skills which are relevant and appropriate , eg. the ability to sequence and to recognise family photos.

The study of geography offers pupils opportunities to develop awareness through experience  of their local environment eg. school, shops, weather. Understanding is gradually extended to the wider environment and older students will study geography in the context of world events and through practical activities such as recycling.

Creative Arts

Fordwater School has achieved the National Artsmark award from the Arts Council in recognition of our commitment to the Arts.


Music is seen as a powerful form of communication that can influence the way pupils feel, think and act. Through musical activities pupils develop imagination, express ideas and communicate feelings; they develop important social skills such as turn taking, cooperation and tolerance. We follow the Fordwater schemes of work which are based on the National Curriculum programmes of study, adapted for pupils with learning difficulties. Music improves concentration and listening skills and aids the development of coordination and fine motor skills. It is also a means of learning, practising and reinforcing the basic skills of numeracy and literacy through songs, rhymes and rhythms. Music brings people together, helping to develop self-confidence and it is great fun!


Art and design is not just a subject to learn, but an activity that you can practice: with your hands, your eyes, your whole personality.Quentin Blake

For pupils with severe learning difficulties art and design is vital in providing tactile and sensory experiences. Pupils develop their knowledge about other cultures and time periods, studying and appreciating the work of different artists. They experience working with a wide range of mediums such as paint, pastels, clay, fabric and glue which offer opportunities for creativity and imagination. They explore colour, form, texture, pattern and different materials and processes through a variety of methods and in different environments.

Physical Education

Our pupils have a range of learning and physical difficulties and this influences the way in which they access physical education. For some this means being given the opportunity to develop an awareness of their bodies, moving in space and enhancing mobility eg through physiotherapy, rebound therapy, multi-sensory experiences. Others will take part in sports at a competitive level. The PE schemes of work encourage pupils to develop an understanding of healthy lifestyles and all pupils will take part in dance and movement, games, gymnastics, rebound therapy, swimming, athletics and outdoor activities at an appropriate level.

PSHE and Citizenship

PSHE education is a planned programme of learning through which children and young people acquire the knowledge, understanding and skills they need to manage their lives. As part of a whole school approach, PSHE develops the qualities and attributes pupils need to thrive as individuals, family members and members of society.The PSHE Association

PSHE (like SMSC and British Values) is embedded throughout daily life at Fordwater. We model positive relationships, self-image and communication skills with others in all our day-to-day interactions, as well as teaching skills explicitly in Circle times, PSHE lessons and in a cross curricular way. Our PSHE curriculum has three overlapping and linked ‘Core Themes’; Health and wellbeing, Relationships and Living in the Wider World. The curriculum has been carefully adapted to suit the ages and abilities of our pupils.

At Fordwater School we consider PSHE and Citizenship to be fundamental in all that we offer because it helps all pupils to develop as individuals and promotes both educational and social inclusion.  The curriculum has been carefully adapted to suit the ages and abilities of our pupils.

Self-help skills are developed alongside opportunities and experiences which enable pupils to move from a personal view of themselves and the world towards becoming more informed, active and responsible citizens with some awareness of their rights, duties and responsibilities.

The aim of PSHE and Citizenship is for all pupils to develop as individuals within a wider society and gain an understanding of themselves and their interdependence with others.

Sex education is taught as part of an integrated programme of social development, through PSHE&C rather than as a discrete and separate subject; when the needs of individuals or groups dictate, formal sex education courses are run.

Design and Technology

D & T, which includes food technology, teaches pupils to develop their capability through combining their designing and making skills with knowledge and understanding in order to design and make products. This is done using a variety of methods, including both sensory experiences of simple material, the development of the ability to use more complex materials, tools and techniques and developing an awareness of important  issues such as Health and Safety.

Religious Education

Aspects of the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of the child and the whole school can be addressed through Religious Education, which promotes respect for differences, fairness and a sense of self worth. It encourages pupils to reflect and identify feelings such as love, wonder, forgiveness and sorrow. Through focusing on relationships and considering the thoughts and experiences of others, pupils may begin to see the world through the eyes of others. Pupils are encouraged to explore and respond to life experiences and to develop a knowledge and understanding of Christianity and other religions; we explore multi-cultural and multi-faith themes including celebrations and festivals, developing respect and tolerance in our culturally diverse society.

Foreign Languages

The Foreign Languages Policy at Fordwater School aims through enjoyment, independence and practical experience to enable pupils to respect cultures and languages different from their own. It aims to stimulate an awareness of the diversity of life and to explore multicultural experiences. Through developing an awareness of themselves, their needs and those of others, pupils will celebrate the uniqueness and achievements of all individuals. Pupils have opportunities to experience foreign languages and aspects of other cultures and they develop an awareness of European and wider world issues during our annual FL week of activities. At sixth form level the students will focus on preparation for transition, focussing on development of the life skills they will need when they leave school. Our older students continue to develop skills in increasingly practical situations such as shopping and cooking.