Our Curriculum

Statement of Policy

Montacute offers a broad, balanced and highly differentiated curriculum relevant to the special educational needs of the pupils with an emphasis on life skills. Through the acquisition of a range of key Skills pupils are enabled to achieve maximum independence in personal and social skills.

A Sensory Curriculum for pupils in Bands 1-2, supports the learning of pupils who are at the very earliest levels of development. The needs of the individual child lie at the heart of all curriculum planning, and as pupils progress through the school their curriculum programme develops accordingly. Importance is given to 'learning by doing' and many exciting and motivating activities and experiences are planned at all Key Stages.

The School Curriculum Framework.

Key Curriculum Strands, described below, form the central part of the curriculum whereby pupils acquire the skills, competences, knowledge and attitudes which are particularly important in developing personal autonomy: 

Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE)

. In a broader sense, PSHE comprises all aspects of the school's provision to promote the pupils' personal and social development, including health and well-being. In Lower School these concepts are regularly woven into Topics and Circle Times, while in Upper School a modular PSHE programme is followed. 

Careers and Work-related Education are offered at Key Stage 4 and are an important feature of the Post-16 Programme.

Community Visits and Residential Experiences are arranged to complement and enrich the curriculum, and can offer valuable opportunities to extend experience, practise skills and consolidate learning in 'real life' contexts. Community aspects of shopping, road safety, and use of public transport and other public facilities form a major part of the  School curriculum. Residential Experiences take place both locally and further afield including those associated with the Duke of Edinburgh Award. The school was part of the Comenius programme and recent visits have included Ireland, Italy, Germany and Spain.

Sex Education

Sex Education forms part of the PSHE curriculum, which aims to develop key areas of Health Education by expanding topics at regular intervals throughout a pupil's school career, thus encouraging a gradual development of knowledge and understanding, skills and values. Ideas are introduced to younger children in the context of learning about themselves and their families, as well as about animals and plants. Pupils in Upper School follow a modular programme which covers both the physical and emotional aspects of growing up. Issues are discussed with sensitivity, and the school is committed to working closely with parents. Sex education covers the range of information pupils need to know, from keeping themselves safe to developing relationships with others and can be taught in single sex and small groups, or with individuals, and often with the support of the community nursing team and the school nurse.

Communication and Literacy

is a very important part of the curriculum of all pupils throughout their school career, comprising Speaking and Listening, Reading and Writing. Augmented Communication Systems (AAC) are extensively used and the Speech and Language Therapists work closely with teaching and support staff. A broad range of reading schemes is available, although the earliest reading books are personalised for the child. A variety of Big Books, Bag Books, story, poetry and non-fiction books are available in the library area. The teaching of both reading and writing are strongly supported by Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The teaching of reading can be quite individual; some pupils are taught synthetic phonics using approaches including 'Letters and Sounds' and 'Nessy' in small groups, while others may be taught to recognise whole words, particularly social sight vocabulary and some use programmes such as Writing with Symbols to help them to access written communication. Montacute School uses a number of reading schemes, which are banded according to level, and other reading material such as recipes, timetables, TV listings and instructions.

Thinking ( Cognition) and Numeracy

aims to teach skills and develop concepts in number, shape, space and measures. The emphasis in Upper School classes is upon the functional use of maths in domestic and community settings to support their accredited courses. For some pupils we use an ICT based Mathematics programmes called 'Dynamo Maths' which was devised for pupils with dyscalculia. 

Information and Communication Technology

supports learning across all areas of the curriculum as well as being an important subject in its own right, and children are taught to use technology from an early age. The school is well resourced, with interactive whiteboards and computers, including ipads in all teaching areas. Children are able to access ICT through a broad range of special peripherals eg. touch screens, concept keyboards and various switches. The school has a large collection of software designed for pupils with special educational needs, and older students are taught to use the internet and email and mobile phones. Pupils find ICT both motivating and fun and the additional benefits are many, leading, for example, to improvements in concentration and fine motor skills.


plays an important part in helping children to understand their world and to develop the skills of looking, listening, exploring, communicating and questioning. Science is often taught contextually in sessions including cooking. The children's knowledge is gained principally through hands-on experience. Aspects of human biology are taught as part of the PSHE curriculum.


are  taught through the Topics where it is relevant and appropriate. Children's understanding of the world around them, and their place in it, is further developed, and full use is made of the local environment, artefacts and additional sources of expertise. Other countries and cultures are studied, and pupils are introduced to different languages and customs. Respect for the environment is a continuing theme.

Design and Technology

is an exciting subject which gives pupils the opportunity to develop, plan and communicate ideas, and evaluate items that they have made, or with which they have worked or played. They will experience working with a variety of materials and tools. Younger pupils learn through play and Topic work, while in Upper School classes they will learn through accredited courses or work related learning. 

The Creative Arts

are an important part of the Enrichment Curriculum, and Art, Music and Drama are enjoyed by children throughout the school, enabling self-expression and appreciation and enjoyment of the work of others. Activities are linked with Topics  and performances and celebrations of pupils' work are held both in the school and out in the community, often supported by visiting professionals and artists and in partnership with mainstream schools.

Religious Education

In accordance with the Education Act 1996 Schedule 342(6), which states “In special schools, so far as is practicable, every pupil should receive Religious Education” RE is taught in line with the Bournemouth and Poole Agreed Syllabus, 2005. RE forms an integral part of each school day, and is broadly based on Christian teaching, whilst also introducing children to the rich variety of religions of other cultures, encouraging respect and tolerance of the faiths and beliefs of others. Daily whole school, departmental or class Assemblies are held, when experiences and achievements are shared and celebrated, and often there is a moment of reflection and stillness. We have links with our local Anglican Church and hold services there at Christmas or Harvest times.

The school R.E. Policy recognises and makes provision for children's spiritual needs. Above all we aim to foster a positive school ethos where each individual is valued and encouraged to develop to his or her full potential, while showing kindness and consideration for others, and compassion for their needs.

By arrangement with the Head Teacher, parents can withdraw their child from all or part of the religious education or collective worship at the school

Physical and Sensory

promotes the continued physical development of pupils and introduces body awareness, movement and dance, mobility/gymnastics/ rebound therapy, athletic and games activities. Swimming lessons take place weekly using the pool on-site, although older students use community facilities wherever possible. Younger children are able to experience horse-riding, and a range of outdoor and adventurous activities are offered to Upper School pupils eg. sailing in Poole Harbour. Sport and swimming are recognised as valuable activities which enable children to develop confidence, experience success, work co-operatively and appreciate the efforts of others. They also provide opportunities for participation in events with other schools or community groups, and Montacute has a long tradition of taking an active role in inter-school games and galas, and community events such as swimarathons. The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, open to older pupils, supports the school’s physical programme.

Also encompasses the physical personal Skills of eating, dressing, using the toilet and all aspects of Personal Hygiene. Detailed programmes enable children to learn eating and toileting skills and the school works closely with parents in these areas

It also includes the development of fine motor and gross motor skills which underpin all other areas of the curriculum.

To see the Montacute Curriculum Framework please click here