The Curriculum at Portland     

Often within the school, pupils/students from different year groups may be placed in the same class. Therefore, curriculum is set at key stage not year groups level. Subjects are often covered through thematic approach, though key subjects, Literacy, Numeracy, ICT are always allocated discrete lessons.

The reading scheme in key stage 1-2 is Bug Club by Pearson Education Limited

If you have any questions about the curriculum, materials used or how you can support your child’s learning please contact:

Ms Smith – Primary (Years 1 to 6)

Ms Sawyer – Key Stage 3 (Years 7 to 9)

Mrs Dudko – Key Stage 4 (Years 10 and 11)


In all Key Stages the curriculum follows the school ethos of:

At Portland we aim to give our young people the best possible start in life. We believe that to achieve their full potential, young people need:

  • The Literacy and Numeracy skills to function in a modern society
  • The Social Skills to interact positively with others and make the best of their chances
  • The Life Skills to make good informed choices that impact positively on their lives

All of our pupils have experienced Social, Emotional and Mental Health difficulties. We are here to work with them in overcoming barriers to learning and helping our students to experience success.


Key Stage 1-2 Primary (ages 5 to 11)

The Key Skills of Literacy and Numeracy are taught as discrete lessons and the concepts are reinforced through a thematic, enquiry led approach.

Themes shaped around a topic to include deep thinking, through enquiry questions. Themes receive a stimulating launch to hook in the learners. Educational visits are included in the theme as is outdoor learning.

We deliver the new Primary National Curriculum (NC) have introduced an engaging reading programme (including online activities).

As with all of our learning at Portland, activities are adapted to meet the needs of individual pupils and ensure that they make progress in the following areas.

  • The Literacy and Numeracy skills to function in a modern society
  • The Social Skills to interact positively with others and make the best of their chances
  • The Life Skills to make good informed choices that impact positively on their lives

Religious Education is included as part of the Primary curriculum and Year 7 themes.

Key Stage 3 Lower Secondary (ages 11-14)

The KS3 Curriculum at Portland School and Specialist College

The KS3 curriculum is balanced between appropriate and necessary access to NC subjects (specifically and explicitly Literacy and Numeracy), lessons which support and strengthen improvements in emotional, social and mental health issues, and access to a broad KS3 curriculum to allow specialisms later on in our pupils’ school careers: these subjects currently include horticulture (linked to Jamie Oliver’s school gardens project, and the RHS school garden project), the nationally based Film Club, life skills (ASDAN activity award), a farm to fork cookery lesson linked with horticulture (in addition to a NC Food Technology) and music. All pupils are also following an ASDAN accredited PSHE course. Pupils of course have at least one lesson of science, ICT, PE, art, DT, French and Humanities (includes Religious Education) each week. There is a more thematic approach to planning and lessons, allowing for more learning to be outside of a typical classroom, mapping national curriculum subjects and PSHE skills throughout. (Literacy and numeracy are taught separately, as well as implicitly throughout the creative curriculum). Humanities, for example, is taught through outdoor activities wherever possible, including trips to local churches, mosques and temples, visits to the Peak District, and historic sites such as castles and battlefields.

The enhancement of a more creative approach to the curriculum therefore continues to support skills which increase confidence, and self-esteem, and allow more access to core subjects for life, ie literacy and numeracy. 

The curriculum is also supported by our clinical psychologist, who teaches skills directly, such as mindfulness, and recognising and practising emotional management, for example, acts of gratitude. 

The curriculum is also underpinned by a therapeutic approach, again reinforced by our clinical psychologist, from the start to the finish of the day, with self-regulation and emotional awareness as every day routine practices.

Trips out of school are essential and are used solely as curriculum and social and emotional enrichment opportunities: these trips support emotional strength and resilience through reinforcement of positive experiences, and also allow explicit opportunities for active and national curriculum linked learning.

Key Stage 4 Upper Secondary (ages 14-16)

Key Stage 4 focuses on preparing students for the next stage in their Education and Training.

All students study for qualifications in English and Mathematics. Much of the rest of the curriculum is personalised to meet students’ needs, interests and aspirations on leaving the school.

Some students access a range of qualifications delivered at Portland:

GCSE English

GCSE Mathematics

GCSE Science



(Entry levels are available for students too)

A range of BTEC qualifications: Photography, Creative Arts, Media

We use Alternative Provision (AP) to ensure students’ needs are met. Some of our students access BTEC Level 1 and Level 2 programmes of study, Step up to English and Maths, GCSE’s, as well as vocational qualifications through AP providers. As with all students at Portland Literacy and Numeracy qualifications are accessed at the appropriate level.





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