Lower School

Curriculum Overview- Lower School

At St. Dominic’s, our focus is on facilitating quality opportunities for pupils and students to learn and make progress. The Lower School curriculum is designed to blend a nurturing primary curriculum model with the interventions and support needed to meet pupils’ individual EHCP outcomes. Lower School is split across two phases: Key Stage two and Key Stage 3 (years 7 and 8). While the curriculum is sequenced so that learning is developed as pupils move through the key stages, the approach to learning is different in each phase. Pupils in Key Stage 2 have more opportunities for learning through play and some lessons in lower KS2 taught using a continuous provision model, this allows pupils to take some responsibility for their learning while building on their existing skills. When pupils move in to Key stage 3, we begin working towards more independent learning and more detailed subject specific teaching.

How is the curriculum delivered in Lower School?

The majority of the lessons in Lower School take place in the tutor room and are delivered by the class tutor. Our staff team is made up of a core group of primary and SEN trained specialists who offer a class-based approach. This allows each class’s staff team to use their knowledge of the pupils to modify the learning activities so they support their bespoke needs. Some subjects are taught by subject specialists, these include Forest School, Computing, Expressive Arts and, from Year 6 upwards, PE. Using subject specialist teachers enables pupils to gain amore in depth understanding and allows us to offer a wide range of subject specific activities.

Lesson one each day is dedicated to the Needs Lead curriculum and provides an opportunity for pupils to work on their spellings, multiplication tables, take part in guided reading and look at current affairs or special interest subjects with their peers.

All pupils will be assessed regularly to check progress and support their learning. This will be done using some formalised assessment, teacher observation and feedback and SAVI, our in house monitoring system. Some Year 6 pupils will take SATS and some Year 4 pupils will take the multiplication check. This will be decided on a pupil by pupil basis and through a dialogue with families to ensure that the test is accessible for them. Each pupil sitting these tests will have a bespoke curriculum that will offer any support that may be needed. This includes intervention from therapies, Literacy and Numeracy support and exam readiness teaching and preparation in the classroom.

Pupils work towards individualised targets and are supported in this using a range of techniques. These include utilizing movement breaks and using the zones of regulation. Other more individual interventions are also offered where appropriate to support pupils to be able to access the curriculum. These include counselling, ELSA, play based therapy and numeracy and literacy support.

What are the curriculum pathways?


During Years 3 – 5 all pupils follow the Explore pathway. This pathway gives a flexible weighting of curriculum strands to support younger pupils to explore learning in all areas. This allows pupils to begin to recognise where their strengths are and also identifies areas they may need support as they progress through the school. Pupils on the explore pathway receive two formal sessions of Needs lead curriculum time. This is split between Speech and Language Therapy and Occupational Therapy. These sessions are invaluable for helping our pupils to build on learning skills, functional independence and social communication.


Once pupils enter Year 6, they will be split into two separate pathways. The Endeavour pathway gives a higher weighting assigned to national curriculum and academic qualifications in preparation for further education. This includes preparing pupils to sit their SATS tests when they are in Year 6 and extra science and computing lessons when they move into Year 7.


 The second pathway for Years 6-8 is the Discovery Pathway. This pathway gives higher weighting of needs led curriculum in preparation for independence outcomes. This includes extra sessions on ‘Learning to Learn’ and ‘Functional Independence’.

Placement on a particular pathway is not fixed and pupils may change or move between pathways as they move through the school. This would be based on their progress across the curriculum and in discussion with parents/carers.

What lessons are offered?

Subject Explore Pathway Endeavour Pathway Discover Pathway
English 4 4 4
Maths 4 4 4
Science 2 2 in year 6, 3 from year 7 2
Humanities 3 3 in year 6, 2 from year 7 1
PSHCE 1 1 1
Needs Led Curriculum 2 2 4
Art 1    
Expressive Arts 1 1 1
DT/Cooking 1 1 1
PE 2 2 2
Computing 1 2 2
Forest School 1 1 1


What extra-curricular learning is offered?

We aim to provide a holistic curriculum that also allows pupils to develop their skills in areas outside of the classroom. Pupils in year 6 attend Horse riding lessons with the RDA and the majority of pupils in Lower school have the opportunity to attend swimming lessons. We also offer places on the ‘Bikeability’ programme which is a practical training programme that provides pupils with the skills to ride a bike and also enables them to cycle confidently and competently. We also offer peripatetic music sessions through the ‘Rocksteady’ organisation. These sessions and give pupils the chance to be in a band, perform songs they love and learn life skills

On a Friday afternoon, we run a ‘leisure curriculum’. This is an opportunity for pupils to take part in a wide range of activities and develop new skills. Some of the activities offered include choir, ukulele club, football, sign language and board games. Through leisure activities, pupils and students are learning how to self-manage during periods of less structured time and, crucially, learning more about themselves and what they find enjoyable and fulfilling. These are essential skills for mindfulness and in preparation for self-management.


My Son has made incredible progress emotionally and applies himself much better academically. The mentoring aspect is key to his progress.



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