Our aim, through our curriculum, is to embed our vision to Inspire Excellence – Challenge Potential – Empower Learning by ensuring the whole need of each child is met through a comprehensive programme that addresses their academic learning whilst also supporting those difficulties that arise from their autistic spectrum diagnosis.

Our school curriculum is person centred and tailored to the needs of our autistic learners. The curriculum offers pathways for students to learn from personalised programmes that address the needs and difficulties as outlined within the DSM-5. The DSM-5 identifies these areas as;

  • a) Difficulties with social communication and interaction and;
  • b) Restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests or activities (sensory behaviours are now included and recognised within this).

At The Grove we aim to realise our school vision through our curriculum by supporting our students to:

  • Manage their autism through access to tailored programmes and therapeutic support;
  • Have access to a wide curriculum taught in an accessible format
  • Have access to practical experiences that build on particular interests, abilities and enjoyment
  • Acquire key literacy and numeracy knowledge and skills that are meaningful,
  • Achieve external and accredited qualifications that match each student’s’ potential.
  • Acquire independence skills to become successful members of the community and prepare them for transition into adulthood

Our aims will be achieved through the delivery of a broad and balanced curriculum
that is:

  • Highly personalised and tailored to meet individual needs
  • Flexible and responsive to need
  • Differentiated and language rich to support communication
  • Age and needs appropriate
  • Within the framework of the National Curriculum, appropriate for each student
  • Focused on providing learning for life and independence skills
  • Designed to provide qualifications and meaningful experiences for the world of work
  • Supported through the integration and collaboration of a multidisciplinary team
  • Centred on personal learning programmes (PLP) that are linked to EHCP outcomes
  • Culture rich which includes the promotion of key British Values



The school curriculum is designed to meet the educational needs of the students at the school, this includes the difficulties that arise from their autism. This means that learning has to be practical, active and relevant to each student’s capacity and level of need. Our students learn through practical experiences, through consistent and structured teaching and learning situations with opportunities to generalise skills learnt.

The curriculum is organised into different pathways (see Fig 1);

  • The Semi-Formal Pathway 1
  • The Semi-Formal Pathway 2 and
  • Formal Curriculum Pathway 3
  • Formal Curriculum Pathway 4

Students follow whichever pathway is appropriate for their need and level of attainment. Some students may work flexibly between two pathways.


  Semi-Formal Curriculum Formal Curriculum
Academic Pathway 1
Usually in the P4–P6 range
Pathway 2
P6 – Early National Curriculum
Pathway 3
Year P9 – KS1
of National Curriculum
Pathway 4
National Curriculum
(Age related)
Formal Frameworks
  • A thematic approach provides a framework for the development of both early knowledge and skills. The curriculum is based on areas of EYFS programme, the Equals® Semi-formal curriculum and the early National Curriculum framework.


  • The National Curriculum either adapted or delivered at age related expectation
  • A thematic approach drawn from the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) provides a framework for the development of both knowledge and skills.



Semi Formal Aspects Extended semi-formal curriculum to include;

  • Communication & emotional regulation (SCERTS)
  • Independence and life skills (Including learning skills)
  • Play and Leisure skills
  • Thinking and problem skills (Including flexible thinking)
Threading through the formal curriculum the extended semi-formal curriculum to Include;

  • Communication & emotional regulation (SCERTS)
  • Independence and life skills (Including learning skills)
  • Play and leisure skills
  • Thinking and problem skills (Including flexible thinking)
  • KS1 & KS2 – Repeated 3 year cycle
  • KS3 – 3 year cycle
  • KS4 – 2 year cycle
  • KS2 – Yearly cycle
  • KS3 – Yearly cycle
  • KS4 – Yearly cycle


The Semi-Formal Curriculum

The semi-formal curriculum provides a framework to develop key skills that are related to the difficulties typically faced by our autistic learners and the areas of learning that are not naturally assimilated in the same way a neurotypical peer may do so.

It is our belief that these areas are fundamental to a child’s development and their readiness for further learning. Once a child has reached a stage whereby they understand communicative intent and are able to communicate their needs, preferences and choices with a partner or partners to a degree whereby they can access learning, they can then progress towards a more formal curriculum and style of learning.

The semi-formal curriculum is delivered as a thematic approach which runs parallel to the formal curriculum. Emphasis is weighted towards developing key skills in;

  • communication
  • social Communication and Emotional Regulation based Curriculum (SCERTS)
  • development of play and leisure skills
  • development of thinking and problem solving skills
  • development of Independence Skills to include functional and life skills.
  • development of the essential prerequisite skills required to access the National Curriculum framework, including EYFS

The Formal Curriculum

The formal curriculum is delivered through either a thematic approach or subject based, depending on the age range and ability.

Programmes of study are drawn from the International Primary Curriculum and the National Curriculum. Aspects of the semi-formal curriculum are embedded within the formal curriculum to support and develop learning in areas that are recognised a key challenges for our autistic learners. Particular reference is on the SCERTS® framework and the life skills curriculum.

The Personalised Curriculum

The personalised curriculum is identified through the Personal Learning Plan (PLP) and focuses on the additional interventions and support that is required by our students to enable them to access their learning and development which includes:

  • Individual learning targets
  • SCERTS targets
  • Pen portraits
  • Educational Health Care Plans (EHCP) targets
  • Positive behaviour support plans and targets
  • Therapeutic interventions including speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, sensory integration, music therapy and psychotherapy.
  • Transition towards Adulthood targets

There is no formalised curriculum that is designed around a student’s individual targets, rather they are designed to steer learning opportunities within the curriculum schemes of work.

Life Skills Functional Skills

We aim for all our students to develop functional skills for living so each of them is able to lead a fulfilling and substantially independent life. We recognise that for young people with autism every experience may provide a learning experience. Our approach to teaching functional skills and life skills is at the core of our curriculum where our framework can be taught within the programmes of study and the schemes of work.

Input from the speech and language therapist, occupational therapist and other professionals supports the delivery of the life skills curriculum through personal programmes. Areas such as functional life skills and communication are very weighted towards support from therapists.

The life skills curriculum is not seen as linear learning, rather, it is a broad framework in which each child works. The pathways will be determined by each individual’s;

  • outcomes on their EHCP and PLP
  • strengths and areas of development
  • own need as assessed by the parents, staff, therapists, professionals and where possible, the student

Our curriculum includes ample opportunity to develop life skills through the experience of daily activities both on and off site. Furthermore, there is a key focus to each topic or area taught and these are integrated across the day in addition to discrete sessions. There is a strong emphasis on working in partnership with families to ensure the teaching of life skills span across the student’s day including before and after school. The AET progression framework has been adapted to provide a framework for measuring progress within each area of learning.

Life Skills 1. Independence towards Adulthood
Independent Living Getting ready for a supported independent life as an adult
Personal Safety Recognising risky situations and how to manage them safely and how to get help
Road Safety & Travel Recognising how to be safe in the community when travelling and getting ready for independent travel
Keeping Healthy Recognising how to remain healthy through exercise, diet and well-being
Personal Care Building independent functional skills
Leisure Recognising different aspects of leisure and identifying ways and means to navigate and enjoy leisure activities
Work Skills Getting ready for the world of work


Life Skills 2. Learning towards Adulthood
Organisation and learning skills Building skills to become an independent learner or engage in learning independently in whatever method is appropriate to the individual.
Motivation and engagement Building attention skills and engagement skills and developing resilience in persevering with tasks
Routines and expectations Recognising and understanding there are different expectations across different settings.
Evaluating own learning Building self esteem and self awareness


Life Skills 3. Social Understanding towards Adulthood
Coping with change Building resilience to manage changes
Transitions Building resilience to manage transitions
Special interests Understanding own special interests and their significance on mental health and well-being
Play Shaping learning
Thinking & problem solving Developing memory to understanding to application to analyse, evaluate & create