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Curriculum Overview

The children at Merryfields School have a range of needs and cognitive abilities as well unique ways of learning.

We have a bespoke curriculum that is designed to meet the individual needs of our pupils and offers the flexibility to provide a unique learning experience for each child.

Approaches to learning that we may use with our pupils:

·         National Curriculum- subject specific learning.

·         Sensory approaches to lessons including TAC PACs (a sensory communication resource using touch and music to help communication and social skills) and Individual Sensory plans.

·         Heuristic approaches, rooted in children’s natural curiosity.

·         Speech and Language input.

·         Hearing Impairment Input.

·         Visual impairment input.

·         Physiotherapy input.

·         Fine motor skills development.

·         Makaton and British Sign Language to develop communication.

·         TEACHH approaches in supporting children with Autism.

·         Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) as an alternative/augmentative communication system.

·         Staffordshire Primary Interaction Curriculum (SPRINT) to develop communication, social interaction and flexibility of thought.

·         Intensive Interaction as an additional approach to teach communication skills to pupils.

·         Visual supports to support communication.

·         Staffordshire RE syllabus.

·         Collective worship.

·         Toileting to meet individual needs.

·         Massage and holistic therapies to increase well- being and build appropriate relationships.

·         Drawing and Talking Therapy to focus on preventing and early intervention of mental health issues.


We have 3 identified curriculums in Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 that our pupils follow, each taking a topic based approach to give context to learning. Pupils are assessed as to which elements of the curriculum are most appropriate to them and these areas form their daily learning and assessment.


Personal, Social and Health Education

At Merryfields, PSHE is considered to be of prime importance and each pupil has their own social skills programme specifically geared to their needs. 

 The scheme is divided up into six topic areas including:

  • Me and my school

  • Me and my relationships

  • Happy and healthy me

  • Me and my safety

  • Me and other people

  • Me in the world

The above topics will cover feeding, toilet training, dressing and personal hygiene. Children also develop their skills in road safety and using public transport. Key stage 2 children cover drug safety and boys and girls are taught separately on puberty and body changes, dependent on maturity.  PSHE is included in most lessons including: circle time, greetings, snack time, playtime and at dinner. 

We strive to make our pupils as independent as possible at Merryfields, teaching them the necessary life skills to enable them to lead a healthy and happy life.



The English Curriculum covers the main strands of Spoken Language, Reading and Writing delivered in a manner appropriate to the many and varied needs of our pupils.

This rich and varied curriculum of Merryfields reflects the high priority placed upon the development of communication skills and our approach to “Spoken language” includes a spectrum of individual communication systems including hand signing for visually impaired, Makaton, The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), Ipad app and Intensive Interaction.

A range of methods are used to teach reading including, for example, relevant texts with the use of contextual cues, appropriate software, to whole word approaches, to the DFES letter and Sounds Synthetic Phonics Scheme.

The teaching of Writing is very much linked to our approach to the development of fine motor skills, usually taught on a daily basis according to the individual child’s needs. For some children, creative expression through writing follows conventional approaches and emphasis is placed upon the equally valid skills of written composition and transcription. For other children, their “spoken” communication will function as their “text” and a high priority is placed upon valuing the voice of every child no matter how small.

If you wish to ask any questions about our provision in this area or would like advice on how you can support your child’s progress at home, please contact the school.


Reading for meaning is seen as central throughout all stages of development.

Pupils are given access to a variety of reading materials:-

  • fact, fiction
  • poetry, myths, legends
  • notices, plans, maps
  • picture books
  • sensory books
  • personal books
  • comics, newspapers
  • Big Books
  • shopping lists and products on shelves
  • social signs in school and out

Pupils are given access to “specialist” reading materials such as objects of reference timetables, personal signifiers, location markers, personal photographic/symbolic timetables, “choose Boards”, Environmental cues and Visual supports which may show where to go, what to do when there, when they know they have finished, what to do when finished and what will come next.

Children are often provided with personalised reading materials such as treasure boxes, personal photograph albums, class-made books reading books using high-frequency words and other words of particular relevance to the given child. 

We offer, where practical, independent, shared and guided reading opportunities to help the child understand the story, to distinguish print from pictures, to scan left to right, top to bottom and to work from the beginning to the end of the book. 

We develop phonological awareness through the use of a structured synthetic phonics programme which will enable decoding of print for reading and encoding for spelling.  Many children are taught synthetic phonics following many principles from the DFEE letters and sounds programme.  However, the starting point for many children is to encounter written words that are relevant to them: such as their own name, social, environmental and media words, vocabulary for needs, interests and feelings, high-frequency words, keywords in topics and reading scheme vocabulary are taught first. Once a child has a vocabulary of around 50 words, he or she will start to be taught to use phonic skills.  This is especially important for some children on the ASD who may find phonics very difficult and need to continue with whole word recognition. 

Our core reading scheme is Oxford Reading Tree and this is supplemented by books from other schemes to meet pupils’ needs. These schemes enable the child to acquire a sight vocabulary, build on phonic knowledge, use contextual and picture clues as an aid to decoding print and becoming a competent reader.  ICT is used extensively to both motivate and provide access for pupils. Reading spans the whole curriculum with each topic having keyword lists drawn up by each teacher to be taught to pupils.

We also provide a range of 'real books,' accessible to the child which give breadth and balance to the reading scheme and also help the child to recognise, and increase his/her understanding of, the diversity of beliefs, attitudes and social and cultural traditions. 

For the older, moderately independent reader, we provide the opportunity to read books which have been carefully chosen as being more age appropriate in content, while retaining a relatively simple text with good picture clues. 

We encourage the child to use information retrieval skills for reference purposes using books or the internet, for simple reference purposes to aid his/her studies.

As the child becomes a more experienced reader s/he will enjoy a widening range of reading materials, will read silently from choice, will manage the reading necessary in most curriculum areas or, in the case of developmental groups, develop the basic reading skills required for life. 

We seek to ensure that the older child, whose reading has progressed more slowly, will be encouraged to use other media than reading to experience and enjoy a wide range of literature which is appropriate for his/her age and ability.  


At Merryfields School we follow, where relevant (for many children a whole word approach to reading is their natural starting point), the DFE Letters and Sounds Programme.   Children encounter a range of activities to support their learning.  At the earliest level children are encouraged to discriminate between different sounds – for example, using sound lotto games or identifying different sound making instruments.  Later, children will be taught to associate a sound with an object of reference such as “a” for “apple”, “b” for banana and so on before progressing to letter mnemonics (such as a flash card with the letter and a corresponding picture). 

As well as being encouraged to imitate a staff model, letter sounds are often taught using the Jolly Phonics songs and Geraldine Giraffe short videos. Also, children are given the opportunity to blend and segment words often with practical resources such as cubes (e.g. c-a-t), or pictures with the appropriate letter sounds on velcro beneath. 

Children may segment words (spell) using the Communicate in Print software where a symbol or picture will appear after the child has typed the word.  Similarly, many apps/software such as “pirate phonics” and education city are used.   Likewise, a diverse spectrum of experiences is given to support children’s ability to form individual letters.  Formation of graphemes (written letters) are linked to wider fine motor, early writing skills experiences such as making marks in sand or paint, tracing over letter templates with a whiteboard pen, before being taught the formal skill of making the letter shapes with a pencil.


In Maths teaching at Merryfields School, we offer opportunities for pupils to develop skills and concepts in order to perceive patterns and relationships within the world and experience mathematical concepts in a variety of ways, but with the emphasis on sensory and practical approaches. We work to develop mathematical and problem-solving skills which enable a greater independence in everyday life. We use a variety of resources including RM maths online and Numicon, which was introduced to increase pupils’ understanding of number.


At Merryfields School we believe that to develop each child’s potential they should be involved in a broad and balanced curriculum.  We believe that experiencing and learning about different subjects within the National Curriculum will enhance their understanding and development.

Through high-quality teaching, science provides the foundations for understanding the world. Linking what the children have learnt to their personal lives.  Engaging learning that encourages curiosity, excitement and interest teaches the children to value themselves, the wider world and others.

Computing and E-Safety

Pupils are taught computing through a creative curriculum, giving them the opportunity to learn skills within familiar topics. Some lessons have a computing focus as pupils are taught key new skills. The National Curriculum objectives are used to guide planning and assessment, with teachers selecting objectives appropriate to the needs of their pupils and adapting contents to meet children’s learning styles. Pupils have access to laptops, iPads and programmable toys to enhance their learning. The importance of staying safe online is taught and embedded throughout the curriculum. 


Geography provides opportunities for the pupils to be involved in different and varied experiences which support other skills across the curriculum. We aim to widen the pupils understanding and knowledge of their environment and the wider world using a variety of experiences.

Art and Design

Art and Design at Merryfields is planned and delivered to stimulate creativity and imagination. It provides visual, tactile and sensory experiences, and a special way of understanding and responding to the world which is fundamental for our children at Merryfields. It enables children to communicate what they see, feel and think, through the use of colour, texture, form, pattern and different materials and processes without the pressures of the written or spoken word. Children become involved in shaping their environments through art and design activities. They learn to make informed judgements and aesthetic and practical decisions. They explore ideas and meanings through the work of artists and designers. The appreciation and enjoyment of the visual arts enrich all our lives.

Design and Technology

Design and technology is an inspiring, rigorous and practical subject. Using creativity and imagination, pupils design and make products that solve real and relevant problems within a variety of contexts, considering their own and others’ needs, wants and values. They acquire a broad range of subject knowledge and draw on disciplines such as mathematics, science, engineering, computing and art. Pupils learn how to take risks, becoming resourceful, innovative, enterprising and capable citizens.


Music provides opportunities for the pupils to be involved in different and varied experiences which support other skills across the curriculum. Through the teaching of Music we aim to develop the pupils' communication and self-expression. This is achieved by providing the opportunities to listen, reflect, respond and perform through a wide variety of musical experiences. Pupils will be given opportunities to develop their self-esteem through the celebration of their achievements.


History provides opportunities for the pupils to be involved in different and varied experiences which support other skills across the curriculum. We provide time for the children to handle artefacts and visit sites of interest. We offer an exciting learning environment based on experience and exploring to gain knowledge.

Modern Foreign Languages

All pupils have access to Modern Foreign Languages. This may be through learning and experiences of different countries and cultures linked to their topic work, or through specific language teaching, which will encourage teaching in:

  • Oracy

  • Literacy

  • Intercultural understanding

  • Knowledge of language

  • Language learning strategy

Pupils with Moderate Learning Difficulties will have weekly language lessons in KS2, while other pupils have experiences and learning delivered in a way that supports their needs and understanding of the world.

Physical Education

Pupils all take part in two hours of Physical Education a week, and this includes an hour of swimming a week, which for the majority of pupils take place on-site at our purpose built swimming pool. For some of our older pupils, they may learn to swim at Jubilee swimming pool. Throughout their time at Merryfields, pupils will learn and develop their skills in:

  • Football

  • Hockey

  • Gymnastics

  • Dance

  • Invasion Games

  • Striking and fielding

  • Kwik Cricket

  • Rounders

  • Athletics

  • Tennis

At Merryfields School Physical Educations aims to contribute to the overall education of all pupils and complement the aims of the school.

Underpinning the Physical Education curriculum there are four strands of knowledge, skills and understanding:

  • Acquiring and developing skills

  • Selecting and applying skills, tactics and compositional ideas

  • Evaluating and improving performance

  • Knowledge and understanding of fitness and health

Physical Education aims to -

  • Provide a broad and balanced programme of activities, which facilitates the development of the potential of all individual pupils ensuring effective learning.

  • The emphasis is on creating a stress free and supportive learning environment that encourages maximum participation and is sympathetic to pupils' physical, emotional and behavioural needs.

  • To develop skillful use of the body, the ability to remember, repeat and refine actions and to perform them with increasing control, co-ordination and fluency (acquring and applying).

  • To develop an increasing ability to select, link and apply skills, tactics and compositional ideas (selecting and applying).

  • To improve observational skills and the ability to describe and make simple judgments on their own work and other work, and to use their observations and judgments to improve their performances (improving and evaluating)

  • To develop an understanding of the effects of exercise on the body, and an appreciating of the value of exercise (knowledge and understanding of fitness and health).

  • The ability to work independently, and communicate with and respond positively towards others (working alone and with others)

  • To promote an understanding of safe practice, and develop a sense of responsibility towards their own and others safety and well-being (applying safety principles)

  • To develop a sense of fair play and sportsmanship

  • To develop communication skills, encouraging the use of correct terminology, to promote effective co-operation.

Each class has access to a swimming session weekly, this is either at our on site swimming pool or at the local public swimming baths. There is always a lifeguard present during the swimming sessions and the use of volunteers ensures there is a higher adult:pupil ratio.

Every year we hold a school sports day which parents are invited to, to celebrate our achievements in physical activity.


Even though we are lucky to have our own swimming pool on site, we still ensure our more confident swimmers in Year 6 experience swimming in a 25m pool. This is to further develop their confidence and provide the children with new challenges. It also allows us to accurately assess the children’s swimming ability. All children, by the end of Year 6 most be able to: 

  • swim competently, confidently and proficiently over a distance of at least 25 metres
  • use a range of strokes effectively (front crawl, backstroke and breaststroke)
  • perform water safety skills and basic first aid skills.


In April 2018, we assessed our Year 6 children. The results are shown below. 

What percentage of your Year 6 pupils could swim competently, confidently and proficiently over a distance of at least 25 metre?


What percentage of your Year 6 pupils could use a range of strokes effectively [for example, front crawl, backstroke and breaststroke]?


What percentage of your Year 6 pupils could perform water safety skills and basic first aid skills? 



Religious Education and Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development

Religious Education (RE) is a taught according to the Staffordshire Agreed Syllabus. At Merryfields school this is adapted so that lessons connect “with the lives and experiences” of our children experiences (see section 71 (7) of the school standards and framework act). R.E. and SMSC development forms a vital and vibrant aspect of the children’s time at Merryfields. Unless withdrawn by their parents, children are given the opportunity to explore different faiths including key festivals and religious stories. The educational opportunities provided by significant events within the religious calendar are maximised and this can take many forms such as special assemblies, visits from members of the faith community, attending religious events taking place in the community and so on.

The school day finishes with a brief act of celebration and corporate worship. Longer assemblies take place at the end of the week and allow space for children of all faiths or none to be inspired. Throughout the school day staff are alert to the vital role that SMSC plays in each child’s development. So, for example, children are encouraged to respect each other and school property, experience a sense of awe and wonder, reflect upon who they are and wider questions of life and death, as well as grow and develop, if appropriate, within their own faith.

If you wish to ask any questions about our provision in this area, or would like advice for how you can support your child’s progress at home, please contact the school.

All children at Merryfields have an Individual Education Plan, which outlines specific targets and learning for individual children. These targets may be addressed in many different ways.

Further information on the curriculum can be obtained upon request from the school office. 

KS1 Theme Cycle

Lower KS2 Theme Cycle

Upper KS2 Theme Cycle


For more information, please contact the office at office@merryfields.staffs.sch.uk