Curriculum Specialisms


At Highfield School, English comes under the Communication Curriculum Strand and relates, predominantly, to the programme followed by students on the formal curriculum.

The focus is on supporting pupils as they develop both their social and academic communication, in line with their personal EHCP objectives through a broad and balanced curriculum encompassing reading, writing and spoken language. Students are supported, encouraged, stretched and challenged throughout in order to reach their full potential.

Coverage includes fiction, non-fiction, poetry and drama. In KS3 this links to the termly “vehicle”. In KS4, the focus is on the chosen text. Further detail can be found in the long-term plans.

Most students in Key Stage 4 and Post 16 following the Formal Curriculum work towards accreditation in the form of either the Entry Level Certificate for KS4 and Functional Skills for P16. Where appropriate students may sit Functional Skills in KS4 or the Entry Level Certificate in P16.

I work closely with the SENCo and the HLTA responsible for Language and Communication who, following assessment, provides 1-1, small group and in-class support to students with language and communication difficulties. The recent introduction of colourful semantics is proving very successful and is gradually being rolled out into KS3 classrooms and used in a slightly modified way to support language development and sentence structure in KS4 English lessons.

Communications Action Plan

English & Drama Policy 2022

Communication Interventions
We assess year 7 students on Receptive and Expressive language skills as they join Highfield school which helps to identify students and provide targeted intervention. We work alongside the class teachers to support in achieving identified student’s communication targets and we work very closely with the Speech Therapist and SENCO where we share ideas, provide feedbacks and decide next steps.
We also provide whole school training to raise awareness of issues related to communication difficulties and provide appropriate strategies. We have recently started rolling out the Colourful Semantics intervention as a whole school approach. This is a Speech and Language therapy technique which uses colour coded cards to help children to learn the important elements of sentence and how to join them together in the correct order.
We promote a communication friendly environment to develop positive communication and interaction skills for all students and additional support for students with additional needs eg symbol supported text around school, individualised targets and routines as well as tailor made social stories to learn social norms and interaction. This also promotes a total communication approach which is at the heart of our school’s improvement plan
We are working alongside the Speech Therapist to further develop number of different communication systems, approaches and resources to further communication skills of our students.
The low-tech systems we use  are PECS, communication books and communication boards and high-tech AAC incorporating the use of voice output communication aids are Proloquo2go, Supercore-grid and Lamp-words for life.
Additionally, we support EAL students in learning new vocabulary using topic-based curriculum and also liaise with, and support parents.

Total Communication and supporting all our pupils to access their learning is at the heart of everything we do. One strategy we use to support this is signing utilising the Makaton system. It is one layer amongst many for pupils and staff to communicate ensuring everyone can express themselves and feel valued. Makaton incorporates speech and signs (gestures) to help people communicate as well as facial expressions, eye contact and body language to give us as much information as possible when we interact. Makaton is used throughout our school and we find it very affective in supporting our pupils with their choices, building their vocabulary and communicating generally which in turn then helps them to develop socially and grow vital self-esteem. Makaton is critical in helping students with communication difficulties at Highfield meet their full potential.


Here are some links to learn Makaton and ways to support your child with signing at home:

Visual Impairement

We have on average 10% of our students who have a visual impairment.

We work closely with the Qualified Teacher for Visual Impairment (QTVI), and the Qualified Teacher of Multi-Sensory Impairments (QTMSI) alongside school staff and the SENCO to help support our students in all aspects of their visual impairments. This includes assisting in functional visual assessments, carrying out equipment and adaptation checks, and reformatting / modifying work to enable our students to access the curriculum in order to maximise their potential. We deliver interventions in Positive Looking, Fine Motor Skills and Keyboard Awareness to support a wide range of visual skills.

For our students who require further interventions for Habilitation, we work alongside the Hab Specialist to deliver regular and targeted formal mobility and orientation training, using either a range of pre-cane techniques (such as sighted guide) or long cane techniques. These interventions help to develop identified areas of need and to support their EHCP outcomes, enabling students to travel both within school and the local community with increased confidence and independence.


Art provides visual, tactile and sensory experiences and a special way of understanding and responding to the world. By studying art, students are allowed to develop their creativity and imagination. It enables students to communicate what they see, feel and think through the use of colour, texture, form, pattern and different materials and processes.

Students will be able to develop an understanding of art and express and communicate their feelings.

Art and Design is an important curriculum area that helps our students to develop their creative, practical and independence skills, whilst also building self-awareness, self -esteem and visual literacy skills.


The aims of Art and Design are to:

· Develop an understanding of the basic elements of art, line, tone, colour, texture, pattern, shape, form, space

· Develop skills in drawing, painting, sculpture and other forms of art, craft and design techniques.

· Enable children to record from first-hand experience and from imagination, and to select their own ideas to use in their work.

· Communicate ideas and feelings through a range of materials, tools and techniques.

· Have knowledge of artists, craft makers and designers

· Provide children with visual, tactile and sensory experiences to develop and enhance their experiences of the world.

· Foster an enjoyment and appreciation of the visual arts

· Build on self-confidence and enjoyment of the subject and to encourage them to use materials safely and sensibly.

· Develop skills of evaluation and judgement about pupils’ own work as well as that of others.


Music is a compulsory subject in the National Curriculum and is a powerful, unique form of communication, music is valued part of the curriculum at Highfield School.

Music plays an important role in providing opportunities for personal expression, reflection and emotional development, therefore enhancing the learning in all other areas of the Curriculum.

Our school policy for music supports the aims of the school in that it helps children to become independent and confident learners who are self-accepting. Music helps to motivate children and helps them to enjoy their experiences. It also provides opportunities for children to learn together, in a collaborative way, which is one of the most important aspects of arts education.

Music is a powerful medium in influencing and addressing human emotion and life experience. For our group of children, music is a very important source of well-being and comfort. Our children benefit from their experience of making music and listening to it. This is more important to them than the technical knowledge of music. Through music making the children acquire a range of skills, knowledge and understanding. These include refining ideas and making judgements, using their imagination and creativity. This leads to becoming sensitive to the ways in which related sounds and silences communicate ideas and feelings.

Music is about having fun.

Music Department

The music room is very well equipped and has excellent facilities to promote the exploration of a wide range of musical ideas. To aid the teaching and learning of music, the following musical resources are available:

  • Guitars
  • Keyboards
  • Ukulele’s
  • Percussion instruments
  • iPads/Garage Band
  • Drum Kit
  • Mac Computer
  • 2 practice rooms


The music department is staffed with a specialist music teacher, music therapists and teaching assistants who are extremely skilled in providing appropriate support to meet the needs of the children.

The teaching of music is enhanced by two Peripatetic music teachers.


Horticulture is part of the Preparation for work curriculum at Highfield and as such aims to prepare our students for a life after education, teaching the skills and giving them the knowledge to be able to gain meaningful employment.

The facilities here at Highfield are the envy of most school establishments and colleges. It’s working area extends to approximately five acres and includes; formal planting areas for flowers, fifteen allotments beds for growing all types of vegetables, several orchards growing many varieties of seasonal local fruit together with exotics such as figs, olives and apricots. We have two poly tunnels, one 27 ft by 64 ft and the other 8 ft by 10 ft where we grow on all our own seedlings, both flower and vegetables for planting out and also use these tunnels to grow plants that require extra warmth, such as Peppers, chilli’s, tomatoes, cucumbers and many more.

Students produce vegetables from seed to table and are involved in every aspect of the process. Produce is sold to parents, staff, students and visitors and are also used in the school kitchen and living skills classroom. Jams and chutneys are prepared for sale by Post 16 students during their enterprise lessons and sold at school events.

Students have the opportunity to work with a large variety of gardening tools and eighty percent of the studying is practical, working on the land and in the poly tunnels.

We are working in partnership with the Woodland Trust and over fourteen years Highfield students have planted over five hundred trees on school land, these include; fruit trees, native deciduous trees and fruiting hedgerow. Not only do they gain the planting experience but also the skills and knowledge of pruning to maintain the health and productivity of the trees, whilst helping wildlife and the environment.

For four years we have been involved with the ‘Ossett in Bloom’ venture which is part of the wider ‘Britain in Bloom’ competition. I’m happy to report that Highfield students have produced from seed many thousands of flower plants for the Ossett displays, together with many hundreds more bought plants which they look after and pot on to maturity in our poly tunnels. In addition, many of our older students have helped the Ossett in Bloom committee to plant out and look after the displays in the town centre prior to the judging.

Students learn to be independent and confident, working as an individual or as part of a wider team and see the success of their labour in the results achieved. They get fresh air, sun on their faces and work hard physically to produce good results, which bodes well for their mental and physical health.

In years 10, 11 and Post 16 those students who choose to take Horticulture further can take qualifications such as BTEC and WJEC, the results of which can be included in their CV for potential employment opportunities.

Small Animal Care

At Highfield School, Animal Care is taught under the frame work of Employability. When students reach Year 10, they can select Animal Care as an option. They can choose to study Pet Care in Post 16 as well. The courses enable students to learn how to care for different animals and in turn, care for their animals at home. Students access Animal Care as part of interventions to support their emotions and mental wellbeing. Animal Care is also offered as a lunch time club.


We have a variety of animals at school and we take great pride in the high welfare we provide to the animals in our care. We follow charity guidance in regards to housing, diet and husbandry. Highfield have a purpose-built Animal Unit, that is a large, double stable and is wheelchair accessible. We have rabbits, who have 60 square feet of space, that is the requirement stated by Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF). They have an outside run as well as an inside enclosure. There are guinea pigs, who have a 36 square feet enclosure. We have a varying amount of chickens. Some of them are rare breeds, and a lot are rescued ex battery hens. We also have a rolling mischief of fancy rats that are located in one of the classrooms.


Highfield is very lucky to have two dogs that come into school: Mia, who is a chocolate Labrador; and Honey, who is a chihuahua.


There have been many studies done on the positive effects animals have on people’s mental wellbeing. The animals at Highfield help by:

Providing companionship for people who struggle socially.

Reducing stress and anxiety.

Staying physically active.

Building social skills

Learning to take responsibility.

Helping people with physical disabilities with everyday tasks.

Increasing the wellbeing of everyone.

Animal Care Action Plan


Relationship, social and health education (RSHE) aims to prepare our students to help them become healthy, independent and responsible members of society.

We teach our curriculum through six main strands;

· Self-awareness

· Self-care, support and safety

· Managing feelings

· Changing and growing

· Healthy lifestyle

· The world I live in

We encourage students to play a positive role in contributing to the life of the school and the wider community. In so doing we help develop their sense of self-worth. We teach them to recognise their own strengths and weaknesses, how to recognise and manage different feelings, how they change as they grow up, about sex and relationships and keeping healthy. We teach them how society is organised and governed and ensure that they experience the process of democracy in school through the school council. They learn to appreciate what it means to be a positive member of a diverse multicultural society.

We also employ STRIDE theatre group to enhance and consolidate their learning through drama and role play.

RSHE Long Term Overview


Cooking lessons cover many varied skills promoting independence and self-confidence. Students will achieve their own unique journey within the lessons that takes on a holistic approach of practical cooking skills alongside personal development specific to the student. Success will look different for each individual and is based on the different strands of the curriculum including communication, health, independence and social interaction accessed through the practical cooking sessions.

During lessons we encourage independent working and assess this regularly to monitor progression and plan the individual learning of each student within the classroom. We allow opportunities for – cooking for others, using timings, weighing, ordering, and also evaluating our own and others work encompassing cross curricula experience. Real life opportunities of online ordering and also sorting and delivering items encourage communication and independence. Students learn and understand hygiene, safety and cooking skills and techniques that will prepare them for independent living in the future. We also offer a complete sensory experience within lessons through tasting and exploration of food items.

Cooking Action Plan


At Highfield School, we believe that, through a broad and balanced curriculum, children have the opportunities to maximise potential for confident and independent futures.

Highfield School follows the National Curriculum and the AFPE for the teaching of Physical Education as a guideline. This has been adapted to suit the needs and requirements of the children at our school and to ensure continuity, progression, and inclusion. Here is a list of activities that we participate in at Highfield School.









Table Cricket






Non-traditional games






Table tennis





Health & Fitness



Weekly fitness sessions

We also have morning fitness interventions in our fitness suite as well as a variety of sporting activities during our lunchtime clubs. We also enter our students to as many sporting competitions as we can. Every student in the school has the opportunity to participate at least one sporting event each year. These competitions include the majority of the sporting activities above.


Our curriculum’s vision is to cater for young people with severe and complex learning difficulties recognising that each child is unique and as such they deserve an individualised learning experience to both meet their needs and nurture the best possible outcomes.

We have built our curriculum upon simple core values of ‘child first’, respect, enjoyment, and high expectations. We put the whole child at the centre of how we approach every aspect of their holistic betterment by adapting the learning opportunities and experiences to best meet the needs of the individual.

Our curriculum is highly kinaesthetic and is designed to progress Communication, Independence and Problem Solving skills through as varied a diet of experiences as possible. Nurturing confidence and sense of personal well-being underpin each bespoke activity whilst being anchored in real-life, meaningful experiences. These are delivered through highly personalised timetables giving routine and stimulation so that each learner can grow to meet their potential at the right pace and trajectory for them.

Because each child learns differently then we must teach them differently. Adapt and flex to create a love of learning and a true sense of achievement, celebrating each and every success along the way.

Independence Overview

Off Site Provision

Information to be updated shortly

Outdoor Learning

The outdoor learning programme is a fully inclusive programme that has positive impacts on young people’s development. It is a vehicle that is used to support the six areas of the curriculum: Independence, Communication, Health, cognition, personal development and preparation for work.


It is also used to support students individual EHCP and personal development outcomes, as well as contributing to the employability, PE and PSHE curriculums. It is delivered in a flexible way that allows personalisation and high levels of differentiation. The programme is delivered by dedicated and trained staff. The programme is made up of a wide range of challenging and adventurous activities that take place in the natural environment. Each year group follows a yearly themed programme. Each theme has a number of identified activities that can be used to support a student’s development.

Outdoor Learning Action Plan

Wild Adventure

Wild Adventure is a fully inclusive outdoor programme that has a positive impact on young people’s development.

The programme is made up of a wide range of challenging and adventurous activities that take place in the natural environment. Each activity used is designed to provide different levels of skill and challenge. They also promote empathy and an ethic of care towards the environment.

Strong links between activities and student outcomes are identified and a variety of models are used to help devise personalised programmes that support student outcomes. Student progress is recorded and used in the Education Health and Care plan process.

Staff delivering the programme have experience in the outdoors and continue to develop their knowledge through the Institute of Outdoor Learning and a Masters programme in Outdoor Practice. A multidisciplinary approach is taken using research from other fields: Motivational Interviewing, Self Determination Theory, Adaptive Expertise and Social Systems, all of which enrich and enhance the wild Adventure programme.

The wild adventure programme has links with Leeds Beckett University and the British Exploring Society. It also incorporates residential opportunities, after-school and holiday clubs.


At Highfield our Careers programme is delivered through Employability and Enterprise.

Highfield School uses the SEN Compass tool to assess progress against the Gatsby benchmarks, which enables the school to demonstrate how we are working towards the statutory government guidelines on careers education. The eight Gatsby benchmarks are:

· A stable careers programme

· Learning from careers and labour market information

· Addressing the needs of each pupil

· Linking curriculum learning to careers

· Encounters with employers and employees

· Experience of workplaces

· Encounters with further and higher education

· Personal guidance

Students across the key stages take part in a range of activities;

• To transfer learned skills to life and work related situations.

• Investigate and understand jobs in a variety of industry sectors.

• Develop a personal development plan to help prepare for their future post Highfield.

• Be able to work collaboratively with others.

• Develop an understand of different career paths and expectations.

• Develop skills and knowledge for applications such as CVs application forms, job interviews.

• Take part in Enterprise activities for specific purposes.


In KS3 students contribute to Enterprise by making items to sell at our annual Christmas fair and take part in the Crystal maze/Cardboard arcade drop down days hosted by KS4.

KS5 students provide several Enterprise initiatives on a weekly basis by offering beverages and food products made in house, cleaning services and car washing.


The school has recently formed links with ENGIE who will be supporting the school with employer engagements through positive role model sessions with KS4.

We are also supported by the SEND Careers Hub as part of the Leeds City Region Enterprise partnership and are currently linking with the Lighthouse School in Leeds to increase our Enterprise capability.