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Eton Dorney Independent Therapeutic School

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Curriculum principles

Curriculum Statement



Eton Dorney Therapeutic School is a special school in Eton Dorney, Borough of Buckinghamshire. We provide quality pupil led, innovative education for pupils aged eight to eighteen. Pupils who attend our school present a wide range of needs including Autism, PDA and ADHD. The curriculum at our school consists of all the learning experiences needed in order to maximise learning potential and to ensure that pupils work towards achieving the outcomes as defined in their Education, Health and Care(EHC) Plans and thus accomplishing our school goals of ensuring our pupils are ‘ready for life’.


Governors and staff at school are passionate and committed to the personal development of pupils The curriculum at Eton Dorney Independent Therapeutic School (EDITS) provides a broad and balanced education that meets the needs of all children. This is underpinned by our school values and the school goals for our pupils.


The Headteacher and Governors have planned and  worked  closely to build our curriculum to develop (through engagement) pro social behaviours and feelings. We are collectively confident that our approach will enable pupils to thrive and achieve holistically.


We hope that through our curriculum, where we have considered children’s past experiences, along with our opportunities of engineer new experiences, we will motivate and inspire in order for children to make the right choices and become all they so rightly deserve to be.


Our carefully selected curriculum provides opportunities for children to develop as independent, confident, successful, learners. We encourage ambition and high aspirations. The curriculum offered promotes academic success, communications, curiosity, creativity and problem solving, reliability, responsibility and resilience, as well as physical development, well-being and mental health; all key elements that support the development of the whole child and promote a positive attitude to education as life-long learners.


The curriculum celebrates their personal differences, utilises the skills, knowledge and cultural wealth of the community while supporting the children’s spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. It strives to develop individuals who know how to make a positive contribution to their community and the wider society and prepares them for life in modern Britain. Through real life experiences and a tailored curriculum, life skills and contextualised learning, we aim to equip our pupils for life in our ever-changing world. British Values are at the core of our schools’ heart and the cultural diversity and challenges within.

Our vision of nurturing kindness, compassion and self-belief is also threaded through our strong belief of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs in supporting children for learning.


We believe that meeting children’s basic needs is fundamental in supporting learning. Our staff devote time,  compassion and their own positive morale compasses  to ensure that barriers to learning are reduced for pupils as far as they can be. Activities and experiences to remove or reduce barriers and maximise learning form part of the curriculum and may involve:


  • Sensory Processing activities
  • Individualised and visual Timetabling
  • Pace Therapeutic approach
  • Ensuring the learning environment is appropriate for all pupils.
  • Ensuring that teaching strategies match learning styles
  • Making sure that children are physically comforted, comfortable and do not go hungry or thirsty
  • Having daily check-ins with pupils, reassuring them of any issues that may be worrying them
  • Respecting each other, and the compassion that the staff provide
  • Revising expectations during periods of illness or after long term absences
  • Creating a culture where pupils feel safe, valued and listened to is key to delivering our effective curriculum.
  • Zones of Regulation
  • Consideration of anxiety analysis (Therapeutic Thinking Approach)


Our pupils are grouped into classes named after trees which reflects our natural and beautiful surrounding and woodland curriculum. In order for the children to feel safe and secure within their environment, our teaching staff stay with their tutor groups to ensure continuity and consistency and  to form positive and conducive relationships. Pupils classes are grouped by ability, peer matching, internalisers and externalisers,, aptitude to learning and individual needs which guarantees that they will only ever form supportive peer networks. Only supportive relationships are built upon and so are healthy, respectful friendships but most importantly, this allows for focus to thrive in their own ‘garden’ groups where they feel safe (Angela Wadham)



Statutory Requirements

The curriculum incorporates the statutory requirements of the National Curriculum 2014 alongside other experiences and opportunities which best meet the learning and developmental needs of the children in our school. A curriculum approach has been implemented at the school to ensure coverage and progression in all curriculum areas.


These are:

  • English
  • Maths
  • Science
  • Design and Technology
  • History
  • Geography
  • Art and Design
  • Music
  • Physical Education (PE), including Swimming
  • Computing
  • Modern Foreign Languages (at key stage 2) 


Our teachers work together to ensure learning is relative, ongoing and progressive and that all children are fully engaged in their learning journey. All teachers ensure they are differentiating appropriately to meet the needs of all children.


Those who are most able are challenged are supported through being offered tasks which provide opportunities for greater depth and those who need additional help are encouraged and given targeted support to embed skills.


All subject leaders are given training and the opportunity to keep developing their own subject knowledge, skills and understanding, so they can support curriculum development and their colleagues throughout the school.


We assess the children in all subjects both formally and informally and all results are tracked using the SOLAR programme. This gives us a clear indication of students’ progress across the curriculum


At Eton Dorney subjects are divided into EHCP areas:

Communication and interaction incorporates English


Cognition and Learning incorporates Maths, Science, Design and Technology, History, Geography, Art and Design, Music and Computing.


MFL is not taught explicitly but where appropriate elements will be covered when countries are studied in Geography or our embedded curriculum.


PE forms our Physical Education curriculum and we teach this through a programme that encourages pupils to be at the heart of what they do. Pupils are encouraged to evaluate and assess their own learning. Each unit we teach focusses on either creative, cognitive, social, physical or health development.


At EDITS we have adopted the International Primary and Middle Schools curriculum to deliver our curriculum subjects, this is a thematic approach to learning across the curriculum.  This approach encourages some project-based learning and also enables the achievement of depth in knowledge and skills. Opportunities for pupil voice are planned at the beginning of each new topic and this, in conjunction with teachers’ contextual knowledge of the local area, is used to inform the planning and learning for each topic and subject to ensure relevance and a pragmatic approach to learning.  We support local organisations and actively join in with community events.


Throughout the children’s school career, they will experience various and a range of educational visits and enrichment days to reinforce and stimulate learning. The curriculum also allows us to connect with international schools and form positive relationships with other schools.


Our aim is to provide opportunities for contextualised learning where new experiences are practical, fun and active, where deeper learning links are made. We realise that this may take some pupils out of their comfort zone, but through safe, challenge, exploration, investigation and experimental opportunities, deeper learning links are made.


Various curriculum approaches are used to support core subject learning, for example English Mastery, Rising Stars (read into writing) and Maths Mastery and links between subjects are sought so pupils are able to transfer and apply skills across the curriculum and scaffold their learning.


Linguistic Capital has high priority in our curriculum, as does parental engagement in pupil’s learning. We encourage and champion parental involvement. This is a huge focus in us planning for our pupil’s breadth of learning. This all starts from referral process, where our SEN team carry out regular home visits and plan slow transitions whilst getting to know the pupils.  The process involves information sharing all pupils past experiences, childhood memoirs and future aspirations, photo sharing and learning about their own family and community. This information creates a platform to build upon higher level knowledge and understanding of the child to further the child’s bespoke learning journey. The strong relationships established between the school and home continues throughout the child’s time at Eton Dorney School. To ensure that relationships are maintained and kept strong, parents actively take part in staff training, such as behaviour management, and academic systems and methods to ensure that we have a collective and holistic approach to the pupils learning and progress.


The outdoor environment and the local community are considered an opportunity for active learning for all our children. The historic school grounds have been developed so they can enrich different curriculum areas, particularly science and knowledge and understanding of the world, for example through woodland and environmental sessions and PE as well as our outdoor learning programme.


Curriculum Impact


Assessment is an integral part of teaching and lies at the heart of promoting learning. Assessment provides a framework within which educational objectives are set and pupil progress recorded. It forms the basis for planning the next educational steps in response to a pupil’s needs.


Assessment at EDITS has four main functions:

  • To identify what a pupil has achieved at the end of a specified time period (Formative assessment);
  • To identify what a pupil is learning during the specified time period (Summative assessment);
  • To facilitate realistic but challenging target setting.
  • To identify that pupils, have an understanding of their own learning stepping stones and control over their individualised curriculum


Formative Assessment

At Eton Dorney we currently use Solar as our main assessment and recording package. This is a commercially produced software system that allows us to record pupil progress against targets. Each half term, Key stage leaders and teachers discuss progress towards IEP targets and record if progress has been expected, less than expected or better than expected


Summative Assessment

To plan next steps, teachers use their subject knowledge, knowledge of child development, EHCP outcomes, parental information and pupil’s previous patterns of learning. 



The leadership team at Eton Dorney school collect and analyse data to monitor and evaluate the progress of pupils.


The senior leadership team at Eton Dorney school conduct lesson observations. Teachers are observed on a termly basis and in addition senior staff will conduct ‘learning walks’ on a regular basis. Work scrutiny is also carried out and judgments about learning levels are moderated. The purpose of each monitoring strategy is explained below:


Lesson observations

The purpose of a lesson observation is:

  • To observe actual teaching and learning in order to raise quality of both
  • To enhance the learning experiences of pupils
  • To provide evidence for performance management reviews
  • To provide a system of identifying, sharing, improving and developing good practice


Learning walks

The purpose of a learning walk is to obtain a brief snapshot of the school or classroom. A specific focus is usually agreed before the walk and evidence is collected on the basis of this. Focuses may include:

  • Provision and use of resources
  • Pupil’s work
  • Deployment of teaching assistants
  • Use of technology
  • Assessment practices
  • Displays
  • The physical environment


The Headteacher is responsible for the day to day organisation of the curriculum. The middle leaders team moderate EHCP outcomes, annual targets and lesson objectives. In addition they scrutinise long and medium term plans to ensure breadth and balance of delivery.


Through regular monitoring and evaluation, staff and governors at Eton Dorney School seek to:

  • establish how well pupils are learning
  • identify the learning strengths of our pupils and the challenges they are facing
  • celebrate the achievements of our pupils
  • ensure that learning challenges are addressed in future planning


Pupil Voice

Pupils feedback and opinion are relevant and respective to planning our next steps. The ability to support our curriculum choices through pupil forums and voice enables us to meet their own aspirations feeding into our curriculum. Evermore ensuring that our curriculum is further innovative and contemporary. The student voice not only meets our democratic values but also ensures that all our pupils have a voice where they can make informed decisions about their own learning.



The curriculum at Eton Dorney school is constantly being reviewed and amended in response to both national and local initiative. This policy will be reviewed on a bi-annual basis. Essentially our ethos is plan do review and this is based not only on the curriculum but our individual pupils and their individualised curriculum. If something is hindering learning experiences, we change it, until it works for the pupil.


Primary Curriculum

Secondary Curriculum


To deliver a broad and balanced curriculum that gives each student the opportunity to achieve personal success.


Eton Dorney Independent Therapeutic School promotes a safe and supportive environment where everyone is valued and our expectations regarding standards of behaviour are clearly communicated. Each individual student is valued within a safe, caring and supportive community, characterised by high levels of encouragement, quality teaching and the highest standards of emotional care.


We have teachers and support staff here who are passionate about “narrowing the gaps” in your child’s learning and helping them to meet and exceed their personal targets.


As an inclusive – we welcome and celebrate every child’s individuality; recognising that each child has a different starting point and has potential for great progress.


Our aim is to deliver specialist, therapeutic education to young people from the age of 8-18 including outdoor learning to encourage pupils to become responsible and happy to enable them to progress towards a fulfilling adult life.


Our recent Functional Skills results