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Priory Woods School & Arts College

Priory Woods School & Arts College A Special Place to Learn

Teaching & Learning Policy



This policy outlines the way in which teaching and learning supports the vision of Priory Woods School where we believe in lifelong learning for the whole school community. We believe that learning should be enjoyable, enabling learners to thrive and develop and to lead happy, rewarding and as far as possible, independent lives. This is our aim for all of our students regardless of ability, gender, ethnicity, religion or culture.

Everyone in our school has the right to learn and work in a safe, calm, purposeful, stimulating and supportive learning environment. We aim to develop a challenging, creative and diverse learning ethos where all members of the community are encouraged and supported to achieve their best.

Aims and Objectives:

This policy is intended to promote consistency and high standards and the achievement of the school’s aims.

At Priory Woods, we aim to provide a caring, supportive and stimulating environment for pupils and staff. Through our drive for outstanding teaching and learning, we aim to foster

  • enquiring minds
  • effective communication and social skills
  • confidence and high self esteem
  • imagination and creative expression
  • conscientious young people who play a part in society, tolerant and respectful of others
  • lifelong learners
  • pride in achievement and a desire to learn and succeed
  • aspiration and high expectations on behalf of pupils and staff

At Priory Woods, we believe that effective teaching and learning requires:

Positive Learning Ethos

  • High expectations clearly communicated to all young people
  • A supportive and positive ethos that promotes and celebrates achievement
  • The encouragement of active and cooperative learning
  • The use of positive images that reinforce our equal opportunities  policy and reflect the values of the whole school community
  • The use of stimulating displays that celebrate achievement, value pupils’ work and act as a resource for learning
  • A commitment to enabling every pupil to achieve the very best they can
  • High expectations for behaviour that supports learning

Pupil Involvement and Participation in the Learning Process, where possible

  • Pupils are partners in their own learning; staff share learning intentions
  • Pupils set personal learning challenges and are involved in their assessment of progress towards their achievement
  • Pupils are encouraged, at the appropriate level, to take increasing responsibility as independent learners
  • The Student Council is a vehicle for student voice which influences decisions taken by staff, e.g. planning the playground or curriculum requests

The Use of a Variety of Learning Approaches and Strategies

  • Teachers employ a range of strategies, approaches and activities to meet the needs of all of our learners. Professional development opportunities  are used to give staff the skills to do so effectively
  • Lessons are well paced and challenging with the understanding that this will look different depending on the needs of the students
  • There are opportunities for individual, small group and whole class activities
  • Learning extends beyond the classroom and school environment, with a range of high quality enrichment and extra-curricular provision
  • Activities aim also at social and emotional development, reflecting THRIVE within the curriculum


  • is part of the learning process and is ipsative
  • promotes self-esteem and pupil motivation
  • focuses on how pupils learn as individuals
  • promotes commitment to learning intentions and assessment criteria
  • recognises progress from a pupil’s previous best and enables next steps to be planned
  • is supported by a range of evidence to ensure next steps are carefully planned on sound foundations
  • includes pupils in a way appropriate to their levels of understanding
  • informs summative assessment

(Please refer also refer to our curriculum rationale, which demonstrates how assessment looks across the different phases and curriculum models within school – Appendix 1.)


Please see Appendix 1 – Curriculum rationale to give context to our curriculum model

  • Priory Wood’s curriculum model is comprised of three broad strands; formal, semi-formal and informal. Students will be identified as to which curriculum pathway is better suited to meet their needs, however students may access a ‘fluid’ curriculum which means that they may benefit from aspects of two from the three possible models, all based on individual need and which may vary over time.
  •  has a number of different curriculum models for different phases and cohorts of pupils. These aim to ensure broad and balanced provision which staff then modify to meet specific needs.
  • We make reference to the National Curriculum and adapt as appropriate to meet the needs of some of our pupils. We pay heed to changes at a national level.
  • Although we refer to the National Curriculum should it meet the needs of any of our students, we recognise that it is designed for neurologically typical children and has therefore limited relevance for the majority of our very un-neurologically typical learners.
  • This policy provides the overarching guidance for all curriculum areas and as such, no other individual subject policies are required. Instead, we have curriculum statements and rationale for the curriculum and areas of learning.
  • Curriculum development feeds into the SIP and as such TLRs have curriculum areas for which they plan, audit and monitor throughout the academic year

A Whole School Approach

  • a shared approach to curriculum planning and delivery
  • consistency in planning and assessment with a view to ongoing evaluation and development to ensure we continue to meet the needs of all learners
  • all staff are regarded as partners in pupil learning
  • a collaborative approach to whole school development strategies for teaching and learning
  • CPD and PD days are dedicated to upskilling, sharing and developing staff’s understanding and giving a platform for innovative practise

Learning Resources

  • all pupils have access to a range of appropriate and relevant learning resources which support learning
  • ICT supports pupil learning across the curriculum
  • other resources include the hydrotherapy pool, soft play, dance and drama studios, and the rebound therapy room, Forest Schools area, library
  • High priority is given to the learning environment to ensure that it reflects the needs of the pupils i.e. dedicated classrooms for pupils with complex needs and how these may look different to a classroom where subject specific lessons are taught;  phase leaders, senior and middle leaders and teaching staff are instrumental in developing these areas [often these are highlighted in staff’s appraisal objectives.

Implementation and Monitoring of the Teaching and Learning Policy

  • This policy is shared with staff and is available in a shared area of the school Pindigo system.
  • Observations of Learning, Pupil Progress meetings and learning walks by SLT and MLT ensure the requirements of this policy are met
  • Curriculum Team Leaders monitor their curriculum groups and plan for development. They review impact and develop further plans on the basis of this review and the School Improvement Plan and local or national initiatives.
  • SLT review planning, and with staff, alter and develop as necessary

Role of Teachers and Teaching Assistants.

To ensure consistency and high standards of teaching and learning, all staff are expected to:

  • Provide opportunities for students to learn through practical, first-hand experience, modelling and scaffolding learning
  • promote self-help and independence skills at all times
  • challenge and enthuse students
  • plan and organise lessons before the start of the day, ensuring resources are ready to use
  • greet all pupils in a positive and welcoming manner
  • ensure that classroom organisation supports learning
  • start and finish the lesson on time
  • Teachers communicate lesson objectives to support staff, detailing how they will support learning
  • ensure that classrooms are left tidy and organised
  • display pupils’ work in a way to promote, support and record learning
  • Play a key role in the accurate assessment of students
  • Teachers, using professional judgement, feedback as appropriate for their children or young people.

Role of Governors:

Governors support, monitor and review this and other school policies. They

  • support the use of appropriate teaching strategies by allocating resources effectively. They monitor the effectiveness of this by scrutinising pupil attainment data
  • ensure that the school buildings and premises are effective in supporting successful teaching and learning
  • ensure that staff appraisal procedures and CPD promote high quality teaching and learning
  • monitor the effectiveness of the teaching and learning policy through the school self-evaluation process, including the termly headteacher’s report.

Role of Parents

We believe that parents have a fundamental role to play in the education of their children and we strive to work in partnership with families by:

  • informing and supporting through partnership sessions such as ‘Stay and Play’ or curriculum based information workshops
  • holding regular coffee mornings to enable engagement at an informal level
  • more formal annual reviews and parents’ meetings
  • the use of the home school diary
  • sending home relevant information on timetables and events, themes and details of teaching and learning on a termly basis
  • regular information and newsletters
  • using the school website, Facebook and Twitter to give parents a window into what is happening in school
  • using the text message service to help keep parents abreast of important information
  • sharing of a detailed annual report
  • sharing and agreeing any behaviour support or intervention strategies.

Parents are encouraged to contact staff if they have any concerns and staff will arrange meetings or discuss matters over the phone as appropriate.

Staff recognise the importance of keeping parents informed of anything out of the ordinary and will contact them should the need arise.


School uses a variety of assessment tools to ensure that progress is evidenced in a way most appropriate to the individual student. The focus is on ipsative assessment which is an assessment based on a student’s previous learning rather than based on performance against external criteria and standards. Learners work towards an individual personal best rather than always being compared against other students. We use MAPP2 (Mapping and Assessing Pupil Progress), P scales (internally), Evidence for Learning, Routes for Learning, ASDAN, Entry Level Functional skills, Entry Level English, Maths and ICT, City and Guilds, Asdan, AQA, BATD, Arts Award, Sounds of Intent.

Evidence for Learning is used as a way to gather evidence to support the accurate assessment of what students have achieved, using photographs and film and linked closely to individual learning intentions.

Students are informally assessed throughout their teaching to ensure that they are making progress. Teachers are reflective practitioners and assess how students are responding to their teaching and curriculum diet. Teachers formally assess the students termly using MAPP and other assessments in the school toolkit to ensure that progress can be seen and evidenced. Learning intentions are agreed upon, worked towards and achieved in varying degrees of success.

The termly pupil progress meetings identify those children making progress and those that are not. Those that are not making progress are investigated to establish what the reason may be. It may be attendance issues, illness or that the learning intention is providing too much challenge for the child. Equally so those children that are fulfilling learning intentions constantly may not be offered sufficient challenge and this will then be addressed to ensure that they are.


Moderation takes place internally within phase teams, in addition to with external fellow professionals using similar assessment tools. Teachers discuss students within their teacher phase meetings and consider progress regularly and feedback to the phase leader and SLT.

Analysis of all assessment outcomes takes place termly and discussion and consideration ensures that students are given challenging learning intentions and are given the opportunity to make progress.

We conduct termly Peer review group moderation with other similar schools within the Tees Valley region and Priory Woods leads this group.

Appendix 1


The Priory Woods curriculum and assessment system is undergoing review and development.  The reasoning behind this is in response to the Rochford Review and in consideration of the wealth of research underpinning effective pedagogy for pupils with SEND.

An acknowledgement that if pupils start and finish their academic careers at levels below or [at best] very near to the beginning points of the National Curriulum then subject specific learning  is not effective  for pupils who are on the SLD spectrum {Ndaju and Tymms 2009; Imray 2013]

This has prompted us to consider three questions

  1. Do we continue to pursue an academic [NC] model in the hope that some pupils might [some day] succeed?
  2. Do we continue to pursue an academic [NC] model accepting any limited progress as ‘success’?
  3. Do we pursue a curriculum relevant to the individual learners’ needs and at which he/she can succeed?

We have taken our stance from question 3 in that we believe we need to align our curriculum with a model that takes into account individual learners’ needs and match these to exceptional learning.

At PWs we feel our students are exceptional in their learning and are within the extremes of performance in term of academic progress.  By definition our SLD learners experience:

  • Difficulties with communication
  • Difficulties with concentration and attention
  • Difficulties with abstract concepts
  • Difficulties with short and long term memory
  • Difficulties with sequential memory
  • Limited working memory
  • Poor general knowledge
  • Difficulties with problem solving
  • Difficulties with generalising and understanding        [Imray and Colley  2017]

Not only do we know from our experience of these pupils but through increasing amounts of research in this field which makes it very clear that children and young people with severe and profound learning difficulties learn very differently from neuro-typical conventionally developing learners.  If they learn differently we ought to be teaching them very differently and teaching them very different things – this is not differentiation – this is different!   [Imray and Hinchcliffe, 2014]

 ‘By definition, exceptional students require an extraordinary response from educators – something different from the ordinary, even if the ordinary is good…. Failure to create these explicit structures to accommodate students at the extremes of performance distribution inevitably results in their neglect.  They don’t just fail a little. They fail a lot, and their noses are rubbed in their failures’ [Kauffmand, 2012 Pg 259]

We want to strive for high aspirations for our students, we need to be considering the needs of pupils on entry to school in relation to preparing them for adulthood and equipping them with the skills and attributes necessary for them to fulfil their potential.

This is the academic pedagogy on which we wish to transform our curriculum and the Rochford Review has provided us with the exciting opportunity to undertake this transition.

‘Schools already have the freedom to use any curriculum they feel is appropriate for the needs and requirements of these pupils [who are not engaged in subject specific learning]’. Rochford Review [p20].

As a result of our research we feel the need to challenge the idea that one curriculum will meet the needs of every child.  As a school we are developing pathways to enable pupils to access the route which most fits their individual learning needs. 

How can we ensure that the whole of the child’s educational experience is focused upon making the child/ young person the best they can be and do the best they can do? We have need to consider the following fundamental question if we are to ensure challenge and pursue the highest aspirations for our learners.

  1. Are we certain that one curriculum strand is better for the child than the other ?

The decision on the strand taken by the individual child will be made based on knowledge of pupil’s needs, previous and current ipsative assessment material.

Flexibility to move from one strand of the curriculum to another or in some occasions work within aspects of both.

This model provides an overview of the three strand approach to curriculum

Informal Curriculum


[pmld / complex needs]

Semi-Formal Curriculum


Formal Curriculum

P8-PIVATS milestone Stage Four-3

What will we use to inform our learning intentions?

RFL / MAPP milestones/ Physio / S&L/ Tree Tops programmes / Sensory Diet/  Thrive/ Curriculum / Sounds of Intent / PScales

Curriculum Doc / MAPP 2 learning intentions /Equals Docs/ Thrive / S&L / Physio / Arts Award/ Sounds of Intent / PScales /AQA units

Curriculum Doc / PIVATS Ed5 Milestones / Thrive /

Sounds of Intent / Entry Level schemes/ Arts Award / AQA awards

How will this look in a teaching group?

Mixed tutor groups / mixed ability special events and celebrations

Distinct group teaching with consistent team of staff

Access to Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech & Language Therapy where appropriate

Specialist provision for intensive sensory integration and sensory diet work

Identified rooms/environments in school [sensory room, rebound, hydro etc]

Access to specialised sensory events

Group teaching with consistent staff for the majority of sessions – these will change for specialist areas such as Creative Days and PE.


Subject areas will remain the same for September though as the year progresses it is envisaged that these may adopt the Equals Schemes of work.  Though sessions are divided into subjects at present, a cross curricular approach is needed to ensure the pupils are able to work on their MAPP intentions in a meaningful and functional way to maximise the opportunity for developing independence and skill generalisation.


Access to Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech & Language Therapy where appropriate


Distinct teaching group with subject specific teaching.


Subject specific area schemes eg. Entry level work in Maths, English, Science and ICT


Access to Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech & Language Therapy where appropriate


How will evidence be gathered?

Evidence for Learning

Evidence for Learning / Work books

Work books, photographs

How will we determine good/outstanding ipsative progress?

MAPP progress meetings and

Thrive reviews termly

MAPP 2 data on Assessment Manager

Thrive data on Thrive On-line

MAPP progress meetings and Thrive reviews termly

MAPP 2 data on Assessment Manager

Thrive data on Thrive On-line

Pupil progress meetings termly review of teaching targets and mapping on PIVATS 5.

PIVATS 5 data will be fed into CASPA assessment system in May each year.

Thrive On-line assessment data

This model provides an overview of assessment systems and qualification routes within Priory Woods

Informal Curriculum

Semi-formal Curriculum

Formal Curriculum




P8 – L3 stage 3 [PIVATS 5]


These will be reviewed at the end of each year and data added to CASPA

It is our intention to continue with PScales in order to maintain continuity of a shared common language within school


MAPP 2– Rec – Y11

MAPP 2 will be used for all pupils regardless of level and type of curriculum accessed

CSD will be reviewed each term and progress recorded - Phase solution focused meetings [CPD opps]

Once yearly external moderation




Learning intentions will be individualised and specific to the needs of each pupil


A system for measuring pupil engagement has been developed alongside MAPP 2, it is envisaged this will be accessed once more information is available from DfE . 



Those pupils working within high P8 – PIVATS levels will be tracked using the PIVATS level descriptors - these will be submitted annually onto the CASPA assessment system.


Development Matters - statutory


Phonics screening test – pupils are disapplied

       Pupils are baselined within the first six weeks of school.

Development Matters age related achievements


MAPP 2 tracking system

The new MAPP assessment system will produce evidence of each pupil’s progress on a termly basis – this will be measured in points of progress.

Once data begins to be generated we will then ensure vigour and challenge by setting a system of determining good and outstanding progress for each child – this is intended to be Ispsative


Evidence for Learning

Each pupil will have a minimum of 3 pieces of photographic evidence per term.

This will be linked to each pupil’s individual MAPP and annotations will provide evidence progress being made.


EfL will also provide evidence of links to  cross curricular targets

                       National Assessment Arrangements

Statutory – this will be reported on to the LA

End of Key Stage 1 & 2

Ipkes Pre Keys Stage Standards

All pupils engaged in subject specific learning

  • English Reading
  • English Writing
  • Maths

BATD Dance Awards






  •  Discovery  KS2
  • Explore – KS4


Entry level work and qualifications

  • Entry level English
  • Entry level Maths

Entry level ICT


On line assessment system

This provides data of individual and group progress in relation to Emotional health and well- being.



            AQA Awards


Book scrutiny