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Curriculum Overview

Curriculum at Venturers’ Academy

Venturers’ Academy (VA) is totally committed to ensuring every student makes progress regardless of their context or starting point. We set high expectations which inspire, motivate, support and challenge students. We believe students should enjoy and be enthusiastic about the curriculum and their learning and should be engaged motivated and involved in all lessons. This can be driven through a personalised curriculum and range of teaching strategies and will result in a purposeful atmosphere where children are on task and learning.

In addition, the spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) aspects of the curriculum are key for each of our students’ development, and the SMSC Policy outlines the provision and cross curricular elements that will impact on students’ learning and development.  The Sex and Relationship Policy and E-safety policy (in the Key Information section of this website) should also be read conjunction with this information. 

At the heart of the curriculum is the view that any child with Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) has the right and ability to develop into adults capable of taking an integral part in a wider society. The resulting ambitious curriculum will see VA being a centre of excellence always striving for outstanding student achievement, attainment and progress. This high level strategy is one to be achieved over the whole age range of provision and be rooted in an on-going assessment process. This process will effectively identify and support each child’s abilities and learning needs, setting appropriate goals that allow them to fulfil their social and educational potential, and personalising the curriculum to support them in achieving this. Each student at primary and secondary will have the option to access opportunities and learning provision in our partner Academy, Merchants’ Academy (MA) if this is appropriate for their needs.

We have chosen to base the curriculum on an adapted National Curriculum in order to allow students the full range of opportunities available through it. This ensures the students have access to, and can attain, formal qualifications and career pathways in line with the majority of their peers. The National Curriculum is also being used in MA and, therefore, inclusion opportunities will be maximised. For many students the curriculum will need to concentrate on:

  • Communication
  • English
  • Maths
  • Science
  • Computing
  • Personal, Social, Health Education and Citizenship (PSHE&C)
  • The Arts

All compulsory National Curriculum subjects will be taught, alongside Spanish as a Foreign Language (FL) or experience of the culture of another country.

Key Aspects

The curriculum is characterised by being:

  • Personal – individual levels, progress, and pathways are assessed, established and reviewed to develop each student’s unique learning potential. On entering the Academy baseline assessments takes place. This informs the student-centred planning process and highlight strengths to nurture and difficulties to overcome.  These assessment protocols track progress, identify emerging skills, and inform specific curriculum requirements. They are carried out across the whole age range and ability spectrum on an annual basis. Each student has an 'All About Me' that is led by the National Curriculum and a Functional Curriculum based on the student’s interests and skills. The 'All About Me' is subject to ongoing review and set in each term of the six terms.
  • Focused on developing independence, personal care and life skills, communication, choice-making and social skills.
  • Concentrated on building vocational skills and providing opportunities for work placements onsite and out in the community.
  • Therapeutic – each student will benefit from high level support for, and monitoring of, their ASC, sensory, communication, and emotional difficulties.
  • Integrated with the core curriculum this ensures that each student develops a positive attitude to learning and an education that they enjoy.
  • Parentally inclusive – VA recognises and values the view that successful education is attained when Academy and parents/carers work together in cooperation. Through consultation, home visits, and opportunities for parents/carers to be involved in their child’s learning and curriculum, we strive to accomplish this.

Early Years and Primary Curriculum

Reception to Year 6

All students will be admitted with an Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP) having undergone a full assessment based on an assessment process as described in the document: ‘Special educational needs and disability code of practice: 0 to 25 years. Statutory guidance for organisations which work with and support children and young people who have special educational needs or disabilities’ (DfE January 2015).

This initial assessment will then be built on in order to develop a greater understanding of the student’s needs and so help to develop a personalised teaching programme for each individual student. For example, the outcomes of the assessment undertaken by an Educational Psychologist will be used as a ‘starting point’ for further assessment.

In Nursery and Reception classes all students follow the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum. Within the EYFS, the provision will be set up to ensure that all 7 areas of learning are covered by all children, who will be able to work in depth at their own levels. The three prime areas are:

  • Communication and literacy
  • Physical Development
  • Personal, social and emotional development

These are strengthened by a further 4 specific areas:

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics (using Mathematics Mastery programme)
  • Understanding the world
  • Expressive arts and design

There will be a focus on the direct teaching of play skills, communication, and independent skills. Access to outdoor learning will integrate with class-based learning, the outcome of which will be for children to maximise the depth and breadth of their learning potential.

Appropriate vocational subjects will be introduced dependent upon children’s interests and abilities, including introductory horticulture classes and the opportunity to use technological devices such as tablets. This will give learning a natural depth and technological breadth that establishes a pattern to continue throughout a student’s learning journey. 

Personal, Social and Health Education will be part of our core curriculum.  This reflects and addresses the difficulties experienced by students with ASC.


We will prioritise English in our curriculum due to the difficulties all of our students will experience in communication. Developing speaking and listening skills, as well as reading (with comprehension); will support all students’ life skills and their access to learning in other areas. In Years 1 and 2 we have given additional time to developing play skills as opportunities for the student to choose activities and subjects appropriate to their interests, skills, and abilities.

The whole primary follow the Read Write Inc programme for phonics and reading after which they progress to Literacy and Language. In writing in Years 1-3 they follow a model based on the talk for writing programme and continue writing with Literacy and Language through Year 4 - 6. Spelling and handwriting programmes are in place.

Due to the difficulties that students with ASC can have in making sense of their learning, the Academy will adopt a thematic curriculum at Years 1 and 2 to link learning and add meaning and context.

Art & Dance

Art as a Therapy, Performing Arts and Dance will be offered for students who will benefit from exploring their emotions using these media.

Physical Education

Physical activity will be encouraged in structured PE lessons and regular soft play sessions.

Foreign Language (Spanish)

The Year 2 curriculum is exactly the same as Year 1 aside from the notable exception of Foreign Language provision. Students with ASC and particularly those with Asperger’s can excel at languages as they enjoy the highly structured teaching and rules upon which the language is based. This can be of great help in developing a students’ social understanding of different cultures, permitting them to interact more confidently as independent adults. Students who are non-verbal and/or have difficulty with understanding the English spoken word (at less than a 4-word level), will study Spanish culture without a language element. This will be determined on an individual basis.


Students with ASC tend to be highly visual learners and both motivated and skilled in using Computing. We will, therefore, prioritise Computing as a curriculum subject and as a tool for learning.  Year 1 to 6 students will have full access to Computing equipment and individual laptops or tablets if these are required as an augmentative communication tool (e.g. a student may use a voice activated software program to communicate if they are non-verbal). This is to prepare all students in becoming learners and able to safely use, and benefit from, the technology available in the 21st century. ICT computing is taught through the Rising Stars scheme of learning.

Enrichment/co-curricular activities

VA will offer co-curricular activities every day of the week and will link with Merchants’ Academy to broaden the experience of our students, although some activities will be for those students for whom smaller groups are necessary. There will be a range of subjects with a focus on independence skills and on physical skills at secondary. All students will be able to take part in a range of activities from Lego, trampolining, cookery, football, etc. Co-curricular activities will change per term in the primary Academy. For Years 3 to 6 these will include activities such as sport, drama, music, cooking, gardening and film club.  For Years 1 and 2 staff from VA will organise their own co-curricular activities with a priority on community trips and physical play.

Secondary Curriculum

Admissions for the academic year 2016-2017 will be up to Year 9 only.

Years 7 to 11

Our curriculum emerges out of our Educational Vision to ‘meet’ the specific needs of ASC students who have Statements/EHC Plans. The curriculum will be personalised, therapeutic, integrated with co-curricular activities and involve parents/carers as much as possible in their child’s learning experience. As the students move into secondary education these factors remain at the heart of the curriculum offered for Years 7 to 11. Particular emphasis during secondary education will be given to preparing student for independent life after they leave VA.

The pathway for Years 3 to 9 students will be based on the results, assessments and recommendations of the IEP at the close of the student’s final year of primary schooling. Students themselves being involved in this process will allow their interests to be encouraged and pathways created to support these as an effective learning route. Parents will also be engaged in this discussion.

Teacher assessment will take place at Years 3 to 9 and it will be these that will determine whether a student would access the mainstream curriculum. The results from this will provide strong indicators of how students will cope with a mainstream curriculum. TTAP assessment will take place in year 9 and all students will have a Graduate Transition Programme (GTP) including a critical skills record so that students are constantly working on the skills they will need for adulthood.

At Years 10 and 11 more emphasis will be placed on developing independence. Skills such as bed-making, shopping, cleaning and making snacks will be prioritised to help students make the transition to adulthood. Students will follow individual routes according to the qualifications pathway they are on. Other summative assessments will come in the form of recognised qualifications.

At secondary VA we will operate the same timetable structure as primary VA. There will be a significant focus on developing life skills as well as appropriate behaviour patterns. Personal, Social and Health Education will be emphasised. There will continue to be considerable time devoted to Communication, functional English, and maths.

Curriculum Outline

All students from Years 7 to 11 will follow a highly personalised curriculum to maximise opportunities for inclusion with their mainstream peers and ensure entitlement to a broad and balanced curriculum. Accredited courses will be offered which will match the varying needs and abilities of the student. This will be achieved through in-house tuition and via some students attending mainstream lessons to participate in Years 10 and 11 and GCSE groups where appropriate.

In following different pathways according to ability, students who will be following the GCSE curriculum in years 10 and 11 will be able to attend a mixture of lessons in both MA and VA. 

VA students will be able to access the core subjects with a member of VA staff providing 1:1 support. Students will have an individual timetable and the member of staff supporting the student will liaise with the class teacher and complete a joint planning proforma. This will allow the staff member supporting the student the opportunity to find out what they will be covering each term and time to discuss and implement with the class teacher strategies and differentiation so that the student will have full access to the lessons. 

Students with ASC often display islets of ability to such an extent that they will have individual specific teaching within VA or enter MA to attend certain subjects commensurate with their specific abilities and aptitude. Below are the subjects available in MA and our students will receive individual support from a TA in order to access these subjects.This provision will be prescribed in the EHCP or Statement completed in the Annual Review.

  • English
  • Maths
  • Computing
  • Design Technology
  • Health and Social Care
  • Art
  • Music
  • Drama
  • Construction

VA has the expectation that all students can achieve to the very best of their ability. As many courses as possible will be nationally accredited, such as GCSE or ASDAN (vocational) awards. Years 10 and 11 curriculum will focus on preparing students to become as independent as possible and achieve, academically and socially, to the best of their ability.

VA will prioritise functional literacy and numeracy at Years 7 to 11. The highly personalised curriculum will focus on developing the skills for students to become as independent as possible. Students will have the option of participating in a range of co-curricular activities that will enhance this. This will help develop skills aiming towards our longer-term individual target for all students to complete a work placement in Years 10 and 11. The activities also offer an opportunity to develop communication and numeracy skills in a life-skills setting.

For all our students, therapies will be provided as specified in Statements/EHC Plans. This will occur both in classrooms and dedicated one-to-one therapy rooms.

Years 7 9 timetable

  • Students with a low level of literacy will follow a dedicated literacy course before they start to learn a foreign language.
  • Humanities covers the areas of History, Geography and Religious Studies.
  • Performing Arts covers Music and Drama.  

Years 10 11 timetable

Course Options

  • Art & Design, Business, Computer Science, Music, Drama, PE, Product Design, Triple Science, Construction, Health & Social Care.
  • In Humanities students will specialise in either History or Geography.
  • Recreational PE remains a part of the core curriculum. Examined PE can be taken as an option.
  • All students follow a GCSE double award science course. Triple science can be chosen in addition to this.

Enrichment/Co-curricular activities (Years 7 - 11)

Enrichment/co-curricular activities will be offered as appropriate through the many clubs and activities available both in VA and MA. This will include activities such as jewellery-making, yoga, music, tai chi, cycling, sports, computing, film, and chess. 
Unique features of the secondary enrichment/co-curricular activities will be opportunities for students afforded by accessing MA’s resources such as:

  • ACF (Army Cadet Force)
  • Links with University of Bristol and colleges of FE
  • Vocational courses
  • Careers, Work Experience and wider community links
  • Inclusive opportunities with MA for specialist subject-teaching, accommodation and resources (e.g. laboratories).

Students will have the opportunity to try something new, meet other students in the Academy, and develop interpersonal skills in different settings.

Most Able Students

The curriculum for gifted and talented students may involve a student being placed in MA as determined by the outcomes from appropriate formative and summative assessment tools. Such a placement will also involve consultation with the student themselves, asking how they feel they are coping and whether this placement is suiting their needs. Discussion will also take place with parents/carer. All assessment information will be recorded and discussed by the Year Group teachers in VA and MA, along with the TA accompanying the student. A report with recommendations will be passed to those supporting the student to ensure that learning opportunities and environments meet the student’s needs.

Transistion to Post 16

VA will plan for future transitions by supporting students to acquire the necessary life skills to prepare them for future educational institutions, such as in MA’s Sixth Form, a Further Education College, University and work with training, as appropriate. VA will support students in playing a central role in making plans for their future, deciding upon participation in work experience opportunities for example. All students will have access to the Careers Advisor and Work Experience Co-ordinator employed by the MAT.

VA will work in genuine partnership with parents/carers and students in making plans that will allow each student to have as fulfilling and independent a life as possible as they approach adulthood. The range of ability and independence of each student will differ, sometimes considerably, to those in MA, yet VA will view the transition plan process itself to be part of a student’s ‘training’ in living as fulfilling and independent a life as possible. Thus, we hope, the student will graduate with the knowledge, tools, skills, and confidence to achieve outside Academy just as they have been able to do within it. We see the pursuit of our education vision as not simply pertaining to VA but to the whole life-cycle, from Early Years to a graduate, to a career and beyond.