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Gilbrook School, Birkenhead, Wirral

Our Curriculum


Our ethos is based on care, responsibility and mutual respect; our nurturing environment leads to brighter futures for our pupils.  We promote positive mental health and well-being through the holistic nature of our practice so that ‘together we can achieve’.  We have a curriculum which is personalised to reflect the background, needs and experience of our pupils so that we consider not only what, but also how the pupils learn.   Our proactive behaviour management system ensures that all decisions are made in the best interests of the children and is modified to suit their personal needs, preparing them for the next stage of their education; engaging our children with a curriculum that enhances learning and social experiences and gives them an opportunity to embrace challenge and achieve personal fulfilment.  We enrich our curriculum through a variety of trips, cross-curricular links and stimulating and inspiring experiences. There is a purposeful use of our outdoor area to provide an opportunity to meet unique interests and talents to ensure all our children are at the centre of a broad, balanced and varied learning experience. 

We have thought very carefully about our curriculum at Gilbrook.  We realise that all our pupils need additional nurture and support to access the curriculum and we recognise that many of them have missed parts of the education due to their SEND needs. As a result of knowing our pupils well, we place a high priority on their social and emotional needs.  We recognise that if they are not happy in school they will not access the curriculum effectively.  All staff are committed to ensuring that our pupils feel safe and secure so they can enjoy their learning experiences.  We understand that we have to take into account that all of our pupils have gaps in their learning so we focus heavily on their basic skills, this approach also supports pupils with specific learning needs such as MLD, GDD and SpLDs.  This means, at times, the wider curriculum is not covered as thoroughly as in some mainstream settings.

We feel that if we can support the pupils in acquiring solid reading, writing and mathematical skills then it will lead to a positive, ongoing effect as they progress through Gilbrook, into secondary education and beyond.

We are resolute in the belief that we are helping to build the foundations for a successful life and addressing the social, emotional and mental health difficulties that have previously been a barrier to their education, this encompasses the life skills that so many of our pupils find difficult to acquire but are necessary for them to be successful adults.

Curriculum Intent

To ensure we deliver an ambitious, quality curriculum that has high expectations of all our pupils, we promote a love for learning through the use of a range of teaching styles that include the personalised needs of each pupil.  Cognition and learning develop through our ‘Theme and Topic’ based curriculum and we use person centred plans to adapt ways of learning to build knowledge, skills and understanding.  Staff pay close attention to the specific needs of our pupils and adapt planning and teaching so that the best outcomes are achieved for each individual child.   This, at times, requires flexibility to accommodate the many and varied mental health and special needs that require support throughout the school day. We set challenging targets for our pupils, linked into their personal aspirations, whilst promoting the  academic, spiritual, moral, cultural and physical qualities of all pupils.  Our curriculum is enriched through the effective use of cross-curricular links, setting learning in real life contexts, wherever possible, so that learning is relevant.  Our focus is outward-facing and we celebrate the diversity of our school community in order to emphasise unity and inclusiveness for all.  Our cohesive approach includes pupil and parent voice, which help to enhance both the learning and social experiences of pupils to the benefit of all.  We develop confident individuals who build effective communication skills and interactions to promote emotional and social cohesion that allows pupils to integrate into the wider community.  Many of our pupils have had adverse childhood experiences and we encourage emotional and sensory regulation, often through the use of over-learning, to build confidence, kindness and resilience to help them to connect and respond appropriately to their environment and beyond.  This allows children to consider the cause and effect of their behaviour and recognise the impact they make on their immediate environment and others, including their peers.  We have developed a positive, non-confrontational behaviour modification model to allow for flexibility of thought, which helps encourage a readiness for learning that will then transfer to other areas of the curriculum.

We make decisions in the best interests of the pupils and all stakeholders are part of the learning journey.  Our whole school approach includes multi agency support such as CAMHS, OT, SALT etc. Any barriers to learning are identified early and addressed accordingly so that learning can continue to be developed. This helps to create successful learners who take an active part in school life, so that they enjoy it, make progress and achieve to the very best of their ability.

Curriculum Implementation

At Gilbrook, our personalised curriculum and range of approaches and learning styles has a focus on effective communication to enhance social and emotional health.   We use Cornerstones curriculum, which is an interactive, practical, 3 year rolling programme covering all aspects of the national curriculum and topics are chosen to suit the needs and interests of our pupils. Differentiated planning takes into account emotional regulation interventions that need to be included in order to promote a love for learning, leading to academic and social progress.  Physical and sensory needs are also taken into consideration and we look for discrete ways in which children can learn skills alongside knowledge, ensuring that both are developed.  Staff have a good awareness of prior learning through effective assessment and data reporting and this is reflected in the regular reinforcement of key skills and knowledge. Our themed and topic based approach means that that many skills are reinforced as a result of cross-curricular teaching in the context of many other subjects, including our Outdoor Curriculum.  We aim for a depth of learning and breadth of coverage, were good staff subject knowledge links components of knowledge to broader, conceptual learning.  Opportunities to practice skills and knowledge are built in to the curriculum to secure a deep understanding of what pupils have been taught and to integrate new knowledge into larger concepts.  Team curriculum planning leads to a layering of knowledge and concepts delivered in a range of styles so that all pupils can make progress.  Staff systematically check pupil’s understanding to identify misconceptions and provide clear feedback for ways forward to make progress.  Clearly set out ‘I can’ statements and success criteria are used effectively to gain intended learning outcomes.  Effective questioning techniques develop higher order thinking skills and support the retention of knowledge and understanding, as staff strive to offer as many recall and application activities as possible.  We regularly refer to current research and use the new findings to update our own practice and improve our skills to support our pupils and their varying needs.  We use a variety of interventions to support emotional literacy skills with regular sessions, part of each pupils timetable. We have the use of a sensory lodge to nurture positive mental health so that learning can continue successfully.  We have excellent home/school links and specialist roles such as our Family Liaison Officer who helps to support all aspects of family life through 1:1 support and through our Parents’ Meetings, where help and advice is given as needs arise.  We actively take into account the health and well-being of pupils and their families and staff make an extra effort to include families in decisions that affect their children. Staff also seek and take advice from families and outside agencies to see how best to support our children, so that we can have the best outcomes for their futures and nurture their progress.

Key Stage 1 Programme

We have reduced the KS1 offer to 3 topics this academic year.  This is to ensure we can meet the SEMH needs that have been a barrier to learning in school prior to joining Gilbrook.  There is a focus on PSHRE and basic skills; this is to allow us to focus on the individual needs of the pupils so they can become comfortable in our environment for learning.  It takes time to get our new pupils in a place where they are ready to engage fully in the curriculum;  


Children make excellent progress during their time at Gilbrook; this encompasses their social and personal success, as well as academic.   As a staff we are proud of the many comments from parents that indicate how Gilbrook has transformed their lives and given them hope for the future.  Subject leaders regularly share data about their subjects with children, parents and staff, celebrating the many examples of progress as a result of the effort undertaken by our pupils, staff and family support.  Thorough scrutiny of subject data leads to further planned interventions as needed and quality of teaching is regularly monitored through learning walks, book scrutiny and lesson observations.  At Gilbrook we regularly undertake pupil, parent and staff surveys in order to monitor and improve our practice at all times, to develop pupils who thrive during their time at school and to encourage brighter futures for all.

We are proud that pupils who have not been able to engage in education successfully previously are now able to access school and enjoy the experience of learning, whilst thriving.  You only have to spend time in class to see the impact on the pupils as a whole.   We feel that our approach is supporting pupils to be happy in school and be seen as a valuable part of our community. 

We believe that is a pupils happy to be in school and engaged in all areas of the school day then they will make academic progress.   We measure a pupil’s success against their own individuality and celebrate their successes in all areas of life.

Key Stage 1


Learning Project

ILP Focus

Core skills - KPIs

SEAL & Life Skills


All About Me

SEAL and history

Classroom routines; social skills grid; emotional literacy;


Phonics and reading assessments.

Place value and shape.

Exploring the local area and community – map skills and observations.

Emotional regulation, anger management, social skills grids, ELSA

Developing a sense of community.

All about Me

Staying safe in the community



SEAL and Design & Technology

Know 46 graphemes – use to blend and segment.

Recognising good and bad choices, keeping safe, making a positive contribution.

Staying safe in the community

My Family

Staying safe online


Paws, claws and whiskers

SEAL and Art & Design

Know 46 graphemes – use to blend and segment.

Caring for animals.

Caring professions.

Making good choices in our outdoor community.

My Life Story



Key Stage 2


Learning Project

ILP Focus

Core skills - KPIs

SEAL & Life Skills


A Child’s War


The second World War

English: letters; diaries; Narrative Dialogue

History: The Second World War

D&T: Following recipes

Geography: Cities of the UK

Music: Listening

PE: Competitive games

PSHE: Empathising with people in different times.

Expressing Feelings

Anger: exploring and remembering a time when they felt angry.

Kindness: remembering when they are shown kindness and how to pass it forward.

Fear: understanding worry and being afraid and how to manage it.



Blue Abyss

Art & Design

Observational drawing; 3-D Models; clay sculptures; Anthony Gormley – another place; batik art; printing; famous seascapes.

English: poetry using personification; Dilemma stories

Computing: programming

D&T: Submarine design

Geography: seas and oceans of the world.

History: 19th Century Ocean exploration.

Science: living things and their habitats;

My Behaviour

Problems: remembering when they have caused problems for themselves and others.

Changing behaviours: less or more of certain behaviours.


Life Saving


Mighty Metals


Forces and Magnets; working scientifically.

English: non-chronological reports; explanations

Art and Design: embossed pattern and pictures

Computing: using presentation software.

D&T: product evaluation: using research to inform design

Mathematics: measuring length

Music: performing using metal objects as instruments.

PE: using PE equipment to explore forces.

Thinking Straight

Negative automatic thinking: catch automatic thinking and how it can affect feelings and behaviours.

Swatting your gNAT: how to get better outcomes form your thinking





Mystery stories

Play scripts

Draw artefacts

Model tombs and pyramids

The River Nile

Customs and beliefs

Communication Skills

Who are the team that you can call on to help you during difficult times?

How to communicate effectively.

Living Independently – money sense

Trip to a shop with a given budget, working out the change given.


Burps, Bottoms and Bile


Healthy bodies

Fantasy narrative

Persuasive texts

Teeth types

Digital images

Healthy foods

Composing lyrics

Good Times

Favourite jokes

Favourite things to do

Staying Safe in the community

Internet safety


Hola Mexico


Mexican music/musical notation


Myths and legends

Maya art

On-line research

Mexican food

Using maps

Ancient Maya civilisation

Mexican dance

Light and shadows

Relaxation Skills

Relaxation exercises

Keeping a relaxation diary

First Aid

Basic first aid techniques