Curriculum Aim:

Chaffinch Brook recognises the importance of a broad and balanced curriculum always working towards the pupil’s individual goals and school targets. We have developed our curriculum to meet the individual needs of our pupils. We use the word “curriculum” to describe all of the learning opportunities that are experienced by our pupils.

Our curriculum aims to:

  • Support pupils to develop self-belief to become happy and confident individuals with positive attitudes towards learning. 
  • Enable our pupils to become independent and cooperative learners who feel safe and included.
  • Develop pupils’ social skills to allow them to communicate their feelings, needs and wishes.
  • Support our pupils to make positive choices, manage their own behaviour and enjoy life.
  • Prepare our pupils for a meaningful and purposeful transition to life as an adult.

Our curriculum is Autism specific and based on the following principles:

  • Nurture: compassion, respect and dignity are at the core of our practise and ensure children develop trusting relationships so that they feel safe and ready to learn.
  • Differentiation: learning activities are designed to match each individual’s needs, celebrate their strengths and support their areas of development.
  • Social skills: The curriculum focuses on developing the key skills of communication, cognition, independence and self-care, all transferable skills that equip children and young people for life beyond the school. These are both embedded within our everyday learning activities and taught explicitly for all children.
  • Enjoyment: children can relate to their learning and activities are taught in a multisensory way which engages them and fosters a love for learning.
  • Structure: all learning experiences are structured in a way to enable our pupils to reduce their levels of anxiety, to support their understanding and to help them achieve their potential.

Primary-KS1 & KS2


Pupils follow the Bug Club Phonics scheme which is taught throughout our KS1 classes and in some KS2 classes. Bug Club Phonics is the dedicated phonics strand of Bug Club, a core reading programme that we use for independent and group reading from Reception to Year 6. 

The programme is a balanced approach to the teaching of reading using synthetic phonics. It simultaneously teaches the segmentation of words for spelling, and develops phonemic awareness skills.

Pupils follow the appropriate phase of phonic activities and games through their individualised interventions and phonics sessions. Where appropriate for their individual learning style, pupils use a whole word reading approach to learning new words and sentences. Each pupil has multi-sensory individualised interventions to support their reading and may include programmes such as Nessie Reading, Teach your Monster to Read, Toe by Toe and Precision Teaching.

A love of reading and sharing quality texts is at the heart of our approach to literacy and we hold lots of events to celebrate and enjoy reading such as reading breakfasts, reading themed assemblies, reading competitions, Book Week, Poetry Week and daily story time.


Our whole-school approach to writing is based on high quality literature using adapted versions of The Power of Reading and Talk4Writing. 

The Power of Reading teaches literacy through using high quality books and creative teaching approaches such as art and drama. This approach aims to engage and motivate children in their learning and also enables children to deepen their understanding of texts, providing meaningful contexts for writing. Reading aloud is also a key part of the Power of Reading. The strategy enables all children to access quality texts and enables the teacher to model expressive and fluent reading to the children.

At the heart of Talk for Writing is the principle that schools should increase the amount children read and are read to.  Talk for Writing fundamentally teaches children how to be writers – not just how to write. It supports children to be able to generate ideas, draw upon their reading and write confidently for a variety of audiences and purposes.  The process follows three stages: Imitation, Innovation and Independent Application.  During the imitation stage, children get to know a text really well by orally learning it with actions, exploring it through drama and then reading it for vocabulary and comprehension.  The Innovation stage is the process of shared writing, with a strong focus on securing the basics of handwriting, phonics/spelling and grammar in relation to what is needed for the text type being taught. The final stage, Independent Application, promotes children to draft, edit and publish their own independent versions.

Over a number of years, children gradually build their bank of well-known texts, supplemented by picture books, novels, poems and non-fiction books. Gradually, this living library of language begins to equip the children with the words they need to express themselves.

Each pupil has multi-sensory individualised interventions to support their writing and may include programmes such as Nessie Spelling, SOS spellings and handwriting practise. 


We follow the Abacus Mathematics Programme which covers all aspects of the National Curriculum.

All areas of maths are covered within this scheme including calculation, data handling, shape and space, geometry, measurement and mental maths. Children are regularly taught problem-solving skills and given the opportunities to apply these to real-life contexts.

We use practical activities, hands on resources, visual examples, mathematical games and problem solving activities to develop fluency of mathematical and reasoning skills. Whole School maths challenges take place each term and include real life problems which motivate, enthuse and celebrate the using and applying of many mathematical skills.  

Where necessary our children use multi-sensory individualised interventions to support them to develop key skills in maths. These may include programmes such as Sumdog, Turbo Tables and Precision Teaching.


Our scheme of work is ‘Science Bug’, by Active Learn. The scheme of work ensures full coverage of the National Curriculum and fosters a sense of wonder about natural phenomena. We want our children to be naturally curious about the world around them so they are encouraged to develop and use a range of skills to work scientifically, including questioning, researching and observing for themselves. Scientific language is taught and built upon as topics are revisited in different year groups and across key stages. Each year, we take part in a whole school Science week based upon different topics such as Famous Women in Science or Sensory Science. We explore the topic through a range of hands-on and fun science experiments.


We use the Purple Mash Computing Scheme of Work from Y1-Y6 to support us in the Teaching and Learning for Computing and ensuring consistency and progression across the school. Purple Mash offers opportunities for children to complete cross curricular work, helping to embed their Computing skills at every opportunity. The learning is practical and engaging and covers a broad range of computing modules such as coding, spreadsheets, Internet and Email, Databases, Communication networks, touch typing, animation and online safety.


Our History curriculum is mapped against the National Curriculum 2014 and enables children to develop an awareness of the past, using common words and phrases relating to the passing of time. Each history topic supports children to understand where the people and events they study fit within a chronological framework and identify similarities and differences between ways of life in different periods. Children continue to develop a chronologically secure knowledge and understanding of British, local and world history, establishing clear narratives within and across the periods which they study.


Through the 2014 National Curriculum framework, Geography is taught using a topic based approach and aims to support the pupils’ skills. Each geography topic has a linked ‘eco’ question and project, as well as high quality texts to help explore the different themes. Children participate in activities which help them develop a greater understanding of their place in the world, and their rights and responsibilities to other people and the environment. We maximise children's Geography learning through providing them with a range of rich and  memorable experiences such as trips to local parks, visits to our local market and various other visits to places of interest linked to the geography theme.


Each class participates in weekly cookery sessions which teach the principles of nutrition and healthy eating. Our children learn how to cook safely and become independent in this crucial life skill. They also learn to enjoy different foods, explore tastes and textures, expanding their tolerance of different foods and developing a more balanced diet.

Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education

PSHE encompasses many areas of our curriculum at Chaffinch Brook. Our curriculum reflects the needs of our pupils and supports them to develop skills and knowledge to make safe and informed decisions.

We provide lots of opportunities for our children to develop their confidence and self-esteem, to think creatively, to take risks, to work independently and collaboratively, and to respect others.

We recognise that building and maintaining healthy relationships is often a challenge for many of our children, so supporting pupils in this aspect of life is key. Our relationships education teaches children about positive relationships, with a focus on friendships, family relationships, and relationships with other children and with adults.

The teaching of spiritual, moral, social and cultural development to our pupils is at the centre of our curriculum but is primarily woven through our positive and nurturing ethos. While Fundamental British Values are taught during discreet lessons, we model them in daily management, organisation and interactions.

Our health education aims to teach children to understand physical and emotional wellbeing so they can make good decisions about their health and explores how our physical and emotional health are linked. We teach our children that keeping healthy is not just about doing regular exercise. We have introduced Mindful Mondays and Wellbeing Wednesdays, to focus on positive mental health strategies including mindfulness practises, art therapy activities, yoga, sensory relaxation, exercises and games.

Our children are taught self-regulation strategies through the ALERT programme which is supported by our Occupational Therapist. This allows them to develop the necessary skills to identify how they feel and what they need to do to help them feel ‘just right’.

Social skills are taught discreetly through circle time and are also embedded in all areas of school life.

Art and Design

At Chaffinch Brook, ‘Art is a place for children to learn to trust their ideas, themselves and explore what is possible’ (Maryann F. Kohl). We know that art is a fantastic way for all children to be creative, express themselves and to explore different materials.  Therefore art is built into all areas of the curriculum and is also celebrated through termly ‘Art Weeks’ where children focus on a key artist or style. We enjoy celebrating the art we create through displays, assemblies and art galleries.

Physical Education

Our PE curriculum sets out the half-termly focus to ensure that children access a broad range of opportunities to extend their agility, balance and coordination, both individually and with others. Within each unit of learning, all children are taught a different sport or physical activity. Within PE lessons, children not only learn physical skills, but life skills such as team work, collaboration and communication. They also learn how to be resilient, determined and to evaluate and recognise their own success.

Each year, 2 classes are given the opportunity to horse ride at The Diamond Centre in Carshalton. The Diamond Centre provides therapeutic riding for children and adults with disabilities.

All classes are given the opportunity to attend swimming lessons for at least half a term each year. Our swimming lessons take place at South Norwood Leisure Centre and Waddon Leisure Centre. As well as that, all classes are able to take part in trampolining sessions delivered by our specialist trampolining teacher.

Classes also have the opportunity to visit the local scout centre, Frylands, and take part in outdoor learning opportunities such as orienteering, natural art, discovering wildlife and building shelters. At the end of the year the children take part in activities such as wall climbing and doing the assault course.

Religious Education

At Chaffinch Brook we follow the guidance set out in the Croydon RE syllabus to help our children gain knowledge and understanding of a variety of religions. We learn from others and visit places of worship in the local community. Through our RE curriculum our children develop a sense of identity and belonging which promotes respectful and sensitive attitudes to others with the aim of creating a culture of acceptance, tolerance and understanding.

Secondary-KS3 & KS4


In Key Stage 3 we introduce our students to a secondary based timetable in a graduated way; in practical terms this means that in Yr7 students will experience specialist teachers for a limited number of subjects such as art, science and food technology. The majority of their lessons are still taught in small groups in their classrooms by their usual class team, reducing the additional demand transitions make on their learning. In addition to this more formal learning, we offer a wide range of enrichment activities such as sailing, BMX, gardening, forest school, swimming and fitness at the leisure centre gym.

In Key Stage 4 we are focused on enabling our students to achieve a range of accredited qualifications and awards; these include GCSE, BTEC, Functional Skills and Entry Level. The week for our students in Yr10 and Yr11 is made up of four days at the Monks Orchard Road site, being taught by subject specialists and one day at the Beckmead College where the students pursue a number of vocational courses. The aim is to make our students more flexible in their approach to learning and ultimately ‘college ready’ so that they can access a wider range of Post16 choices after Yr11.


Our KS3 curriculum includes engaging English lessons established around a specific text to read and analyze as a class. We explore traditional texts, poetry, Shakespeare as well as various different genres enabling the students to articulate their responses and develop analytical skills.

Our interventions include ‘enrichment sessions ‘allocated to our timetable throughout KS3, tailored to support our students who all have extensive gaps in their reading and writing. These individualized interventions include: SPaG sessions, comprehension skills and reading. The 1: 1 reading interventions are also aimed at students who find reading difficult or readers with dyslexic difficulties.

Beyond the classroom, there is an opportunity to immerse the students in theatre productions such as trips made to the theatre to consolidate our learning. We also celebrate special events such as World Book Day, Poetry week and Roald Dahl Day.

Our aim at Chaffinch Brook Upper is therefore to nurture a delight for English and enrich our learners with the experience of writing and reading, listening, and speaking skills.

In Key stage 4 all students will be taking an English qualification and based on their particular needs they will follow one or more of the pathways outlined below:

GCSE English

The GCSE course gets students to explore creative reading and writing, look at the Writers’ viewpoints and perspectives and includes a non-exam assessment as well as formal exams.

Functional Skills English Level 1 / 2 and Entry Level

The English Functional Skills qualifications are designed to equip learners with skills such as comparing the ideas and presentation of texts, writing for a specified audience and purpose, and communicating and adapting language. They’re assessed in three units (Speaking, Listening and Communication; Reading; and Writing).


In Key stage 3 we follow the Mymaths scheme including digital elements that are completed interactively online. All maths teaching is supplemented with multisensory, practical activities to reinforce learning.

The areas of maths covered within this scheme include number, geometry, algebra, statistics, ratio and functional maths. Children are regularly taught problem-solving skills and given the opportunities to apply these to real-life contexts. In addition to daily math lessons, we deliver individual intervention tasks  involving number, sequences, place value, times tables, mental maths, using four operations (+, -, /, x) to fill in any learning gaps our students may have.

In Key stage 4 the Maths qualification follows the same pathway as English and based on students particular needs they will follow one or more of the pathways outlined below:

GCSE Maths - Edexcel

The GCSE course is built to enable students to develop fluent knowledge, skills and understanding of mathematical methods and concepts. Acquire, select and apply mathematical techniques to solve problems. Reason mathematically, make deductions and inferences, and draw conclusions as well as comprehend, interpret and communicate mathematical information in a variety of forms appropriate to the information and context.

Functional Skills Maths Level 1 / 2 – City and Guilds

The Maths Functional Skills qualifications are designed to develop the learner’s ability to represent situations using mathematics, analyse calculations, solve problems and interpret mathematics to explain situations. They’re assessed in a single, external test.

Entry Level Maths - City and Guilds

The Maths Entry Level Certificate provides basic and relevant mathematical skills and is suitable for students of all ages. It can build confidence in maths, especially with lower ability students. The assessment is on demand so students can complete assignments when they’re ready, helping to keep them motivated.


Science is an innovative and engaging subject that encompasses learning across the three disciplines; Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

At Key Stage 3, we follow the Kerboodle Science Programme of Study that covers all elements of the National Curriculum. In Biology, areas such as Cells, Structure and Function of the Human Body Systems, Health and Lifestyle,  Ecosystem Processes, Adaptation and Inheritance are studied in detail. Chemistry topics such as Particles and their behaviour, The Periodic Table, Acids and Alkalis are explored through practical investigations. In Physics, pupils discover their physical environment through topics such as Forces, Sound, Light, Energy, Electricity and Magnetism which incorporates multisensory  activities for a better understanding of concepts and content. With this knowledge  gained at this key stage, pupils are equipped with the foundational skills and knowledge that is transferred to KS4, post 16 and beyond.

At Key Stage 4, we study the AQA qualification and pupils are given the opportunity to gain three Science Qualifications namely; Entry Level Science (Single/Double Award), GCSE Single Award Biology and GCSE Single Award Physics.

We continue to inspire and engage pupils with learning beyond the classroom through different outreach activities throughout the year.


In KS3 History, topics are taught chronologically, focussing on some of the most significant moments in British and World History. From the Normans to the Second World War, students are taught to find out about what happened in the past. Through a critical examination of the primary sources, students develop their historical skills and their ability to uncover the truth. The overriding aim of the study of History is for students to emerge as well rounded, knowledgeable citizens. We ensure the teaching of History is fun and learning is supported through a wide range of exciting, interactive activities which bring the past to life.


Geography is a huge subject and in KS3 we aim to study the key geographical processes that are shaping our world. Students are given opportunities to investigate both human and physical topics, such as Rivers, Ecosystems and Wealth. The study of places is also fundamental and students find out about diverse locations such as Africa, Russia and India. At its heart, Geography is about understanding how to safeguard the world. Students are taught to focus on climate change, sustainable development and environmental protection. Pupils are encouraged to see that we are all responsible for our planet and its future.


In Key Stage 3, pupils are taught about hardware, computer systems and the world wide web in conjunction with basic programming platforms which spark their creative digital skills. Alongside our KS3 ICT curriculum, we regularly deliver online safety sessions and adapt these to meet the needs of all pupils.  In year 9, pupils are introduced to Functional Skills ICT, which give students a practical grounding in how to apply ICT skills to everyday situations. With a strong focus on explanation and problem solving, using real life contexts they allow students to apply their ICT skills in a variety of situations.

In KS4 pupils have the chance to move from Entry Level right through to Level 2. Alongside Functional Skills some pupils will be focusing on Adobe softwares such as photoshop, InDesign and lightroom, which also complement the work they do in other courses such as Media.


The BTEC Tech Award in Enterprise, offered in KS4, enables students to explore what it means to set up and run a business enterprise, as well as develop key skills and gain an insight into the sector. They will have the opportunity to interview real entrepreneurs which they will write about in their coursework as well as plan and pitch a business idea.

We have complemented this course with small ‘tasters’ of what different jobs might look like, e.g. grooming animals and creative digital designs.


This qualification has been designed to meet the different needs of our learners as it comprises life-skills based units such as going on a visit, financial awareness and time management.The purpose of this qualification is to support learners’ skill development in preparation for higher-level learning, therefore increasing opportunities for learners to progress on to other vocational courses.


Students in Key Stage 3 receive two hours of high quality PE each week, with all lessons having a focus of;

  • Skill Development – Nurturing the fundamental and advanced skills to competently perform in a broad spectrum of sporting activities.We also place great emphasis on creating a safe space  for our pupil, with the support of adults, to develop and apply their social communication, interaction and understanding skills. 
  • Increase students' understanding of the positive benefits of exercise and a balanced diet.

Throughout KS3 and KS4, students will be given the opportunity to experience a breadth of traditional sports including, Football, Badminton, Basketball, Fitness,Cricket, Rounders, Tennis and Athletics. KS4 pupils will undertake a Entry level OCR qualification which will

The PE curriculum also provides the pupils with the opportunity to experience sports beyond that of the normal curriculum, such as BMX, Dodgeball, sailing, forest skills and cycling, continually expanding the sporting horizons and capabilities of our students


At Chaffinch Brook we follow the guidance set out in the Croydon RE syllabus to help our children gain knowledge and understanding of a variety of religions and spiritual practises. The syllabus places great emphasis on enquiry-based learning and there are many opportunities for pupils to pose questions and undertake research of their own. Through our RE curriculum our children develop a sense of identity and belonging which promotes respectful and sensitive attitudes to others with the aim of creating a culture of acceptance, tolerance and understanding.

Media BTEC Tech Award Level 1 or 2/ Digital Media L1

In KS4, pupils will have the option of taking a Media course. The Media TECH Award and Digital Media L1 are fun and exciting practical courses. Pupils study how a variety of media is constructed, how it appeals to audiences, how it changes in regards to technological developments and the role media industries play in all these areas. Pupils create their own media products using advanced softwares from the Adobe Creative Cloud such as Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. There are also pathways available for students who are willing to commit the extra time to learn video editing or basic game design.

It is an exciting, yet challenging, subject that compliments many other subjects well, such as Art, English, Business Studies and ICT. I It is suitable for pupils who like “hands on” learning but with the academic rigour of other subjects.


In KS4, pupils will have the option of taking an Art and Design GCSE. This course is particularly aimed at students with a strong interest in Art and Design. It provides students with a wide range of stimulating and creative opportunities to explore their interests in ways that are both personally relevant and developmental in nature.

The course encourages students to build creative skills through learning and doing, and to develop imaginative and intuitive ways of working. It will help students to develop a broad knowledge and understanding of media, materials and technologies in different historical and contemporary contexts.

Getting ready for College: Construction courses

As part of our KS4 offer all students attend Beckmead College for 1 full day a week in Yr11 and half a day in Yr10. The college represents a different more adult place of learning where our students can get a taste for Post 16 learning and acquire skills to prepare them for their next transition.

At the college students participate in a carousel of disciplines taught by vocational instructors. The areas taught include carpentry, bricklaying, painting and decorating, multi-skills and catering.The learning focuses on practical skills. It is a hands on course that is built to deliver the skills students need to be able to make a start in any one of the trades by providing essential experiences and opening up pathways to further vocational qualifications.


The aim of PSHE at Chaffinch Brook Upper is to teach our pupils skills that are necessary for independent living, diverse social experiences and a healthy, safe lifestyle.

In this journey, we strive for our pupils to develop confidence, self-respect and to establish effective healthy relationships with others.

In line with the PSHE national curriculum, we cover Relationships and Sex Education (RSE), Health Education and Spiritual Moral, Social and Cultural (SMSC) education.Our PSHE is taught through well-planned lessons that take account of the learners’ need. In our PSHE curriculum we acknowledge and address the changes that young people experience, beginning with transition to secondary school, the challenges of adolescence and their increasing independence. It teaches the knowledge and skills which will equip them for the opportunities and challenges of life. Students learn to manage diverse relationships, their online lives, and the increasing influence of their peers and the media.

As part of our PSHE curriculum we incorporate visits from specialists such as Safer Croydon, our local schools Police officers, sexual health workers, drugs awareness workers and Croydon and Bromley Women's Aid Project to enrich the delivery of our curriculum.

All classes engage in weekly social skills lessons that are taught discreetly through circle time in KS3 and are also embedded in all areas of school life. 

 Exams and assessment

In this section you will find useful information regarding exams and assessment. Most of the information that you will find here will have already been shared out with parents and pupils. For exams policies please click on policies and ofsted reports.