Columbus Curriculum: Overview

Columbus School and College provides a broad and ambitious curriculum that is profoundly focused on preparing learners for the future. We have high expectations of learners’ progress across the key areas of communication and interaction; cognition and learning; sensory, physical health and development; social, emotional and mental health; and self help and independence. Each learner has a personalised curriculum closely related to their education, health and care plan (EHCP). The curriculum is designed through collaboration with parents and carers and, as necessary, other professionals and specialists.


Some learners access the full range of National Curriculum subjects, and build subject specific knowledge and skills. Learners with more complex needs engage in a curriculum emphasising communication and physical development. All learners access a curriculum that builds on what they already know and can do, and is adapted to meet their different needs and starting points.


We are determined that children get off to a flying start in the Early Years. As learners progress to key stage 4 and 5, independence, community based learning and employment readiness become even more prominent in their learning. Learners need to remember/apply knowledge to perform a skill.


Our specialist learning environments, motor therapy suites and sensory rooms support teaching and learning. The work done in these spaces is heavily supported by therapists and their assistants, with much of what is designed and delivered being transferred into the classroom throughout the week.


We believe learners should gain the knowledge and skills they need to be as independent as possible. To this end, staff avoid learners becoming unnecessarily dependent on them. Community-based learning is a weekly feature of learners’ timetables. Targeted and carefully planned community-based learning may include travel training or visits to the local shops. Learning in the community also enables learners to simultaneously repeat and extend what they have learned in school. Columbus offers education journeys both abroad and within the UK. A wide, rich set of experiences contributes to learners’ personal development.


Reading is prioritised. In Early Years, many children begin learning letter sounds through our systematic synthetic phonics scheme. Learners take home books that contain the letter sounds they have learned, but also develop a love of reading through hearing stories. Learners make strong progress with reading because their needs are quickly identified and staff are well trained to help them. Comprehension and fluency become the focus when pupils have learned the sounds that letters make. Reading remains a focus for older learners because it is key to enabling independence. This link summarises in poster form how reading differs across our five curriculum pathways. This link provides more information for families about our approach to reading.