Curriculum and Assessment


Priestley Smith School caters for pupils aged 2-19 years from across the West Midlands region, all of whom have significant visual impairment. The school is therefore not a local school and does not share the characteristics which embody schools with pupils from identifiable catchment areas. The backgrounds of our pupils are varied and reflect the diverse ethnic and cultural experiences they meet within their families and their individual local communities.

The school strongly supports the Birmingham Curriculum statement, a copy of which is included below, which ensures that all students receive their full curriculum entitlement and are prepared well to live in a culturally rich and diverse society. We recognise parents’ rights to withdraw their children from Religious Education and Sex and Relationships Education but ask them strongly to consider the importance of their child being well informed about these aspects in order to be independent, tolerant citizens, well equipped for life in society today. Any parents requesting withdrawal of students from RE or Sex and Relationships Education will be asked to discuss their concerns with the school’s senior leadership team.

The school recognises its responsibility to create a curriculum which meets the needs of pupils with severe visual impairment and which also reflects their very diverse backgrounds. Additionally it takes into account the fact that many of our pupils have complex needs which include learning difficulties, communication difficulties, physical difficulties and social/emotional needs. It is therefore essential that the curriculum we offer, while paying full regard to national guidelines, is fit for purpose in meeting this range of need.

The following beliefs and values are integral to our curriculum and are promoted throughout the school environment from the Foundation Stage to Post 16.

  • We wish to encourage independence for each individual pupil in both learning and personal development.
  • We strive to offer learning through first-hand experience so that pupils with visual impairment have a greater understanding of concepts which may otherwise prove abstract and remote.
  • We aim to actively involve pupils in their learning so that it is meaningful to them and offers opportunities to them to take responsibility for their own progress.
  • We instil in pupils the value of working together in an environment which supports others and regards positively what others offer, including the understanding of the diversity of lives of their peers. We strive to develop an attitude of tolerance and respect for all.
  • We recognise that learning is not simply about acquiring knowledge but must also promote the development of skills which are sustainable and can be related to new and future learning.
  • We want pupils to have fun in learning and to be proud of their achievements.
  • We want to develop a positive attitude towards lifelong learning and prepare our students for the future world of work.
  • We want to ensure that our students have full access to all areas of  both national and VI specialist curricula.

Our curriculum is designed carefully to meet the needs of students with visual impairment and a range of additional needs and is bespoke to our school.

We recognise that the majority, though not all, of our students are working below their chronological levels within the National Curriculum and that it is essential that the curriculum we offer provides a clear progression in learning and skills, geared at the individual learning level of each child rather than at age-related expectations. Our teachers therefore plan the curriculum for each child, ensuring that the learning they undertake is appropriate to their level of understanding and provides the correct level of challenge. Our curriculum is designed to allow teachers to draw from concepts within current and previous key stages and to provide regular opportunities to revisit and consolidate areas of learning.

Overviews of our curriculum at different key stages can be seen below.

Rationale for determining the curriculum at Foundation Stage and Key Stages 1 and 2

Curriculum Framework for Foundation Stage

Key Stage 1 Curriculum Framework Years 1 and 2

Key Stage 2 Curriculum Framework for Years 3 and 4

Key Stage 2 Curriculum Framework for Years 5 and 6

Primary English

Primary Mathematics

 Primary Modern Foreign Languages

 Primary PE

Priestley Smith Primary RE Overview

Key Stage 3 Art and Design

Key Stage 3 Computing and IT

Key Stage 3 Design and Technology

Key Stage 3 English

Key Stage 3 Geography

Key Stage 3 History

Key Stage 3 Mathematics

Key Stage 3 Modern Foreign Languages

Key Stage 3 Music

Key Stage 3 PE

Key Stage 3 PSHE Framework

PSHE rationale for whole of secondary

Key Stage 3 Science

Secondary Religious Education Programme of Study 2015

Curriculum-Framework-for-Key-Stages-4-and-5 (1)

Key Stage 4 PSHE Framework


Birmingham Curriculum Statement Sept 2018

Legal framework for curriculum



  • The underlying principle of assessment at Priestley Smith School is to check and identify pupil understanding of the concepts and skills they are being taught in all subjects and to determine their next learning steps.
  • Assessment is used to help the pupil to identify what they need to do to improve further and to enable the teacher to match a pupil’s learning accurately to their ability and understanding
  • Assessment is carried out on a daily basis as part of every lesson and also on a termly basis where overall progress is summarised.
  • Targets are set for the end of each term and the end of each Key Stage.
  • Some pupils will undertake internal or external assessments, tests and exams during the academic year to measure their progress.
  • Every child will receive a written report during the year, which focuses on the progress they have made.
  • Parents have two Parents’ Evenings per year and one annual review meeting where they discuss with staff their child’s progress.

As explained above, our curriculum is designed to meet the needs of our specific pupils. Equally our assessment system is also bespoke, having been designed by skilled and experienced staff to measure the progress of students in very small steps within all areas of our curriculum.

Our assessment system measures progress from P Level 4 to P levels 9 and 10 (the last two levels created by the school to bridge the gap between P8 and end of Year 1 expectations) and then from Stage 1 to the end of Stage 8, which is just below GCSE level. Our Key Stage 4 and 5 assessments then measure progress through Entry Level, Level 1, Level 2, GCSE and A levels.

Our assessment system uses an electronic tracker which measures progress over time and allows us to compare pupil performance and analyse the progress of all groups e.g. Pupil Premium students, different ethnic groups, boys/girls, SEN type etc. It also enables us to look at achievement in relation to attendance.