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Our Curriculum


Priestley Smith School caters for students aged 2-19 years from across the West Midlands region, all of whom have significant visual impairment. Many of our students have additional needs which impact on their learning.

At Priestley Smith, our curriculum is underpinned by our ethos and values. Our fully accessible curriculum not only reflects the needs of our VI students, but also promotes a love of learning and personal growth.     In addition to this, underpinning our learning in school are the articles included in the Convention of the Rights of the child (UNICEF Rights Respecting School).  Links to the articles are made to ensure that children understand the rights in context and apply them to their lives

We do this through an experiential, creative and relevant specialist curriculum which inspires and motivates all students to develop as individuals and achieve their potential. We support our students and equip them with the skills and attributes they need to become confident, independent and respectful young adults, who have ambitious aspirations for their futures. We recognise the challenges faced by young people with vision impairments and help them to develop the strategies to overcome any barriers.

Our curriculum takes into account the fact that many of our students have additional needs which include learning, communication, physical and social and emotional difficulties. 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.

We recognise that many, though not all, of our students are working below their chronological levels 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. We follow a stage not age approach across all key stages of the school.


Through our teaching we aim to:

  • Encourage independence for each student in both learning and personal development.

  • Offer learning through first-hand experience so that students with visual impairment have a greater understanding of concepts which may otherwise prove abstract and remote.

  • Dovetail their specialist VI curriculum in their everyday learning e.g braille, ICT accessibility, independent living skills and mobility.

  • Actively involve students in their learning so that it is meaningful and enables them to take responsibility for their own progress.

  • Develop the student’s ability to work together as part of a team and to regard positively what other students offer. We strive to develop an attitude of tolerance and respect for all.

  • Ensure that students understand that learning is not simply about acquiring knowledge but also about developing essential skills that can be related to new and future learning.

  • Encourage students to have fun in learning and to be proud of their achievements.

  • Help develop a positive attitude towards lifelong learning and prepare our students for adulthood.

  • Develop in our students the skills and values to live in a diverse and ever changing modern world.

  • Promote strong mental health and well-being in our students by building their resilience and coping strategies.


At whatever point they leave Priestley Smith Specialist VI School our pupils will know more and are able to do more than when they started. All pupils will have:

  • Acquired the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life.

  • Made progress, in that they know more, remember more and are able to do more. They're learning what is intended in the curriculum.

  • Produced work of high quality.

  • Achieved well in national tests and examinations, gain vocational or other qualifications as outlined above for each pathway.

  • Been prepared for their next stage of education, training or employment at each stage of their learning.

  • Acquired the ability read to an age-appropriate level and fluency given their special needs and disabilities.

In addition, all pupils who attend Priestley Smith Specialist VI School will:

  • Be confident, independent and resilient children and young people.

  • Be proud of their achievements.

  • Be able to advocate for themselves, their disability and listen to others.

  • Be well prepared for the next stage in education, employment or training.

  • Be able to take their place as positive members of society.

  • Be happy.

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