Primary Curriculum

"Pupils who are emotionally fragile begin to develop a sense of self-worth and positive self-esteem. This enables them to interact appropriately with other pupils and adults. The school's work to promote pupils' personal development and welfare is outstanding.”

Ofsted Report, March 2018

"I can't speak more highly of this School and its staff. Everyone's welcoming,  supportive & attentive. The progress my son's made (here) is life-changing, a testament to the school, the facilities, the staff and the activities on offer. Thank you Cressey!"

Parent, July 2020

Primary Curriculum

Our Coombe Cliff school is for students in Years 1-6, plus two classes for selected Year 7 children who will benefit from remaining in the Coombe Cliff environment for a little longer. We can also take Primary students at our Denmark Hall site, which is for students who will benefit from a more controlled environment.

Nurture Classes. Cressey's nurture-based approach is especially appropriate for younger children, as well as for older students. In our Nurture Groups the children receive consistent love and nurture, and we never give up on them; no student has ever been permanently excluded from Cressey, and fixed-term exclusions are very rare. Our strategies are nurture-based and outcomes-driven, with tough love and boundaries as appropriate.

Class size. The class size at Coombe Cliff is between 2-5 students; and each class is typically supported by 2-5 staff. We also have some students who have their own dedicated personal classroom because this better meets their needs, with a minimum of 1:1 staffing. These very high staff ratios, combined with the strong emphasis on nurture, enables us to succeed with children where other schools have been unable.

Curriculum Modules

We pride ourselves on teaching an engaging and creative curriculum, that is adapted as required to each student’s unique needs, and our Primary curriculum has five modules. For a full list of all Curriculum subjects, please see the Curriculum Subjects table at the foot of this page.  

Academic Curriculum. All students follow the new National Curriculum. We focus mainly on Literacy, Numeracy, Science, Computing and PSHEE, but we also cover History, Geography and Religious Education; and we are about to add Foreign Languages. Each child has their own Individual Education Plan according to their needs, which takes their EHCP objectives into account.

Creative Curriculum. We use Cornerstones which is a Creative Curriculum, throughout Key Stages 1 and 2, whereby all academic subjects are delivered within a series of overarching themes, each of which spans about half a term. These themes, such as “Misty Mountain”, "Dinosaur Planet" and “Paws, Claws and Whiskers” greatly help to motivate children who have been unable to engage in previous schools, and helps reduce barriers to learning. We use the Creative Curriculum themes to encourage students to use their imagination, to develop independent learning skills, and to develop teamwork. For more details on the Creative Curriculum, please click here.

In addition there's a wide variety of creative activities such as art, cooking, baking, dance, drama and pottery.

Social and Emotional Curriculum. Helping students to understand and manage social and emotional difficulties is a core element of our nurturing approach. The part of the curriculum is therefore substantial, and typically includes some or all of Nurture / Circle Time, Social Skills, Communication Skills, Confidence Building, Relationships and Sex Education, Equal Opportunities, Conflict Resolution and Keeping Safe.

PE Curriculum. We very strongly encourage regular sport and exercise, and there are outdoor activities all year round. This enables the development of coordination, teamwork, agaility, fitness, confidence and social skills. Our PE curriculum has many options including swimming, horse-riding, trampolining, football, boxing and free-running.

Therapeutic Curriculum. Cressey's nurturing approach is highly therapeutic in it's own right, and this is central to all that we do at Cressey. In addition we have a strong Therapies Team, and a core-level of Speech and Language Therapy and Occupation Therapy support is available to all on-site students. We also have an Art Therapist and a Music Therapist, who work with many of our students, where this is appropriate. We also have a part-time educational psychologist, who advises on strategies and training. For more details of our Therapeutic approach, please click here.

Developing Phonics & Literacy

Most of our students have been out of school for significant periods before starting at Cressey, and on arrival they have literacy skills that are significantly behind national age-related expectations. To develop their speaking, listening, reading and writing skills we use a nationally recognised Phonics programme to ensure that we give them well-founded literacy skills. All relevant staff are trained in this.

Our progress results demonstrate that we do successfully help students to close the gap / catch up with their mainstream peers.


As part of the Creative Curriculum, we have a Creative Home Learning programme for primary students. Each week, students are given a homework project to do, that links to the creative topic at that time. The projects are deliberately broad and are open to the child’s interpretation, to promote the child’s sense of independence and responsibility for their learning. Each child has the opportunity to present their work to the class each week, and each class then picks a Homework Star of the Week, who receives a certificate and has their work displayed on the wall.

Each student has their own Homework book which is sent home weekly, with that week's homework.

Assemblies, Awards & Rewards

Our weekly Assemblies are not only to talk about current issues, but also to celebrate achievements and successes. Awards and Certificates are presented for academic work, teamwork and behavioural progress. Each Friday, a Star Student of the Week is also announced. We also use a rewards and communications platform called Class Dojo, to share students' good work, achievements and general updates with parents / carers.

Events for Parents and Carers

Please click here to go to the Primary school Events Calendar. Please note that highlighted events are open for Parents and Carers to attend, and invitation letters will be sent out to you prior to each date. We would love you to join us!

Primary Curriculum 2020/21

The Curriculum for 2020/21 is shown in the table below. Please note that students cannot do all of the subjects / activities that are listed below, because there's not enough time in the day, and not all would necessarily be appropriate for each child. Only the items marked with an Asterisk are for all children.

National Curriculum

Other  Curriculum

Physical Education
Social & Emotional


Creative Topic Themes*


Nurture / Circle time*

Speech & Language Therapy




Social Skills*




Food    Technology*

Outdoor activities

Communication Skills*

Music Therapy


Design & Technology*


Confidence Building*

Art Psychotherapy




Building & Maintaining Relationships*

Other    Psychological Therapies




Relationships & Sex Education*

Lego Therapy




Keeping Safe*

Conflict Resolution*

Religious   Education*



Pastoral Support*


Modern Languages



Equal Opportunities*




Ice skating









Some of our Creative Curriculum Topics!

  • Bright Lights, Big City
  • Moon Zoom
  • The Enchanted Woods
  • Paws, Claws & Whiskers
  • Dinosaur Planet
  • Memory Box
  • Heroes & Villains
  • Towers, Tunnels & Turrets
  • Muck, Mess & Mixtures
  • The Scented Garden
  • Wriggle & Crawl
  • Scrumdiddlyumptious
  • Beachcombers
  • Land Ahoy!
  • Predator
  • Tremors
  • Flow
  • Urban Pioneers
  • Potions
  • Misty Mountasin Sierra
  • I am a Warrior
  • Burps, Bottoms & Bile
  • Blue Abyss
  • Playlist

"Being allowed to work at his own pace and ability level has been key. The whole ethos and environment at Cressey is appropriate to his academic and emotional needs. The staff clearly care about his wellbeing ... and celebrate his achievements by way of rewards systems. He feels safe and not overwhelmed at Cressey."

Primary School Parent, March 2016