Secondary Curriculum


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“My grandson went to 3 other schools before Cressey, that couldn't manage his behaviour. But here they can. He’s learnt more in two years here than in all his other schools. Cressey isn't negative towards pupils, it’s all positive. It's a brilliant school, I would recommend it to any child with emotional behaviour problems. The staff involve you in every little thing your child does, and send daily texts to let you know how the day went and how it didn’t go. Fantastic."

Parent, July 2020

Secondary Curriculum

Cressey’s Secondary Curriculum is based on the National Curriculum, and on appropriate Qualifications for each individual student. In addition the Curriculum also covers Social and Emotional development, Physical Education, Vocational / Work based aspects and Therapeutic support. These seven areas are explained below.

Academic curriculum

All students follow the National Curriculum, including Maths, English, Science, ICT, PSHEE, Humanities, PE, Design and Technology and Art. An individualised programme of study is prepared for each student according to their needs, taking into account their EHCP.

In KS3 English we cover Non-fiction Writing, Creative Writing, Introduction to Poetry, Complete a Novel study, Introduction to Shakespeare, Short Stories, Speaking and Listening and Play-Writing. Each child will work through the curriculum, and we provide extra support for reading and writing skills, where needed.

In KS3 Maths we teach Number Skills, Geometry, Statistics and Measurement. We use a baseline tool in order to determine the ‘gaps’ in the students education, so that we can input tailored support, whilst teaching them the National Curriculum.

In KS3 Science we teach the students about Organs, Life Processes, Cells, Scientific Methods, Reproductive Organs, Gestation and Birth, Fitness, The Skeleton, Air Pollution, Daltons Atomic Model and Chemical Properties, and other topics. We cover all of the National Curriculum requirements in Chemistry, Physics and Biology.

In KS3 PSHEE we cover topics such as Friendships, Peer Pressure, Relationships, Responsibilities and Values, Keeping Healthy, Mental Health, Drug Awareness, Alcohol Awareness and Economic and Financial Capability. We also cover many more topics including significant events as they happen, which may impact on the students. 

In KS3 Art the students learn the elements and principles of art and design, and work with a range of different materials and methods such as paint, clay, collages, water colours, and many more. Students learn techniques to help develop their creative ability, and are given the opportunity to explore and develop these skills, with guidance and support from staff.

In KS3 PE we very strongly encourage regular sport and exercise, and we cover a range of sports, using local leisure centres and facilities. Physical activity is an expectation for all students, and we cover many sports over the course of three years. This includes football, basketball, hockey, swimming and trampolining and many more. In the process, our students develop teamwork, fitness and communication skills. Each year we hold a whole school Sports Day that is always a huge success, at which we encourage all students to participate in some way. There are also outdoor adventurous activities throughout the year, including climbing, abseiling and water sports.


Students will be entered for some or all of Functional Skills qualifications, Open College Network (OCN) qualifications, BTEC and GCSE qualifications, as appropriate for each Student's academic level; taking into account their talents, areas of difficulty, learning that may have been missed in previous schools, and  current barriers to learning. For more details on Qualiifications and Assessment, please click here.

Creative curriculum

We want to maximise students' interest in their programmes, and encouraging creativity can greatly increase motivation. We aso encourage students to take an active part in designing their own programme, to increase their interest in learning. We provide many creative activity options, such as Dance, Music, Arts & Crafts, Media, Design & Technology, Food Technology and other activities. 

Social and Emotional curriculum

Helping students to understand and cope with emotional difficulties is a core element of Cressey’s approach. The emotional curriculum starts with Nurture Time being programmed into both the start and the end of each day. This provides daily opportunities got students to discuss their feelings and reflect upon their day, in a culture where they feel safe to do so. Some of our students find change incredibly difficult, but preparation can greatly help them to feel safe and secure. So we also use Nurture Time to discuss the next day's timetable, and lessons.

We also provide students opportunities to explore their feelings in a 1:1 setting, with a trusted member of staff. These sessions are extremely important, so we're flexible with the timing.

Physical education

We very strongly encourage regular sport and exercise, and our PE curriculum has many options including swimming, trampolining, football, using the gym, tennis, badminton, hockey, boxing, bowling, yoga, table tennis and more. There are also outdoor adventurous activities throughout the year, including climbing, abseiling and water sports.

Therapeutic support

Cressey's nurturing approach is highly therapeutic in it's own right, and is central to all that we do at Cressey. In addition we have a strong Therapies Team, and a core-level of Speech & Language Therapy and Occupational Therapy support is available to all on-site students. We also have an Art Therapist and a Music Therapist, who work with many students, as 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.

Vocational and work-based curriculum

In Key Stages 4 and 5 there is an increasing emphasis on employability, independence, and life skills in general, to enable a successful transition to adulthood. Depending on what is right for each individual student, their programmes will typically include some or all of vocational courses, link courses at a local college, work experience placements, enterprise projects and careers events. There is also a strong focus on learning key skills such as money management, job hunting, interview technique and CV writing.

Curriculum Resources

The rich variety of resources we use to support Cressey's curriculum are illustrated in the attached Resources Map.

Secondary Curriculum

The subjects and activities in Cressey's Secondary Curriculum include those in the table below. Those subjects annotated with an asterick (*) are mandatory for all students, at the appropriate stage.

National Curriculum
Physical Educat'n
Social & Emotional






Relationships   & Sex Education

Speech & Lang Therapy

Vocational Courses


Functional Skills

Performing Arts


Social Skills



Link Courses at College



Food Technology

Outdoor activities

Communication Skills

Music Therapy

Employability & Independence Skills



Design & Technology


Confidence Building

Art Psycho-therapy

Work Experience


Vocational Qualifications



Drug / Alcohol


Other  Psychological Therapies

Life Skills





Equal Opportunities

Conflict          Resolution

Career Preparation





Keeping Safe



Religious   Education


Mixing / Creating Music


Pastoral Support


Personal Budgeting

Modern Languages










Ice skating












"Cressey's so different to any other school. It's amazing. (My son) just loves it. 

And he does much more work than at all his other schools."

Curriculum Principles

At Cressey College the curriculum is underpinned by four key principles.

National Curriculum. We believe all students of all ages are entitled to access the National Curriculum, at a level appropriate to their abilities and needs.

Literacy and numeracy. Improving literacy and numeracy levels is a key focus in all subjects, at all Key Stages. Whilst some students require additional support, others are guided to the highest academic achievements.

Learning to communicate, and to learn. We develop communication, speaking and listening skills, and personal and social skills. This is supported by our Speech and Language Therapists, and our Occupational Therapist. We also encourage students to become independent learners, and help them learn how to manage their behaviour. We build structure and security into their school lives, to help them to feel safe and so to communicate and learn more easily.

Improving attendance and interest. The curriculum is designed to be stimulating, interesting and fun, to encourage attendance and interest in learning. This is enhanced by interactive therapy and counseling. Educational visits are used to stimulate interest and to develop literacy skills, through follow up work.