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We take a holistic approach to the curriculum at Undershaw. Through a combination of leading teaching and learning practices, immersive lesson structure and an innovative school day, the students develop of love of learning that will extend far beyond their time at Undershaw and equip them for their lives as independent young adults.

Our curriculum is broad and balanced. We foster a love of learning whilst upholding the standards of the national curriculum through Key Stages 2 and 3. We encourage hands-on, experiential learning which allows our students to explore and experience ‘real-life’ learning in a range of environments.  

In Key Stage 4, we offer a multitude of academic and vocational qualifications. We provide students with exciting opportunities to further develop their independence skills, preparing them for their next steps in education or employment. 

The 4 Subject Areas:

  • Humanities, The Community and The Wider World
  • Arts, Culture and Communication
  • Science
  • Nature, The Outdoors, Animals and Health (NOAH)
  • Employability and Life Skills

Our Humanities curriculum is built with the aim of developing our students’ appreciation of both themselves and the wider world. We want students to be inquisitive about who we are, where we come from and where we might be going. We study a range of societies, from both the past and the present, to develop student understandings of the variety of human lives, cultures, faiths, beliefs and ways of living. Our curriculum is founded on a belief that high-quality Humanities education can unlock opportunities both inside and outside the classroom for our students.

Matt FullerHead of Humanities, Community and the Wider World, Undershaw

The Arts have the power to transform our young people’s experience of school, their self-confidence and self-perception. They are often the hooks that enable our students to re-engage with education. Our subjects are therapeutic, creative and give all an opportunity to shine. These subjects further a student’s academic and creative capabilities, as well as supporting them to grow in confidence with their own skills and ideas.

Chloe DudmanHead of Arts, Culture and Communication, Undershaw

At Undershaw we want our students to feel inspired to connect and interact with the world around them. Our science curriculum provides students with the opportunities to do this with an academic offer which gives students the chance to work on core skills such as teamwork, problem solving and resilience. Students are encouraged to use maths and science to explain what is occurring, predict how things will behave, and analyse causes.

Harriet WilkinsonHead of Science, Undershaw

The NOAH provision offers a unique perspective on embedding Nature, Outdoors, Animals and Health into an education setting. The Outdoors provides a different sensory environment for our students. This can be beneficial to their wellbeing, sensory diet, and regulation strategies as well as a way of gaining additional qualifications. The outdoors also features in our physical activity offer, where all students are encouraged to develop skills in sports or other outdoor activities for health and wellbeing benefits.

Nick WisbeyHead of NOAH, Undershaw

We begin with the end in sight. Through business enterprise opportunities and exposure to a variety of industries we link curriculum learning and experiences to life skills from KS2 to Post 16. We focus on developing all the skills necessary for living an independent and fulfilling adulthood. We hope to light the fire of aspiration by bringing Employability skills to life, inspiring our young people to set goals and equip them with the experiences and knowledge needed to achieve them.

Leilah SheridanHead of Employability and Life Skills Faculty, Undershaw

The Undershaw Curriculum

For further information please contact the Deputy Headteacher (Academic).


Key Stage 2

Our KS2 curriculum is designed to meet the needs of our unique community. We are passionate that learning is delivered through first-hand experiences of the real world. We aim to provide opportunities to develop the life skills required to become successful and to foster a love of learning. At Undershaw, we adapt the National Curriculum to ensure the breadth of knowledge is delivered in an awe-inspiring and memorable way. Our children are immersed in a project-based curriculum which allows them to explore, discover and dream.



Underpinning the Undershaw Curriculum, Literacy and Oracy provide the essential skills for independence and success in future life. Through the encouragement of independent thinking, written and oral communication, along with reading for pleasure, students gain the confidence to thrive in a variety of situations. Our aim is to equip students with the skills to gain employment and to succeed in education, whilst also inspiring curiosity, valuing their culture and broadening their experience of the world through a shared love of literature. Whilst encouraging success in the key writing skills, real world experiences are fundamental to the individual’s experience of English at Undershaw.



Mathematics has developed over time as a means of solving problems and as a form of communication. The language of mathematics is international and can break down boundaries. In teaching maths, we develop skills that are essential to independent living and employment in later life; a numerical fluency will empower our students to connect to the world of tomorrow. Students who are functional in mathematics can apply their skills to a boundless array of real-world challenges to come up with both abstract and logical solutions. Our overarching goals and individually tailored curriculum enable each student to enter the wider world with confidence.



Our science curriculum provides the foundations for understanding the world. Science changes our lives, and we ensure our students are equipped with the scientific knowledge required to understand the uses and implications of science, today and for the future. They are encouraged to understand how science can be used to explain what is occurring, predict how things will behave, and analyse causes.



Our Humanities curriculum is built with the aim of developing our students’ appreciation of both themselves and the wide world. We want students to be inquisitive about who we are, where we come from and where we might be going. We study a range of societies, from both the past and the present, to develop student understandings of the variety of human lives, cultures, and ways of living. We want all our students to live independent lives and enter employment – through our Humanities curriculum we aim to develop our students’ critical thinking skills and their ability to articulate their views, providing them with the confidence to enter the workplace and engage in life-long learning.


Computer Science

Computer Science equips our students to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world. Computing has deep links with mathematics, science, and design and technology, and provides insights into both natural and artificial systems. Pupils are equipped to use information technology to become digitally literate – able to use and build digital resilience and independence. To learn how to problem solve using critical, logical, and creative thinking and to encourage curiosity in communication to express themselves and develop their ideas.


Physical Education

We know for many of our students, movement is key to helping them regulate and we recognise the benefits of exercise to promote positive mental and physical wellbeing.  Wednesday afternoons are an opportunity for students to engage in a variety of physical activities with our external PE coaches or Physiotherapists, at a level most appropriate to the individual needs of the student.  Our PE coaches offer sporting activities, both on site and at a local facility, to promote fitness, team building and participation at multiple levels, with additional student support provided by the Pastoral Teaching Assistants.  Some students access Physio to PE, which is led by our external Physiotherapists, who work with a range of students throughout the week.  At Undershaw we are always seeking to prepare students for adult life and introducing a healthy lifestyle, including exercise, is an important part of this.



The very nature of Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE) is that it builds upon the skills and knowledge learnt throughout school and the wider world of the student. It aims to draw on elements of their own experiences to empower students to flourish, adapt and succeed. Our PSHE curriculum will give pupils the knowledge, skills and understanding they need to lead confident, healthy, and independent lives. It will help students to become informed, active, and responsible citizens, capable of forming good relationships and respecting the differences between people.


Employability and Life Skills

Our philosophy begins with the end in sight. We focus on developing all the skills necessary for living an independent and fulfilling adulthood. We hope to light the fire of aspiration by bringing Employability skills to life, inspiring our young people to set goals and equip them with the experiences and knowledge needed to achieve them. We are passionate about our young people being given the opportunity to reach their full potential and transition confidently from education into full time paid employment.


NOAH (Nature, Outdoors, Animals and Health)

The NOAH faculty extends beyond the academic curriculum and offers opportunities for students to engage with the outdoors and animals, for example through Forest School sessions and animal experiences. This enables students to practice their soft skills in a different context, including team building and leadership skills, working with their peers in an environment outside of the classroom. Students benefit therapeutically from engaging with the animals or the sensory environment in Forest School. They will also learn about animal management, the environment, sustainability, and the value of social responsibility.


Forest School

We are so lucky to have a wonderful Forest School provision at Undershaw.  We are able to offer weekly sessions to all Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 students and are each session is led by a qualified Level 3 Forest School Leader.  Forest School is a child- centred inspirational learning process that offers all learners regular opportunities to develop confidence and self-esteem via hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees. It is a long-term program that supports play, exploration and supported risk-taking.  Children who may struggle to learn in the classroom are enabled to develop new ways of learning, achieving, and coping with the world and the indoor classroom environment.



Music is all around us. It influences our moods and emotions and brings people together in a way nothing else can. It is a universal language central to cultures around the world. Studying Music develops our ability to solve problems, our emotional insight, and our ability to work with others. Making music develops our linguistic skills, memory, coordination, ability to problem solve and to improve work, develop pattern recognition, our emotional development, and our creativity. Music is at the heart of Undershaw and all our KS2 and KS3 students have regular Music lessons and the opportunity to learn an instrument. At KS4 students can study a range of Music courses tailored to the individual interests and learning styles of each student. Every scheme of work encourages students to develop their confidence, creativity and musicality through performance and composition, listening critically to other students and accepting constructive criticism themselves. The music curriculum encourages students to value working together, to appreciate one another and to develop an appreciation of the work of musicians, composers, and performers from history and from around the world. It gives all our students the opportunity to take risks, to reflect and to build self-confidence and self-esteem, preparing our students for the creative economy of the 21st century.



Creative skills are needed to be successful in an ever-changing job market. Drama aims for all students to develop a creative and collaborative mindset. Students work on developing their communication, collaborative, self-management and creative thinking skills, alongside technical performance skills. Confidence is also important in students being able to share their ideas with others using a variety of mediums: writing scripts; directing others; or in performance to their peers. Drama also offers students the opportunity to develop their cultural capital and empathy for others.   In preparation for further study, students also explore a variety of drama techniques, theatre, and drama styles such as Melodrama and Physical Theatre. We hope that every student will find an area of drama that they are passionate about. Students can develop their own ideas as well as exploring scripts from a range of times and cultures. Students also build their analysis and evaluation skills in being able to look at their own and others work critically.



In the Art Curriculum at Undershaw it is our ambition to develop and support all students’ ability to think imaginatively and creatively, equipping them with the skills to communicate visually in a range of materials and processes. With student-centred learning we aim to provide an inclusive curriculum for Art and Design which aims to realise the full creative potential of all students to become independent creative practitioners.  Developing core practical skills, critical understanding of the context and meaning of artworks and an understanding of how to read and use visual language and equip all students with the cultural capital to be successful in life, appreciating human creativity and achievement.


Media Studies

Media is all around us in the 21st century. Through the study of creative media and development of practical skills, our students develop an awareness and understanding of how the world can be represented and interpreted, fostering individual creative thinking and response to a range of real-life media texts. Our students are encouraged to develop creative and practical skills in audio visual media, developing their planning, management, and teamwork skills to plan and produce real-life media products. Students develop high levels of independence and employability skills throughout the media curriculum, working to respond to real-life scenarios presented through the vocational briefs they work towards.


Curriculum Booklets

Please click the following links for the detailed curriculum maps for each Key Stage.

Undershaw curriculum overview KS2

Undershaw curriculum overview KS3

Undershaw curriculum overview KS4 (Core)

Undershaw curriculum overview KS4 (Options)

Undershaw Employability and Life Skills Curriculum

Undershaw curriculum Post 16 Work Skills

Undershaw Faiths and Beliefs Curriculum

Qualification Pathways

KS4 Options Booklet

The qualification pathways are designed to ensure that every student experiences success and may include GCSE, Entry Level Certificate, BTEC or other qualifications, depending on the needs of the individual. Please click here for our explanatory visual.

We deliver our broad curriculum through our daily lesson blocks, the overall structure of our school day, and our weekly Discovery Days. Please see the links below for more information on how we shape our Undershaw provision.

The School Day

Our Discovery Days
What they're saying

‘Undershaw is a shining example of best practice in skills education. Congratulations to all involved'

Sophie DeavilleSenior Education Associate, Skills Builder Partnership

A strong focus on developing key life and employability skills in the sixth form ensures that pupils are well prepared personally, as well as academically, for the next stages of education or employment.

OFSTED ReportFeb 2022

The Undershaw students are just so lovely and friendly. I’m impressed how hard working and mature they are.

SarahCafé Manager, Haslewey Community Centre

It was a delight to meet your students: full of questions and curiosity. It’s clearly a lovely school.

Kate Perry, BBC Journalistand Undershaw Careers Week Speaker

The staff at Undershaw have created a lifelong strategy for students, ensuring that they have the essential skills needed to succeed.

Sophie DeavilleSenior Education Associate, Skills Builder Partnership

Thanks for the confidence in me.

Undershaw Alumnus

Honestly the change in him has been amazing. We feel very fortunate to have got into Undershaw. Such a great school with fantastic staff & teachers.

Undershaw Parent

The school has been amazing and has transformed my son in so many ways into the happy and confident 16yr old he is today.

Undershaw Parent

Eliminating the impossible


Undershaw is an inclusive community which is based on mutual respect.  Everyone is valued and their uniqueness celebrated.

Read about Employability


Undershaw is a caring and considerate school. We look after each other wholeheartedly, fostering meaningful and compassionate relationships.

Read about Therapy


Undershaw is a safe space for all, where we can take risks. We support each other to keep going and believe in ourselves when we try new things.

Read about our Curriculum