A Pupil's Learning Journey with OHS

This graphic illustrates the stages of a pupil’s learning journey with the Oxfordshire Hospital School, from entry to moving on.

A Pupil’s Learning Journey at OHS

Curriculum Intent

The Oxfordshire Hospital School Curriculum 

What is the curriculum?

The curriculum draws together curriculum, teaching, assessment and outcomes. We have adopted the concepts of ‘intent’, ‘implementation’ and ‘impact’ to recognise that the curriculum passes through different states: it is conceived, taught and experienced. At the Oxfordshire Hospital School, access to the curriculum is seen as an important and integral part of the treatment and recovery programme.

The OHS Curriculum is underpinned by the principles outlined in the DfE statutory guidance for Local Authorities, January 2013: ‘Ensuring a good education for children who cannot attend school because of health needs’:

The Government’s policy intention is that all children, regardless of circumstance or setting should receive a good education to enable them to shape their own futures. Therefore alternative provision and the framework surrounding it should offer good quality education on a par with that of mainstream schooling, along with the support pupils need to overcome barriers to attainment. This support should meet a pupil’s individual needs, including social and emotional needs, and enable them to thrive and prosper in the education system. 

Every child should have the best possible start in life through a high quality education, which allows them to achieve their full potential. A child who has health needs should have the same opportunities as their peer group, including a broad and balanced curriculum. As far as possible, children with health needs and who are unable to attend school should receive the same range and quality of education as they would have experienced at their enrolled school.


For each pupil, the enrolled school or college is contacted for curriculum planning and information on current/predicted levels or grades of working. Subject teachers then assess, adapt and prioritise the curriculum for each pupil. An Individual Pupil Profile (IPP) captures personalised strategies to support access & engagement.

Our 5 priorities are to:

  1. Engage & build strong relationships
  2. Assess for gaps and additional needs
  3. Define a bespoke curriculum
  4. Value education and skills developed through recognition & accreditation of achievement
  5. Focus on the future

OHS has a multi-layered approach to ensuring that the changing needs of each young person remain at the centre of decision making when creating a curriculum offer. The principles underlying this approach are:

  1. Bespoke provision
  2. Proactive planning
  3. On-going assessment
  4. Dynamic review & responsive actions
  5. Collaboration & partnership working 
  6. Robust systems of Quality Assurance






The Curriculum Across OHS
The Children’s Hospital, Helen House Hospice & the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre

These in-patient settings teach and support pupils aged rising 5-17 who have a range of acute and long term medical conditions with varying lengths of admissions. There is a high volume and turnover with around 600-700 pupils in any academic year. Pupils collaborate on designing their own bespoke, highly personalised curriculum, based on their personal interests and needs with OHS staff, enrolled school, parents and medical practitioners. Maintaining learning linked to the enrolled school curriculum is a priority in order to support continuity and reintegration; this is offered alongside a rich and varied OHS programme of high quality and motivational curriculum enrichment opportunities designed to support continued engagement  with learning when a pupil’s focus, motivation and the ability to learn may be impacted by illness; these include internally delivered workshops such as food technology, science, values & virtual reality workshops alongside programmes provided through a broad range of external partnerships, including Oxford University Museum’s outreach programme, County Music service, Read for Good, Artists in Residence and Community Albums. Each pupil also has a high level of pastoral input through Values and PSHE workshops and personalised key teacher support. The curriculum is delivered through daily workshops and 1:1 or small group teaching. The settings aim to provide a broad curriculum offer taught by subject & key stage specialists wherever possible with a strong emphasis on key stage and specialist teaching e.g. for EYFS pupils, pupils with profound and multiple learning needs, phonics, English, Maths & science. Pupils are encouraged to work in groups wherever possible in order to support social & emotional wellbeing and a smooth transition back to their enrolled school or college; however, the dynamic nature of medical treatment in an acute hospital means that lessons are most often taught on a 1:1 basis. Teaching takes place in the classrooms and on wards, including Paediatric High Dependency and Intensive Care.

The Highfield Setting

The Highfield Setting comprises 2 units; the Highfield Unit and the Meadow.

The Highfield Unit is a 20 bedded Tier 4 CAMHS psychiatric in-patient setting which supports young people aged 11-18 who have been admitted with an acute mental health need such as eating disorder, psychosis, anxiety or suicidal ideation.

The Meadow is an 8 bedded CAMHS Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) which provides highly specialist, short-term assessment and treatment for young people in the most acute and vulnerable stage of their illness, where circumstances or mental health care needs, are such that they cannot be supported appropriately in the community or in a general adolescent unit.

Continuity with the enrolled school or college curriculum is a priority in order to support re-integration; extension of this is necessary in order to broaden experience, inspire and build engagement and resilience. An additional OHS ‘core’ and ‘options’ curriculum enriches the programme for each individual pupil by offering a broad range of engagement for learning activities which provide the opportunity to try new experiences, develop new skills and rediscover the joy of learning in a safe and non-threatening environment; depending on the level of risk allowed, these may include food technology, art, yoga, sports and outdoor experiences such as gardening and walks with a purpose. Young people may also be able to use the outdoor space for gardening and a music suite with a range of instruments and software for music editing. External partners such as illustrators, poets, scientists and motivational speakers further enhance this offer. Each young person receives a bespoke, personalised curriculum which has a high level of pastoral input and is constructed in collaboration with the young person and OHS staff and is reflective of their capabilities as informed by the multidisciplinary team.  Young people at the Highfield Setting are taught in groups wherever possible in order to support transition back to their enrolled school or college; however, at times, medical need may result in 1:1 teaching being most appropriate. Teaching takes place in classrooms, in outdoor spaces within the unit and grounds and on the ward, including the High Dependency unit. Key Stage 5 pathways include:

  1. A Level subjects with subject specialist teaching (Science, English, Maths, MFL and Humanities) following KS5 curriculum with specific A Level lessons and 1to1 lessons 
  2. A Level subjects without subject specialist teaching following  KS5 curriculum with supported study focused around completing A Level work set by enrolled school 
  3. Non-A Level subjects without subject specialist teaching follow KS5 curriculum with supported study focused around completing work set by enrolled school or college
  4. Not in Education, Employment or Training following a bespoke curriculum focusing on core skills with activities related to interest framed within an accreditation where possible e.g. Arts Award, AQA unit award, Functional Skills
The Outreach Teaching Service

The Outreach Teaching Service teaches and supports pupils aged from rising 5-16 who are unable to attend their enrolled school due to their medical condition; this includes pupils with anxiety disorders and pupils in recovery from, or undergoing, medical procedures. The service is a short term re-integration provision devolving the Local Authorities’ responsibilities outlined in a Service Level Agreement (SLA). Up to  45 pupils can be referred at any one time, each on a carefully matched reintegration pathway. Each pupil receives a bespoke, personalised curriculum which is constructed in collaboration with the pupil, parents, OHS staff and the enrolled school and is adapted in line with their capabilities as informed by the multidisciplinary team (most often CAMHS or a medical consultant).  Most teaching in OTS is on a 1:1 face to face basis and these  lessons are supplemented by independent work.

There are a range of curriculum pathways available which provide  a ‘menu’ of options which can be woven together to construct a bespoke curriculum matched to individual needs. These include:

  • An overarching offer of PSHE, pastoral support, careers & next steps planning
  • Core subject teaching of maths, English & science
  • Humanities & MFL (as additional subjects to support pupils able to access EBACC)
  • Arts & arts awards
  • Key employability skills of LORIC (leadership, organisation, resilience, initiative & communication)
  • Thematic and engagement in learning

These pathways are enhanced by creative opportunities to join with pupils across the school in a wider, motivational whole school curriculum including competitions and events such as poetry competitions, science week, sports week and  Safer Internet day.

Teaching & Learning at OHS

At OHS, teaching, learning & assessment is a highly personalised and ipsative process for each individual young person and approaches are adaptive to fluctuations due to illness and its effect on cognitive abilities. We recognise that progress can take many forms, for example, improvements in levels of concentration, engagement, academic, social emotion or communication. We offer a broad range of subjects and pathways to ensure that every young person is able to access education. We teach over 20 different subjects, including gardening, food technology, music technology, outdoor skills – as well as some of those described below..

English & Literacy, Phonics &  Reading Across OHS



Creative Arts

Modern Foreign Languages


Wellbeing and Physical Education


Feedback from some of our pupils..

I liked school here, I can get about two lessons worth of work done in one hour’

‘My brain hurts after that Maths lesson – I’ve been thinking so hard!’

‘I thought school here was great, thank you, I learnt loads.’

‘ Thank you! I really enjoyed all the workshops and subjects, especially the music and playing the ukulele! If ever I come back, I want to do the same things all over again!’