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.

The graphic below outlines our overarching CURRICULUM INTENT 

Throughout the curriculum, we intend to provide…

A safe, welcoming and stimulating environment

Personalised, high quality and ambitious learning programmes which remain dynamic and well matched to each individual pupil’s age, stage, abilities and changing needs

Continuity of learning, where possible, built on the enrolled school curriculum and prior learning. Where this is not possible, developing an adapted curriculum to build core skills and address gaps in knowledge

A broad curriculum, as far as practicable in a hospital school environment, offering a range of subjects and which support the progressive cumulation of knowledge and skills required for longer term learning ambitions and careers for pupils age 4-17

Embedded Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural opportunities in order for pupils to develop as creative, healthy, confident, resilient and successful learners who make a positive contribution to the community and the wider world

Wider child development experiences which may be missed by being away from the enrolled school 

A focus on Literacy across the Curriculum in order to develop enjoyment, fluency and confidence in reading, writing, speaking and listening. Where gaps are identified, bespoke strategies for improvement are implemented

High quality next steps and transition planning for all 

Equal opportunities and access, as appropriate, to all areas of the curriculum, systems of supported advocacy, and essential life and independence skills  

Accreditation of learning, where possible,  through recognised schemes and qualifications  

Recognition, celebration and reward of pupils’ progress and achievements 

The OHS Curriculum Model

The OHS provides a personalised curriculum offer for each pupil created from the following strands:

The Enrolled School Curriculum 

This element of the curriculum is guided by information from the enrolled school, often provided through detailed schemes of work, termly or weekly planning, phonics programmes, handwriting schemes, workbooks, online logins, topic themes or information on exam board specifications etc. Using this information, teaching staff at OHS construct a personalised curriculum offer linked as closely as possible with that of the enrolled school wherever possible,  therefore maximising the opportunities for continuity of learning and a seamless reintegration. This offer focuses on the core areas of maths, English, science and PSHE/SRE. The OHS supplements this offer with a broad range of subject specific engagement and cross curricular enrichment and extension opportunities for all pupils, which helps to deepen and contextualise learning and supports SMSC development and cultural capital. 

The OHS-Led Curriculum

The OHS-Led Curriculum is a bespoke offer promoting enrichment, engagement, key skills and personal development. It includes pastoral & re-integration support, PE & physical well-being, bespoke PSHE, careers and next steps planning. At times, it may be the sole source of the curriculum for a pupil who is too unwell, or not yet able, to access their enrolled school curriculum or more formal academic learning.

A key element of the OHS curriculum vision of ‘providing opportunities for pupils to develop as healthy, confident, resilient and successful learners’ is Personal Development – this is embedded throughout and develops key areas:

● Social skills & communication – demonstrating an increased awareness of the consequences of actions on themselves and others and acquiring a better ability to work cooperatively
● Managing risk & decision making – identification, assessment & management of positive & negative risk to self & others, assessing the validity & reliability of information & identifying links between values, beliefs, decisions & actions.
● Motivation & concentration – participating in exploratory learning and focusing on specific tasks for extended periods of time
● Confidence & self-esteem – having the freedom, time and space to learn, grow and demonstrate independence

Personal Development is supported through:

  1. Careers, Information, Advice & Guidance; bespoke careers support matched to individual pupil need & guided by the enrolled school
  2. PE & Physical Activities; recreational and core sporting activities promoting physical & mental wellbeing
  3. Personal Development Skills; personalised programmes offering a supported approach to taking on new challenges
  4. PSHE/SRE/Health Education; bespoke programmes developing knowledge, skills & attributes to keep healthy and safe and to prepare for life and work in modern Britain.
Curriculum Implementation Across OHS
The Children’s Hospital, Helen House Hospice & the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre

These in-patient settings teach and support pupils aged 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 800 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 Unit

The Highfield Unit is a 20 bedded psychiatric in-patient setting which teaches and supports pupils aged 11-18 who have been admitted with an acute mental health need such as eating disorder, psychosis, anxiety or suicidal ideation. 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; these include food technology, art, yoga, sports and outdoor experiences such as gardening and walks with a purpose. Pupils are also 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 pupil receives a bespoke, personalised curriculum which has a high level of pastoral input and is constructed in collaboration with the pupil and OHS staff and is reflective of their capabilities as informed by the multidisciplinary team at the Highfield.  Pupils at the Highfield 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.


The Outreach Teaching Service

The Outreach Teaching Service teaches and supports pupils aged from 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.

The Curriculum for Pupils with Profound & Multiple Learning Needs

Pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties have complex learning needs. In addition to very severe learning difficulties, pupils often have other significant difficulties, such as physical disabilities, sensory impairment or a severe medical condition. Pupils require a high level of adult support, both for their learning needs and also for their personal care. Some pupils communicate by gesture, eye pointing or symbols, others by very simple language. Pupils are likely to need sensory stimulation and a curriculum broken down into very small steps. Their attainment is likely to be in the Engagement Model assessment phase.

At OHS, each pupil receives a personalised curriculum, informed by their enrolled school and crafted around their EHCP targets where possible. The curriculum is aimed at offering a breadth of curriculum areas focusing on progress towards independence, consistency of responses and experience in new contexts, such as new environments & different times of day.

This flowchart outlines the curriculum planning process for pupils with profound & multiple learning needs in the hospital school.

Curriculum Planning for Pupils with Profound & Multiple Learning Needs


As a provision that provides outstanding teaching, learning and assessment, pupils with SEND do well at Oxfordshire Hospital School

(Ofsted, 2017)


At the hospital school, we never want to stop improving the offer for pupils with SEND. As a school, the pupils are at the heart of what we do and making sure those that learn differently go on to enjoy and achieve is a vital part of the culture of the school. Our vision is to continually improve and develop our SEND offer and to help others in our region to support pupils with SEND who have health needs. We aim to be constantly true to our core values by building the resilience of our pupils with SEND with kindness and respect and by helping our pupils to be confident young people who can enjoy and achieve as well as face problems and setbacks and learn from them.

All pupils who have a SEND receive Quality First Teaching (QFT) as part of their personalised learning offer. Differentiation strategies are, in the first instance, based on the information provided by enrolled schools to ensure continuity of support on transition from enrolled school to hospital school learning.

The schools’ revolving door nature mean teachers conduct appropriate assessments on entry to assess the impact of a pupil’s medical needs upon their learning. Reflecting on impacts of known, or as yet unidentified, SEND is a vital consideration in this process.

We want to make sure that we not only deliver interventions provided by enrolled schools but that we are able to offer the best evidence-based programmes and support available. We invest in our staff to ensure they are trained and we review the impact of our support using a combination of wholes school data, case studies, action research and importantly, conversations with colleagues’ young people and families.

Close links with clinical and community partners mean hospital school key tutors are able to advocate for additional support for young people when required. High quality case work is integral to hospital school teachers’ core responsibilities. As a school, we strive to ensure that young people with SEND are integrated to their future provision with their SEND needs even better supported than on admission.

We regularly support colleagues in Health and Social Care services with Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) applications. We are keen to offer training to ensure these partners are instinctively able to lead on these applications themselves. We want our partners to feel as confident about advocating for pupils with SEND issues as we do.