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Cedar Centre Curriculum

The curriculum  

The curriculum at Cedar Centre reflects national statutory requirements, local authority policies and the contributions of governors, parents, staff and the local community. Learners at Cedar Centre find it difficult to engage with the standard mainstream curriculum, so a curriculum is in place designed to meet their individual and complex needs. There is an emphasis on emotional and social literacy and development, in order to enable learners to access academic learning, and to improve their self esteem, confidence, independence and basic life skills. A wide range of BTECH qualifications and Duke of Edinburgh Award courses is offered in KS4, together with the core subjects. One to one support is provided when appropriate, together with more intensive key working programmes, and bespoke off site curriculum activities. Year 11 learners access local colleges and apprenticeships.

Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural aspects of learning (SMSC) underpin all learning; the SMSC grid maps out the activities and teaching that address this crucial area of individual development. Independent travel training, forest school, horse riding, and a farm placement complement the KS3 curriculum.

The primary curriculum also offers a wide range of life skill activities and play skills to complement academic learning. Learners are encouraged to mix across the age groups, and, whenever appropriate, peer to peer coaching is arranged (for example, KS4 students helping in primary). Circles of Friends and social skills groups support the development of life and relationships skills. We offer after school clubs every day between 3.00-4.30.

Pupils are taught in small classes and these classes are often split into smaller groups for activities.

Key features of the curriculum include:

  • lessons that are carefully differentiated to allow for everyone to succeed
  • all staff have a wealth of experience in dealing with pupils who do not find learning easy, and have many innovative ways to get information across
  • all children receive a broad and balanced curriculum along the same lines as a mainstream school but are taught at a slower pace, with more time for consolidation of skills.
  • learners in Key Stage 4 follow exam courses, gaining level 1 BTEC vocational qualifications, Functional Skills qualifications in Maths and English and an Arts Award. Some pupils access courses off site ( e.g. mechanics, woodwork, hairdressing and the Duke of Edinburgh Award)
  • the school has specialist subject teachers for Art and Design Technology, English, Food Technology, I.C.T, Maths, Music, P.E, P.H.S.E, Science.
  • on Fridays, modules are offered in KS3 in subjects such as for example, Football, Communicate, Cooking, Know Your Sussex, Bikes, Film making and Arts and Crafts

Staff aim to make the curriculum relevant and fun, and include as much practical activity as possible, including visits and special days and activities in school.

Lunchtime is half an hour and staggered across the school to give learners the chance to eat and play/chill out in smaller groups; this tends to help them to regulate their behaviour. Sensory breaks and peer to peer mentoring are also used to help the learners to be ready to access the curriculum.

A particularly vulnerable group of pupils has been identified which needs the support of interventions such as RUOK, WISE, protective behaviours, Allsorts, and pregnancy prevention. The Keep Out course in conjunction with Lewes prison has proved to be an excellent and crucial preventative measure helping learners not to start or continue to offend.


Cedar Centre wants to promote young people’s resilience by being a safe and affirming place where learners can develop a sense of belonging, and are able to trust and talk openly to adults.

The Primary Department

  The Primary Department comprises of 21 young people ranging from 7 years to 12 years old. The pupils have varied and complex needs. The department has three classes which have significantly low numbers, due to the needs of the children. The classes are each supported by one teacher and two very experienced teaching assistants, who promote a healthy attitude to learning and an environment which is enriching and enhances pupils’ opportunities to achieve.  

Pupils are allocated to the class that best supports their individual needs. C1 (Elm Class) encourages learning through play and exploration of the world around them. C2 (Willow Class) provides a nurturing environment in which the pupils can have an opportunity to engage in activities in which they feel safe and secure so that they are willing to take risks and have no feeling of failure.  

In C3 (Hazel Class) the students have a more structured curriculum. Expectations are high and the staff endorse this sentiment, in the way that the curriculum is delivered. C3 class is a supportive transitional room which promotes application to academic progress and opportunities to raise self-awareness and, most importantly, self-esteem.  

“What we learn with pleasure, we never forget.” – Alfred Mercier 


Key Stage 3

  In Key Stage 3 we aim to provide a stimulating, varied and enjoyable learning environment to maximize the attainment of all our students, to encourage independent learning and to promote high standards.

As well as the core subjects of Maths, English, Science and I.T.:  History, Geography and R.E. are taught in a modular way throughout the year as World Studies; Art, Design Technology, and Music are taught on a 3 way carousel; and students also study Food Technology, P.E., Spiritual, Cultural, Social and Moral education, and French.

Opportunities are built in to encourage students to apply and develop their skills, knowledge and understanding across the curriculum by making connections across subjects. All work is carefully differentiated and, as the students mature and develop, it is presented in a more complex and demanding form enabling them to reinforce previous learning whilst meeting new challenges.

Students have regular opportunities throughout the year to show what they know, understand and can do, through informal assessment by their class teacher and other professionals in the multi-disciplinary team. Student self-assessment is also encouraged; evidence of student achievement is stored in their portfolios.

To promote the importance of an experiential way of learning for KS3, on Fridays from 11am students are able to take part in practical modules such as Bikeability, Communication and Animation. They are mixed across the age groups to foster team-building and will sample 6 different activities throughout the year, often from specialist outside trainers and experts, invited in to enhance this valuable extra learning opportunity.

Additional opportunities and experiences that enhance the curriculum are offered e.g. visits to museums and galleries, going out in the school’s minibus to explore the local environment and gather primary sources of evidence, residential trips, inter-school sports competitions and opportunities to work with local artists, musicians and sports coaches. Students participate in local community events and shared activities with local mainstream and special schools.

At times students are supported at Cedar Centre on Dual Placements, where a student based at another school requires more targetted support for a particular area of the curriculum; students at Cedar Centre can also access sessions at local mainstream schools where their high level of attainment in a particular subject can be further developed.

We believe that our unique curriculum will enable our students to develop academically, emotionally, creatively and socially and achieve the greatest possible independence.


Key Stage 4


Key Stage 4
The emphasis of Key Stage 4 education is to widen the range of experiences that the pupils receive and broaden their learning. As a result, the curriculum has accredited units at its core. All pupils study for accreditation in Entry Level 1, 2 or 3 Maths, English and ICT, Arts Awards, BTEC vocational studies and the Duke of Edinburgh award.

Qualifications and curriculum
Functional Skills in English, Maths, and ICT are taught and accredited as a specific programme. The majority of our pupils achieve functional skills Entry Level 3. Pupils in KS4 also have PSHE, religious education and art lessons within their weekly timetable.

College experience and Duke of Edinburgh Award

All pupils have the opportunity to take part in a college experience day each week; the units of work count towards a BTEC vocational studies qualification. They also have the opportunity to take part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award.  This includes: volunteering, physical, skills and Expedition.  Pupils are required to complete a set numbers of hours in each element and staff work with pupils to ensure this is achievable. The activities are designed to engage the pupils with skills that they will be able to use once they have left Cedar Centre. 

The D of E Award also aims to engage pupils with social interaction and allow them to build friendships within their age group, as well as helping them with social situations outside of school. It provides opportunities to develop an activity, hobby or interest outside of school.

Transition to Adult Life

The Cedar Centre is committed to supporting all young people and their parents/carers in the transition from school to adult life. Throughout KS4 pupils take part in a range of activities and lessons which are designed to support them in their transition towards adult life. All of the young people in Key Stage 4 will move on to local colleges; specific transition preparation is provided.

Travel training aims to teach the pupils to travel independently. This is a vital skill for the pupils once they leave Cedar Centre as they will have to plan routes and use public transport.

We aim for all pupils in Key Stage 4 to experience some work based placements. Work experience is important as it gives the pupils an idea of what having a job is like. It lets the pupils find out what they enjoy doing and potentially would enjoy as a job. It allows the pupils to see what life after school is like. Work experience can be one day a week over a several week block to a whole week in the same location.   



Without science we wouldn't be here and you wouldn't be reading this. Our world is a fascinating place that is constantly changing and evolving and we aim to develop the skills needed to investigate and explore. As a scientist it is important to always be asking questions and investigating. Therefore our lessons are taught in a very practical way. Students spend a lot of their lessons learning how things work and discussing their findings. 

“The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day." - Albert Einstein


  Mathematics is at the heart of everything we do. Whether it is knowing what time the bus is, how many slices a pizza should be cut into or why your computer keeps crashing; mathematics is there. At the Cedar Centre we aim to prepare our students for their future using 'real-life' maths - telling the time, using money, reading tables and charts and understanding the number system. Through their time at the Cedar Centre the students will uses concrete apparatus and visual aids to support their learning and eventually more on to more abstract ideas and written concepts. Mathematics is vitally important as it encourages and develops important ways of thinking and we support our students and challenge their thinking through problem solving activities and class discussions.

“We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.” — Marie Curie


English is a core part of Cedar Centre’s curriculum. Before joining the school, many learners may have had negative experiences and difficulty in the area of literacy.  At Cedar Centre we recognise this and we endeavour to make our lessons stimulating and enjoyable for learners, teaching at a pace that is individual and relevant to the learner’s level. Through creative and practical teaching, learners can explore new ideas and concepts, and expand their knowledge and experiences while at the same time improving their basic skills. English and Literacy spans all subjects and is embedded across the curriculum. 

English is split into three areas: reading, writing and communication (speaking and listening).


“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.”— Dr. Seuss,

Many opportunities are given for learners to experience a wide range of literature, from poetry, plays, fiction and non-fiction including media. In the primary department emphasis is put on learning the basic skills and phonics with the additional support of Makaton signing and through both explicit lessons and discreetly through topic work. 

In Key Stage 3 literature is more extensive and uses a wide variety of both classic and modern authors. The content remains closely linked to subject matter that is delivered in mainstream, including an experience of Shakespeare, poetry and recommended books. 

Key Stage 4 is based around Functional Skills based on Entry Level and Level 1 exam work , and they are able to develop their reading skills further using fiction and non-fiction from all areas of the world, that is relevant to their own personal experiences. Many of the books that are studied are also inextricably linked with social, moral, spiritual and cultural elements and provide the opportunity for group discussion and reflection. 

All students have the addition of a regular class reading time every day to further embed these skills. Small intervention groups are also targets for those pupils who need further support in a particular area. 

Writing and Communication 

‘Don’t forget - no one sees the world in the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell’  Charles de Lint 

Both writing and spoken communication skills are essential for all other areas of the student’s school life and beyond. Emphasis is placed on expanding the pupils word finding skills and in the Primary Department this is supported by specific Makaton signing lessons that all children access. Fine motor skills are practised through specific ‘hands on’ work and handwriting exercises. Creative writing through topic work is also an essential part of the curriculum

Key Stage 3 and 4 develop their skills through Talk for Writing which plays a crucial part in the development of communication skills and creativity of both the written and spoken language.

Students are encouraged to display their work through various media, handwritten, drama, oral, or the medium of ICT. Different areas including factual reports, instructional, investigative writing, fantasy, biographical and letter writing are all encouraged and celebrated. 

In Key Stage 4 the Writing and Speaking and Listening are linked with the Functional Skills examinations and include areas of their lives that are specific to them such as form filling (passport applications, CV’s Driving Test questions) their Work Experience and they also have the opportunity to discuss both formally and informally topical subjects. These are recorded and go towards their final examinations. 

We recognise the importance of developing all language and communication skills in a way that is stimulating, enjoyable and relevant to the society that the students of Cedar Centre will be entering, so they may enter the adult world in control of their own learning with confidence and self-esteem.

‘A good relationship starts with good communication’ 

other subjects


Click here to see the current curriculum for Personal, Social, Cultural and Health Education:

Find out more

If you have any further questions regarding our curriculm please feel free to contact the school office. We will be able to arrange a telephone call or a meeting with the relevant key stage leader who will be able to provide  more information as to what our curriculum can offer.

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