Curriculum & Pupil Pathways

Curriculum Intent Statement

At Pilgrim Pathways, we believe that education is a tool for change and transformation. It’s an opportunity for young people to shape the future they want, a window onto the wider world, a way to have new experiences and to build confidence and self-esteem.

We believe that all young people want to learn and to be successful in education but we understand that some have had experiences that make accessing education challenging and that some young people might feel anxious about attending school. We are here to help young people navigate those challenges and find a way to engage with education which suits their circumstances and personal history. Education at Pilgrim Pathways is about looking at life beyond illness, a reminder that there are lots of wonderful opportunities to learn and develop, even while being ill.

We offer a curriculum adapted to engage students from their starting point which can be readapted as new milestones are reached. Our teaching happens in small groups with specialist teachers who help students to achieve their educational goals. All of our teachers have worked in mainstream schools and are experts in their subject areas while also trained and experienced in working with young people facing significant physical and mental health challenges. In terms of our curriculum’s breadth, we believe that no door is too difficult to open, and we are ambitious in the range of subject areas and qualifications we can support young people to access. Teachers guide students in setting ambitious but achievable goals and support young people in achieving them.

We know that there will be good days and bad days; days of struggle and days of achievement. Pilgrim Pathways school offers a safe educational space where mistakes are viewed as valuable learning opportunities, every day is a new start and no success is too small to celebrate.

Unit planning for Reengagement (Pathways 1 and 2)

We believe that it is in all students’ best interests to reengage with formal education or training. However, some students arrive at our setting with considerable barriers to learning:

  • They might associate school with trauma and engaging in school or formal learning re-traumatises them
  • They might have been absent from school for quite some time and be very anxious about re-engaging with education
  • Due to their medication, they might find engaging in school-work extremely challenging
  • They are too anxious to focus
  • A myriad of other reasons

This reengagement curriculum is a high frequency low stakes programme which is focused entirely on engagement. The purpose of a reengagement programme is to engage students in a formal learning process so that they can successfully transition into core academic subjects. Pathway 2 might combine a re-engagement curriculum and a core academic subject e.g. one round of ’10-10-10’ and 40 minutes of maths.

Students on any pathway might sometimes require an engagement activity.

 How is it organised?

Students will undertake 3 learning activities in which they will experience a 100% success. The challenge is not cognitive but emotional. Initially a structured session will last 50 minutes. Below shows an example of a timetable: 

Activity 1 10 Minutes
Break 5 Minutes
Activity 2 10 Minutes
Break 5 Minutes
Activity 3 10 Minutes
Break 5 Minutes
Reflection 5 Minutes

Each activity will be time bound and distinct. We start with 10 minutes on each activity and build from there. Between each activity there is a 5 minute rest break. The reflection at the end of a session is a key part of the programme as it allows us to celebrate success and to track progress with students. Students can extend the 10 minute activity but they need to aim to complete a cycle. If they want, they could complete two cycles back to back.

The Impact

Impact is measured against the SEMH scale developed specifically for hospital schools. Teachers reflect with students after every lesson. Trauma effects working memory making it challenging for students to create narratives around small successes and incremental progress. The purpose of the reflection allows teachers to reflect on the effectiveness of implementation and to plan next steps, but also supports the student to build positive narratives around learning and school. Academic progress is measured against the relevant national curriculum levels or GCSE/ Functional Skills criteria. In line with trauma informed practice, work is marked either in session or immediately afterwards to support students in building positive narratives around school experience.

Unit planning for Academic Progression (Pathways 3, 4 and 5)

Some students arrive ready to engage with a full academic offer, while some need to start with a core curriculum and build up to a full offer. Our intention is to provide as broad and balanced curriculum as appropriate and to continue to review and expand curriculum provision, as necessary, over the duration of the young person’s treatment.

Pathway 3 blends some engagement activities with the offer of all core subjects (English, Maths Science). The focus is academic attainment rather than engagement, though we understand that all students on all pathways will struggle to remain engaged and motivated from time to time. Students might also access AQA awards or other non-Ofqual regulated qualifications alongside traditional subjects (driving license theory). Students will engage with sequences of lessons in core subjects designed to support progress over time towards national curriculum/ GCSE levels/ Functional Skills Qualifications.

Pathway 4 Students are on a bespoke fulltime curriculum created by PPS as the relationship with their homeschool has broken down or they are moving to a different provision. Subject specialists deliver core subjects and foundation subjects are planned and delivered by PPS staff from existing resources. Initially these were drawn from homeschools but we are working to develop PPS units of work in foundation subjects which fit a trauma informed practice model. The Perse school is supporting the creation of these units. We are focusing on art, geography, history and MFL for now.

Students on pathway 5 access a homeschool offer. At this pathway PPS is mediated between the students and their homeschool to ensure parity of offer and cohesion. Even though the homeschool will often provide resources and sequences of learning, up to the end of KS4, PPS teachers will create a bespoke plan for students in our care to ensure that the pace of learning is appropriate to our unique setting. Pathway 5 is only suitable for students who are very much engaged with school and learning.

Post 16 teaching towards qualifications like A-levels, BTECs and future T-levels is supported by close contact between teachers and school teachers. Some schools offer remote lessons and students are supported to engage with these. When these are not available, we arrange specialist tuition, meetings between students and subject teachers or visits from school teachers. We mirror the move towards a more independent style of working, appropriate to a post-16 setting and offer a blend of direct instruction and supported independent study. We have subject specialists in English, Science, Maths, MFL, Geography and Art.


Academic progress is measured against the relevant national curriculum levels or GCSE/ Functional SKills criteria. In line with trauma informed practice, work is marked either in session or immediately afterwards to support students in building positive narratives around school experience. On pathway 5 marking is usually formative from PPS and summative from school. School staff support students to arrange face-to-face meetings with teachers over video conferencing software. Targets for improvement are shared with PPS staff and support further planning.

Curriculum Development

Core Curriculum


The English curriculum, with its focus on creative expression and reading, offers students an opportunity to express their unique experience of the world and to learn about the experiences of others’. In a hospital context, this feels particularly important and due to illness some students have missed key components of their English learning. We have a strong focus on language and literacy with a particular emphasis on oracy and writing. We also promote a love of reading through a reading for pleasure programme.

After baselining students, we offer sequences of lessons across 5 areas: Non-fiction writing, non-fiction reading, creative writing, prose fiction, poetry for Key Stages 1 – 3 in line with the National Curriculum. There is a strong focus on foundational literacy from EYFS to KS4 to ensure that all students have the opportunity to develop these key skills and to plug any criticalgaps in their knowledge during their hospital stay.

We continue to offer preparation for GCSE Language and Literature, English Functional Skills and also A-levels in Language, Literature and Language and Literature.

For more information on our literacy strategy click here:  Learning & Support / Reading


Our science curriculum aims to engage students’ curiosity about the natural world and develop a richer understanding of disciplinary and subject knowledge in physics, chemistry and biology. Through different types of scientific enquiries, we support students to answer scientific questions about the world around them. All students of secondary age will be assessed in science on arrival and bespoke lessons will be planned to support them to

make accelerated progress either by identifying gaps in previous knowledge or by developing their knowledge further as appropriate for their age and stage. We are inventive in our approach to practicals and work hard to bring science alive at bedside, even when circustances are particularly challenging!

Science at KS1-2 is overseen by the Lead Teacher of Science.

We offer preparation for GCSE combined science, triple science and individual sciences at both foundation and higher levels at GCSE.

We can also support A-levels in Biology and Chemistry and Physics aswell as BTEC and A-Level support in Health and Social Care, psychology and other science related subject areas.


Effective maths teaching relies on key ideas being fully understood before students move on. During their stay with us, teachers will baseline students in order to elicit prior knowledge and tease out misunderstandings and gaps in previous knowledge. Through bespoke planning, and due to the high ratio of teachers to students, we are able to consolidate and build on prveious learning to ensure that students are well prepared for their reintegration to school.

We continue to offer preparation for GCSE maths (foundation and higher), A-level maths and Further maths.

We can also prepare students for functional skills tests in Maths.


There are three strands to our PHSE curriculum: goals set on entry, psycho education on the ward and the taught curriculum. As with the rest of the curriculum, our PHSE offer is adaptive and engages students from the starting point they set in collaboration with a teacher at admission. Goals are chosen from a list that matches PHSE Learning Objectives with the SEMH Hospital School criteria. A bespoke curriculum is then designed for each student around these goals so that they have the opportunity to develop self-identified skills during their admission.


The importance of physical movement in aiding recovery from both physical and mental illness is well documente and needs to be sensitively managed in our context. As part of our bespoke curriculum offer, our PE curriculum offers opportunities to:

  • Develop competence in a broad range of physical activities
  • Be physically active for sustained periods of time
  • Learn about strategies for leading active and healthy lives

Foundation subjects

We offer students as broad and balanced curriculum as is possible during their stay in hospital. All doors will be opened in any subject area a student needs to cover during their stay with us. In the absence of a clear homeschool offer, we are also able to offer teaching from the following foundation subjects.


Geography units focus on deepening geographical skills and developing contextual knowledge of key physical and human geographical features and how these interact. Students are assessed through a map-skills unit and knowledge gaps are identified and taught. Students are then taught inline with their homeschool offer.


History supports students to acquire a coherent knowledge about the past. Upon arrival, we assess students’ knowledge and seek to shore up their understanding of chronology with knowledge of significant historical events. We also seek to develop their experience of historical enquiry and to deepen understanding of historical concepts such as continuity and change or cause and consequence.


We aim to inspire, engage and challenge through our delivery of art providing students with the skills and knowledge they need to express themselves creatively. The art programme offers a range of opportunities for children and young people to experiment with different medium, explore the work of great artists and designers and to develop across a range of competencies.