Curriculum Overview and Intent

Our school’s core purpose will be to ensure that learning and progress are both outstanding and that aspirations and expectations are high for every individual pupil or student at their individual stage.

All of the pupils and students attending the school have a physical or psychological barrier to learning and therefore the school has a bespoke local response to the curriculum covering all statutory aspects when possible.

At HHELC, by “curriculum” we mean the total experience that a child or young person will encounter during their time at the school. The curriculum will include both national curriculum opportunities and local enrichment activities including the development of life skills. Where appropriate, the school will be mindful of the opportunities that children and young people access out of school and in their home school, such as hobbies and personal interests. 

The school’s curriculum will focus on both academic rigour and building the characteristics of effective learners. Curriculum design will be based on the skills, knowledge and understanding that all pupils require to be successful citizens who will thrive both economically and socially.

At HHELC, the curriculum will be aspirational, creative, relevant, purposeful and progressive. There will be a consistent focus on literacy, mathematical and scientific ability. This focus will ensure equity for all and equal access to other areas of the curriculum. The teaching of communication skills, including reading and writing will be prominent. Cross curricular reading will be provided to develop opportunities for research and enquiry. Every opportunity will be provided for pupils and students to develop their written abilities through cross curricular work.

Research confirms that pupils and students find logic, enjoyment and interest in the thematic approach to learning. Themes will cover a range of interests including their local, national and global position, a historic perspective alongside an understanding of their environment. Expressive arts, creative and scientific exploration will be embedded as will opportunities for design. The curriculum will include the teaching of a modern foreign language as well as physical development and well-being.

There will be a culture of active learning, enquiry and exploration. Pupils’ personal responsibility for learning will be promoted. Pupils will be supported to develop characteristics such as independence, resilience, persistence, optimism, self-worth and self-belief.

Values such as respect and dignity for all will be promoted.

Curriculum Objectives (adapted from the Northern Ireland Curriculum)

Our curriculum will provide opportunities for pupils and students to develop as

1. an individual

2. a contributor to society.


personal understanding

  • respect themselves, understand their rights and responsibilities
  • understand and manage their emotions
  • learn how to learn and be committed to learning
  • be aware of their creative potential and become self-reliant

mutual understanding

  • respect and co-operate with others
  • manage and resolve conflict
  • develop and sustain safe, caring relationships

personal health

  • live a healthy lifestyle and make healthy choices

moral character

  • show fairness and integrity in dealing with others
  • be reliable and committed to tasks and take responsibility for choices and actions

spiritual awareness

  • develop an inner appreciation of life purpose
  • develop the personal strengths and resources to cope with adversity



  • respect the equal rights of others
  • recognise the interdependence of people, communities and the environment
  • negotiate and compromise
  • understand and use democratic means to influence change and contribute to the welfare of school, the community and the environment

cultural understanding

  • recognise the richness and diversity of cultural influences in society and engage with human cultural achievement in a range of forms and contexts

media awareness

  • be critically aware of the range of print, sound, moving image and graphic media and assess the role and influence of media within society

ethical awareness

  • be aware of some of the dilemmas arising from scientific, technological and environmental change
  • assess the human and environmental impact of ethical choices and take action as appropriate


  • be aware of the impact of technology and global markets on work patterns and prospects
  • be proactive, enterprising, adaptable and open to new ideas
  • enhance career options through life-long learning and be aware of the rights of workers and employers

economic awareness

  • understand the economic interdependence of individuals, organisations and communities locally and globally
  • critically examine how wealth is created and distributed
  • make balanced and informed economic judgements
  • be discerning and effective consumers, plan and manage personal finances effectively

education for sustainable development

  • understand the interdependence of society, the economy and the environment
  • develop respect for the needs of both present and future generations
  • demonstrate how action can help improve the quality of life for people, locally and globally and
  • exercise environmental responsibility through conservation of resources, waste management and promotion of local and global biodiversity

All parts of the curriculum will emphasise the development of thinking skills and personal capabilities:

  • Thinking, problem solving and decision making
  • Being creative
  • Managing information
  • Working with others
  • Self-management

These skills help pupils to think creatively, to develop personal and interpersonal skills and dispositions that are essential for functioning effectively in a fast- changing world. The thinking skills and personal capabilities are tools that help pupils to go beyond acquiring knowledge.

At HHELC we recognise that the curriculum should address educational, social and generational disadvantage. The school’s ethos and culture will nurture and support all pupils so that they feel secure in their learning and are able to take advantage of a wide range of opportunities. In addition, appropriate support and intervention will be provided for all pupils including those with barriers to learning – vulnerable pupils, the more able and those with specific talents or skills. Due to a wide range of barriers to learning, including long absence from mainstream education, we intend to ensure that gaps in pupils’ knowledge and skills are addressed. Often these gaps include the acquisition of life skills which need to be developed. Personalised learning opportunities are used where relevant.

Where relevant we will work in partnership with the pupil’s “home school” so that they are not disadvantaged.

At HHELC we aim for our pupils and students to return to mainstream education wherever possible. We recognise that for some students this will not be the case. It is our intention that our students will work towards possessing the necessary characteristics needed in future employment. We define these as follows:

Employability Characteristics

1.  Invest in themselves, recognise their own strengths and values and take responsibility for developing their work readiness, skills and behaviours (Self-motivated) 

2.  Have the tools and skills required to present themselves to a future employer, and the belief that with the right dedication and effort, they deserve to achieve (Self-assured)

3.  Have high aspirations for themselves, strive to be the best they can be and set ambitious goals (Aspirational)

4.  Understand the opportunities available to them locally and beyond, and to make realistic choices (Informed)

5.  Able to analyse a task or problem and offer a range of solutions, thinking creatively and evaluating options (Problem solvers)

6.  Able to speak and write articulately, engagingly and accurately as well as listening carefully, with the ability to adapt to different purposes and audiences (Communicators)

7.  Understand their strengths and weaknesses and give thought to how they are developing, understand their interests and passions, and what is important to them (Reflective)

8.  Understand that employers want young people who can listen and learn from their successes and their mistakes and keep going (Resilient) 

9.  Work creatively to achieve their potential and that of the business, recognise the importance of using their initiative (Enterprising)

10.  Understand how to be an effective team member and take on a range of roles within a group (Co-operative)