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Dorchester Learning Centre Curriculum 2021/22


Dorchester Learning Centre operates a curriculum, which is designed to re-engage and motivate the students in our care.


Curriculum Intent:


  • Our school motto is one pupil, one plan therefore we aim to know our students - their strengths, interests and needs – and use this knowledge to make the best possible personalised curriculum offer to
  • To provide a balanced, accessible and aspirational range of learning experiences that allow students to achieve their next
  • To prioritise and develop our student’s emotional wellbeing including mental health ensuring all students feel a sense of
  • To ensure that students receive support and challenge in improving their literacy and numeracy
  • To provide our students with the most up to date information, advice and guidance in all areas of school including safeguarding and


The aim of the Dorchester Learning Centre is for students to be entitled to a broad and relevant curriculum which meets their needs, enables them to make good progress, links to clear outcomes and puts them on track to gain the skills and qualifications which will support them in their future life. This could be re-integration into mainstream education, or more commonly, into further education, employment or apprenticeships. We aim to allow the students to achieve the best possible outcomes academically and we acknowledge the hugely important role we play in developing the whole student. In response to COVID-19 DLC has ensured that students’ individual needs are met through a recovery curriculum.




Within the Primary unit, pupils’ learning is based on the Primary National Curriculum adapted for the individual needs and levels of the children. This includes Literacy, Maths, Science, the Humanities, PE, Art, Music and PSHE. All learning is deeply personalised to ensure children are fully immersed and engaged. All pupils receive teaching from specialist /ELSA practitioners and children also have access to a varied outdoor and adventurous activities programme. All children follow a systematic, synthetic phonics programme. Please see the primary curriculum plan for more details.


Year 7 and 8 Nurture Group


In the Year 7 and 8 Nurture Group, our priority is for students to feel comfortable and safe in education in a setting that understands their individual needs and developmental stages. The class teacher leading Nurture Group takes the curriculum overviews provided by subject leaders in the school and tailors the content for students in Nurture Group in response to their stages of both academic learning and in social and emotional learning. Nurture Group provides a safe space to make mistakes and see the value of mistakes on the journey to finding new solutions. We value being open to ‘not knowing’ an answer and having an openness to exploring and learning together to overcome the sense of failure that may be overwhelming and a barrier to learning. Curiosity, problem solving and resilience are qualities that we value and model in our learning environment to allow our students to forge a new, positive relationship with education and their own development.


The holistic approach of Nurture Group means that we respond to student needs and provide a flexible learning environment where social and emotional needs take priority; we know that behaviour is a form of communicating needs and through fostering a sense of belonging and safety being in our setting, students are then better equipped to take on academic challenges. The curriculum is planned and delivered by the Nurture Group teacher, with support from a class TA, in which the content overviews are provided by Subject Leaders and then adapted for the needs of students in Nurture Group. We use key words and vocabulary as set by Subject Leaders in half-termly topics across the curriculum. Whilst we value written responses in lessons, we also recognise and promote the importance of oracy and discussions skills through which students can express their ideas, knowledge and understanding of learning without writing becoming a barrier. Throughout the Autumn and Spring term we work in across-curricular manner wherever possible so that learning is meaningful and immersive, rather than being limited by time constraints discrete lessons dictate. As the year progresses, lessons become more discrete by subject area to prepare students for their transition into Year 9 where Subject Teachers will rotate into the group for teaching.


The impact of the Nurture Group structure is that students will transition successfully into Year 9 to be taught by subject specific teachers for the remainder of their time in KS3 and into KS4; they will be able to navigate a timetable with a wider number of adults teaching with a more formal structure to their timetables. Social and Emotional development will have been supported through the Nurture Group approach so that when students transition into Year 9, they feel confident and comfortable to access learning and peer relationships in a wider setting. Through the individual support and strategies developed in a small group with one main teacher providing consistency, students in the group will have regained a positive experience with education and be ready to integrate into the main building of the school. The academic assessments used to show impact in individual subject areas will follow what has been set out by subject leaders and used within the teaching of the National Curriculum in Nurture group. This includes formal formative assessment for Maths, English and Science to establish baselines moving from Year 8 into Year 9. These assessments will have been used in entry to Nurture Group where students have been in able to access them.  Given the diverse academic and social and emotional needs of the students in Nurture Group, being able to access formal testing may have been a target to work towards during their time in the group or, for those who were able to undertake testing, seeing progress in formative assessment results will be seen. In other subject areas (such as World Studies, Citizenship and ICT) the assessment criterion has been refined to follow the National Curriculum with assessment objectives that track student knowledge at a level that is achievable within the time each of these areas has been studied. As cross-curricular learning is delivered by the Nurture Group class teacher, these objectives can be tracked across subject lessons to gain full understanding of each student’s attainment. Students work within Nurture Group with a bespoke package of learning and support for each individual, which may reduce or tailor the curriculum to suit the needs of each student. The assessment undertaken by each student will reflect the subjects they participate in within their individual timetables.



Year 9. 10, 11

Our curriculum is divided into two distinct areas; personal development and traditional academic subjects in KS3/4.


    Personal Development     Academic
  • RSE & PSHE
  • Careers & Employability
  • Social Thinking
  • Promoting Equality and Diversity
  • Emotional Intelligence (Character)
  • Citizenship
  • Traditional British Values
  • MiSP (Mindfulness in Schools Project)
  • English
  • Maths
  • Science
  • ICT & Computing
  • Art
  • Citizenship
  • Humanities
  • RS
  • PE
  • Food/Catering

Personal Development


Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural (SMSC) development is the over-arching umbrella that encompasses personal development across the whole curriculum.


DLC defines SMSC as follows:


    Spiritual development       Moral development
  • ability to be reflective about their own beliefs (religious or otherwise) and perspective on life
  • knowledge of, and respect for, different people’s faiths, feelings and values
  • sense of enjoyment and fascination in learning about themselves, others and the world around them
  • use of imagination and creativity in their learning
  • willingness to reflect on their experiences
  • ability to recognise the difference between right and wrong and to readily apply this understanding in their own lives, recognise legal boundaries and, in so doing, respect the civil and criminal law of England
  • understanding of the consequences of their behaviour and actions
  • interest in investigating and offering reasoned views about moral and ethical issues and ability to understand and appreciate the viewpoints of others on these issues


    Social development       Cultural development
  • use of a range of social skills in different contexts, for example working and socialising with other pupils, including those from different religious, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds
  • willingness to participate in a variety of communities and social settings, including by volunteering, cooperating well with others and being able to resolve conflicts effectively
  • acceptance and engagement with the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs; they develop and demonstrate skills and attitudes that will allow them to participate fully in and contribute positively to life in modern Britain
  • understanding and appreciation of the wide range of cultural influences that have shaped their own heritage and that of others
  • understanding and appreciation of the range of different cultures in the school and further afield as an essential element of their preparation for life in modern Britain
  • ability to recognise, and value, the things we share in common across cultural, religious, ethnic and socio-economic communities
  • knowledge of Britain’s democratic parliamentary system and its central role in shaping ourhistory and values, and in continuing to develop Britain
  • willingness to participate in and respond positively to artistic, musical, sporting and cultural opportunities
  • interest in exploring, improving understanding of and showing respect for different faiths and cultural diversity and the extent to which they understand, accept and respect diversity. This is shown by their respect and attitudes towards different religious, ethnic and socio-economic groups in the local, national and global communities


At DLC SMSC is delivered through the Personal Development curriculum.


Personal Development aims to allow pupils to develop the knowledge, skills and attributes they need to keep themselves healthy and safe, and prepared for life and work. Delivery will have an impact on both academic and non-academic outcomes for pupils, particularly the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. We aim to help students gain the skills knowledge and understanding they need to lead, healthy, independent lives and to become informed, active and responsible citizens.


Teaching will be broken into distinct curriculum areas:

    RSE & PSHE

    Careers & Employability

    Social Thinking

    Promoting Equality and Diversity

    Emotional Intelligence (Character)


    Traditional British Values

    MiSP (Mindfulness in Schools Project)



1.  RSE & PSHE


The intent of our RSE and PSHE curriculum is to deliver a curriculum which is accessible to all and that will maximise the outcomes for every child so that they know more, remember more and understand more. As a result of this they will become healthy, independent and responsible members of a society who understand how they are developing personally and socially, and give them confidence to tackle many of the moral, social and cultural issues that are part of growing up.


We provide our children with opportunities for them to learn about rights and responsibilities and appreciate what it means to be a member of a diverse society. We promote tolerance and respect for all faiths and will our students will have the opportunity to research all religions. Our children are encouraged to develop their sense of self-worth by playing a positive role in contributing to school life and the wider community.


Please click here for our RSE policy.


2.  Careers & Employability


The next steps for our students are of vital importance and we aim to give every learner the opportunities to explore the wide range of possibilities that are available to them. We aim to offer an aspirational and realistic curriculum that provides students with the knowledge and skills to make life-changing decisions for themselves.


Each learner from Year 7 to Year 11 has access to Unifrog, a destinations platform that provides an in-depth service showing the possibilities open to each person. Each user has a tailored account that is geared towards helping them set goals and the skills with which to achieve them.


Students at DLC all receive discrete weekly lessons in Careers and also receive independent careers advice with a qualified advisor. It is our aim to give our students access to employer encounters, including Work Experience opportunities. They also receive FE encounters and help with their transition from Year 11 to their next destination.


The staff at DLC understand that both the quality of academic learning and pastoral support that our students receive are paramount in providing them with the best chance to succeed. It is our responsibility to inspire and push our students to be the best version of themselves and for each one to have a clear plan when they leave the school.


3.  Social Thinking


In Social Thinking we like to talk! Even more importantly, it is a safe space where you are listened to and we learn how to listen to other people. It is a place to help us recognise our emotions and social-emotional wellbeing. We explore and develop how to self-regulate our emotions and actions through support and guided discussion of events that are happening in our lives. It is a space where we are supported to consider different perspectives so that the actions of other people begin to feel less intimidating and help us to see why choices have been made. Our emotions can often feel overwhelming, that we don’t have a way to cope with them or a way to bring them to a manageable level; in Social Thinking we explore strategies to cope with emotions and ways to de-escalate ourselves so that we can think more clearly again. The skills we learn for ourselves then help us to be more confident in social problem solving, both while we are in school and out in the wider world.


4.  Promoting Equality and Diversity


At DLC we believe in equality. Everyone should be treated with respect and dignity. That’s why we strive to prevent discrimination and protect our staff and students from being discriminated against. We appreciate difference through inclusiveness. It gives us a deeper understanding of the

World and the needs of the people we’re working with. By including everyone our organisation is a better place and we can provide better education for our students. Equality and diversity are fundamental to our core beliefs and values. That’s why we welcome people from all ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, socio-economic classes, religions, disabilities and ages in everything we do. How do we do this?


  • By continually working to combat the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental illness
  • By making sure our curriculum reaches out to everyone and include everyone
  • By encouraging activities across our curriculum that enhance equality and promote diversity
  • By making sure we are up to date and have the knowledge and skills to really understand what diversity means in our current society
  • By being open and thoughtful when we talk to others and encouraging everyone to deal with complex issues with courage, skill, and grace. Characteristics such as racial and cultural backgrounds, ages, genders, sexual orientations, disabilities and religious beliefs open up alternative ways of perceiving, thinking and Valuing difference empowers students to improve the quality of their own lives and to positively contribute towards addressing misconceptions in society. We encourage staff to look for opportunities in the curriculum to tackle these issues and provide a voice for our students.


5.  Emotional Intelligence (Character)


Thrive is a specific way of working with all children that helps to develop their social and emotional well-being, enabling them to engage with life and learning. It supports them in becoming more self- assured, capable and adaptable. It can also address any troubled, or troubling, behaviours providing a firm foundation for academic attainment.

Positive relationships are at the heart of Thrive. We use these relationships, together with play and creative activities, to give children key experiences at each different stage of their development. Repetition of these activities supports their development, helping them to:


  • Feel good about themselves and know that they matter
  • Increase their sense of security and trust
  • Increase their emotional well-being
  • Improve their capacity to be creative and curious
  • Increase their self-esteem and confidence to learn
  • Learn to recognise and regulate their feelings
  • Learn to think before behaving in a certain way


The main aim is to form a positive relationship with each student. This will enable them to feel relaxed and safe in a friendly environment. Activities vary depending on the individual student and their interests. 

Each student will have their own action plan, with chosen learning targets to work on during sessions. 


Thrive practitioners at DLC;

Jen Sherry

Lucy Murray

Steve Collins


6.  Citizenship


A high-quality citizenship education will help pupils understand how they can play a full part as a citizen in British Society through:


  • Understanding yourself - To develop confidence and responsibility
  • Keeping healthy - To understand how to develop a healthy, safer lifestyle, to think about the alternatives when making decisions about personal health, and the consequence of those decisions
  • Developing relationships - To develop the ability to handle close relationships and to emphasize the importance of showing respect and acting responsibly in your dealings with other people.


7.  Traditional British Values


At DLC we believe in equality. Everyone should be treated with respect and dignity. That is why we strive to prevent discrimination and protect our staff and students from being discriminated against. We appreciate difference through inclusiveness. There is a keen focus on British Values throughout the curriculum and within PSHE lessons. Students are given numerous opportunities to develop their self-confidence, distinguish right from wrong, give and accept respect and the importance of democracy.


8. MiSP (Mindfulness in Schools Project)


Mindfulness helps train your attention to be more aware of what is actually happening around us. We learn to bring greater curiosity to whatever it is we experience.  At DLC, our students are given the opportunity to participate in this ten-week programme. For full details on MISP, please follow the links below.


Click here

Click here


MISP Practitioners at DLC:

Sam Branson

Jen Sherry


Academic Subjects


1.  English, English Literature and Literacy


English Language


At DLC, we emphasise the importance of reading and writing, speaking and listening effectively.   DLC students learn to express their thoughts and feelings, and their knowledge and understanding, orally and when writing for different purposes and audiences, across the curriculum.   They learn to decode, understand, analyse and enjoy a range of reading materials.  We aim to enable our students to reach their potential as literate, questioning learners at school and in their future communities as learners, carers and workers.


At Key Stage Three (11-14), students engage with reading and writing fiction and non-fiction texts.  Teachers are flexible about delivering the curriculum plan, choosing texts and adapting topics to engage their students.  Students are also supported in developing speaking and listening skills.  Spelling, punctuation and grammar skills are revisited and consolidated.   Students are encouraged to self- or peer-assess their spoken assignments, and they are teacher-assessed during each half-term unit of written work. 


At Key Stage Four (14-16), students have a range of options, depending on their needs and ambitions:


GCSE English Language


Students read and respond in writing to fiction extracts and to non-fiction texts, such as articles, autobiographies, diaries and letters from the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries. They learn to write descriptions, narratives, articles, letters or speeches accurately and effectively. They are assessed in two external examinations (AQA board). Students can access revision materials via Teams and Seneca to support them in their learning at home. During a half-termly unit of work, students are assessed using practice papers or differentiated papers to check engagement and attainment within the topic.


Functional Skills in English, Levels 1 or 2


Level 2 with Merit is regarded as an equivalent to GCSE grade 4 by some colleges. This course covers practical, everyday English skills. It requires students to take external exams in Reading and Writing, and to take part in two video-recorded presentations for their Speaking & Listening unit.  Practice papers are used at the end of units, to assess and feedback, in order to prepare for external exams.


Entry Level Certificate in English, Silver or Gold level


These pre-GCSE level qualifications are assessed in the classroom rather than as formal exams. They are good preparation for students who are working to improve their literacy skills, and who will be continuing their English study at college and moving on to Functional Skills or GCSE in their post-16 provision.  Assessment is ongoing, as students complete ‘live’ papers within the classroom, for eventual submission to the exam board.


English Literature


Students study classic fiction texts such as novels, poems, and plays, and film adaptations of the classics.  Students are encouraged to explore texts from a range of cultures and periods.  They have opportunities to engage with and enjoy stories.  In English Literature lessons, we explore the narratives, experiences, decisions and emotions that make us human. 


At Key Stage Four, we offer a GCSE English Literature course (AQA board) to students with an interest in novels, poetry and plays. We study three or four units to prepare for two external GCSE exams on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, J. B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls, Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet and the AQA Power & Conflict Poetry Anthology. We can also give support to students who have studied alternative texts in their previous provision. Literature students will ideally access learning and revision materials at home or in school beyond their timetabled English lessons in order to cover the syllabus, using resources such as Teams, Seneca and film adaptations online, and text guides and workbooks on their set texts. During a half-termly unit of work, students are assessed using practice papers or differentiated papers to check engagement and attainment within the topic.




All students are offered baseline tests in reading and writing as part of their induction to DLC, in conjunction with the data provided by their previous school or setting.


For secondary students with lower reading ages, we offer regular one-to-one interventions. For others, literacy is taught across the curriculum in all lessons, and staff use literacy teaching strategies to teach oracy, reading and writing in their subject specialisms.


2.  Maths


We want students to become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics through varied and frequent practice with increasingly complex problems over time. Mathematics is an essential skill in life and is at the heart of every day decision making. It is the aim of DLC to support every student to achieve their potential and develop a deep understanding of Mathematics. The department offers a supportive, nurturing environment focused on developing a culture of success. We strive to ensure that every student achieves their potential and develops a life-long love of learning.


Maths assessment  - In maths we use a baseline assessment when the student first arrives to find out the students’ maths age and any gaps. We use formative assessment in every lesson to assess for gaps and to push students on where we can. Every half term there is a formal assessment. This assessment is from White Rose. The assessment is normally from the year group of the student, but where needed, we access other year group assessments to allow the student to feel successful. The results of the assessment then feed into our planning of lessons to address the gaps. 


3.  Science


"The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Albert Einstein


  • We encourage our students to develop into individual and critical thinkers with good practical and theoretical skills, thrilled to face problems and enjoy finding appropriate solutions.
  • We inspire our students via a variety of learning activities, reassure to take risks and time to think, prompt them to use their own words and/or visual explanations and establish a trusting communication platform through critical but assertive and constructive marking.


All our GCSE students are sitting the exams of the AQA Combined Trilogy specification. Depending on their academic potential, our students can choose between the Foundation or the Higher tier. In years ten and eleven we familiarise our students with the structure and demand of exam style questions, that includes exam techniques and the use of appropriate vocabulary. This prepares them gently and consistently to become confident GCSE exam candidates.


4.  ICT & Computing


The aim of the ICT and computing curriculum is to provide children with an exciting and rigorous curriculum that addresses the challenges and opportunities offered by the technologically rich world in which we live. Pupils will gain secure knowledge and skills which will encourage them to use ICT and computing in everyday life to solve problems and allow them to flourish in the future.


5.  Art


Art enables young people to develop their confidence and creative imagination, allowing them to communicate what they see, feel and think through a range of methods, media and materials. We nurture each individual’s interests and strengths, whilst also giving therapeutic opportunities to be expressive. During lessons students are given regular opportunities to experiment, invent and create their own works of art, craft and design. Skills and techniques including vocabulary are taught progressively to ensure that all children are able to learn and reflect in order to develop.

Student’s interests are captured through themed learning, finding out about artists past and present. We make links in a cross curricular way, giving children motivation and meaning for their learning.


6.  Citizenship


A high-quality citizenship education will help pupils understand how they can play a full part as a citizen in British Society through:


  • Understanding yourself - To develop confidence and responsibility 
  • Keeping healthy - To understand how to develop a healthy, safer lifestyle, to think about the alternatives when making decisions about personal health, and the consequence of those decisions 
  • Developing relationships - To develop the ability to handle close relationships and to emphasize the importance of showing respect and acting responsibly in your dealings with other people.


7.  Humanities


Humanities helps us to understand our place in the world by looking at key events through history and introducing geography on a global, local and national scale. We learn about how our world has been shaped by the choices and actions of people in Britain through the ages and in recent history. This helps us to build opinions of our world as it now by understanding how things have changed. We can think about how the world may have been different if key events such as the World Wars had not happened and how our knowledge of the past can help us predict and prepare for the future. When we look at geography, we consider the physical (or natural) states of the world and the human influences that have formed the world around us. We research and reflect on topics such as climate and weather, natural disasters and climate change to build our understanding of our world.


8.  RS


The main objective of Religious Studies is to provide varied and enriching lessons that effectively prepare our students for life in a culturally diverse modern world. We aim to promote an awareness of the usefulness of Religious Studies to everyday living, to encourage enthusiasm for interest in the study of other people’s beliefs and to promote mutual respect, tolerance and understanding across different cultures and communities. 

Britain is now a truly diverse society; finding out about the beliefs and lifestyles of all people makes us think about what we believe and reflect on our own choices. This helps us to develop our own ideas and opinions, and ultimately shapes who we are. Learning to express our own beliefs and to listen to the views of others is an important life skill and this is something that Religious Studies staff have a passion for.


9.  PE


To provide opportunities for students to experience, enjoy and excel in high quality PE incorporating a diverse range of motivational activities which through support can develop life-long healthy citizens who have a love of exercise.


10.  Food/Catering


“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”


Food is a vital part of our daily lives and is essential for life. As our students become adults and have busy lives, it is easy to choose food which has been ready prepared. However, it is more nutritious and often cheaper to cook simple, delicious food. 

Students will develop their knowledge and understanding of nutrition, healthy eating, food preparation, hygiene, cooking techniques, and sensory characteristics.



To download the Recovery Curriculum please 



To download the Primary Curriculum please 



To download the Year 7 and 8 Curriculum 2021/22 please 



To download the Year 9 Curriculum 2021/22 please 



To download the Year 10 Curriculum 2021/22 please 



To download the Year 11 Curriculum 2021/22 please