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The School Curriculum and how we teach

For all learners, the focus upon life skills is the main part of the curriculum.

The development of communication skills, independence and preparing for work skills is at the core of everything that we do and we are committed to listening to learners and respecting their views and wishes and enabling them to progress and achieve their potential.

Extending beyond classroom-based teaching, we include community visits, PE, swimming and work experience opportunities, both on-campus and in the wider community.

Teaching takes place in small groups of five or fewer learners and each group is always taught in the same classroom by the same teacher. Supported by individual key workers from the education and residential teams, we work closely together to ensure that there is a continuity of support for all learners. Teaching methods are always differentiated to meet the needs of every learner. Every learner learns differently and we pride ourselves on our differentiation of learning and inclusive approach.

Waking Day Curriculum

Learning doesn’t stop when the school closes. At David Lewis, we promote increasing levels of independence in the skills of daily living and personal care. Residential learners benefit from being able to practise these skills in the more informal setting of their “homes” and the focus is to be as independent as they can be.

Integrated Therapy Supported Learning

All the learners at David Lewis School have full access to a multi-disciplinary team of on-campus therapists and clinical support including doctors, psychiatrists, psychology support, speech and language therapists, physiotherapists and sensory therapists, who all work hard to support learners to engage in learning.

“Learners benefit greatly from activities that enable their equal access to the school’s rich curriculum” Ofsted

Autism Support

Young people with autism spectrum disorders are given the opportunity to develop life skills that support the development of appropriate communication strategies, increased confidence and independence, along with relevant life skills to support their transition to adulthood and if appropriate, future supported employment opportunities.

Learners are supported to develop their expressive language and communication and engage in appropriate social interaction in a wide range of individualised learning activities, as well as everyday school learning, including daily living skills, work experience, animal care, horticulture, performance and sport.

Communication and Sensory Support

Communication and language development is at the core of our curriculum and is developed using a variety of techniques embedded into the day-to-day school curriculum.  Literacy and numeracy are developed through creative writing and by making them features of other activities.

Learners will be supported to develop increased levels of positive engagement, improved cognitive skills and social interaction. They will participate in a variety of activities which encourage them to make positive steps towards becoming intentional in their communication demonstrate preferences and make choices that have a positive impact on their lives. Opportunities to develop sensory and exploratory skills will be embedded throughout their learning activities to support sensory processing difficulties.

Aims of Autism, Communication and Sensory learning at David Lewis School

  • Learn in a safe, supported environment   
  • Develop cognitive skills, including memory and cause and effect
  • Promote and develop communication and social interaction skills
  • Develop self-awareness, self-esteem and confidence
  • Develop skills in preparing and coping with change
  • Develop decision/choice making skills
  • Enables learners to meet their sensory and self-regulation needs

Preparing for Work “Bridging the Gap” between Education and Employment

Our Employability Pathways are open to young people who could work towards employment but currently lack the essential skills to make a successful transition to adulthood and future employment. Along with the day-to-day school curriculum, young people are given the opportunity to undertake work experience in a variety of settings, both on-campus and in the community, or follow a specific “Vocational Pathway” such as Hospitality and Customer Service or Animal Care.

Employability Pathways provide the opportunity for young people to develop practical, transferable work skills, develop their understanding of work and career opportunities, while undertaking a range of work experience in different settings both on-campus and in the local community.

If learners already have an area of interest or know what work they would like to learn more about our Animal Care, Retail, Customer Service and Hospitality and Land-based Pathways are ideal.

Animal Care Pathway: A range of work-based activities are on offer caring for animals at the David Lewis Farm and Dog Grooming Parlour and animal care environments, such as animal charities and small petting zoos within the local community.

Retail, Customer Service and Hospitality Pathways offer a range of opportunities, both in the cafés and shop on site, or with some of our partners, such as Tesco, Barnardos and Booths.

Land-based Pathways allow learners to work in both horticulture and conservation on our 170 acre site and the gardens and garden centre that serves David Lewis. We also work very closely with conservation projects at both Marbury Park and Tatton Park.

Learners following any of our Employability Pathways will be supported to develop the skills to access the world of work, including supported or voluntary employment. Additionally, learners will follow the school curriculum to help develop their confidence and improve their literacy, numeracy and ICT skills, personal and social skills, work preparation skills and independence and health and well-being.

Learners’ Pathways are completely individualised and they will have the opportunity to undertake anything from 1 day, up to 3 days on their learning Pathway. The remaining programme time will be spent in school following the school curriculum and where appropriate, accreditation in work skills and literacy and numeracy. 

Aims of Employability Pathways

  • Gain transferable work-related skills
  • Have real life experience of the workplace
  • Gain a realistic view of what employment involves
  • Improve their chances of successful employment post education
  • Gain accredited work-based skills
  • Improve their independence and social skills
  • Progress to Supported Internships, where appropriate


We offer the opportunity for learners to work towards accredited qualifications at the assessed level for each young person.

Our qualifications span a wide range of achievement, including the ability to apply basic skills, knowledge and understanding to a range of familiar experiences, literacy, numeracy and ICT, independent living and work skills.