Our Curriculum

Our students have failed to engage with the standard curriculum delivered by mainstream schools. Our broad and balanced curriculum is designed to meet their complex needs by engaging them in academic learning and developing their life skills. We are an inclusive school and all our teaching focuses on providing intensive support for students as individuals who have individual strengths and weaknesses. We offer a range of qualifications that gives every one of them the opportunity to attain. One-to-one support is provided when appropriate and we are always flexible. We also try to have fun.

We teach over five areas:

  • My Passport
  • My Self
  • My World
  • My Future
  • My Body (incorporating My Home)

Each area has a coordinator/teacher and at least one dedicated teaching assistant. Lessons vary in their approach – some are relatively formal with students sitting at computers, others involve working off site. We work with students as individuals and set appropriate goals for each. This means that students may complete different activities as they work towards different levels of attainment. We constantly review our practices and trial and implement new ideas to engage our students, develop their self-esteem and ensure that they fulfil their potential to develop the functional and imaginative skills that will help them to lead independent, fulfilling and successful adult lives.

My Passport

This curriculum provides students with the skills they need to move on to further learning and employment - literacy, numeracy and computer literacy. The teaching of literacy and numeracy is further supported by being embedded in all teaching across the curriculum.

In English we teach students to communicate clearly and effectively in speech and writing, and we build up their confidence so that they can share their thoughts, ideas and experiencies with others.

At Key Stage 3, students build their skills in reading and writing (following the National Curriculum), via themed units that encourage them to explore and experiment with language in written and verbal communication. The development of speaking and listening skills is embedded in all sessions. While we explore themes (such as Survival, Heroes or Horror stories) across a whole class, we work with students as individuals and set appropriate goals for each.

At Key Stage 4, students have the opportunity to achieve one of three qualifications, depending on their ability and current level of attainment (GCSE, Functional Skills or Entry Level Certification). They learn to demonstrate, to varying degrees: an ability to respond to literary texts; a degree of understanding and appreciation of English literary heritage; an ability to write creative and personal narrative; positive discussion, presentation and role-play skills and the capacity to create and respond to situations they might encounter in their daily lives.

Our Mathematics curriculum is designed to enable our students to develop the numeracy skills necessary for a confident transition to the adult working world. We also strive to open up the world of mathematics as the exploration of pattern and relationship with the development of methodological approaches to problem-solving at its core.

The curriculum meets the needs of individuals, recognising that each student has a unique blend of strengths and weaknesses. It follows National Curriculum guidelines, with opportunities for numeracy support and extension offered to those who need to fill in gaps or reach a bit further.

We regard ‘Assessment for learning’ as an essential tool for supporting progress and each student is encouraged to self-assess and reflect on their learning as part of an on-going process of development. All our students work towards an individual target in maths and are encouraged to view learning as a personal journey. 

Numeracy is fundamental to financial independence. Students study ‘functional’ and ‘key skills’ sessions as well as other areas including: Number & Algebra, Geometry & Measure and Statistics.

The study of maths is often seen as an abstract set of topics and rules that have little to do with daily life. We dispel this myth by offering learning activities beyond the classroom. Students learning about money, finance and the origin of the monetary system visited the Bank of England where they received a presentation on how the mathematics of currency influences the lives of everyone in the country. They found out their maximum speed on the running track and learned about the relationship between speed, distance and time.  As part of this unit of learning, they learned how to use formulae and, on a visit to Thorpe Park, met engineers who told them how they use mathematical calculations when designing roller coaster rides.

At Key Stage 3 coursework follows National Curriculum guidelines and incorporates the learning of Number and Algebra, Geometry and Measure and Statistics. Some students require support on arrival to the school and aspects of their learning are supported through appropriate elements of the KS2/1 curriculum.

At Key Stage 4 we aim for every student to gain a maths qualification suited to their ability. While we aspire for students to achieve at GCSE standard, we recognise that educational progress can be problematic for our students and offer  Entry Level, Functional Skills (L1 and 2) and GCSE. The OCR - Entry Level 1 – 3 qualification covers Data Handling, Number, Shape, Space & Measure. The Functional Skills L1 & 2 introduces skills required for success at GCSE including, representing, analysing and interpreting situations using mathematics. It introduces some algebra and higher level number and data processing strategies. The Edexcel GCSE course covers: Statistics, Number & Algebra, Shape, Space & Measure.

My Passport opportunities for qualifiactions at Key Stage 4:


  • Edexcel GCSE in English
  • Edexcel Entry Level Certificate in English
  • Edexcel Level 1 and 2 Functional skills in English.
  • Edexcel GCSE in Mathematics (Foundation or Higher)
  • OCR Entry Level certificate in Mathematics
  • Edexcel Functional skills in Numeracy Level 1 and 2 Certificate


My Self

At Ian Mikardo we believe that being able to think coherently and creatively, and adapt to a constantly changing world, is a vital part of our students' education. By working through creative activity – fine art, graphic design, digital photography, including film, and music - the curriculum fosters expansive thinking, experimentation and a safe form of personal expression. We teach students to work in an evaluative and reflective way, enabling them to develop their abilities and responses, and the creative impetus gives them a greater sense of freedom than is possible in other areas of the curriculum.

We regard this as a fundamental part of academic and personal development for young people who have led chaotic and dysfunctional lives. Once they begin to process their thoughts and feelings, they gain confidence and can engage with meaningful work across the curriculum. We also visit galleries and museums, and do work based on experienced artists and designers. This combination gives students first-hand exposure to historical and contemporary sources.

At Key Stage 3 students are introduced to the fundamental elements of art and design: line, shape, form, pattern, texture and tone. They develop their skills by experimenting with a broad range of materials and processes.  At Key Stage 4 they research established artists and learn to identify how they have used the six fundamental elements, and develop the skills to apply this knowledge effectively in their own work.

My Self opportunities for qualifications at Key Stage 4:


  • OCR GCSE Art and Design 


My World

This curriculum gives students the skills and knowledge they need to explore the world around them, and enables them to appreciate innovations, past triumphs and cultural differences. We encourage students to consider the lives of people from different times and places, sometimes using Skype as a virtual classroom, and understand how the physical world works. By supporting students to make links between their own experiences and the world they live in, we aim to develop their empathy and expand their understanding of what may be possible for themselves and their communities in the future.

At Key Stage 3 there are two study programmes.

Science is taught mostly through hands-on lessons.  The emphasis is on a personal journey of exploration through relatable topics. The curriculum is loosely based on a mix of published resources from WIKID science, Exploring Science and Go Science! There is an even spread of topics from Physics, Chemistry and Biology, and a focus on the skills and knowledge required for success at GCSE Science.

Humanties involves History, Geography and Religious Studies, with themes relating to Citizenship interlaced throughout. It is taught through topical lessons designed to cover the essence of the three subject areas, whilst also developing core skills such as critical thinking, debating and empathy. The History curriculum is based on the Collins published resources; Geography is based on resources from WIKID science; and the RS curriculum is of original design and covers ‘Special Places’, ‘Stories’ and ‘Philosophical Issues’, all of which are intended to prepare students for the GCSE RS course.    

At Key Stage 4, the Science curriculum develops the ability to think scientifically and critically; this helps students to make informed decisions as adults. Our vocational approach supports this; students explore the skills and personal qualities required for working in industries associated with scientific activity. These include the ability to follow health and safety procedures and raise awareness of workplace hazards before students embark on work experience or their first job. They become familiar with the key characteristics of some commonly used equipment, and the correct use of some technical and scientific terminology, and they learn to make qualitative and quantitative observations and measurements in practical situations. All this provides a foundation for progression and employment in industries in the science sector.

In Humanities, students study Religious Studies. This subject is explored through a philosophical method, with the aim of understanding the beliefs of different religions, cultures and individuals, what influences these beliefs and what we can learn from them, and how the beliefs have an impact on the wider world.

Students confront a wide range of personal and global issues including ‘Meaning of Life’, ‘Relationships’, ‘Death and Afterlife’, ‘Equality’ and ‘Politics’. Our Humanities curriculum aims to give students greater confidence in their personal beliefs and actions, and a greater understanding of why people live differently to them. We focus on Christianity and Islam, but  lessons are not limited to these religions and are always impartial.

My World opportunities for qualifications at Key Stage 4:


  •          OCR GCSE Science
  •          OCR GCSE RE
  •          OCR Entry Level Philosophy and Ethics (Religious education)
  •          Edexcel Religious Studies Full or Short Course


My Body (incorporating My Home)

My Body is split between three areas:

My Body Physical Education provides students with the opportunity to participate in a variety of physical and sporting activities in competitive, creative and challenging situations. Students develop the competence and confidence to perform as individuals in groups and in teams, and develop leadership skills through coaching and officiating.

My Body Healthy Active Lifestyles focuses on personal health and fitness. This gives students the opportunity to take part in alternative activities, which enable them to discover what they like to do and how and where they can participate in these activities outside school hours.

My Body Food and Nutrition develops students’ knowledge of a healthy balanced diet. Working in our flat, students are taught basic food hygiene and safety, and develop essential cooking skills by using simple recipes.  Our flat is equipped as an independent living space with cooking, washing and cleaning facilities. This facility enables our students to experience the possibilities offered by an organised and structured home life and helps to develop academic, social and personal skills that will enable them to progress to further education and employment.

My Body opportunities for qualifications at Key Stage 4:

* Sports Leaders UK Level 1 Award in Sports Leadership  


My Future

This curriculum prepares students for working life outside school. It focuses on vocational courses and ensures that students develop the practical and personal skills they will need to gain employment, negotiate the working world and succeed within it. This includes supporting them to develop healthy and fulfilling relationships, becoming a safe, confident individual, learning to make appropriate choices and assess risk. We train students to regard employment as a positive choice and to engage in learning as a life-long activity.

At Key Stage 3 Personal, Health and Social Education covers drugs education, sex and relationships, emotional wellbeing and healthy lifestyles. As well as working on personal development, the course teaches making career choices, applying for courses and jobs, relationship behaviour and practices in the workplace, personal safety, becoming a critical consumer, and diversity, prejudice and discrimination. We develop independent study skills and a sense of personal responsibility by teaching students to organise and archive their work.

Course work on Hair and Beauty is taught in our purpose-built salon and involves an introduction to the industry and presenting a professional image.  At both Key Stage 3 and 4 students learn techniques relating to hairdressing, manicures and head massage.

At Key Stage 4 course work on enterprise and employability covers the enterprise process and rights, responsibilities and ethical considerations associated with it, the Internet, developing personal responsibility, and personal finance. 

For Year 11 students we offer supported work experience and a Careers Connexions worker provides 1-1 support as they write CVs, research college courses and write applications. Mentoring is offered by experienced professionals; this includes interview practice.  We support students at interview and enrolment at college, and all the school’s staff are available to offer advice and support to former students who seek it.  

My Future opportunities for qualifications at Key Stage 4:

* AQA GCSE Level 1/2 Certificate in Preparation for Working Life (short course)
* AQA GCSE Level 1/2 Certificate in Enterprise and Employability (short course)

My Challenge

Our students' horizons are narrow and for this reason we take them out of London on residential trips.  We have offered Year 7 to Year 10 students the opportunity to visit Centre Parks and a watersports centre in Greece. 

On the surface residential trips are about developing confidence and resilience through challenges such as Go Ape or windsurfing. Our students benefit from this and relish the sense of achievement and the positive message that comes from achieving a feat they had thought beyond them. The trips also introduce them to a natural environment, and encourage them to respect it.

We believe that there is further value in giving them the experience of spending several days in the company of a nurturing group of adults where all the students' skills are valued.  This helps them to build positive and nourishing relationships, and to understand what it feels like to be relaxed and comfortable within a warm and supportive environment where everyone is on their side.