The ‘SENSES’ Curriculum

taste it, touch it, see it, smell it, hear it’ 



Planned and focused opportunity for first hand, real life experience is essential in ensuring our children are ready for their next stage of learning is at the heart of our learning experiences, including monopolising on the frequency and learning built around educational visits that the children partake in.



Enquiry based learning and the use of a sensory approach to the curriculum pledges to allow children to explore topics and ideas by giving concrete and thus memorable and meaningful learning experiences. It enables children to personalise their learning and to act as co-constructors of their curriculum.

Each year group follows a topic for a term or half term. Within the topic, the teacher plans for learning opportunities using children’s previous knowledge and their interests. The topics cover art & design, design & technology, history and geography elements of the national curriculum but are fundamentally cross curricular incorporating all aspects of learning including appropriate links with other foundation subjects.

Each cycle of learning starts by allowing children to share their prior knowledge and understanding. Following this, through an experience that is provided to provoke curiosity e.g. an educational visit; exploration of artefacts and items, children are encouraged to ask questions which they will later revisit throughout and at the end of the topic cycle as their experiences and knowledge and understanding grows. Through this approach children are encouraged to research, investigate and problem solve to inform their learning. This approach/learning style encourages children to take ownership of their learning and become engaged, independent and motivated. This planning is enabled by having developed our foundation topic curriculum by using an outline framework which breaks down the content of the foundation subjects set out in the National Curriculum into smaller milestones with an emphasis not only on knowledge and understanding but skills also: KS1, Lower KS2 and Upper KS2.


At Rift House we believe design and technology is an inspiring, rigorous and practical subject. We recognise children acquire a broad range of subject knowledge and draw on disciplines such as mathematics, science, engineering, computing and art. This is reflected in our termly STEM projects, where pupils learn how to take risks, becoming resourceful, and innovative, enterprising and capable citizens - 1 session per week (replaces one other foundations session per week – see generic timetable examples).



We have developed a CHOICES approach that promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society, and prepares pupils at the school for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.



This is aided by the use of our CHOICES diaries – which enable children to reflect on their choices throughout and at the end of the school day.   



MR BEAT– Children record how many times they raise their heart rate in the day.

FUELLING FITNESS – children reflect on their food choices (fuelling learning) – They think about fruit and vegetables, water and how well they balance their diet.

ME, MYSELF and I – Children reflect on their emotional state – kindness, happiness, feeling safe, positive contribution to others, honesty, confidence, trust, responsibility, enthusiasm, respectfulness, politeness.

School are working in partnership with Tees Valley Sport in the development of the 'Active Schools' Initiative.


At its most basic level, mindfulness equips children with the skills to focus on the now and also form a strategy to address their worries and uncertainties and manage these emotions positively - it can help them learn how to work skilfully with the stresses and strains of childhood and adolescence without being swept away by them. These coping skills then are more likely to remain with them into adulthood.

Findings have shown that mindfulness helps them:

  • Feel calmer and more fulfilled
  • Get on better with others
  • Concentrate better
  • Manage their stress and anxiety
  • Manage performance more effectively in areas such as sport, music and drama.


At Rift House we have trained staff who promote mindfulness in the classroom, in small nurture groups, through targeted support with EP involvement and through weekly assemblies. It is also displayed around school and reinforced with children when needed throughout the school day.



Primary movement:

Primary reflexes are movement patterns which emerge during fetal life and are critical for the survival of the newborn - e.g. infant rooting and suck reflexes. They are obvious during the first six months of life and primary reflex tests are routinely used by paediatricians to assess the neurological integrity of the newborn baby. As the nervous system develops, however, they are inhibited or transformed and the persistence of primary reflexes beyond their typical timespan (twelve months) interferes with subsequent development and indicates neurological impairment


The Primary Movement programme developed at Queen's University, Belfast has been shown to have a significant impact on reducing reflex persisitence.

The Primary Movement programme is used within the early years of Rift House and for those children targeted when identified. Younger children first learn a series of songs with added movement, in order to prepare them for participation in the core Primary Movement programme, a sequence of specific movements which are based on replicating or mimicking the primary reflex system of the fetus.





Through an entire school approach to deepening learning and mastering concepts by developing skills, acquiring knowledge and deepening understanding, in all subjects and organically presented scenarios, children are encouraged to justify ideas with reasons; ask questions to check understanding; develop vocabulary and build knowledge; negotiate; evaluate and build on the ideas of others; and select the appropriate register for effective communication. They are taught to give well-structured descriptions and explanations and develop their understanding through speculating, hypothesising and exploring ideas. We believe this enables them to clarify their thinking as well as organise their ideas for all subjects and aspects of daily life.



Forest schools:

This innovative educational approach to outdoor play and learning aims to encourage and inspire individuals of any age through positive outdoor experiences. It is currently run and organised by our trained Forest School’s Lead and distributed to all children from Y1-6 across the whole school year. In five week blocks groups of six children attend one session per week and these blocks continue throughout the year. They are skilfully planned and differentiated for in accordance with the corresponding age appropriate national curriculum. Topics change yearly for each year group to ensure variety and are seasonally appropriate. Children are mixed in to groups consisting of mixed emotional and social ability to complement and support one another.


aspirations and SEMH:

Aspiration and future choices should start from the very first day children arrive at our school and this is planned for within many areas of our curriculum, including through purposeful educational visits, often present in many of our day to day curriculum subjects, particularly our planned STEM topics and by making use school speakers/guests. A strategic plan is in place and a delegated staff member ensures these plans become realised. As does a wellbeing team ensure that all aspects of the whole school ensures the health and wellbeing of all staff and children in school.


This is a good school which is improving rapidly because every member of staff ensures every child has the best possible opportunity to achieve well academically, personally, physically and creatively. Pupils thrive in a welcoming, positive, caring environment to become confident, young people who want to learn. Ofsted 2018



Awards Achieved:

  • International School Award
  • Eco Schools Award
  • Golden Apple Healthy Eating Award
  • Healthy School Award
  • Sainsbury’s School Games Award – GOLD
  • PESS Sports Mark – GOLD


Working towards:

  • AFPE
  • Primary Science Quality Mark
  • The National SMSC Quality Mark
  • Wellbeing Award for Schools


N.B. School have also recently been nominated by Tees Valley Music Service for The Schools Music Award on account of our excellent provision.


Future Curriculum Developments:

TARGET: We are working on further developing our current affairs curriculum e.g. to include more global, as well as national political issues and ‘one off’ events i.e. 70 years of NHS services.

We are in the process of evaluating our curriculum offer to ensure that our children are given enough opportunity to gather appropriate skills in subject specific areas in a way that enables them to remember the learning for life.  We are also in the process of creating opportunities throughout the learning journey that will allow children to apply these skills in a greater context. 


Educational Visits

Year 6 

Eden Camp,

Crucial Crew,

Borough Hall, Lord Winston Visit,

High Tunstall - STEM Workshop,

Explosive Science,

Borough Hall - Lablive Science Event,

York - Chocolate Factory,

High Tunstall STEM Event


Year 5

Borough Hall,

Lord Winston Visit,

High Tunstall - STEM Workshop,

Space2Learn - Rainforest & Space,

Preston Park - Victorian Christmas,

Summer Hill - Tree Planting,

Newcastle - Bella Italia and Hancock Museum,

Inspire2Learn - Scrapheap Challenge

Beamish - Victorians

 Winter Gardens

 S.U.F.C - Science Day



Year 4

 Space to Learn - Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe, 

Borough Hall - Snappy Christmas Music Festival, Summerhill - Science,

Skipping Competition,

High Tunstall - Science Tiny Things

Inspire2learn - Food Design 

High Tunstall - Science Workshop

Mill House Skipping Tournament

Brierton - Skipping Competition


Year 3  

Teesmouth Field Center - Rocks,

Salt Holme - Animals,

Space2Learn - Egyptians

High Tunstall - Science Workshop

High Tunstall - Explosive Science

Bowes Museum

Pedestrian Training

Sunderland Winter Gardens

Summerhill Tree Planting


Year 2

Space2Learn - The Great Fire of London,

Mill House - Skipping Competition

Inspire2Learn -

Space2Learn - 

Washington Wetland Center  

Year 1

Marritime Museum- Toys form the past,

Inspire2Learn - Animation Day,

Ward Jackson Park 



Summerhill - Autumn Walk,

Kirkleatham Owl Sanctuary

 Washington Wetland Center 

Post Office

Winter Gardens



Summerhill - Autumn Walk,

Summerhill - Winter Wonderland




Morrisons Carol singing 

Middleton Grange - Carol Singing

Lindisfarne Care Home

Laurel Gardens Care Home