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Pathways: curriculum

“Students’ progress on their bespoke courses is good. There is a clear emphasis on developing literacy and numeracy skills to be applied in ‘daily life’ activities. Students enjoy their time in the post-16 provision. They speak highly of the positive relationships they have with each other and their teachers. This positive learning environment allows students to make good progress. For example, in one work-related qualification, all students were successful. Students have a variety of opportunities to develop their personal, social and employability skills. Such opportunities enable the students to grow in confidence and be actively involved in the community.”

– Ofsted Report for Hope Valley College (5–6 December 2017) : 16 to 19 study programmes 

Ofsted rating: Good

While there will be elements of traditional teaching, especially within the basics of literacy and numeracy, the main focus of teaching will be through an experiential model. Students will be given the opportunity to learn through real life experiences.

Hope Valley Pathways aims to provide a person-centred teaching and learning environment, in which the curriculum is wide-ranging and allows students to gain qualifications based on their skills and abilities. To this end we use Functional Skills Numeracy and Literacy, to allow students to apply their learning to practical contexts. The main elements of the curriculum are drawn from foundation learning, covering Entry Levels 1-3. Where relevant, students will be able to access Level 1 and Level 2 qualifications suitable to their current interests. The teaching of many aspects of the curriculum will be contextualised in meaningful ways that aim to develop lifelong learning. e.g., organising theoretical household budgeting.

We also use a highly personal approach where some students are able to access academic qualifications which match their particular skills, abilities and interests. This has included GCSE Maths, Statistics, Computer Science, Sciences, and SAGE Accountancy. Students also participate in a BTEC qualification which allows them to gain recognition for their cooking skills. We also offer several qualifications that include; Childcare, Health and social care and BTEC Level 1 Vocational Studies, which again allows students to demonstrate their experience and knowledge of different curriculum areas, and gain academic credit for this.

In addition to these more formal lessons, students also have the opportunity to take part in sport activities both indoors and outdoors, have the opportunity for informal music participation in both singing and improvised playing, and participate in science lessons which allow students to experiment and investigate areas which interest them. Our students also can gain practical experience within the on-site allotment, where a lot of cross-curricular learning takes place and linked to the numeracy and literacy. This allows for student involvement in the planning, building and development of landscaping projects.

Finally, we recognise that it is important for our students to learn how to relax and socialise in a positive way.  Students are given opportunities to suggest and participate in different activities, for example: Movie club, playing board games, knitting, mindful colouring etc.  The school library for accessible for reading and research into their own particular interests.


Core skills/Specialist skills

All students will under-take qualifications that look to build on the following fundamental elements:

  • A good grasp of basic literacy and numeracy skills (vital to further education Post-18 or a move into independent living and or employment).
  • ICT – embedded within the teaching, focusing on how to use ICT within everyday life, along with important elements of e-safety.
  • Skills students have a specific interest in, which may ultimately for part of their further education at Post-18, or directly link to the area of employment that they wish to pursue.


Vocational/Employment skills

This aims to support students to build an understanding of the community around them and the possibilities that are open to them. Tied into this will be an opportunity to experience and understand the world of work. This will enable students to begin to formulate a plan that could eventually lead to employment. Students will have a range of opportunities to experience different types of work environments.


Life Skills

This focus is on enabling our students to become fully integrated members of their community as well as helping them to develop a wider understanding of their role in the community. Life skills will also tie in with elements of the PSHE curriculum to support students in developing their personal and social skills.


Health and well-being

Throughout the curriculum students will be given the opportunity to learn about the importance of living a healthy life that incorporates the right foods and exercise. Elements of the curriculum will also build towards therapeutic activities that help to create a positive sense of well-being, so that our students are able to face the challenges of life in a confident and capable fashion.



Art History is taught as a key part of our students’ Art education. Students are shown examples of art throughout history and are encouraged to share their opinions and debate with each other. We use art as a means of thinking about success and failure by discussing, "What is good Art?" and as a way of examining the world around us, covering topics such as body image, confidence and the unique voice of each artist - how can we use our own voices to talk about how we experience the world around us? Students create their own work in response to the topics covered and are encouraged to be creative and confident in the value of their work.



Students will develop skills in food preparation and cooking. Students plan dishes which they will then prepare and cook safely and hygienically. They will have opportunities to develop an enterprise project where they use skills to serve food and drink in a safe and hygienic manner to staff in the school setting. Students make use of the Post-16 allotment where they gain understanding of how different fruits and vegetables are grown and harvested. These are then prepared within food lessons. Some students also utilise the kitchen area within the Hope Valley Pathways’ building to prepare their own breakfast and lunch. Staff are on hand to support students where required whilst encouraging independence.


Our Allotment

"It's like playing Minecraft with my own hands but the diamonds are potatoes."

– Post-16 student

Now a key part of the curriculum, the on-site allotment provides students with the chance to continue their learning outside the classroom.

With our unique location, students benefit from the sights and sounds of the National Peak District whilst creating their own projects and watching them grow and develop.

The inevitable success and failure that comes with growing your own produce allows learners to value the joy that can be found in the process and not just the outcome. As a result, students transfer these new skills into the classroom, becoming confident and enthusiastic learners and developing a positive growth mindset.


Duke of Edinburgh Award

Former students have engaged with the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. In order to gain this, they had to complete two self-supported expeditions and then for at least three months each, volunteer for a charity, take part in a sport or physical activity and practice a skill. The students learnt: first aid, navigation, group safety, camp cooking and many other skills in order to be self-reliant on their trips. The group successfully completed two expeditions, carrying all their own food and equipment as well as successfully map reading their way through the Peak District. Successful students were awarded their Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award, which is a fantastic success for people who probably find it a little harder than their peers to access community opportunities.



We engage in as many different sports and activities as possible. We have participated in basketball, football, indoor rowing (winning a silver in a Derbyshire wide competition), table tennis, cricket, French cricket, rounders, dodgeball, athletics, running, dance, badminton, cycling, Pilates, yoga, weight training, boxing fitness, plus many others. All abilities and interests are catered for. Through sport, students can build upon their cooperation, teambuilding skills and gain confidence by developing awareness of their growing abilities. The joy of participation helps to keep young minds healthy and supports the curriculum by providing a contrast and outlet for energy. Often students overcome a fear or reluctance to try something new.