Curriculum Rationale

Our Vision and Values

At Ysgol Sŵn y Don we work together to provide the children in our care with an excellent education, whilst nurturing and caring for their needs as they develop and grow.

We strive to provide a caring ethos where everyone in the school community feels safe, confident, valued and respected.  By promoting an environment where everyone can live and work together supportively, we hope to enable all to reach their full potential, emotionally, socially and intellectually.

Phase 1 – Principles and Purpose

    Sŵn y Don – Context

We are a distinctive school and our curriculum aims to reflect that.

Ysgol Sŵn y Don is a mixed Nursery and Primary school situated on a social housing estate in Old Colwyn, North Wales.  We provide education for approximately 130 pupils from three to eleven years old; we offer Nursery provision in the mornings.  There is an on-site playgroup catering for children from the age of two.  The playgroup also offers wrap-around care for all of our learners.

The three year average for pupils eligible for free school meals is 67%.  We have identified about 45% of pupils as having additional learning needs. (2021 figures).

We have a specialist, full-time, on-site Foundation Phase Resource base and a part-time key stage two Resource Base for learners from across the local authority with moderate learning needs.

At Sŵn y Don, we are very proud to be awarded the Trauma Informed Schools UK Award.  The principles of this approach underpin all that we do ensuring that the wellbeing of all is of the highest priority within school.

Our school dog Syd is a massive part of our team.  She supports learners and staff wellbeing and is much loved by all of the pupils.

Outdoor learning is a key part of our Sŵn y Don ethos.  We have a dedicated beach school / forest school leader and a fantastic forest school area which all pupils’ access as part of their learning offer.  Along with this, we have a minibus that allows us to use our local area in Conwy to enhance the offer.  Pupils are often out at sites such as: The Marian, Conwy Mountain and the local beaches.

At Sŵn y Don, we teach predominately through the medium of English but aim to use incidental Welsh in classes and around school.  We also ensure that we have daily oral Welsh 2nd Language lessons and a dedicated longer session through the week.  The home language of nearly all pupils is English.

As a school, we celebrate the Welsh language, culture and heritage.  We ensure to incorporate the principles of the Siarter Iaith into all aspects of the curriculum.  During their time in ks2, pupils have opportunities to attend residential trips to Glan LLyn and Nant Bwlch yr Haearn.

Phase 2 – Entitlement and Enhancement

What do we mean by Curriculum?

A curriculum refers to the variety of activities designed to foster education and meet the needs of a learning community.

As a school, along with stakeholders, we have identified important factors about our school and these are used to design and drive a unique curriculum for the needs of our learners.  These are:

  • Expanding Horizons, we aim to give our pupils a range of learning experiences that involve real life context, visits and experiences
  • Trauma Informed Schools, putting wellbeing at the heart of everything that we do
  • Rights Respecting Schools, empowering our pupils to know and understand their rights and the rights of others
  • Our school dog, Syd, she supports learning and general wellbeing
  • Community, we recognize the importance of good working relationship with parents and carers and strive to include and support the whole family
  • Outside learning, using our forest school area, the local beaches and sites within the county of Conwy
  • Right Track Behaviour system: Teachers have a right to teach; pupils have a right to learn; everyone has a right to be safe

The aim of our curriculum is to ensure that during their time with us pupils become: Ambitious Capable Learners; Healthy, Confident Individuals; Enterprising, Creative Contributors; Ethical, Informed Citizens.

Our curriculum is broad and balanced and suitable for learners of different ages, abilities and aptitudes.  It provides appropriate progression for leaners and includes a range of provision to ensure this.


Curricular Responsibilities

Our Sŵn y Don Curriculum embeds the mandatory cross-curricular skills and the integral skills which underpin the four purposes of the curriculum.

Literacy, numeracy and digital competence skills are essential in enabling learners to realise the four purposes.  These three mandatory cross-curricular skills are embedded and developed across all areas of learning and experience, to enable learners to access the whole curriculum and to use them in the future.

Our learners are given opportunities across the curriculum to:

  • Develop listening, reading, speaking and writing skills
  • Be able to use numbers and solve problems in real-life situations
  • Be confident users of a range of technologies to help them function and communicate effectively and make sense of the world.

At Sŵn y Don we carefully consider the mandatory elements of the curriculum when planning.  These may be taught discreetly but also are used to enhance and give real life contexts to learning experiences.



Phase 3 – Breadth and Balance

AoLE – Statements of What Matters

We have collated a broad range of experiences, knowledge and skills that are explored through a range of contexts and concepts.  We have AoLE leaders who support others to plan for and incorporate What Matters statements from each area of learning into the curriculum.  We strive to make links with all concept planning to give a well-rounded focus to the learning as well as focusing on basic skills as part of our ‘local curriculum’. 

Curriculum for Wales

Please explore the Welsh Government Website for more detailed information an guidance.

A New Curriculum in Wales - A parents and carers guide
Easy read guide for young people - Curriculum for Wales
Young person's guide to the new Curriculum for Wales

Phase 4 – Pedagogy

Planning the delivery of our Curriculum

When planning for our Curriculum we have used the 12 Pedagogical Principles, along with the Four Purposes to drive teaching and learning.  We use a mix of discreet teaching of skills / knowledge and a multi-disciplinary approach to engage learners.

All classrooms have learning zones, these include: Language Zone; Mathematics Zone; Digital Zone; Creative Zone; STEM / Problem Solving Zone and Calm Areas – to relax and contemplate.

We have adopted a Foundation Phase approach in each class where pupils move between working with staff on focus skills and independent learning / reinforcement activities in the zones.

Pupils are invited to contribute to and develop the planning of the curriculum at the start of each concept.


The Four Purposes

The four purposes are integral to our curriculum design. We aspire and support our learners to become:

  • Ambitious, capable learners, ready to learn throughout their lives
  • Enterprising, creative contributors, ready to play a full part in life and work
  • Ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the world
  • Healthy, confident individuals, ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society
Ambitious, capable learners who:
  • set themselves high standards and seek and enjoy challenge
  • are building up a body of knowledge and have the skills to connect and apply that knowledge in different contexts
  • are questioning and enjoy solving problems
  • can communicate effectively in different forms and settings, using both Welsh and English
  • can explain the ideas and concepts they are learning about
  • can use number effectively in different contexts
  • understand how to interpret data and apply mathematical concepts
  • use digital technologies creatively to communicate, find and analyse information
  • undertake research and evaluate critically what they find

and are ready to learn throughout their lives.

Enterprising, creative contributors who:
  • connect and apply their knowledge and skills to create ideas and products
  • think creatively to reframe and solve problems
  • identify and grasp opportunities
  • take measured risks
  • lead and play different roles in teams effectively and responsibly
  • express ideas and emotions through different media
  • give of their energy and skills so that other people will benefit

and are ready to play a full part in life and work

Ethical, informed citizens who:
  • find, evaluate and use evidence in forming views
  • engage with contemporary issues based upon their knowledge and values
  • understand and exercise their human and democratic responsibilities and rights
  • understand and consider the impact of their actions when making choices and acting
  • are knowledgeable about their culture, community, society and the world, now and in the past
  • respect the needs and rights of others, as a member of a diverse society
  • show their commitment to the sustainability of the planet

and are ready to be citizens of Wales and the world.

Healthy, confident individuals who:
  • have secure values and are establishing their spiritual and ethical beliefs
  • are building their mental and emotional well-being by developing confidence, resilience and empathy
  • apply knowledge about the impact of diet and exercise on physical and mental health in their daily lives
  • know how to find the information and support to keep safe and well
  • take part in physical activity
  • take measured decisions about lifestyle and manage risk
  • have the confidence to participate in performance
  • form positive relationships based upon trust and mutual respect
  • face and overcome challenge
  • have the skills and knowledge to manage everyday life as independently as they can

and are ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society.


We pride ourselves on the inclusiveness of Sŵn y Don.  We have a reputation of being a school that supports pupils and their families and have been able to successfully integrate pupils into our school that have struggled to maintain their place at previous schools. 



As a school we aim to ensure the needs are met of all learners through high quality teaching and learning provision.  Our Universal Provision includes: whole class teaching, effective differentiation, collaborative group work, individual and small group interventions, appropriate and reasonable adjustments to enable access to the school environment, curriculum and facilities.


During their time at Swn y Don, most learners will make expected progress in their learning from starting points.  If a child is not progressing, we will gather observations, use assessment date and seek to work in collaboration with outside agencies / professionals to identify any additional learning need. 

Health and Wellbeing


“Swn y Don provides a safe, caring and inviting environment in which the children are supported by every member of staff from the minute they arrive at school to when they leave.  This is true on a day-to-day basis as well as for their school career. The children are happy and enjoy school because the relationships between them and the adults are consistent and PACEful.  The school is led by a passionate, effective head teacher whose values are child-centred and shared widely with stakeholders.  The willingness and supportive nature of the staff team to implement trauma informed approaches to support the direction of the school is clearly evident. The school’s lead TIS practitioner is an excellent role model and supports staff to develop their practice. The meet and greet at the school gate each morning by the Head teacher and at the classroom doors by staff further evidences the understanding of the value of this as a protective factor. The children express that they feel safe in school, everyone is treated equally and they can talk to any adult – indeed they are encouraged to. Staff too echo the feeling of collective support that exists between all colleagues on an informal basis – they support each other.  There is a real ‘we’ culture and ethos.  The use of evidence-based interventions across the school ensure children have access to appropriate and supportive mechanisms that reflect the PRRRs. Syd, the dog, is an obvious asset to the enhancement of relationships throughout the school – she is loved, appreciated and mentioned often and utilised for both regulation and reward.” 

TIS UK Award report 2021

Trauma Informed Schools

Phase 5 – Progression and Assessment


The Curriculum for Wales guidance describes mandatory principles of progression for the curriculum as a whole and for each individual Area. These articulate the ways in which learners make progress in their learning and contribute to the four purposes. This means that progression must be embedded in learning and teaching and should form the basis of thinking in schools when designing and planning the school curriculum.

At Sŵn y Don we ensure that we plan activities that allow pupils to work within and across progression steps as is appropriate for their age and ability.  We use Taith360 to monitor and track pupils during their time with us.  The Assistant Head monitors all pupils’ progress and holds termly progress meetings with staff to ensure that pupils are working at the correct level and are being appropriately supported and challenged to reach their full potential. 


The purpose of assessment

Curriculum for Wales has defined that schools assess for three key reasons:

  • To support learners on an ongoing daily basis
  • To identify, capture and reflect on individuals progress over time
  • To understand group progress so that practice can be reflected upon.

At Sŵn y Don we use a range of assessment strategies to identify pupils strengths and weaknesses, set individual next step targets, inform planning and provide extra support and interventions. 


These include: teachers marking of daily work (assessment for learning); termly formal school assessments in spelling, writing, Cymraeg; on-line National Tests in Reading, Mathematics Procedural and Reasoning and Cognitive Abilities Test (CAT4) for pupils at the end of Year 3.

On entry to school pupils are assessed to give us a benchmark so that we can track progress over time.  We also assess and monitor learner well-being using Conwy’s Learner Wellbeing test which gives us a whole school view and PASS tests which are more individualized. 

We involve the pupils in the assessment process by allowing them: to assess their own work and that of their peers; set themselves next step targets and comment on their own progress. 

Communicating and engaging with parents/carers

We communicate effectively with parents/carers on an ongoing basis to foster positive relationships in order to engage them in purposeful and meaningful dialogue.  This aids learner progression by helping parents/carers to understand how they can support learning within and outside of the school environment.  Communication includes:

  • Face to Face parents meetings
  • Regular telephone calls home
  • Written reports
  • Newsletters
  • Weekly Planners

Feedback will include:

  • A brief summary of the child’s progression across the curriculum
  • Next steps for the pupil
  • Information on the general health and wellbeing
  • Learner comments / contributions

We will continue to develop and refine our assessment and progression processes throughout the academic year 2022/23.

Phase 6 – Review and Evaluate


Curriculum for Wales becomes statutory for Primary schools in September 2022.  As a school, along with all of our stakeholders, we will continue to monitor and evaluate our provision making changes where needed to ensure that our pupils have the best possible opportunities to enable all pupils to reach their full potential, emotionally, socially and intellectually.