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The pupils' considerable overall sucess results from both a varied and innovative curriculum. Pupils attitudes to learning are exceptional and promote their excellent progress.

ISI EQI Report June 2021

Dolphin School was founded over 50 years ago on the principle of ‘Freedom to Learn’. From this has developed our characteristically hands-on, experiential and enquiry-based curriculum. Our unique approach is perhaps most evident in our extensive day and residential trips programme, alongside regular outdoor learning sessions, but it is a philosophy that is embedded in all lessons. Updating our ethos for the 21st century, we are making a commitment to the principles of Learner-Centred Education. Although this model of teaching and learning has come under fire from some quarters for lacking sufficient rigour, we are confident that the quality of our teaching staff and the intellectual curiosity of our children will ensure continuing high standards of academic achievement. We believe that centring our curriculum on our children leads to greater investment, engagement and ownership on the part of the student. It allows us to provide appropriate support whilst also stretching and challenging the thinking of all learners. A child’s entitlement to contribute to the direction of their education is enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is not simply our choice, but our duty to respond to, nurture and facilitate our students’ passions.

Jo Hurst, Head of English

At Dolphin, both children and staff develop a real love of learning. Our curriculum is challenging and innovative, allowing children to experience hands-on learning, providing plenty of opportunity to discover and explore their environment through our exciting extra-curricular trips and Forest School programme. As a result of our commitment to Learner-Centred Education, mutual respect exists between our pupils and teachers. By the time they leave us, each pupil will have taken an individual academic journey but our overriding philosophy is clear from the outset: that they will fulfil their true potential, add value to their lives and feel confident enough to use their voice.

The seven main principals of the Dolphin Curriculum are:


Learner Centred Education


The main principals behind our curriculum are based on Learner-Centred Education (Schweisfurth, M.  ‘UNICEF Think Piece Series: Improving Classroom Practice’ (2019). These align perfectly with our ethos ‘Freedom to Learn’ and link well with our Core Values. This helps us ensure a coherent philosophy throughout the academic journey of every Dolphin child from Nursery to Year 8.

Pupils are encouraged to think creatively, to reflect on the world around them and to appreciate how their learning pieces together in a cross-curricular way - in so doing they develop essential skills for life. Children of all abilities are given a plethora of opportunities to explore a broad curriculum, including additional clubs and activities, enabling them to identify and develop their talents. 

Subject specialist teaching, beginning in Nursery and becoming comprehensive from Year 3, is delivered by staff who are passionate about their subject, thus inspiring the children to explore and enquire. In Year 3, children begin learning Classics and from Year 6, they study Latin. 

Within small classes, our children experience a varied approach to the curriculum, allowing for individual learning needs to be met, whilst developing independence and self-motivation. Most importantly, our children are given the freedom to learn, by taking risks and making mistakes, building up resilience and challenging themselves to reach their full potential.