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Curriculum Overview

Pre-formal Curriculum

Pupils with Profound and Multiple Learning disabilities will be working on the pre-formal curriculum.

Pupils will receive personalised learning opportunities with the curriculum intention to develop an understanding of their own sensory needs and empower them to make personal choices.

Special focus will be given to communication, independence, attention, regulation and self-awareness through the following contexts for learning:

Contexts of Learning for Pre-Formal Curriculum
Community Awareness Care Creativity Well-being Communication Skills and Knowledge Physical Development

Teaching will be informed by individual engagement in the areas of realisation, exploration, anticipation, persistence and initiation. Progression and consolidation will reflect the individual’s learning journey.


The five areas of Engagement







There is a focus on therapeutic activities such as hydrotherapy, rebound therapy, physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, intensive interaction, sensory integration and physical development programmes.

Pre-formal learners are not necessarily taught subject specific lessons, instead special consideration is given to these 5 areas of cognition. No session would cover just one of these areas independently, they are intertwining strands to create the best learning opportunities for our pupils.

In the pre-formal curriculum, staff use a total Communication approach, where learners are encouraged to use whatever form of communication is appropriate for them as individuals. This will include the informal methods of facial expression, body language, gesture and vocalisation, together with formal communicative methods of words, signs, symbols and voice output communication aids (VOCAs). In our sensory classes, you will see many forms of communication such as objects of reference, sound cues- songs or specific piece of music, smell cues e.g. a certain smell for a day of the week, signing, routines, symbols and photographs.

Pre-formal learning may look like- sensory exploration, sensory cookery, sensory story, tacpac, music, art, physiotherapy, Hydrotherapy, Rebound therapy, massage, targeted physical intervention session.

In pre-formal classes there are consistent routines in place to allow learners to build upon previous learning experiences and have lots of opportunities to practice and learn over their lifetime in school. Whilst there is always room for creativity, we keep in mind that for pre-formal learners the most important element to their education is repetition.

Semi-formal Curriculum

The semi-formal curriculum is followed by our SLD cohort, (pupils with Severe Learning Disabilities) most of whom also have a diagnosis of ASC (Autistic Spectrum Conditions).

Their learning needs are met through the EQUALS informal/semi-formal curriculum, and their learning is assessed and tracked through the use of Evidence for Learning and B Squared Connecting Steps.  The intent of the semi-formal curriculum is to develop knowledge, skills and understanding relevant to the whole life of the learner, which is not bound to singular subject areas.  The focused areas of learning are as follows:

  • Body and Mind (I am my own person)
  • My Future (I am preparing for my whole life)
  • My Voice Matters (I am a Communicator)
  • My Knowledge and Skills (I am a Confident Learner)
  • My Creative Mind (I am Expressive)

The semi-formal curriculum aims to provide a motivating and engaging learning experience to ensure our SLD learners reach their potential in all areas.  We aim to provide a curriculum that is fully supported by consistent, school- wide visuals.

While the learners working within the structured pathway need high levels of adult support throughout their time in school, it is also recognised when learners are ready for adults to take a step back and withdraw prompts to promote independence.  Teaching is provided through clear, explicit instruction in a way that suits the learner – one to one, in small groups, as part of the whole class or a mixture.  Through the structured pathway, the curriculum is promoted through a scaffolded ‘spiral’ with clear steps for progress.

Formal Curriculum

The formal curriculum is child centred, with the intent to teach pupils to take ownership of their learning, investigate and interact in the wider world. Generally, pupils on the formal curriculum demonstrate that they are ready to learn with some pupils showing curiosity to acquire new knowledge. Pupils are working significantly lower than age related expectations, although they are able to access the curriculum in a more formal teaching and learning environment. Life skills and independence still form a large part of this curriculum. For our Post 16 learners this includes following a life skills curriculum – based on the independent living skills framework.

The curriculum for formal learners is implemented through a sequenced, long term curriculum cycle of planning; created by the TLR team. This curriculum enables pupils to engage in more formal, structured and discrete lessons. These are adapted accordingly so that they are practical, build on prior learning and consolidate knowledge and skills. Where there are subject specific sessions being taught the intention is to focus on the learners individual EHCP targets. Pupils who are capable of accessing early content of the National Curriculum do so, taking into account their individual learning styles and preferences. Some Post 16 learners who are capable of working towards gaining accreditation qualifications are supported to achieve this.

The formal curriculum endeavours to have a positive impact in all areas of pupils learning and development. This curriculum is delivered in a way that ensures pupils can leave school with the confidence, self-help and life skills that promote overall independence. In turn pupils will be able to confidently enter their journey into adulthood.

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