Pre-Formal Curriculum


‘Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they can become the best they can possibly be’ (Rita F. Pierson, Every Kid Needs a Champion, 2013)



Our vision is that in every Pre-Formal classroom you will be able to see a motivation driven approach, a teacher who places the pupils needs at the centre of planning and provision and a dedicated team who work holistically to ensure each individual needs are met.


‘We don’t make sense of people, we make sense with them’ (De Jaegler, Di Paola, and Gallagher, 2010)


Every classroom is unique and the team works creatively to ensure that all sessions delivered are purposeful to enhance meaningful engagement. Our aim is to release our learners’ motivation, unlock their curiosity and increase their participation.


We recognise the importance of a broad and balanced curriculum and appreciate that this will look different for each pupil. Although the curriculum is based around the four areas of need-Communication and Interaction, Cognition and Learning, Physical and Sensory and Social and Emotional we adopt a cross curricular approach throughout the school day.


The timetable offers a rich and varied curriculum which includes:

Session Overview...

Outdoor Learning

These sessions will give the pupils opportunities to access learning outside of the classroom. Although it may be timetabled, it is encouraged to capitalise on good weather conditions to explore and engage in the outside environment. These sessions could include small animal care, horticulture, cycling and proprioceptive activities.

Food Exploration

Pupils will experience a wide range of different of foods with all of their senses, using their preferred methods to achieve the desired outcomes.  This is essentially play, exploratory play and we must facilitate this play.  This may be a repetitive experience that helps to establish confidence in this exploration. Sessions may be presented in the form of a story or a song.


This encourages pupils to build upon independent movement in a less physically supported environment. Sessions are tailored around individual, group and class needs.

Explore and Discover

This creates opportunities to experience a range of sensory items using pupils preferred methods. Exploration, investigation and problem solving are encouraged throughout the session at the individuals personalised level.

Integrated within the timetable:

  • The use of multi-sensory spaces
  • Intensive interaction
  • Social and community experiences
  • Weekly assemblies
  • Physiotherapy and access to specialist equipment.



This is a positive kick-start to awaken the eight sensory systems contained in the body, nervous system and brain. It provides an opportunity to develop senses, thinking, learning, understanding and remembering. Multisensory experiences are created to facilitate active learning.

Sensory Story

This partners concise text with strong sensory stimuli to convey a narrative. They are motivating and engaging for all pupils and have individual learning intentions integrated within the story.

These stories are repetitive allowing the pupils opportunities to predict, expect or associate a stimulus or activity with an event. All stories are personalised with known motivators to ensure the highest level of engagement.

Music and Drama

Pupils are able to create sounds and access instruments and props in a motivating and engaging environment. Self-expression is encouraged through a variety of platforms. Different styles of music are used to provoke responses and emotions in an immersive environment. These sessions are delivered within the drama studio or other sensory space whenever possible.

Holistic Massage

This promotes movement and positive touch as a way of providing opportunities for spatial awareness through the vestibular system. This also encourages an understanding of how their body parts are connected through the proprioceptive system.

Core Skills

This provides an opportunity for pupils to work on their specific learning intentions in ways that are motivating and purposeful, whilst remaining relevant to their needs in either small groups or a 1:1 basis. This is delivered using motivator boxes or by integrating personal motivators into small group activities. Teachers should note when pupils’ show particular interest in items/activities outside of dedicated core skills sessions. This ensures that we are offering pupils opportunities to engage with a variety of resources.

The SEST team work in close partnership with classes to support targeted pupils using the visual and auditory hierarchy.

Active Learning

Active Learning revolves around the learner being active. The Active Learning approach emphasises that all individuals learn best through active participation.  All activity, especially in the earliest stages of development, establishes critical foundational concepts and skills necessary for all future learning. Active Learning techniques encourage learners to interact with the world around them without developing reliance on others, building confidence and independence.


“Holistic assessment focuses on the pupil as a whole, rather than only focusing on specific elements. A holistic assessment of pupils’ progress and development considers all aspects of their individual needs, including how they interrelate with each other and the factors that influence them, and how this affects how they learn. This allows the assessment to capture a fuller picture of pupils’ progress and development over a period of time” (Engagement Model 2020)



 The Engagement Model


“Effective use of the engagement model is based on regular observational assessment and reflective pedagogy. Observational assessment is central to understanding what the pupil knows and what they can do. It is the most reliable way of building up an accurate picture of pupil’s progress” (The Engagement Model, 2020)


Practitioners are continually encouraged to reflect on observations which inform planning, assessment and helps us to set pupils’ next steps.


“Engagement is the single best predictor of successful learning for children with learning disabilities (Iovannone et al., 2003). Without engagement, there is no deep learning (Hargreaves, 2006), effective teaching, meaningful outcome, real attainment or quality progress (Carpenter, 2010)”


Pupil Profiles

Pupil profiles document the personal approach needed to ensure engagement. Pupil profiles are updated as and when needed and are formally reviewed termly. Profiles are displayed in the classrooms; accessible to all practitioners. Profiles enable us to adapt the learning environment according to need. They should be reviewed in collaboration with the whole class team- taking into account reports and suggestions from other professionals such as SALT, SEST and Physiotherapy.


Next Steps

Each pupil has individualised learning intentions set within the four areas of need; practitioners update these and these are regularly shared with parents. Parents views are taken into consideration when setting and reviewing intentions. These intentions are then incorporated, in a cross-curricular way, throughout the school day.  Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) targets are incorporated within these as well as long-term next steps.



Seesaw is a secure online portfolio that allows teachers to document and reflect on pupils’ engagement within school. Each student has their own individual journal where pictures, videos and messages can be shared between school and home. Keeping a journal of progress also allows practitioners to reflect on learning within the four key areas of need ensuring sessions are tailored to maximise engagement.


Holistic Assessment Meetings

Progress meetings are held termly with teaching staff to review engagement and to ensure that the curriculum offer is meeting needs. Pupil profiles, Seesaw and Next Steps are reviewed as part of this process. Regular classroom ‘drop ins’ also form part of this process.

All teachers meet termly to share a pupil progress journey over a term, clearly documenting where the pupil started to where they are now and commenting on the support and interventions in place to support their progression.


Parental Engagement


“Parents and carers also play a very important role in holding schools to account by asking questions about their children’s attainment and progress and by engaging in dialogue with the school about the aspirations and expectations for their children” (The Rochford Review, 2016)


Parents are very closely involved with their child’s learning and we maintain regular contact via seesaw, parents evening, annual review meetings, visits to school, phone conversations and end of year progress reports. These approaches all support partnership working and enable parents to support their own child’s learning at home, leading to the best outcomes. Parents often share home activities and motivators with us to aid our approach in school.