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Pre-formal curriculum

An overview

The pre-formal curriculum is for pupils who have complex and profound learning difficulties; children whose learning is best met through a personalised learning approach based on the principles of communication, cognition, social and emotional development and sensory processing support. At the heart of the curriculum is learning through play.

Pupils for whom the pre-formal curriculum is relevant will have a range of profound and complex needs linked to a combination of other profound difficulties such as cognitive processing and sensory needs. Many of these pupils will rely on facial expressions, vocal sounds, body language and exhibit a range of behaviours to communicate. Some may use a small range of formal communications; others may not have reached the stage of using intentional communication. All are unique individuals.

The pre-formal curriculum is one which:

  • Takes a holistic view of the pupils by focussing on how they best learn.
  • Acknowledges and celebrates the different abilities and achievements of learners with the most complex needs.
  • Recognises the importance of play in a pupil’s development and the need for sensory and multi-sensory approaches to learning.
  • Focusses on the early communication, social, emotional and cognitive skills that are the foundation of learning.
  • Supports development by employing approaches which take account of their emotional well-being.
  • Recognises atypical patterns of development which impact on learners’ ability to process new information and stimuli (see the Kingsweston Curriculum Statement); a curriculum that recognises that some pupils have difficulties in forming attachments or interacting socially. Furthermore, it recognises the value of the fundamental principles of Intensive Interaction as described by Nind and Hewitt, (see the Kingsweston Communication in Context document).
  • Provides a medium for learning; we will ensure that it is flexible and adaptable enough to meet the individual needs of each of the pre-formal learners.
  • Recognises that it is the main vehicle through which the match of learning priorities arising from a pupil’s EHCP will be achieved.
  • Recognises that many of our pupils have a range of complex obstacles to learning as well as learning difficulties. We meet each pupil’s needs through a personalised approach delivered through a bespoke curriculum offer.

The curriculum offer for each pupil draws its content from a range of sources:

  • The pre-formal curriculum framework.
  • Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) priorities derived from the end of key stage aspirations for each pupil. Progression planners, which are being developed by the school, are themed around dimensions of life skills, health and wellbeing and are used to support the identification of key EHCP priorities in those areas which lie outside of the National Curriculum, for example eating, drinking, tolerating tooth brushing, etc.
  • Support for engagement. This will be provided in a way that is appropriate to the individual pupil. Amongst the tools we use to promote engagement/early communication are Attention Autism and Intensive interaction (see the Kingsweston School ‘Communication in Context’ document).
  • Emotional health and wellbeing. We draw upon a number of frameworks to inform our practice. Key amongst them are systems theory, attachment theory and PLACE (Playfulness, Loving attitude, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy)

The pre-formal curriculum is for learners largely working between P1 and P3.