Curricular Pathways

We know that our pupils have individual, varied and complex needs, however, in order to structure a broader curricular offer, to provide all pupils with experiences that are relevant, interesting and challenging, and to identify opportunities for progression, we have adopted a curriculum structure which encompasses four broad levels: pre-formal, informal, semi-formal and formal. Three of these terms, originally used by Whitefield SAC (2009) from the work of Carol Ouvry and Penny Lacey, offer a means of making subtle distinctions between not only groups of learners but also the degree of curriculum formalisation they will experience in either building the prerequisites for, or working within, a more ‘conventional’ National Curriculum type approach. The ‘informal’ curriculum is a term has been used by academics such as Peter Imray and those creating the ‘EQUALS’ SEND curriculum to recognise the needs of a particular cohort of learners, and is a term adopted by many similar special schools.

The levels are not defined by age, but by need and achievement; pupils are therefore able to move flexibly between levels at any point during their school career. Each level covers understanding, skills and knowledge across a range of areas of learning, and they are blended together to facilitate a ‘learning flow’ between the four. Individual learning needs are further met through bespoke intervention programmes for enhanced personalisation.

Moreover, early years pupils will join a primary class that is appropriate to their learning need. Baseline assessments are carried out in order to find out which curriculum pathway is the best suited to their need. For pupils at Post 16, whilst learning continues to be driven by IEP targets, the curricular offer is built from the three areas of the programme of study; core skills, life after Ash Lea, and personal, social enrichment. There is a sharper focus at this stage on supporting pupils and their families to plan and prepare for life after school.

The Ash Lea curriculum pathways are not defined by age, but by need; pupils are therefore able to move flexibly between the pathways at any point of the school journey. Each pupil drives the direction and content of their own ‘curriculum’ as described in the ‘provision’ section of the IEP. Whilst there are whole school ‘topics’, the planning, learning and delivery will differ between classes to meet individual needs. Priorities based on IEP targets, EHC outcomes, pupils’ age, need, motivation and learning style all help to build each pupil’s individual curriculum.

The pathways are separated thus:

(This is not an exhaustive list but offers a description of general areas of need. Our pupils’ complexities preclude linear developmental progression, resulting often in a what can be termed as a ‘spiky’ profile).

Pre-Formal pathway

  • Ash Lea Steps 1
  • Routes for Learning
  • ASDAN (Post 16)
  • P1 to P3.
  • Developmental age: 0-18 months

Informal pathway

  • Ash Lea Steps 1-4
  • ASDAN /AIM (Post 16)
  • P4 to P5.
  • Developmental age: 12 – 36 months

Semi-Formal pathway

  • Ash Lea Steps 4-8
  • Moving on to AQA Entry Levels if achieving Ash Lea 6 by year 9
  • P5 to the end of the Pre-Key Stage standards (Key Stage 1/Year 2)

Formal pathway

  • National Curriculum
  • Moving on to Level 1 & 2 / GCSEs if achieving AL10 by year 9
  • Working within areas of Key Stage 2 and above of National Curriculum

2021-22 school population: 16%

2021-22 school population: 40%

2021-22 school population: 44% 6% of this cohort are accessing aspects of a formal curricular offer

2021-22 school population: 0%

Pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD).

Will have other significant difficulties such as physical disabilities, sensory impairment and/or severe medical condition(s), alongside their learning difficulty.

Will require a high level of adult support, for their learning, personal care, moving and handling and medical needs.

Will have difficulties with communication, object permanence, understanding of cause and effect, making choices, learning by imitation and following instruction. Most will communicate by gesture, eye pointing and/or vocalisations

Pupils with complex learning difficulties (CLD) and/or ASD.

May have multiple conditions that co-exist, overlap and interlock to create a complex profile.

Are likely not use verbal language as their primary means of communication and will express themselves through their behaviour. Although, some may also have a few words, signs and/or symbols

May have additional sensory processing difficulties.

Will have difficulties with communication, following instructions, interaction with others, play skills and engagement.

May have difficulties with their gross and fine motor skills and coordination.

Pupils with severe learning difficulties (SLD) and/or ASD and/or additional needs relating to ASD / trauma and attachment and/or social, emotional, and mental health needs.

Have significant intellectual and cognitive impairments and may also have some difficulties in mobility and coordination.

May use signs and symbols, and/or language to communicate, which can affect both expressive and receptive communication skills.

Other difficulties may be experienced in understanding abstract concepts, maintaining concentration and attention, retrieving both short-term and long-term memory, utilising sequential memory, processing information, retrieving general knowledge, thinking, problem solving, and generalising previously learned skills.

Pupils with moderate learning difficulties (MLD) and/or ASD and/or additional needs relating to ASD / trauma and attachment and/or social, emotional, and mental health needs.

Pupils may develop their language skills but at a slower rate than those of a similar age.

Pupil’s ability to understand and process receptive language may be present but is developing at a slower rate.

There can be a delay in their ability to put thoughts into words and sentences and their use and understanding of facial expressions, body language, gesture and intonation.

Pupils may have delayed development of co-operative skills with peers. Pupils may have difficulty with memory and impaired organisational skills.

The speed of processing information received may be slower than those of a similar age.