Pre Formal Pathway



"Some of the most wonderful people are the ones who don’t fit into boxes"

Tori Amos


Our goal in the pre-formal pathway is that provision is driven from the pupil. A dedicated team plan and provide individual experiences which promote engagement to facilitate holistic progress.   



"The child themself is the curriculum"

Rudolf Steiner

Our aim is to have a high level of understanding about the pupil and their need through relationships. We include families and wider professional colleagues in contributing to building a picture of the pupil, from which we can begin to develop a bespoke and engaging curriculum.


The process of engagement is vital (Carpenter et al, 2015) the learner must be placed at the centre of the curriculum, every moment and situation should be regarded as a learning opportunity (Welsh Assembly Government, 2006).


To achieve these intentions, we implement a range of strategies and approaches for each pupil to tailor the curriculum to their specific needs to unlock their curiosity, engagement and potential. 




In the pre formal pathway a range of strategies and approaches are adopted for each pupil. 


Imray and Hinchcliffe (2014, p46) argue for the most complex (learners) let’s focus on the things that matter. This is why we advocate a very different personalised curriculum for some learners, which might be broad and balanced when we can make it so, but above all, is relevant.


Each child in the pre formal pathway has and Planning Profile which is shared which is shared with families via tapestry; this ensures provision is specific, relevant, meaningful, and motivating. The pre-formal curriculum does not provide a definitive list of Learning Opportunities; teachers are free to choose which Learning Opportunities to offer and how to offer them. 



We wish to encourage innovation from all our staff, both teachers and TAs, and believe that too much prescription will not aid this process (Equals 2019).  


Learning Opportunities are based around the four areas of need: Communication and Interaction, Cognition and Learning, Physical and Sensory, and Social Emotional. A cross curricular approach is adopted throughout the day and will look different for each pupil. It is important to acknowledge that teaching and learning opportunities for our pupils span the whole of the school day – and is not just limited to lesson time, this also includes play.


"Play is the highest form of research."



Session Overview

Attention Autism/Bucket Time

This creates opportunities to experience a range of sensory items using pupils’ preferred methods. Exploration, Anticipation, Realisation and Curiosity are encouraged throughout. 


Total Communication and Hanging Out Programme

The Hanging Out Programme helps to foster positive relationships with pupils to share the pupil’s specific interest and enjoy spending time together to create opportunities for connection and communication. 



Aims to engage all of the sensory system to promote elements of engagement such as anticipation and realisation. 


Engagement and Exploration 

Using the pupil’s highly motivating activities and special interests, creating opportunities to play, develop relationships, communicate and to have fun.


Sex Factor 

As part of the relationships and sexual education programme, Sex Factor is offered as an invention once discussed with parents for pupils who may be going through puberty and need some focused work to help understand personal changes. 


Messy Play

Children experience sensory play through a range of different media and are encouraged to explore and investigate textures. This is exploratory play: it is used to develop communication, tactile tolerance and build relationships; it creates an enabling and response environment for the pupil to engage with.


Musical Interaction 

Sharing nursery rhymes and songs that are highly motivating for the pupils Using rhyme and rhythm to help the acquisition of language and promote communication. 


Core Skills

Opportunities to work on each pupils' personal learning intentions in ways that are exciting, creative and highly motivating for each individual. This will include multi professional targets such as physiotherapy, speech and language and sensory education support team (SEST).


Physiotherapy and Specialist Equipment 

In liaison with other professionals’ prescribed programmes will be incorporated into fun and highly motivating activities for each pupil; this includes hydrotherapy, rebound and bounce.


Integrated within the Timetable 

The use of multi-sensory spaces

Social and Community Experiences

Physiotherapy and access to specialist equipment 

Intensive Interaction and Total Communication 


Sensory Stories

This partners concise text with sensory strong stimuli to bring a story to life; the stories are motivating and work on the 5 areas of engagement with personalised learning intentions integrated into the story for each pupil.


Making and Creating and Creativity 

Being creative can be a therapeutic process and encourages freedom of expression. Making and creating is always focused on the process rather than the outcome. Through focussing on the process rather than the end-product, it enables the development of skills such as fine motor skills, tactile tolerance and communication. 



A programme where rhythm and touch are used in harmony to create relaxation and opportunity for consistent responses.


Community Experiences 

To develop the pupil’s presence and become part of the local community, trips and local events are often celebrated both in and out of school.



We also include elements of Positive Behaviour Strategy (PBS) into the timetable to support with student well-being and mental health.

These are;

- High Quality Relaxation

- Productivity

- Community



"If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn."

 Ignacio Estrada


Using the engagement model, class teams consistently observe and reflect on pupil’s interests and learning to adapt and deepen progress. This informs planning, assessment, and personal learning intentions. 


The engagement model combines a formative and summative assessment approach. It should be used to assess pupils' progress and development regularly throughout the year. This enables a continuous cycle of 'assess, plan, do and review' to take place, which enables the pupils' achievements and progress to be measured over time. (Engagement Model 2020)


To review the personal and holistic impact of school, there is a range of documents which are regularly reviewed. 



Pupil Planning Profile

Each pupil has their own planning profile. These use the engagement model and highly motivating activities linked to the 4 areas of need of the EHCP to tailor the curriculum to each child.   


Broad Areas of Need and Learning Circle

Each pupil has broad steps within the four areas of need which are derived from the EHCP and the assessment of the learning circle. This is our summative assessment and is completed after a six-week baseline then at the end of each keystage. It views the pupil holistically and informs practitioners of the direction of learning and areas of development. These broad steps then inform the personalised learning intentions. 



Personalised Learning Intentions PLIs

These are created from the pupils learning circle and broad steps. The pupil’s PLIs are incorporated into every activity when meaningful and relevant. These are reviewed bi annually through holistic progress conversations and a qualitative data drop. 



Tapestry is a secure online portfolio that allows teachers to document and reflect on pupils’ engagement within school. Each pupil 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 pupil’s personal learning intentions. 



Holistic Progress Conversation and Moderation

Progress meetings are held bi annually with teaching staff to review engagement and to ensure that the curriculum offer is meeting needs. Pupil Passports, Tapestry and PLIs are reviewed as part of this process. Regular classroom ‘drop ins’ also form part of this process.


All teachers meet to share a pupil progress journey over a given time period, 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 tapestry, 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.