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The Wyvern School

The Wyvern School



Who is the INSPIRE Pathway for? 

At The Wyvern School we have implemented and designed our own Curriculum framework to ensure that all our students can access a curriculum that is inclusive, accessible and relevant for them.  

The students with PMLD (Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties) are a significant cohort in the school that have unique abilities and ways of learning.

Pupils are likely to need sensory stimulation, a significant amount of repetition and consistency and a curriculum broken down into very small steps. Most of our learners require a high level of therapy input, specialist equipment and support with everyday tasks, which they can’t carry out themselves.  

Some learners communicate by gesture, eye pointing or symbols, others by very simple language.

Our ambition is that all of our students will reach their full potential in school but we recognise that students with PMLD need a more focussed curriculum starting at their individual needs rather than a curriculum written for typically developing children.


Students are ready to join the INSPIRE pathway when: 

Pupils entering the INSPIRE pathway are considered to have profound and multiple learning difficulties, this means that they experience more than one physical, cognitive, communicative or sensory impairment that requires significant adult support and input throughout the day. Typically, pupils entering the pathway will have complex medical needs and will often need 1:1 or 2:1 support with all primary/self-care needs.

We know students are ready to move on to the next pathway when: 

Pupils are ready to leave the INSPIRE pathway when they can access more formal learning approaches. Pupils can begin to use early problem solving skills in everyday tasks. Adults will have provided pupils with opportunities to explore and embed expressive communication strategies using functional communication systems that work for them. Pupils will have developed independence skills that allows them to develop further independence e.g. self-propelling in a wheelchair. Pupils will have developed functional independence skills e.g. recognising the use of everyday objects and using these appropriately. Significant progress will be seen in all areas. Pupils will be assessed holistically and if adults feel that they have met criteria to move into a different pathway this will be considered on a pupil by pupil basis with their best interests at heart.   


In the Inspire Pathway we strive to offer a differentiated multi-sensory curriculum that focuses on the importance of developing life skills through offering opportunities for hands on experiences.  The curriculum is creatively taught with a sensory focus.  This helps to ensure that sessions are planned and delivered in conjunction with the rolling programme of thematic topics and all teaching is individualised.

The intent of our Pathway is: 

To develop, monitor and maintain health and well-being in order to maximise high quality of life through a responsive, multi-sensory and communication rich environment and specialist postural management provision. To develop the fundamentals of communication to allow to engage in pleasurable social interactions, to make choices and communicate wants and needs in ways that are meaningful and appropriate through reaching, eye gazing, AAC and Intensive Interaction. To develop appropriate self-occupation and leisure skills to provide stimulation through switch skills, ICT, Hydrotherapy and Rebound Therapy. To provide a range of sensory experiences and opportunities for students to develop their motor skills, coordination and body awareness.  

Our aim is to create a nurturing and supportive learning environment that promotes positive emotional development and mental well-being, to provide motivating and relevant learning experiences to maximise learners’ purposeful engagement and support progress. Additional provision to compliment the curriculum, such as a wide range of holistic therapies, are carried out by the staff within the Pathway. The staff in the department strive to provideimpeccable care for all pupils in addition to supporting them to access an enriching and meaningful education.   

Extensive research shows that students with PMLD learn best with well structured, daily routines where a consistent and responsive environment underpins effectively resourced activities. Most pupils have significant physical needs and therefore 'preparation for learning' is key. All pupils must be supported to be comfortable and functionally well positioned to allow for learning opportunities. However, it is recognised that there are also times when a pupil must be positioned for health and well -being reasons.  

Our curriculum promotes inclusion and participation of students in all aspects of school life. Pupils require a wide range of opportunities to develop their sense of self and control. We recognise that all of our pupils require learning opportunities that are unique and relevant to them as individuals. 

All staff demonstrate respect and consideration for the manual handling and personal care needs of our young people with PMLD ensuring they feel safe, secure and comfortable. We all support the development of positive relationships and ensure all our learners feel valued by providing them with a student voice. 

The INSPIRE Pathway Philosophy 

All activities are taught to accommodate Process Based Learning.  

Process Based Learning (Collis and Lacey; Hewett and Nind,) is a holistic approach which can be defined as the process of the teaching becoming the objective. The learner decides where the interactive process will go; the pace and direction of learning, and therefore the pace and direction of teaching will be decided by the learner. Routes for Learning (2006) advocates that learning for those with a PMLD is best done holistically, that is, as a complete and self-contained exercise, rather than as a series of separate skills chained together. 

Students with complex medical needs within our classes have teaching and learning activities delivered as and when their health allows, these does not necessarily need to be as timetabled. Therefore, therapies form an important part of INSPIRE curriculum for most of our learners. These should be seen as part of the curriculum not an addition. We consider how these vital therapies can be extended during the day and be included in planning.  

What Learning Areas are covered?  

Areas of need:  

Pupils with PMLD will have a focused curriculum and the four main areas are: 

  • Communication (and interaction)  
  • Cognition (and learning) 
  • Social, emotional and mental health    
  • Sensory and Physical Development   

Each area will have its own learning approach within which students will have a range of opportunities. 

How is learning time allocated?  

Pupils with PMLD are at very early stages of development and it is more appropriate for them to access a more focused curriculum starting at their individual needs rather than a curriculum written for typically developing students. All learners at The Wyvern School have rights to individual and personalised learning.  

Each student has their own curriculum, in the form of a Personalised Learning Map and Support Profiles, long term outcomes and targets arrived by in-depth profiling by teachers, parents and external therapists collaborating. It is therefore necessary that every student has their own personalised timetable completed with their communication, engagement and physical programme.  However, the class teacher has the framework for the day which includes student’s personalised timetable, 1:1 sessions and group activities- all wrapped around the flexibility of each learning period. It is crucial that we can be helping our students make progress towards their targets no matter what activity they are engaged in, at any time of the day, which includes meal times, personal hygiene times, breaks, off site visits and therapy sessions.  

Learning objectives for each area of learning 

Communication and Interaction 




Cognition and Learning 



Sequence and Pattern

Sensory and Physical 

Gross Motor Skills  (sitting, standing, walking)  


Indoor Mobility 

Outdoor Mobility 

Water Mobility (See Aquatics Curriculum)  


Body Awareness  


Fine Motor Skills

(Reaching ,Releasing  



Personal Care and Independence 

Eating and drinking

Dressing and Undressing 

Personal Care

Social and Emotional

Creative Arts

Religion and Ethics

Social moral and cultural

Science and Technology


What are the topic cycles? 








Cycle A 

All about me! 

Winter wonderland 

Who put the colours in the rainbow? 

Down on the farm 

Under the sea 

Jungle adventure 

Cycle B 

Autumn is here 

It’s my…  

It’s Christmas 

Wild, wild west 

Stepping back in time 

The circus is in town 

At the bottom of the garden 

The seaside 

Cycle C 

To infinity and beyond 

Celebrations and festivals 

Magic carpet ride 


The rainforest  

Let’s all go on summer holidays! 



What are the approaches to learning?  


Students at a very early stage of developing communication require people around them to be responsive to any attempts of communication.  Interpreting behaviour as potentially meaningful is one important adult response.  For example, a student might smile during an activity and the adult interprets this response as meaning ‘more, please’, even if the student is not intentionally smiling to get ‘more’.  The learner begins to get the idea that smiling results in getting more pleasurable experiences and eventually will produce the smile to communicate ‘more’ intentionally.  To be responsive, adults need to attend very carefully to each learner and treat all behaviour as potentially communicative.   This response may be to echo that behaviour back to the learner, indicating that the ‘communication’ has been heard.  


Some students will be more intentional in their communication but not yet able to use conventional language.  At this level, learners will be developing ways of indicating what they like and dislike.  For example, the smile is now used intentionally to ‘ask’ for an activity to be repeated.  Gestures might be used to request objects or just to ‘comment’ on something that can be seen.  A responsive environment provided by staff should include a widening range of motivating activities upon which students can ‘comment’.  


Some students will be beginning to use conventional communication, understanding or even using a few single words such as “yes”, “more”, “finished” and perhaps names of familiar people and objects.  Staff should encourage new words and meanings through a range of stimulating activities and providing the example of new words and phrases.  Using single words or short phrases is important at this stage.  

The programme of learning for pupils working on communication at this pre-formal stage will include the following three areas:   

  1. Responding (to social events and activities):  Everyday activities, Care routines, Sensory stimuli, Predictable social routines, their own name, Sensory cues, Object cues, Objects of reference, Familiar daily routine, sounds and words.   
  2. Interacting (with others): Familiar people and familiar social routine, engage actively in familiar social activities, show anticipation of familiar activities and events, use their voice to join in conversations,  
  3. Communicating  
    Communication work should be central to every interaction throughout the day and focus of one session daily.  

Students with PMLD are at a stage before their communication becomes fully intentional. Adults working with students need to be skilled and sensitive in interpreting behaviour so they can respond appropriately. We need to respond consistently, and as if the pupils are intentionally communicating, to help shape their responses toward communicative intentionality.  

Total communication approach is about finding and using the right combination of communication methods for each person. This approach includes the use of speech, symbols, visual timetable photographs, electronic devices, routines, eye pointing, objects of reference, sign language, on-body signing, Intensive Interaction, Tac Pac and constant opportunities for developing communication in an individual's preferred method. 

Total communication Environment - It is important that we structure our communication so that students can interpret and make sense of the cues we give them. All adults working with a student must use these cues consistently. Cues must be planned to meet the learner’s individual developmental needs.  

Sensory cues- students at a very early stage of development, particularly those with sensory impairments, are likely to need to start with ‘sensory cues’.  Adults working with those students need to provide a consistent routine to help them begin to learn to distinguish activities and people so eventually they can begin to learn to anticipate what is going to happen to them. Adults use natural cues, wherever possible, to help student to associate that particular cue with what is going to happen next, therefore they happen just before the activity begins.  

Some of the Sensory Cues we use are; touch cues, auditory cues, smell cues and object cues. All routine activities should have a sensory cue of some kind.  The next step would be to increase the number of cues for different activities, and these usually are the objects that are part of the activity, familiar to the students and used by them consistently.  

Makaton is a language programme using signs and symbols to help people to communicate. It is designed to support spoken language and the signs and symbols are used with speech, in spoken word order.  Makaton signs are highly visual, concrete and very iconic (at the early stages).  This makes them more motivating for pupils to look at and sometimes easier to understand than spoken words alone. Makaton signing can help to develop attention and listening skills, as well as may encourage engagement at all levels. 

On body signing is developed to encourage the understanding of language. 

Tac Pac is a sensory communication resource using touch and music to help communication and social skills. 

Clicker 7- is literacy package used on the computer and is loaded to some children’s AAC devices. It allows the learner to access literacy through spoken text, supporting writing and reading development. 

Objects of reference- Some students may make symbolic use of objects of reference where the object used is representative of the activity. For example, being shown or feeling a small green cup but using a large red cup for drinking. Learners need to be around number 41 on the Routes for Learning (expresses preference for items not present via symbolic means) for objects of reference to make sense to them. Some students at this stage might be able to understand and use a few words or even recognise a few pictures (e.g.: of themselves or their family/ classmates).  

Intensive Interaction- is the approach where communication may well be pre-intentional but by responding to the interaction and extending it pupils can earn fundamental skills.  Intensive Interaction is highly practical. The only equipment needed is a sensitive person to be the interaction partner. “The approach works by progressively developing enjoyable and relaxed interaction sequences between the interaction partner and the person doing the learning. The style of the teacher person is relaxed, non-directive and responsive. In fact, a central principle is that the teacher person builds the content and the flow of the activity by allowing the learner basically to lead and direct, with the teacher responding to and joining-in with the behaviour of the learner.  This simple principle is the one used by adults in interaction with babies during the first year. The first year is the period of development when a baby carries out intense and very rapid learning of the fundamentals of communication. Much of the development of Intensive interaction was based on reading of the scientific research on the way in which human beings learn to communicate during the first year. “ 

Augmentative and Alternative Communication- Communication is essentially a two-way process which must involve some degree of mutual understanding and a commonly agreed method. People can have difficulty with face-to-face communication for many different reasons. Physical disabilities and motor co-ordination problems can make the production of speech difficult or impossible. People with some types of learning difficulties can find it hard to produce speech or handle spoken language. The term AAC (Alternative and Augmentative Communication) is used to describe the different methods that can be used to help people with disabilities communicate with others. As the term suggests these methods can be used as an alternative to speech or to supplement it.  

No-tech communication does not involve any additional equipment - hence it is sometimes referred to as 'unaided communication'. Examples are; body language, gestures, pointing, eye pointing, facial expressions, vocalisations, signing, symbols. 

Symbol system - A variety of symbol systems are in common use. They have generally been developed to suit users and listeners who have difficulty with understanding written language, e.g., people with learning difficulties or young children. Systems can also be combined with individually designed symbols, objects and photographs if required. Symbols can be useful for expressing longer messages and are often quick and easy to recognise as shown by the number in use today in all situations. Symbols can be presented in different ways including using a computer screen, a paper chart or communication book. Symbols can be presented in various ways including charts, boards, communication books and on individual cards. These can be produced by drawing the symbols, photocopying or using a computer program to print out charts.  Examples of symbol systems include; Widgit Literacy Symbols, PECS, Makaton. 

Unaided Augmentative Alternative Communication:  

Unaided AAC systems are those that do not require an external tool, and include facial expression, vocalisations, gesture, and sign languages and systems. Informal vocalisations and gestures such as body language and facial expressions are part of natural communication, and such signals may be used by those with profound disabilities. More formalised gestural codes exist that lack a base in a naturally occurring language. Signing is used in conjunction with speech to support communication.  

Aided Augmentative Alternative Communication:  

An AAC aid is any "device, either electronic or non-electronic, that is used to transmit or receive messages"; such aids range from communication books to speech generating devices.  

  • Low-tech communication aids are defined as those that do not need batteries, electricity or electronics. These are often very simple communication boards and books, E Tran, from which the user selects letters, words, phrases, pictures, and/or symbols to communicate a message. 
  • High-tech aids permit the storage and retrieval of electronic messages, with most allowing the user to communicate using speech output. Such devices are known as Eye Gaze system, Step by Step Communicator, I talk, Go Talk, or voice output communication aids (VOCA).  



Children and young people with PMLD learn like any other child about the world around them by establishing key concepts through play and exploration. Pupils at a very early stage of development need lots of support to explore and interpret their environment because they have difficulties to independently access and experience the world around them and make sense of it.     

When developing the students’ cognitive skills, it is paramount that they have a wide range of opportunities to improve their sensory skills. The bulk amount of time students with PMLD spend on focused learning. It is important that learners have individual timetable and that they follow Personalised Learning Map which outlines five main areas of learning and organises targets the learner is working on.    The focused learning is possible if we provide:  

Students with complex needs are at very early stage of cognitive development, they have difficulty in making sense of the world and need many opportunities to handle and test out objects, look for patterns and sequences in experiences and generally extend their focus from the immediate to things further away.   Many students with PMLD have physical or sensory impairments that undermine their ability to discover things for themselves and have even more need for other people to assist them to explore and develop understanding.  Staff need to be very inventive in providing alternative ways of exploring.  

Repeat, repeat, repeat. Students at this very early stage need to experience the same activities repeatedly if they are going to be able to learn from them.  It may be helpful to find several activities that the student responds to and repeat those daily, in the same order every day.  Using an on-off or burst-pause pattern with each activity can help the child begin to anticipate what will happen next.  

As students begin to develop the understanding that they can influence their world, they can be offered a much wider range of activities and objects to explore.  They are still likely to require plenty of repetition but may be able to cope with different examples of a similar activity.   

When cause and effect has been established, early problem solving can begin.  For example: two steps may need to be completed to find the object.  Enabling problem solving for students with physical and sensory impairments can be difficult and is likely to involve technology.  Therefore, staff need to be inventive to provide activities that get learners to think!  

The approach of learning is divided into 4 areas: 

  • Awareness of stimuli- where all functional senses should be used. It involves recognition, response, attendance, anticipation, persistence.   
  • Exploration and manipulation of materials, objects and environment by using all the senses.  
  • Control- e.g. making things happen through cause and effect and early problem solving. 
  • Sequence and pattern- e.g. taking turns actively, choosing between two or more items, operating toys 


Sensory and Physical 

Students who are physically impaired or who are still learning to move need lots of opportunities to move around both supported and freely.  They require a range of specialist equipment for lying, sitting, standing and walking.  They may be having active treatment from a physiotherapist and/ or an occupational therapy and/or be on an ongoing treatment programme. The Sensory and physical approach is based on the principles and practice of functional therapy, Hydrotherapy, Rebound Therapy goals and in general learning to achieve as much physical independence as possible.  

This approach of learning is divided into four main areas:  

  • Mobility 
  • Fine motor movement  
  • Gross motor movement  
  • Sensory stimulation  

Mobility at The Wyvern School we encourage all the students to move in any way they can and to use that mobility in a range of different situations of everyday school life to improve cardio- vascular endurance, muscle strength and flexibility.  

This part of the mobility programme can be divided into:  

Hydrotherapy- is a great way to “move” for students who have limited or no movement. Students get 20 minutes physiotherapy programme in a warm, safe pool with a high level of staff support.  

The Aquatics Curriculum.  

Physiotherapy- students with PMLD have individually designed physiotherapy programmed which is altered to their needs and abilities.  

Outdoor mobility- PMLD students have the opportunity to be mobile outside of the classroom. This involves using adventure playground, bikes and trikes, moving over a range of different surfaces.  

Rebound Therapy- our highly trained staff provide rebound therapy sessions for students with PMLD. The benefits of using trampoline for students with special needs are endless!  

Rebound Therapy at the Wyvern 

Fine motor skills





Positioning- students experience a range of physical positions which helps them develop and maintain body control and enables active and more independent participation in healthy life style.  

Fine Motor Movement programme can be divided into 4 areas: reaching, grasping, releasing and manipulating.   

The programme is about physical development only (in relation to arms, hands and fingers) and not about how and when to use these movements.  

Fine motor movement strategies may include: 

  • Funky Fingers 
  • Write Dance 
  • Messy play 
  • Switch based work 
  • Unaided and aided sensory exploration 
  • Active learning 

Gross Motor Movement programme can be divided into 3 areas: sitting, standing and walking.  

It is important to ensure that we give our students plenty of opportunities to change their body position throughout the day. This can be achieved through the use of the specialist equipment (side lying bed, chilli bean bed, pacer, standing frame, standing sling), individualised physiotherapy programme incorporated into student’s daily routine.   


Social, Emotional and Mental Health 

The Wyvern School Social, emotional and mental health curriculum supports students in finding a meaningful and effective way of interacting and participating with the world around them. It focuses on enabling students to build positive and productive relationships in our school and local community. The curriculum supports students in developing their own emotional literacy through a delivery that is appropriate to the individual and at a differentiated pace. Activities will be focused on addressing learning objectives and developing key skills.   

Through the Social and Emotional area of study our students work closely with the staff teams who become attuned to an individual’s method of communication. This approach continues to develop throughout the students’ school life. The curriculum is delivered through a variety of methods such as, but not exclusively, TAC PAC, Music Interaction and Intensive Interaction, Resonance Board sessions to develop social interaction.  

We understand self-care to be focusing on eating and drinking, hygiene routines, medical interventions and living a healthy lifestyle. We aim to support students to become as independent as possible during these times with privacy and respect being of paramount importance. We recognise the importance of knowing and having a positive relationship with students due to the close personal contact that is part of these routines. Opportunities need to be given and responses respected in relation of students expressing their choices, likes and dislikes.  

Other Curriculum Areas 

The following curricula areas are embedded within the four areas of learning and are taught in functional, meaningful settings.  

The SMSC (Social, Moral, Spiritual, Cultural) aspects of learning are central to the four pillars of learning described above as we create the pathways with our pupils which enable them to be joyful as they achieve their potential to the greatest degree possible. Opportunities to develop SMSC can be found across the curriculum as they are embedded in all areas of daily learning.  

ICT is seen as one of the enabling strategies available for our pupils in the Inspire Pathway and will be used to increase their access to the outside world, enhance communication, develop environmental control as well as exploring their own interests.  

Daily Reflection focuses on meeting the requirement of all human beings to belong. Our pupils have a right to be part of the community: family, class, school, friendship, wider community and have a unique identity within it.  

Religion and ethics are taught to stimulate students’ learning by accessing elements of religious education through multi-sensory experiences and approaches. The principle of Religion and ethics is to allow learners to develop an understanding and appreciation for the expression of beliefs, cultural practices and influence of principle religions and world views in the local, national and wider global community.  


Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural Development 

At the Wyvern School we recognise that social, moral, spiritual and cultural development is central to the education of all pupils and underpins the whole curriculum and ethos of the school. It is reflected in the behaviours of individuals and in their interactions with other people and the environment. We therefore foster spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of our students in a wide range of contexts. We provide them with structured as well as broad and balanced opportunities to learn and internalize with the following SMSC concepts:  

Social Development 

  • Developing relationships with others through sensory-stories, Special Yoga, Tac Pac, Story Massage, Holding the Space, shared reading, Daily reflection, Inclusion opportunities. 
  • Taking part in special projects and Curriculum enrichment events: PSC, Rose Bruford, Confidance. 
  • Experiencing and participating in local, national and global belonging.
  • Developing the concept of caring for others.
  • Developing the concept of the citizenship through engagement and participation in School Council and Pupils voice. 

Moral Development 

  • Students are enabled to make independent and meaningful choices across the curriculum and in the School Council.
  • Developing self-esteem, individuality and uniqueness of own and different cultures and beliefs. 
  • Experiencing and exploring empathy and respect through sensory stories, social stories, Daily reflection, Holding the Space, Tac Pac, Story Massage. 
  • Being respected in all areas and developing the idea of respect.

Spiritual Development: 

  • Developing critical thinking by making choices and simple problem solving across curriculum.
  • Expressing emotions and feelings, communicating emotions, developing understanding about the feelings of other people.
  • Developing curiosity across the curriculum.
  • Developing relationships with special people, being part of the community.
  • Engaging in meaningful task about beliefs and values.
  • Engaging and participating in celebrations and being celebrated

Cultural development 

  • Engaging in ICT and communication by using technology for learning 
  • Experiencing, responding to and participating in local, national and global belonging.
  • Experiencing, responding to and actively participating in cultural events.
  • Taking active part in special projects and Curriculum enrichment events: PSC, Rose Bruford, Confidance, Moonbeam Theatre.
  • Celebrating success and talents through WOW moments, Friday Star of the week, Parachute singing. 
  • Discovering and developing understanding of different cultures and traditions. 
  • Exploring local cultural venues and places.

Religion and Ethics 

Religion and Ethics link to many other areas of the curriculum. It permeates the main aims of many of the curriculum areas of importance for our learners and complements the aims but also adds a deeper significance and a more reflective approach.  Religion and Ethics begin where the student is and is likely to remain throughout their lives. Their experiences of life should reflect in the everyday session and planning- celebrating, exploring, belonging, caring, sharing, feeling, loving and developing whole personalities.  Areas of prominence include awareness of "me" feelings, emotions, senses, awareness of reactions to events.  Awareness of others: relationships at school and home and within the community, awareness of the needs of others and achievements.  

  • The needs of “myself”: beginning to recognise own worth, self-esteem, achievements, privacy, acknowledging a range of positive and negative feelings, choice, accepting oneself, being able to communicate "no" and to know that it is respected, a purpose in life. 
  • The needs of others: awareness of worth and self-esteem in others, caring, sharing, giving, acknowledging the rights of others to have different feelings. 
  • The world around me: awareness of the beauty and uniqueness of the natural and man-made world, the sensory world, caring for the natural and man-made world. 
  • Developing the sense of mystery and wonder, extending sensory awareness into unknown territory, awareness of religious feelings, curiosity. 
  • Celebrating life: awareness of personal events, school events and home events, awareness of festivals and celebrations, both secular and religious, exploring the common elements of religion.
  • Reflecting on life: awareness of being alone, awareness of belonging and meditation.

Science and Technology 

Learning science gives our students the opportunity to develop an interest in, and curiosity about, the world around them through exploratory and investigative experiences and activities. In particular, science offers pupils opportunities to use their senses to explore and investigate, develop an understanding of cause and effect, develop an awareness of, and interest in, themselves and their immediate surroundings and environment. 

My world is an opportunity to start to explore some of the early science and design & technology skills. Pupils learn to show an awareness of sensory stimuli, experience changes, learn different methods of exploration, show preferences and make choices. In response to these opportunities, students can make progress by investigating the familiar, and later developing broader environmental and technological perspective, developing an understanding of the concrete and practical as well as the more abstract things, developing an understanding of the links between causes and effects, increasing the breadth and depth of their experience, knowledge and understanding.  

We offer several cross-curricular schemes of work as the overall provision of science in our Pathway. They are made up of units of work designed for a term. The units set out specific learning objectives that reflect the programme of study, usually linked to the termly topic, as well as possible teaching activities and resources.  


Sensory Stimulation 

It is important to enable pupils with PMLD to learn to use all their senses for learning and sensory stimulation should be more than just a relaxing time (unless the next step is to learn to relax). Sensory stimulation is a learning opportunity and number of specific approaches which include sensory stimulation can be used to develop communication skills: 

Tac Pac is an activity that pairs music and touch to promote communication and social interaction as well as sensory, neurological and emotional development. It is used with people who have sensory or neurological impairments, profound and multiple learning difficulties and development delay to bring the world to pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties. During Tac Pac sessions, pupils are paired one to one with a familiar adult. Through linking familiar music consistently with objects, actions and people in a pattern of different activities, the partners communicate with each other. 

Sensology is an educational approach devised by Flo Longhorn emphasising sensory stimulation. It covers the five basic senses (see, hear, touch, smell, taste) but also the movement related sensory systems: the vestibular (balance, head movements and gravity) and the proprioceptive (body positions, body mapping and planning movements). In a Sensology workout, these senses are literally given a warm-up. Sessions can be in groups or one-to-one and can be brief (five minutes) or, if pupils have physical limitations or take time to respond, delivered at a personalised pace. A session begins with music that draws pupils in.  

Rebound therapy is a sensory motor stimulation using structured and controlled use of the trampoline to develop skills such as communication and independent movement. Pupils have an opportunity to experience supported and free movement in a completely different way as they are taken through a range of different movements in different positions.  

What do learning environments look like in the INSPIRE Pathway? 

Multi-sensory environments are used successfully at The Wyvern School to promote learning in alternative and appropriate ways. It is important to enable students use all their senses for learning. Stimulation that focuses and targets each sense is a valuable method to encourage exploration, engagement and learning. These multi-sensory spaces offer light, auditory and physical sensory stimulation and this provides opportunities to explore engage and connect with the world around us.  

Sensory room- is designed to facilitate looking, gazing, tracking and focussing on a variety of lights in a relaxed calm environment with minimal distraction. We have moving and stationary light that is projected around the space for students to follow. Two bubble tubes, mirrors, fibre optic and ultraviolet light and picture wheels can be used to attract gaze. These would not all be used at once but put on separately to focus on specific activities avoiding over stimulation. We use careful judgement about how many of the multi-sensory stimuli are used simultaneously.  

Dark room- some of our students have individual VI programmes devised with their VI teachers, these are practised and monitored for progress, and then updated. The exact specifications using lights are followed to enable students to repeatedly find and trace light in a darkened area. Students are encouraged to move freely, come out of their chairs or work in a dark area where we are fully aware of their best field of vision. 


How are Reading and Maths taught in the INSPIRE pathway?  

Reading Guarantees  

In the INSPIRE pathway we acknowledge the importance of providing our pupils with a language rich environment that supports a breadth of experiences through literature. Pupils in the INSPIRE pathway are provided with opportunities to share stories 1:1 with an adult or peer daily. Pupils love engaging with favoured books and adults use the child’s preferred communication method to encourage them to make the choice of reading material. Pupils also engage in daily sensory story telling activities. The pathway is currently linked with a multi-sensory theatre company who bring their performances to the children to inspire and engage them in storytelling. Where appropriate children take part in decoding skills through Read Write Inc. three times per week. Pre-reading skills are taught daily using a multi-sensory approach and this is recorded/tracked through photographic evidence via Earwig. Long-term plans link to themes that are supported by core and supplementary texts.  

Reading books are sent home weekly alongside a reading record to encourage reading outside of school. Children are also provided with opportunities to engage in reading as part of their inclusion opportunities in other classes throughout the school.  

Maths Guarantees 

All children require mathematical understanding to access as full a life as possible. Mathematical development depends on becoming confident and competent in learning and using key skills.    

At Wyvern we understand how children’s mathematical thinking first develops and how it can be nurtured to ensure real understanding and support essential life skills. Mathematics includes counting, sorting, matching, seeking patterns, making connections, recognising relationships and working with numbers, shapes, space and measures. The teaching of maths always starts from a practical basis and when the pupils are ready, taking their learning to a pictorial level and then abstract level. When teaching new concepts, pupils will return to a practical approach in order to establish the new concept.   

It is vital that the language associated with maths and numeracy is taught alongside new concepts and skills.   

Maths and numeracy form an integral part of our everyday curriculum at Wyvern we endeavour to provide opportunities that allow the learners to practice and embed their skills and knowledge in a variety of practical and functional context and situations. Such an approach enables the children to apply their skills and knowledge in a relevant and purposeful manner, appropriate to their model of learning. For most of the children at Wyvern, mathematical understanding will be developed through stories, songs, games, sensory and imaginative play so that they enjoy using and experimenting with numbers and other mathematical concepts.    

The specific learning difficulties students at Wyvern have impact on their ability to learn language and maths concepts in order to solve problems. Pupils need support to understand receptive and expressive communication, which can impact their ability express, what they don’t understand or show how they solved problems. Pupils often struggle when learning language aspects of maths, which can cause confusion about terminology and following verbal explanations.  As a school, we use a universal approach through visual supports and using simple language when asking questions, giving directions, presenting concepts, and offering explanations.    

Pupils with severe learning difficulties will have difficulty generalising skills to new contexts. Pupils require repeated opportunities to consolidate a new skill in one “experience” and then transfer this skill across a range of different “experiences”.    

Teachers plan and deliver learning activities to ensure that the processes of learning progress from sensory beginnings, moving towards counting, symbolic representation, abstract thinking and beginning the processes of addition and subtraction and calculations. We believe that children’s mathematical development arises out of daily experiences in a rich and interesting environment.   

Mathematics can be taught more practically, more contextually, more concretely, and with much more motivation if it is taught as part of the process of art, playing games, cooking or any part of life being lived.   


Pupils in the INSPIRE pathway are introduced to mathematical concepts associated with Early Learning Goals. Pupils experience Mathematics through a multi-sensory approach. Learning opportunities are embedded across the school day in different ways and in different locations in school and beyond.   



How are children assessed in the INSPIRE Pathway?  

Our PMLD assessment is multi-facetted such is the complexity of PMLD progress. This is the constant monitoring of progress, and also the monitoring of techniques and experiences and activities to see what actually works well for each student. All students learn in different ways and are stimulated by different things. Learning process of our students can also be affected, positively or negatively, at any time, by many different factors: surgeries and operations; general health issues; medicine changes; increased seizure activities; degenerative conditions; changes to postural management and changes in personal circumstances. 


  • ensures that the main purpose of assessing a learner is to enable them to make the best possible progress in developing skills, knowledge and understanding;  
  • considers the complex interaction between the sensory impairments, motor disabilities, medical problems and cognitive processing difficulties the learner experiences;  
  • takes a holistic view of learners by: focusing on how they learn; and acknowledging their different abilities and achievements;  
  • takes account of learners’ preferred sensory and learning channels and their ways of processing information;  
  • focuses on the early communication, cognitive and sensory skills that are the foundation of all future learning and crucial to an improved quality of life;  
  • supports the development of learner-centred approaches and the focus on emotional well-being from the Foundation Stage through to Key Stage 4; 
  • celebrates the different abilities of learners with the most complex needs 

Therefore, teachers and their teams need to capture progress for each student on all of their individual targets and use this information to plan future opportunities for learning for each of them. 

There are 5 core support profiles: 


  • Routes for Learning.

We use Routes for Learning Communication and Cognition. This is an assessment tool focusing on the learners and their abilities. RfL breaks down the early P Levels into 43 small steps relating to early communication and cognitive skills that are crucial to all future learning. Students can progress through the steps by using either the main route or alternative routes but there are certain steps that student must achieve before they move on to the next step. Of the 43 steps, there are seven that are key. It is not a linear or hierarchical assessment and it helps to detect very subtle changes in development.  

  • Physiotherapy 

For Physical Development we use the Individual therapy programmes, with advice from the physiotherapy and occupational therapy teams.  We support Sensory and Physical Development by providing Hydrotherapy, Rebound Therapy and Sensory circuit. Students are baselined, assessed and they get new targets set. To assess students with PMLD staff can use video, observe the student and complete detail observation sheet, talk to the family, therapists who are involved and other people that work with and know the student. Ideally more than one person should assess the pupil.  Assessment often include parents and carers.  

  • Rebound therapy assessment scheme.

We use the internationally recognised Winstrada development and award scheme which records and rewards progress. Grades 1 and 2 of this scheme are based on the Rebound Therapy training course programme. For those with profound and complex needs, we use the Huddersfield Functional Index in conjunction with the Winstrada scheme.  Each student accessing Rebound Therapy requires specific risk assessment run by a qualified RT instructor.  

  • Switch progression road map.

To demonstrate student’s switch skills, we use Switch Progression Road Map designed by Inclusive Technology. The Road Map is broken down into Key Milestones and Small Steps Level Descriptors which enables teacher to assess current level the student is on as well as to plan the next steps and identify any gaps in the provision. Switches should be made available and positioned as if the student were to operate the software independently. During the early experimental stages of the programme, emphasis is placed on experiencing and responding to animations, sounds and flashing lights. However, we encourage our students to respond appropriately when equipment is positioned near their bodies. This appropriate behaviour should be always reinforced and should be considered a prerequisite to any form of independent operation if ICT equipment 

  • Communication progression

Communication development framework tool sets out the key skills and knowledge needed to children and young adults workforce to support speech, language, listening and attention and communication development.  

  • WOW Moments

We all give our students, at all times, different opportunities for things that haven’t happen before- the WOW moments. These are being recorded by all staff and included into student’s learning journey.  

5 Levels of Engagement  

We strive to transform all our students into active learners by releasing their motivation, unlocking their curiosity and increasing their participation. High quality differentiation should be the hallmark of high quality teaching in SEN. Our work must be to transform these students with PMLD into active learners by releasing their motivation, unlocking their curiosity and increasing their participation. Unless a student is engaged in learning, there can be no deep learning, effective teaching, meaningful outcome, real attainment or quality progress.  

‘Engagement is the single best predictor of successful learning for children with learning disabilities. Without engagement, there is no deep learning, effective teaching, meaningful outcome, real attainment or quality progress’ (Carpenter, 2010)  

The Engagement Profile is multi – dimensional and made up of 5 areas: 

  • Exploration  
  • Realisation 
  • Anticipation  
  • Initiation  
  • Persistence 

Observation sheets- Engagement Profile and Scales  

The work that the students are engaged with needs to be recorded. Record keeping should be about what happened, where and what time and how students’ skills and understanding develop in relation to their targets.  We use the observation sheet which has been developed at The Wyvern School by the PMLD teaching and support staff, based on the Engagement Profile Indicators from the CLDD Research Project (Barry Carpenter), Leuven Sheet, Mental and well-being factors.  

Other Ways of Recording:  

  • Video- (Staff familiar with using IPad and class cameras) this is valuable as it allows you to go back and see things that happened that you may not have during the activity   
  • Annotated photographs    
  • Written short observations including post-its and more focussed observations    
  • There is space provided on the planning sheet to record activities that have been offered to the pupil and how the pupils respond to the activity in relation to the target.  
  • Earwig 

Working with other agencies 

Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy 

We work alongside a team of professionals who support teaching and support staff, parents, carers and all PMLD students. They routinely participate in target setting, assessing students and annual reviews. The therapy team comprises of Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists.  When possible, pupils are seen in school to provide supporting information of manual handling protocols, review of physiotherapy programmes, review of specialist equipment and hospital appointments such as orthopaedic consultations or wheelchair services. This minimises disruption to learning and the student is in a familiar environment so is more relaxed.  

What does being prepared for adult life look like in the INSPIRE pathway? 

Pupils in the INSPIRE pathway have a ‘dual’ roll class in which they can spend time having inclusion with peers of a similar age. Social inclusion opportunities are of paramount importance and provide the children with a sense of community. Inclusion plans are bespoke to each individual child and varies in length of time dependent on their needs. This forms the initial part of career focussed training by providing children with those clear opportunities to engage with peers and adults in the wider school community.  

As pupils grow and develop towards their adult years, learners in the INSPIRE pathway are supported to explore their options outside of Education. There is a specific careers curriculum that envelopes the INSPIRE pathway students as they move through Key Stage 3/ 4 and 5. Pupils participate in ASDAN Life Skills Challenge as part of access to accredited courses. In addition, they can engage in specific arts-based activities that form part of Arts Award.  

Pupils attend 6th form moving on events in preparation for life beyond school, there are other opportunities to link with 6th form e.g., through Confidance.  

Focus in the INSPIRE pathway is around making choices, this is a large part of careers training and supports children to be as independent in future life as physically possible. Pupils are encouraged to find and establish a functional means of sharing their choices either through eye-gaze, switches or symbol-based systems.  


We know students are ready to move on to the next pathway when: 

Pupils are ready to leave the INSPIRE pathway when they can access more formal learning approaches. Pupils can begin to use early problem solving skills in everyday tasks. Adults will have provided pupils with opportunities to explore and embed expressive communication strategies using functional communication systems that work for them. Pupils will have developed independence skills that allows them to develop further independence e.g. self-propelling in a wheelchair. Pupils will have developed functional independence skills e.g. recognising the use of everyday objects and using these appropriately. Significant progress will be seen in all areas. Pupils will be assessed holistically and if adults feel that they have met criteria to move into a different pathway this will be considered on a pupil by pupil basis with their best interests at heart.