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The Wyvern School

The Wyvern School

Primary Sensory Pathway 


Who the learners are:

The learners within this pathway consist of mixed classes aged between 6 and 11.  The learners have severe learning difficulties, and may have a diagnosis of autism.  The learners benefit from a multi-sensory approach to their learning and have their own individual needs addressed and met on a daily basis. An individualised curriculum is implemented for every learner, so they are able to reach their potential in all areas of their EHCP, engagement, well-being and the sensory curriculum.

Sensory life skills learners need a very individualised approach. They need a high level of support with communication, sensory regulation, emotional regulation and with managing their own behaviour. Our sensory learners tend to need a high level of support to ensure they are ready for transition and their adult setting post-school.

Size of classes:

There is a maximum of 8 students in each class, to enable staff to create an adaptable and bespoke curriculum for each student.

Classes within the pathway:

Class name


Age range of pupils

Number of pupils


Jess Leedham




Sheryl Lowden




Becky King (Pathway Lead)




Students are ready to join our pathway when:

Students are ready to join our pathway when they able to progress from the EYFS curriculum yet still require a multi-sensory approach to their learning with specific focus on engagement, regulation strategies, well-being and communication development. The sensory pathway builds on the foundations from the EYFS and helps the pupils embed these skills through the sensory curriculum.  They will need to secure their communication, with hands on 1:1 practical approach to learning.

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

Most students will move into the secondary sensory pathway in year 7.  We know students are ready to move on to the early thematic life skills pathway when, they are able to engage in a more formal learning approach and are able to use a consistent form of communication.


A sensory approach to the curriculum provides the basis for work in all areas of the curriculum and should not be viewed in isolation. The aim of a sensory approach learning is to meet the individual needs of the student and is underpinned by their EHCP targets and the objectives within the sensory curriculum.

The pupils within the Primary Sensory Life Skills Pathway see and experience the world in a sensory way, using their senses to widen their knowledge and experiences.  The Primary sensory life-skills pathway is a highly specialised approach to learning; adopting a personalised curriculum, focusing on pupil’s communication, self-regulation, social-emotional skills and opportunities to develop their independence.

The Primary Sensory Life-skills Pathway offers a personalised curriculum that is available to all children. The curriculum approach allows us to consider pupil’s sensory difficulties and personalise their learning to allow them to access learning activities and avoid situations that can cause them distress and discomfort. Addressing sensory issues will result in increased engagement with the curriculum and therefore enhance learning experiences.

The sensory life-skills pathway allows us to provide opportunities throughout the day for children to work on their personalised targets in a variety of multi-sensory approaches and make the most of the school environment. Learning opportunities are highly motivating to allow pupils to widen their experience, develop their skills in all areas of the curriculum with a strong focus on communication, social skills, independence and building relationships.

Learning areas covered: Reading and pre-reading skills, English, Maths, Communication, Music, Art, PSHRSE, PE, RE, Play, Intensive interaction, Cooking, Tac Pac, Rebound, Sensory Play.

Learning time allocation:

Mornings consist of English focussed activities (50 minutes) Maths focussed activities (50 minutes), communication is built into all sessions.  There is also time in the morning for students to develop play skills.

There is time after lunch for social play development and interaction.  The afternoons consist of attention autism/Sensory songs followed by activities as listed on the timetable.  The day ends with daily reflection and sharing of books, again with a focus on communication.

Learning objectives for each area of learning:

The learning objectives are taken from the Wyvern Frameworks for Reading, Writing, Maths, Communication, Engagement model. The pathway use the sensory curriculum framework to set objectives (Appendix 1).  Due to the profile of the sensory pupils learning objectives are individualised, and lessons are adapted in different ways to accommodate the student’s learning need in each session.

Topic Cycles:


Term 1

Term 2

Term 3

Term 4

Term 5

Term 6

Cycle A

Me, Myself and I

Fairy Tales

Driving in my car Transport

Minibeasts and the garden

Primary Shakespeare

Colours of the rainbow

Cycle B

All about me


Being Healthy

Amazing animals

Primary Shakespeare

People who help us

Cycle C

My favourite things

Let’s eat

Where am I?

Colours, Holi and India

Primary Shakespeare

People who help us 2.

Cycle D

Me and my senses



Where the animals live

Primary Shakespeare

Let’s cook

Cycle E

We are all different

Different places


What’s the weather like

Primary Shakespeare

Let’s get physical

 Example timetable

Example timetable


At the Wyvern school we offer a range of approaches to support learning. We use a holistic approach to establishing a child’s needs and consider approaches appropriate to their age and stage of development. All staff are highly trained in delivering positive outcomes for children at the early stages of development.  

In the sensory life skills pathway we believe that the child is at the centre of learning and should be given the tools to explore their environment with adults providing meaningful experiences that scaffold and build learning based on prior experiences and their own curiosity. Adults are led by the children’s interests and motivations in order to plan experiences within the classroom environment. 

Play based learning is known to support social, emotional and behavioural development in children. However, research also suggests it has an impact on cognitive development also where adults provide children with meaningful opportunities that are designed with intention by an adult. Adults are attentive and responsive to children using their knowledge of what a child needs to learn to guide their learning as they play and explore.  

 Approaches used to support learning:  

For each of the learning areas the support and approaches differ; and are highlighted below:  

Communication and Language:  




Clear and consistent Symbols in the environment e.g. Visual timetable, Now and Next.  

Adult’s verbal language is supported by a visual representation which supports understanding. Having clear and consistent symbols allows children to feel confident in their understanding in all locations within the school.  

Children begin to associate the word with the image, supporting understanding and furthering vocabulary development.  

Total Communication Approach 

Adults use spoken language, symbols, and Makaton to support communication attempts and model language with the children. This adds further visual information for the children to understand what is being asked/said to them.  

Children begin to recognise the function of language and are supported to understand the language adults use in the environment. Children are supported effectively to utilise the variety of approaches used further supporting their communication attempts.  

Communication Aids/Symbols e.g. PECS  

Children require adults to model and support language. Using Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) or a Communication book/board provides the children with a visual representation of language and a means to communicate. 

Learners begin to understand symbol exchange to meet basic needs. As children develop their skills they can begin to use a wider range of functions of language. Children learn that their communication system is their voice.  

Attention Autism 

Attention Autism supports children build their attention skills. This intervention occurs when children are ready to give single channelled attention to an object that is visually stimulating and motivating. Attention is built in this way through a series of stages that support children to increase the amount of time they spend at a seated focussed task.  

Children develop listening and attention skills that increase over time supporting access to learning and communication.  

Sensory Stories 

Stories that are presented with a multi – sensory approach supports children’s learning by providing context and cues to support vocabulary. With repetition children respond to texts with actions or joining in known phrases; this could be with a switch or communication aid.  

Children experience a variety of texts through their senses; providing context and meaning to abstract vocabulary.  


Physical Development 




Sensory Circuits 

Children with sensory processing difficulties require adults to support regulation through the presentation of proprioceptive activities that act as calming and focussing techniques in order to support access to learning. Children engage in a range of physical activities that alert, organise and calm their sensory systems.  

Children experience regulation strategies that work for them to keep them calm and happy in order to learn. Adults get to know strategies that work to support the children and this can be passed on to future teachers throughout the school in order to support regulation.  

Funky Fingers/Fizzy Fingers 

Early Hand Writing Tool kit  

Write Dance  

Dough Disco 

We use a range of strategies to promote fine motor skills. Write Dance and Dough Disco provide children with strengthening activities in large muscle groups and supports gross motor movements additionally in order to impact upon fine motor movement. Activities are presented to children sequentially to support the development of isolated finger movements and pincer grip in order to enhance access to communication devices.  

Children develop skills to access communication devices such as PECS (holding the PECS cards), pointing to symbols on a communication board/book. Children can also more successfully access technology to support learning.  

Increased fine motor skills also impacts positively on self-care routines.  

Physiotherapy Programmes 

Children with Physiotherapy and OT input will have their individual programme worked on daily. Routines for developing identified skills are supported in the classroom.  

Children work towards their therapy targets through an effective multi-disciplinary team working relationship.  

Outdoor/ large Area – Physical Development  

Children have access to a range of outdoor/indoor provision in order to increase gross motor skills. Children are encouraged to use the climbing equipment, bikes and soft play room to work a range of large group muscles. Adults encourage balance, strengthening of both upper and lower body muscles and co-ordination.  

Children’s gross motor development and co-ordination directly impacts on their ability to sit at seated activities and to develop their fine motor skills.  

Self Care and Independence  

Children are encouraged to be as independent as possible throughout the day. Objects are placed at a reachable height in order for children to be able to ‘do it themselves’ with the support and scaffolding of adults. This may be in the form of symbol sequence cards, with repetition and clearly embedded routines. Children are given the opportunity to work on self-care routines such as washing hands, and brushing teeth through daily practice.  

Children develop greater independence. Children continue to develop these skills throughout their school career with the aim to being as independent as possible when entering adulthood.  


Personal, Social and Emotional Development 




Transition Booklets 

Children are provided with a clear transition booklet with pictures of the class teacher and support staff as well as key areas from around the school in order to help them process significant changes. This happens at the end of Term 6 when children will often be moving teacher and classroom and supports children’s understanding.  

Children are prepared appropriately for changes.  

Emotions Symbols 

Children are supported to understand the language of emotions through the use of symbols. Adults narrate emotions for children and present emotions symbols. Adults support children to regulate using appropriate regulation strategies. Mirrors are placed in the classroom and some outside areas for the children to practice making different emotions faces.  

Children develop an awareness of emotions language – adults draw attention to this throughout the day. Children begin to show awareness of the need for regulation and seek this independently as they grow and develop.  

Social Engagement Routines  

Children engage in a variety of social engagement routine activities such as ‘hello’ and ‘Daily Reflection’ these times are structured to allow children to gather together. Adults model appropriate social engagement routines using symbols, and predictable routines.  

Children develop an understanding of how to engage with others in a social group. 

Self-Care Routines 

Children are supported to develop self-care routines through strong links with families. Children are encouraged to be as independent as possible during personal care and self-care routines within the classroom. Adults support this with visual schedules and varying levels of prompting.  

Children are supported to be as independent as possible, as they grow and develop being able to manage self-care routines will have positive outcomes for later life. 


 Specific Curriculum Areas (Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World, and Expressive Arts and Design) 




Pre-Phonics skills (rhythm and rhyme, repetition, sensory stories) 

Children learn pre-phonics skills through the use of rhyme, song, rhythm and repetition. Early skills include clapping along, actions, rhyming words and hearing sounds that words make. Children develop these skills through the use of appropriate texts, being read to, listening to songs, rhymes and action songs, and lots of repetition.  

Children begin to notice rhythm and patterns, they start to hear sounds in their environment and name them, and begin to demonstrate an awareness of the written word/letters.  

Read Write Inc. 

When children are ready (around 4-5 years developmentally) they will start to learn their letter sounds through the DfE accredited Systematic Synthetic Phonics programme ‘Read Write Inc.’ Read Write inc. is a programme used across the school. With regular assessment points children are supported to develop decoding skills to support word reading.  

Children begin to notice and recognise words in their environment, increasing their access to the world around them.  


Numicon supports the teaching of number, shape and space. Each numeral is represented by one or multiple number frames which provide a clear structure for mathematical understanding. Children are exposed to the use of the number frames in structured activities, and play based activities in the sensory classrooms.  

Children’s numeral recognition and understanding of number concepts are supported by concrete objects. There is a clear and sequential structure to teaching mathematical skills which builds on prior knowledge and repetition.  

Wyvern Reading Guarantees 

Children in the sensory life skills pathway are exposed to agreed quality texts. These texts have been chosen to broaden children’s experiences and introduce them to high quality literature. The successive planning of books ensures there is a breadth of stories and lack of repetition. Children are sent home reading books weekly to encourage reading at home and there are reading events held throughout the year to encourage a love of literature.  

Children have a range of rich cultural, moral and social experiences through high quality reading material. Adults foster a love of reading. Children experience a range of vocabulary.  

Early maths skills 

Children are provided with manipulatives in order to experience and explore a range of mathematical concepts through play. Adults provide mathematical language using symbols and pictorials to further support understanding.  

Children ‘experience’ maths with narrative support providing clear context for learning. Abstract concepts hold more meaning and increase understanding.  

Cause and Effect Activities including accessible technology. 

Children have access to a range of accessible technology options in which to establish and develop an understanding of cause and effect relationships. This is the basis of basic choice making and develops key skills in both the areas of communication and technology.  

Children build motor programming skills, develop the ideas of pattern and choices, children also establish the ideas of cause and effect which can be applied in may situations not least interaction with peers and adults.  

Messy/Sensory Play 

Children are encouraged to explore the world using their senses. Children are stimulated with a range of sensory materials in the context of a variety of themes. Exploring a topic or theme in a multisensory way adds layers and depth to learning through exploration. 

Children enjoy a rich and varied experience which caters to individual sensory preference.  

Learning environment set up:

Pupils within the sensory life-skills pathway are immersed in a multi-sensory environment, which enhances their learning experiences. Multi-sensory teaching is a way of teaching that engages more than one sense at a time. Using sight, hearing, movement and touch gives pupils more than one way to connect with what they are learning. Multi-sensory teaching stimulates the brain in a variety of ways so that each sensory system becomes more developed and higher functioning.

Multi-sensory learning is beneficial to all students because when they engage with something using more than one sense it forms more connections related to memory and is therefore more likely to be remembered.

Within each classroom there are key areas for reading, regulation, independence and learning. The areas are inviting, engaging and language enriched.  They are designed to be confidence boosting enabling students to become as independent as possible.   Classroom displays should be functional and meaningful for students. 



The Primary Sensory Life-skills pathway uses a variety of assessment methods to assess each pupil’s learning. We ensure planning covers all areas of their EHCP targets alongside topic areas within the sensory curriculum. We use the Wyvern Communication milestones, Reading and Writing framework and also the Maths framework alongside the sensory curriculum framework (Appendix 1). Daily, Teachers and LSAs photograph and document the activities the pupils participate in to support and provide evidence of each pupil’s progress in their individual targets and objectives.

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

We know students are ready to move on to the early thematic life skills pathway when, they are able to engage in a more formal learning approach and are able to use a consistent form of communication.


Primary sensory reading guarantees:

1:1 sharing or reading materials – an inviting book corner, daily opportunities to read with an adult. Meaningful, relevant and engaging texts.

Adults reading to students – daily story times, looking at class books, fostering a love of reading.

Teaching pre reading skills – daily looking at books, answering simple questions, building of attention through varied learning opportunities, recognise meaningful words to them, finding and developing a meaningful form of communication.

Read Write Inc. Phonics programme – daily sessions to develop phonics knowledge and build on reading confidence where appropriate.

Reading books sent home weekly – each class sends home books weekly for children to share with an adult.

Maths in the pathway:

Maths is taught using a multi-sensory approach based on mastery, a teaching and learning approach that aims for pupils to develop deep understanding of maths rather than being able to memorise key procedures.  To achieve this all maths is designed to be purposeful and functional using a Concrete Pictorial Abstract approach.  Building the foundations of understanding number is key to the development of maths and development of understanding.  This approach is supported by the White Rose Maths programme, Maths for Life, and Numicon resources.