The semi-formal curriculum is designed for our pupils with severe learning difficulties who require experiences and opportunities which promote the development of functional skills, communication, emotional well being, confidence and independence. It is important for these pupils that achievable aspirations for transitioning to their adult lives remain at the heart of our curriculum and time is dedicated to ensuring a progression of skills throughout school. Our pupils learn differently and therefore our approach should not be based on breaking down small steps within linear models and assessment tools or those designed for neurotypical learners.
In order to drive most effective teaching for our pupils, we have key domains rather than traditional subjects which are supported by thematic teaching. Within these, all pupils will have areas for development, strengths, learning preferences and individual interests. It is not intended that these domains are taught discreetly, (although this may be the case for some areas within ‘My Creativity’ and ‘My Physical & Sensory Needs’) but rather that they will help us to acknowledge that much of the work we do has far reaching benefits and that a range of outcomes can be achieved within one lesson. Planned activities should provide opportunities for pupils to develop skills across different domains, for example, a visit to a café would include aspects of ‘My Wider World’, ‘My Communication’, ‘My Thinking and Problem Solving’ and ‘Myself’.
Within this approach staff act upon opportunities to develop learning for individual pupils, even when this is not planned. This includes opportunities to learn from problems encountered, opportunities to practice and apply communication skills in different situations with different people and time given to encourage and celebrate independence.
For some pupils, more formal learning e.g. for Literacy, Numeracy, Science and Humanities provides an appropriate extension to the semi-formal curriculum. Pupils who are able to access content from the early stages of the National Curriculum are supported to do so, taking account of their individual learning styles and preferences.
The following domains form the core learning opportunities: