The Specialist Curriculum includes learning matter that has been developed in response to severe profound delays in the development areas of cognition, communication and mobility, plus curricula to assist with the acquisition of literacy and numeracy skills, plus developmental curricula associated with different kinds of therapeutic support which some pupils require.
The Specialist Curriculum is divided into three “subject areas” representing particular areas of child development in which many pupils experience disabilities and difficulties that are in addition to their overarching, category of learning difficulty (PMLD, SLD). The title of these subject areas are as follows:
- Early Thinking Skills (including sensory impairment and cross referenced to National Curriculum Mathematics & Science P1-4);
- Early Communication Skills (including augmentative and alternative communication P1-4);
- Early Motor Skills (including mobility impairments and cross referenced to Physical Education);
Each subject area can be considered as a “stand alone” resource for working with individual pupils, but because the characteristics of learning disability are so diverse, it is likely that all of the subject areas will be of immediate relevance to some pupils, particularly those with PMLD. The curriculum documents are very comprehensive and, taken together as a whole, they provide guidance for the purposes of informing staff training, student assessment, intervention strategies and the use of special resources. The content of each subject area is divided into sections that:
- Provide guidance in distinctive pedagogy so this can be used for training teachers and teaching assistants and empower the personal learning styles of children who have PMLD;
- Describe best practice in the use of specialist resources and facilities such as Multi-Sensory Environments and Hydrotherapy Pools;
- Provide a range of learning activities to help overcome learning barriers and inform the content of IEP targets
- Inform the differentiation at the very earliest P level stages and provide evidence of lateral learning for pupils who do not find it easy to progress in a linear manner.
The Specialist Curriculum is intended to be used as a teaching and learning guide for complex learners in all classes. This will be particularly so in the everyday use of distinctive teaching/therapeutic approaches and in the use of specialist curricula to inform Personal Learning Goals and differentiating lesson plans.
The Specialist Curriculum is not intended to replace traditional therapies such as Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech & Language Therapy and Music Therapy, but rather to enhance these therapies, or to provide a pupil with relevant intervention strategies when therapy is not available. Therapy Programmes are represented, as required, in the content of a pupil’s SIRBs and operate the same as any other special provision. The evidence of this curriculum and its delivery being appropriate and successful is that a high majority of our informal learners following this pathway make at least expected and above progress. Staff are better skilled and empowered to support students with more complex learning needs (Evidence from learning walks, observations, quality of learner profiles, Personal Learning Goals and staff questionnaires).