Pre-Formal Pathway

Diversity information 

Within the Pre-formal department, we work with students with Complex Learning difficulties and disabilities (CLDD) and Profound Multiple Learn Difficulties (PMLD).

The journey for the student through the department

The pre-formal department delivers a broad and balanced curriculum which provides our students with dynamic and individualised learning experiences across different contexts. Within the curriculum we are able to take a personalised approach for each student focusing on developing individual students’ specific needs.

This pathway is built on knowledge of child development in order to support the sensory needs of all children developing independence and the ability to access their wider community.

Our curriculum

Through observation and interaction, we consider what engagement and learning look like and what can be put in place to support students to become effective learners.

Within this pathway our focus is to support individual students’ development holistically, creating a pathway for students which will enable them to develop the foundation to be able to develop key life skills, make choices and access their community

Curriculum offer and focus

Classes within the Pre-formal department follow half-termly themes.  We immerse our young people in themes by creating linked sensory activities.   Our range of multi-sensory resources and planned learning opportunities enable pupils to explore and make sense of the world around them whilst considering the individuality of our young people.

In the pre-formal department, we focus on 5 learning areas:

  • My Communication
  • My Thinking
  • My Body
  • My Independence
  • Me and My Community

Communication and Interaction

Pupils require people around them who are intuitive and responsive to any attempts to interact or communicate.

The curriculum focusses on the early communication, social and emotional and cognitive skills that are the foundation of learning. All classes work within a total communication environment to support the developing communication of our young people.

Through a range of sensory activities and intensive interaction, including elements of Sherbourne and TACPAC pupils are given opportunities to respond (to events and activities) to interact (with others) and to communicate (express like/ dislike, request more and make choices).

Sensory and Physical

To promote a sense of self through body awareness and movement sessions there is a focus on physical skill development and meeting sensory needs through warm water swim sessions, rebound therapy, soft play and the motion sensory room, alongside use of the Interactive rooms on site.

Class teams liaise with professionals involved in the health and wellbeing of our young people.  This multi-disciplinary teamwork involves physiotherapists, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and the sensory inclusion service where appropriate.


Our young people in the pre-formal department are assessed using Routes for Learning in our PMLD class groups and the Autism Education Trust (AET) framework in our CLDD class groups.  We record our observations of progress through the Evidence for Learning app which we will share with parents to enable families to join us in our learning journeys.

Within the department we also work towards a transitional challenge within Asdan with all secondary students. This is a nationally accredited award which offers a learner centred activity-based curriculum.

There are two levels available:

  • Sensory:this programme offers a developmental perspective for learners with PMLD and rewards very small steps of learning and achievement
  • Introduction and Progression:the activities in this programme cover the statutory programmes of study for the Key Stage 4 National Curriculum, along with activities to develop the skills required for adult living

The intended outcome

The young people who take this journey with us will develop key skills that will support their home life and their ability to access other provisions. These young people will develop key tools to manage their sensory needs so they can take part in activities and engage in social provisions such as specialist colleges, multisensory learning groups and adult social care.