Semi-Formal Pathway

Semi – Formal Learning Pathway Curriculum Map   

The Semi-Formal pathway is for pupils who have profound and complex communication and Interaction needs. The pathway is designed to meet the needs of pupils through a highly personalised approach. The intent for our Semi-Formal curriculum is to provide a personalised approach to learning driven by EHCP outcomes that builds on prior learning and the development of communication, emotional regulation, physical development, social skills and independence.  Activities will be motivating and engaging, and pupils will develop confidence to become more independent learners and also become aware of the next steps in their learning journey.  Our Semi-formal pathway builds on learners’ levels of engagement by finding out what interests and motivates them. Adults provides meaningful contexts for learning that use real-life materials and experiences, concrete resources and practical everyday activities so that learners link experiences and make connections across the curriculum and environments. 


Child Centred Curriculum  

Learners on our Semi-Formal pathway are; 

Semi-Formal Pathway Stage 7–9 (Performance Level 4-6)  

  • access some elements of Subject Specific Learning with strengths or gaps in particular areas, developmentally working at an age of 18 months – 2.5 years 
  • at a ‘Language Partner’ Stage using the SCERTS framework – pupils working at this stage are learning to: use photos and symbols – increase the number of single photos 
  • introduced to the use of language boards – develop sentences via language boards, develop a variety of sentence structures, develop a range of communication functions e.g., making a comment, giving information 
  • reactive in their responses to their own emotions and sensory processing needs – there are times when learners are less reactive in their response as self-control abilities emerge as they become more aware of their own needs, have language strategies to communicate needs and / or trust the transactional support offered is consistent  
  • use language strategies to request familiar regulating activity (e.g. rebound, swing, massage) and / or input (e.g. roller ball, deep pressure), to regulate their arousal level and self soothe that have been previously consistently modelled by adults  
  • learning to respond to a wider range of emotional regulation strategies to regulate their emotions and manage their sensory processing needs which can be significant barriers to their learning and physical and/or mental wellbeing 
  • learning to share attention, share greater range of emotions and intention with others through social experiences with others. This links to the development of the Fundamentals of Communication (FoC) 
  • provided with opportunities to make meaningful choices throughout the school day. Pupil voice is heard, valued and respected through the use of pupil motivators / special interests (recorded on Pupil Motivator Sheet) and using these more widely to extend and broaden learning.  
  • have a Personalised Pupil Profile and Positive Behaviour Support Plan which reflects strengths, needs and motivators  


EHCP Focus 

EHCP > End of Key Stage Targets > Annual Targets > Progress in Provision (PiPs) > Evidence of Progress > Formal Assessment 

The EHC Plan is Golden Thread that weaves together our teaching and learning and our therapeutic core. It is integral to each pupil’s provision and planning. EHCP outcomes at the centre of the curriculum with pupils’ interests as the teaching vehicle; these are developed with parents during Annual Review meetings as we discuss our Aspirations and Hopes for each pupil as they journey through their education. 

We believe that the most effective support for our complex learners happens when their aspirations are linked to their strengths and needs (with a clear focus on lifelong learning) and then to outcomes and support (through a holistic, highly personalised provision). 


Autism Practice/ Key documents 

EYFS Development Matters (July 2021), National Curriculum (2013), Engagement Model (2021), Pre-Key Stage Standards (2021), Fundamentals of Communication (FoC) Nind & Hewett 1994, 2001, 2005), Hewett (2018), SCERTS Framework (2007) Autism Education Trust Progression Framework (AET) (2019) National Curriculum (2014) 


Links to HP Core 

Personalised curriculum that priorities the importance of the HP Core Therapeutic offer: communication, emotional regulation, and independence 

Opportunities to build trusting, positive relationships are priority and key to all areas of learning. 


Core Therapeutic Strategies 

Intensive Interaction, Photos, symbols, language boards, Choose Boards, Visual Timetable, Core Vocab, Now/Next, Wait Board, a balance of calming and alerting sensory activities for regulation, activities for physical development, Core Occupational Therapy (OT) equipment, massage, deep pressure touch. 


Planning (Thematic Approach) 

Learning for Life – We have an ambitious three-year thematic sequenced curriculum differentiated to reflect the age of pupils and breadth of opportunities which is the vehicle to develop the skills, knowledge and cultural capital pupils need to succeed in life beyond school (Preparation for Adulthood).  Lateral and linear progress is reflected in planning and individual target setting. Planned activities provide opportunities for pupils to develop cross curricular skills. 


Engagement in Learning 

The curriculum is adapted to maximise engagement and learning opportunities taking into full account each child’s motivators and bespoke learning pathway. “Without engagement, there is no deep learning” (Hargreaves, 2006) 


NC Coverage 

Our Semi-Formal pathway is delivered primarily through a thematic based approach, which provides a holistic, integrated offer that promotes coverage of the National Curriculum through interconnected activities, where concepts are connected to and reinforced by the other through a common theme, allowing pupils to make real life connections resulting in richer understanding. Classes within the semi-formal curriculum follow half termly themes linked to an appropriate text. All areas of the National Curriculum are planned for to provide a rich and comprehensive curriculum offer for our Semi-Formal learners. The development of Communication and Interaction skills continues to underpin learning in all other areas of the curriculum. 



Opened ended opportunities for building positive relationships, trust and engagement in social experiences are priority. Motivators/interests continue to promote and extend engagement and learning at this stage.  

The majority of learning for our Semi-Formal learning is Child led learning where an adult joins the pupil in their self-chosen activity/exploration, playful approach.   

Opportunities to engage in multisensory extended provision – the focus being on Intensive Interaction, opportunities for choice and spontaneous learning.  

Highly familiar structure, clear visual supports used with key language and sufficient time for learners to repeat, practice, maintain and consolidate skills to develop independence. 


Stretch & challenge  

For learners who follow our Semi-Formal pathway their progress equals increased active engagement in meaningful and functional daily routines and activities with adults promoting increased independence in highly familiar tasks.  

Progress may not follow a straight, linear pathway because of their individual needs and strengths. Lateral progress where pupils begin to generalise their learning into new contexts and to develop a more even profile of responses is recognised and valued.  

The majority of teaching and learning is Child-Initiated, with appropriate opportunities for focused learning (Adult-Led learning). This is where the adult tunes into the child and their engagement in their experiential learning and guides the pupil at relevant points using a playful approach.   

Some pupils begin to engage in highly structured, adult directed learning in small groups and/or 1:1 sessions for brief periods such as Read, Write Inc phonics 

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