Addington School

Complex and Sensory Needs Curriculum

Here at Addington we are a community committed to excellence and the development of the potential of all”

Our Curriculum

Our Complex and Sensory Needs curriculum is divided into three areas:

  • Pre-Formal: Learners following this strand have profound and multiple learning difficulties coupled with high physical and medical needs and sensory impairments. (Cherry, Owl and Poppy Class)
  • Informal: Learners following this strand have profound learning difficulties coupled with sensory integration and processing difficulties and/or emotional regulation difficulties. (Apple and Lime Class)
  • PMLB: Learners in this cohort have profound and multiple barriers to their learning such as a complex medical or physical need coupled with a severe or moderate learning difficulty. (Individual)


What is PMLD?

People with PMLD are a group of individuals with learning disabilities in the profound range, and have a number of healthcare needs.  Their disabilities can present challenges for them and those providing care.  The majority are therefore life-long wheelchair users.  Many have sensory impairments with either vision or hearing affected.  Their healthcare needs are complex and may be life threatening. Family carers routinely carry out intensive 24-hour care to provide support and a good quality of life for their daughter/son.

People with PMLD are a diverse group of individuals with their own personalities, preferences and ways of communicating. The abilities of those described as having PMLD vary considerably. They are one of the most marginalised groups.  Due to the multiplicity of their disabilities they are often excluded from playing a full role in society, primarily because our communities are not inclusive enough.

However, PAMIS recognise that ‘profound’ also means deep, intense, wise and requiring great insight or knowledge.  Although many people with PMLD have significant disabilities, they are also teachers, facilitators and can make a great contribution to our lives.



Here at Addington we will achieve this through a bespoke pre-formal curriculum that is individualised to the child/young person’s needs.  This has been developed over that last few years to create a flexible and meaningful curriculum that has the needs of the pupil’s first. We work closely with home, respite, therapists and other specialist teachers to ensure a holistic approach throughout the day and also work closely with other areas of the school to create a progressive curriculum that allows for more breadth and content for our pupils as they journey through Addington School.


Informal Curriculum

Addington School recognises that some pupils have profound learning and sensory processing difficulties. These pupils do not have the multiplicity of disability of pupils with PMLD but the impact upon learning and development is as profound.

The curriculum will follow a similar process to the Pre-Formal strand and will be bespoke for each individual through collaborative work with parents, carers and multi professionals. These strategies may include: Intensive interaction; play; sabotage; flexibility of thinking; sensory integration; Augmentative and Alternative communication systems; Geoffrey Waldon’s approaches to early cognition; prompt training, and sensory motor activities to name a few. The learning areas may hold different weight and importance for each individual within their curriculum.

The aim of the informal curriculum is to be meaningful and relevant to the pupils through challenging barriers to learning and teaching skills to support pupils through their adolescent and adult lives. We want our pupils to leave Addington with strategies to: manage stress and anxiety; develop and express autonomy; engage in learning when motivated to explore through opportunities routed in concrete experiences; undertake basic tasks; and communicate with others in an appropriate way commensurate to their needs.


Curriculum Map

Each curriculum area follows the same pathway and each pupil’s curriculum is individualised, based on what is important for them at that time.  Short term targets are then created in the Personalised Learning Plans to action and meet the EHCP objectives. 

Our Curriculum Areas

We have divided our curriculum into five learning areas:

  • My Interactions
  • My Explorations
  • My Senses
  • My Movement
  • My Regulation


  • The tables below show the Areas of Learning for each curriculum and the content involved in each area of learning.
  • PMLB strand has access to the semi-formal curriculum via integration classes.

Wider Curriculum

Lessons are supported by a wider curriculum that includes Music, Rebound therapy, hydrotherapy and Horticulture. We also have cross department links with early years, middle and upper school.


Creative Arts

Our Creative Arts department lead Sensory based music session weekly in our sensory theatre.  These contain a range of cause and effect music based music and songs supported by sensory effect lights and optimusik. The Music team also offer small group and individual sessions such as Sound Beam, Open Orchestra and Immersive drama.

Immersive drama is a music and drama themed session that incorporates live music, acting, sensory effects and experiences to our complex needs classes. The themes are linked to cross curricula topics and planned with the complex needs department.

Pupils can also have the opportunity to be referred for music therapy and art therapy.



Our PE department run weekly sessions on the trampoline. They also support with physical programs. Sports day is differentiated to allow our more complex pupils to be able to be part of the experience.



At Addington we have a horticulture area where pupils are actively involved in growing, looking after and selling any produce. Complex and Sensory needs classes have an opportunity to take part in lessons in the greenhouse to explore and coactively plant and take care of plants. We use what we have grown to make crafts and gifts for parents on special occasions.

Outdoor learning

The outdoor environment is used around school and planned and resourced the same as an indoor lesson. Some classes have an outside courtyard that is used as an extension of the classroom. Here we have activities such as stories, music sessions, messy play and sensory trails. We have been working with the Museum of English Rural life in Reading to help enhance our school grounds to create more accessible areas for our Pre formal learners.



Our planning follows a themed approach on a rolling program, teachers will then plan their class curriculum on this theme around the individual targets and create medium term plans from this, this contains information for developing skills through different activities.  The whole department follows these themes so we are able to have joint planning and sessions together.


Schemas have been developed to support teachers in their planning and assessment to support with next steps in development and target setting. These cover a range of areas and use existing guidance and pro-forma such as Routes for learning (Welsh gov).  Please click here to view our Complex and Sensory Needs Schema document.


Learning is monitored through capturing the process on the Earwig assessment app to show a timeline of progress. The EHCP outcomes and PLP targets are recorded on the pupil’s timeline to allow each piece of evidence to be tagged to the target. This makes it easier to find evidence when needed. Pupil progress is reflected on each term with a member of SLT, and regular therapy meetings where appropriate, these meetings then inform next steps and updates to the individuals PLP’s.  Each individual has a communication passport which is updated termly and summarises the pupil’s overall needs.



What we want for our learners when they leave Addington:

  • Each learner will have made progress relevant to their need. Whether that is maintaining what they have, making progress or being able to maximise opportunities in degenerative skills.
  • Families will feel supported and know where to find help.
  • Each learner will be a member of the community with a voice.
  • They will be valued for who they are.
  • Their lives will go beyond just being cared for.