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Engaging Learners

Some of our students are unable to access subject specific learning due to their barriers to learning.

They are working below the Pre-Key Stage Standard 1.

The students who have been identified as needing this approach work within our Engaging Learners Strand, working on developing their skills through the Engagement Model. Pupils assessed using the Engagement Model are usually described as having severe or profound and multiple learning difficulties. This means they have serious cognitive impairments and learning difficulties, which lead to significant delays in reaching developmental milestones. They operate at very early stages of cognitive, physical, social and emotional development.

The Engaging Learners Curriculum identifies and celebrates all pupils’ progress, including linear and lateral progress, the consolidation and maintenance of knowledge, skills and concepts and the prevention or slowing of a decline in pupils’ performance, whilst recognising that a minority of pupils may have a regressive condition. To do this, assessment and observation is made in the following 5 areas: Exploration, Realisation, Anticipation, Persistence and Initiation. Using engagement as the focus of statutory assessment for pupils who are not engaged in subject-specific study helps to ensure that they are developing the right skills and concepts in their physical, social, emotional and cognitive development. This can help them progress on to subject-specific study, when they feel confident enough to do so. 

Due to the nature of the students in the Engaging Learners curriculum, we use a bespoke teaching approach dependent on the students in the class. Each class is reviewed with the teacher and a curriculum offer established for each class from the appropriate strategies and resources used within school. English, maths and PSD will be addressed and some students may be working on these skills, but this may not be necessary in all classes. At the start of each academic year, the blend of Engagement Model teaching and Subject Specific learning is decided that features in all Engaging Learners classes, dependent on individual needs.

Engaging Learners classes still follow the termly themes the same as the main cohort, but there is a higher focus on individualised target setting to meet the individual needs of the students within this cohort, and the Engaging Learners curriculum develops the sequence of learning around individual milestones linked to the 5 areas of Engagement

Communication is vitally important for all students, but particularly for students on the Engaging Learners pathway. Communication has targeted sessions throughout the weekly timetable, but is also interwoven into all lessons to help embed all skills and add to the breadth of the curriculum.

Due to the varying needs of the children here at Southfield, no one communication method is prioritised over another in the pathway. Student’s needs are assessed and then communication strategies are employed that work towards the strengths of the students to allow them the greatest access to their learning.

At Southfield, we promote the concept of total communication which means we use many different methods in combination to support our student’s understanding of spoken language and their ability to communicate by whichever method is the most successful in different situations.

As well as spoken language, we use a range of alternative and augmentative communication systems (AAC). These systems have been researched and used effectively with children and adults who have learning difficulties, autism and/or sensory or physical impairments. They are:

  • Intensive Interaction
  • Vocalisation
  • Touch cues
  • Transitional object cues
  • Photographs
  • PECS
  • E-Trans Frames
  • Switch skills
  • Music cues

For more information on our Engaging Learners curriculum, please contact Adam Medlock, Assistant Headteacher, on the school telephone number.