Pathway 3 – Semi-Formal Curriculum

Pathway 3

Young people are identified through using assessment and information presented within the EHCP as well as diagnostic assessment tasks upon entry. Academic diagnostics within each area of learning and assessments are carried out through a series of observations and activities based on the relevant curriculum area. In Pathway 3 we use different communication tools such as widget symbols and communication devices where necessary. In Pathway 3 young people will be able to communicate about themselves and their lives. it allows them opportunities to rehearse and embed the practical skills and understanding they need to lead independent, safe and healthy lives and enjoy safe and healthy relationships. Pathway 3 young people will be preparing for a more formal curriculum through building knowledge of phonics and number skills.

Communication, language & literacy

In Pathway 3 we use different communication tools such as Widgit symbols, Makaton or BSL signing and speech communication devices where necessary. Young people will be able to communicate about themselves and their lives in a variety of situations and contexts. Oracy is a key priority across the curriculum; young people in Pathway 3 are encouraged to share their views, listen to others’ opinions and become critical thinkers who are able to articulate their thoughts and feelings.

Our Speech and Language Therapist works closely with young people and colleagues in order to support individual and group needs relating to all aspects of communication, language and literacy.

Young people in Pathway 3, will begin to develop knowledge and understanding of the sound systems and to recognise letters from the alphabet. This is done through targeted phonics sessions for young people who need this.

In Pathway 3, young people will begin to write simple, common words and understand the function of writing. There is a focus on vocabulary building through a variety of contexts such as through expressive arts, learning in the outdoors and wider community and the world of work. There is a handwriting policy that supports the introduction of writing and letter formation.

Young people will be immersed in reading through rich storytelling. They are exposed to a wide range of stories, books and pictures from different cultures, times and beliefs as well as encountering a range of genres over time which encourage a love of reading. Alongside this, functional reading development is supported through a range of appropriate and graded materials such as the Oxford Reading Owl programme.

In Pathway 3, the Thinking Schools programme supports the development of schema through structured thinking that promotes connections; develops ways of establishing explicit links between critical and creative thinking and scaffolds high quality autonomous learning and pro-social behaviour that can have enormous benefits for the young people. As an Advanced Thinking School, the development of thinking skills is a fundamental part of our students’ learning and impacts positively on all areas of their development both academically and pastorally. Thinking has a unique place in the curriculum of Barbara Priestman. It is not a subject but a central and essential thread that is intricately woven throughout the Pathway and subject areas enabling all learners to become metacognitive, self-regulated learners.


In Pathway 3, young people build on their understanding of numbers and the number system, building numbers to 20. We promote the use of problem-solving skills allowing young people the time to try and solve problems before stepping in and supporting. We undertake practical learning that starts with concrete objects, then pictorial representations and then to more abstract thinking. There will be regular opportunity for rote learning, counting and practising number facts in a variety of situations.

Young people will regularly take part in simple ‘experiments’, observing how objects and materials behave and make predictions about what they think might happen. This can be through cooking, play, physical activity etc. Young people begin to develop aspects of conceptual understanding and vocabulary that they may encounter in Pathway 4 subject based learning.

In wider cognition sessions, teachers will help young people to understand the world around them through observation and exploration of nature, making collections, sorting found objects and counting.

Personal Health & Social Education

Personal, social and health education plays an important role for young people within Pathway 3. It allows young people opportunities to rehearse and embed the practical skills and understanding they need to lead independent, safe and healthy lives and enjoy safe and healthy relationships. This includes age and needs related sex and relationship education. It enables them to understand who they are, their strengths and needs, rights and responsibilities.

PSHE lessons provide an inclusive environment where young people have the opportunity to explore and reflect upon issues that affect them and can develop strategies and skills to manage different real-life situations. Learning about our bodies and how they work provides the early conceptual understanding and vocabulary that lead in to a more formal science curriculum.

Young people with our Pathway 3 have different experiences of social relationships and will all have different starting points. The feelings and behaviours aspect of PSHE relates to how young people learn to understand and cope with their own feelings and emotions and those of others.

This will include learning about their own emotions through tools and strategies such as Zones of Regulation in order to learn to self-regulate. Another aspect of personal, social, and emotional development is how young people learn to follow social expectations in different settings such as in the classroom and in the local community.

All young people access community independence sessions to support personal, social and health education; creating cultural capital opportunities as well as engaging with the local community through social networking.

At Barbara Priestman we are proud of our Rights Respecting Silver Award status which focuses on the rights of the child. This enables our young people to have active involvement in daily decisions both within their education and within the wider community. All of our young people are encouraged to represented themselves and their peers through the student council and Right Respecting Steering Group.


Physical Education

In Pathway 3 the PE curriculum builds on the firm foundations of earlier pathways enabling students to use their agility and motor control to access a range of accessible sports and games. It aims to build not only on a love of sport but also ensures young people begin to understand the need to be fit, healthy and strong. We also begin to develop team spirit and character through a range of sporting challenges.

Physical education forms a significant aspect of learning within our curriculum as we understand the impact that gross motor skills have on fine motor development that leads into literacy and numeracy learning. Being able to move independently enables young people to explore their environment and extend learning. Motor development happens both within structured PE lessons but also across the school day.

Young people also access physical activities for fitness and to support health and well-being such as dance, yoga, rebound, sessions within the multi co-ordination room and forest school sessions on a regular basis. We understand the importance of physical development both now and for our young people in later life. Where appropriate classrooms are well-resourced with sensory equipment to support regulation for young people.

Physical education is seen in the context of independence and preparation for adulthood, as well as fitness and fun, ensuring young people are as best prepared as possible to move independently, and therefore this curriculum can be taught functionally within the community as well as through traditional PE contexts. This may involve young people navigating uneven terrain, steps, and slopes.