Pathway 2 – Pre-Formal Curriculum

Pathway 2

Young people on Pathway 2 are likely to have complex needs with severe learning difficulties and complex autism. Young people may use sign, symbols and/or language to communicate, though all will to a greater or lesser degree have severe communication difficulties, which will affect both expressive and receptive communication skills. There is a growing population of children with complex autism. Complex autism is characterised by difficulties in social interaction and communication skills, sensory integration and repetitive behaviour patterns. Often children with autism cannot filter input from different sources, so they experience everything at once and it’s overwhelming for them. With all of this in mind, what is important is that we find more and better ways of supporting autistic children throughout their learning, being aware of their needs, guiding them through some of the challenges that they face every day and helping them to develop their own independence.

Communication & Language

Within Pathway 2 young people follow a pre-formal curriculum. Our aim is to support our young people to be understood by others and to express themselves safely and effectively to the best of their abilities. At Hope Wood Academy we focus on a total communication approach where the preferred communication styles of young people are considered to ensure they can express their wants and needs successfully. Young people are given opportunities to develop functional and intentional communication skills supported by Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) such as switches, gesture, sign and pictures. Key communication skills such as getting attention, requesting, rejecting and seeking help are learned and practiced in context. Individual targets are planned form Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) assessments, Education health care Plans (EHCP) and personalised targets take from relevant progression statements. Young people access opportunities to learn communication skills and ways of communicating based on the young people’s preference. Communication and language is taught through themes to engage the young people in talk, communication activities, storytelling, drama and role play. Early Fine Motor skills are promoted to develop writing when appropriate.


Pathway 2 focuses on practical learning that encourages young people to use their early reasoning and problem-solving skills. Young people will engage with a range of activities such as: cooking, simple experiments, practical learning and sensory experiences in order to develop early counting, spatial awareness and sense of time, change and routine. Young people will also be exposed to activities involving number, quantity, pattern and change in practical situations. Young people will be able to follow a range of instructions presented to them in their preferred communication method to help them to independently engage with and complete tasks. The focus is around repetition and revision to support memory and understanding to develop persistence and resilience.

Personal Health & Social Education

Personal, health, social and emotional development; incorporating personal independence targets from the EHCP.

  • Personal development – how we come to understand who we are and what we can do, how we look after ourselves.
  • Social development – how we understand ourselves in relation to others. This includes how we make friends, understand the rules of society, and how we behave towards others.
  • Emotional development – how we understand our own and others’ feelings. Including how we develop our ability to see things from other people’s point of view (empathy). Targets may also be derived from the AET/SCERTS framework that provide structure and promotes independence as well as supporting EHCP targets. Young people will engage in learning based around key areas:
  • Communication and interaction
  • Self-confidence and self esteem
  • Social understanding and relationships
  • Interests, routines and processing
  • Emotional understanding and self-awareness
  • Learning and engagement
  • Healthy living and independence

The expressive arts can be used to support access to the curriculum. In Language and Communication, stories can be retold and further explored through drama, music, puppet shows, sensory stories and multi media experiences. This can help to secure new language and key vocabulary, enabling young people to process learning through all their senses. Art, dance and music has been widely used in schools’ curricula. They provide a means of expression and a voice to communicate without limitation. It gives a voice to children with language limitations, and it provides an excellent way to express their feelings. Art, music and dance can help improve self-esteem, self-awareness, self-expression as well as fine and gross motor skills.

Physical Education (Motor Development)

For young people in pathway 2 physical development incorporates movement targets linked to individual EHCP targets, MOVE programme, physiotherapy, and OT programs. Being able to move and explore our environments is key to learning. Young people access a range of gross motor activities to develop fundamental movement, promote balance, coordination and body awareness based upon developmental milestones. The aim is to secure an awareness of the body in space, secure balance and coordination that enable young people to move safely and independently in their environment. Young people will develop their gross and fine motor skills, whilst using and manipulating a range of different resources. They will also access a range of activities that are tailored to their needs, such as rebound therapy and hydrotherapy, where appropriate. This also supports healthy lifestyles.   Young people should access a range of physical development activity that may include, swimming, walking, running, dancing, managing obstacles, body awareness activity, balance and co-ordination skills, climbing stairs, jumping, trampolining, fitness activity, cycling and ball skills.

There are key benefits of outdoor learning: supporting the curriculum (bringing the curriculum to life); skill development (social skills, communication, exploration) and personal, social and health education (movement and well-being). We recognise the importance of varied learning environments and the need for more creativity and variety in the curriculum and the outdoors can play a vital role. For autistic young people it can reduce the sensory impact of buildings and people. The confines of an indoor classroom can often feel formal and pressurised. Young people don’t have the space they need to let off steam or to relax into the task in hand. The outdoors offers them a sense of space and freedom