Pathway 1 – Informal Curriculum

Pathway 1

Young people following Pathway 1 typically experience profound and multiple learning difficulties. Those with profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD) are situated along a spectrum indicating their profoundly intricate learning requirements. Alongside profound learning challenges, they often encounter additional significant obstacles, such as physical disabilities, sensory impairments, and/or severe medical conditions. Consequently, they typically necessitate multidisciplinary assistance and support. Curriculum delivery is frequently tailored to individual needs, often provided on a one-to-one basis or in pairs, highlighting the necessity for considerable adult support for young people with PMLD.

Our Pathway 1 is summarised on this page but for more information please follow the link below.

Pathway 1 Handbook

Communication & Language

Within Pathway 1, young people engage in an informal curriculum that employs highly differentiated sensory approaches to cultivate their communication styles. Personalised targets are established based on Footsteps and Stepping Out Assessments, as well as their EHCP outcomes. We integrate a diverse range of activities aimed at fostering communication, including the utilisation of Eye Gaze, switch work, sensory stories, TAC PAC, and massage techniques.

At Portland Academy, we adopt a total communication approach, considering the preferred communication styles of young people to ensure they can effectively express their wants and needs. In the realm of communication and language, young people develop skills to heighten their awareness of others in close proximity and to respond effectively to their environments.

Moreover, we closely monitor the behaviour of our young people, actively encouraging even the slightest vocalization or change in facial expression as a means of communication for expressing their wants and needs.


Early cognition encompasses developing awareness of immediate surroundings and assisting young people in understanding the world around them. They will learn about the predictability of events and the behaviour of objects within specific environments. Young people will become aware of multiple objects within their environment and enhance their understanding of how these objects can be explored or manipulated with purpose. Their reactions to new or unfamiliar stimuli are carefully monitored and assessed to discern their positive or negative responses. This enables teachers to form individualized profiles for each young person, allowing them to plan sessions tailored to their unique motivators.

Young people are supported to develop their cognitive and problem-solving skills within the context of the half-termly curriculum theme. Multi-sensory lessons provide opportunities for sensory stimulation, engagement, and exploration using all of the available senses – visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory (smell), gustatory (taste), vestibular (sense of balance, speed, and direction), proprioceptive (sense of body in space). Learning takes place inside and outside of the classroom, for example, through Forest School and in the community. Early number sense is incorporated, developing awareness of the immediate environment, the predictability of events, and how these objects can be explored or manipulated with developing purpose.

Personal Health & Education

PSHE encourages relationship building as well as body awareness and awareness of the world around them through planned and impromptu experiences. The aim of PSHE for pathway 1 young people is to develop a sense of self and others through developing interactions with others. To understand health care routines as well as tolerance to touch and body awareness through communication. Students should enjoy a range of movement activity that support their health and well-being. Young people encounter activities and experiences where they may be passive or resistant and participation is often fully prompted. They may have moments where they are able to focus attention on certain people, events or objects. They may give intermittent reactions to stimulation.

PSHE Pathway 1

Physical Development (Motor Development)

Physical Development (Motor Development) encompasses movement opportunities tailored to individual EHCP targets, physiotherapy, and occupational therapy (OT) programs. Young people also receive personalised positioning timetables to ensure regular daily opportunities to work on individual movement targets, utilising tailored supportive equipment such as standers, walkers, wedges etc.. They enhance their gross and fine motor skills while using and manipulating various resources. Additionally, they participate in a range of sporting activities tailored to their needs, including rebound and hydrotherapy where available.

The curriculum is delivered through a variety of contexts, initially focusing on interactions with themselves and familiar adults and gradually expanding to include experiences within their immediate indoor and outdoor environments, as well as sensory experiences and access to the broader community. Activities span a wide range, encompassing music, cooking, sensory stories, massage, art, sensory integration, switch skills, drama, movement and physiotherapy, rebound, and social interaction.