An Ivy House Child
Whilst every child in the school is unique, and face their own unique barriers to education, to understand how our curriculum is constructed, it is important to understand the student cohort who we are fortunate enough to serve. Whilst understanding this, we are conscious to remain aspirational, and not to have a pre-conception on what our learners can do, or limit the expectations on what they can achieve. There is no glass ceiling for achievement, and we always expect to be amazed.
Our Pre-formal Curriculum is for learners with Profound and Multiple Difficulties (PMLD), working at the very early stages of development within the Engagement Model (previously between P1 and P4), and at a developmental level of between 0 and 18 months. Imray (2005) suggested those with PMLD are likely to be pre-intentional commutators and will generally (unintentionally) communicate for needs/wants only, have extreme difficulties conceptualising abstract concepts, have difficulty learning through imitation, be (often totally) physically reliant on others and have limited understanding of cause and effect. Less than half of the average PMLD pupil’s time at school is spent in a state where they are fit to learn because of such conditions as sleepiness, pain, discomfort, distraction etc. (Guess et al, 1990). Students with PMLD are learning the fundamental learning skills usually mastered by typical children in the first year or so of life (Lacey, 2011). The subjects may be able to provide an interesting and challenging context for practicing these fundamental skills but it is unhelpful to suggest that students with PMLD are learning English, Maths and Science. Many linear or hierarchical assessments will be unable to detect the very subtle changes in behaviour shown by learners with PMLD, regardless of how many “small steps” are provided. In real life, children’s development and learning is not compartmentalised.
Our Semi-formal Curriculum is for learners with Severe Leading Difficulties (SLD), working within the Rainbow Profile (previously between P4 and end of KS1 expectations), and at a developmental level of between 18 months and 5 years. Students with SLD have difficulties with communication, understanding abstract concepts, concentration, and moving things from short-term memory into the long (Imray, 2005). Lacey (2009) notes these learners typically have inefficient and slow information processing speeds, little general knowledge, poor strategies for thinking and learning, and difficulties with generalisation and problem solving. These difficulties may well be compounded by considerably higher than usual incidence of sensory, motor and health difficulties (Porter 2005); an additional Autism Spectrum Condition diagnosis (De Bildt et al., 2005) and considerably higher than average chance of having challenging behaviours (Allen et al., 2006).
Whilst these definitions are helpful to understand the challenges our students face it is vital we concentrate on the uniqueness of the individual. We are capability focused, concentrating on the positive potential of an individual so that an understanding of the capabilities of the child, rather than the deficits, become the central theme we work towards.