The Students and Pupils in our Explorer Pathway are characterised as having higher levels of dependency in areas of communication, social interaction and relationships, inflexible thinking and sensory experiences and this may include higher levels of need in personal care and health. Most students are non-verbal and will need high levels of support in adult life. Some will rely on augmentative and alternative communication systems into later life. (AACs). With this in mind the pathway is preparing the pupils for a future in a supported environment or either residential care or supported living.
The Explorer Pathway curriculum is carefully planned, highly differentiated and well-resourced to meet the needs of all pupils. There is a high degree of personalisation. Life-long learning, life skills and future independence are key priorities running through Explorer Pathway curriculum and individual student outcomes.
The curriculum pathway for these students enables them to develop their communication and independence. Learning opportunities and experiences are structured as small steps in a development framework, drawing on the principles of sensory, play based exploration.
Students develop their communication and engagement in a curriculum based around topics from the International Primary Curriculum (IPC). This is especially true of pupils within School, but these principles continue to be relevant for many students within College. The topic of IPC change half termly providing exciting learning opportunities and experiences covering a variety of subjects like English, Maths, Science, Technology, Active MFL. Younger students are based in school building where every class has their own enclosed outdoor playground area and all have access to Soft Play, trampoline and basket swing, as well as the main playground which can all be used for regular movement breaks.
In the school younger students are more involved in play and sensory based curriculum. Students begin to recognise that play is a way of learning and of coming to terms with the world around them. In early stage teaching is focused on play skills and the usage of the ‘portage techniques’ to help students begin their education journey. Teaching in both school and college is highly personalised in order to meet the needs of all students. Students not only follow IPC Curriculum but also practise skills they need in order to improve their specific areas of need.
As students move into College, greater attention is given to developing key life skills; handling money, making choices, choosing what to eat and cook. They also access accreditations; all students follow OCR Life and Living Skills programme, a suite of units covering a wide range of skill areas, including functional and personal and social skills. Students are aiming to have achieved Diploma status at Entry 1 by the end of year 14.
At the same time older students in the college are working on Functional Maths and English, working on developing communication through the use of iPad and other means of communication, money handling, daily living skills including cooking, household jobs and going into the community to practise social skills and working on independence.
Students are also taking part in various Creative Arts and Leisure Activities in order to develop their interests. There are lots of opportunities for outdoor learning especially accessing our suite of resources based on Forest Schools and Duke of Edinburgh Expeditions. Explorer students benefit from Speech & Language and Occupational therapy from our in-class therapists, and other therapies such as Music Therapy, Mindfulness, Sensory Room, Nurture Room, Hand Massage and Magic Carpet, Swing Therapy, Drama Therapy, Tac Pac and Sensory Play.
There is strong focus on maintaining structure and clear behaviour expectations across the Explorer Pathway. New teachers and teaching assistants are trained from the beginning to maintain consistency of approach to all students. Students within the Explorer pathway are typically working in the Pre-Foundation Stage Levels.