Complex Needs Curriculum

Aspiring to excellence

Complex Needs Curriculum


The Complex Needs Curriculum is a bespoke curriculum for pupils with significant learning needs. The aim is for learning to be meaningful, purposeful and relevant to each child. We use a thematic approach which allows learning opportunities to be presented in a stimulating and immersive way with an emphasis on developing key skills, knowledge and understanding through a balance of direct teaching and purposeful play and exploration.  Communication is a golden thread that runs through the entire Complex Needs Curriculum.  Learning opportunities are personalised and based on repetition so all learners can anticipate and increase or develop their level of understanding and engagement. Children have Individual Learning Goals and a My Education Action Plan (MEAP) through which we identify and work towards overcoming barriers to learning. We work alongside subject leaders to  create a bespoke curriculum that allows for greater breadth and content for our pupils, whilst ensuring they have the same opportunities as their peers as they journey through school.


Our curriculum focuses on five broad areas of learning:  

  • Communication
  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development
  • Physical Development
  • Exploration and Engagement
  • Learning and Cognition.  


Our curriculum is designed to support the children’s development in the following areas: 

  • Emotional regulation either with the support of adults or independently
  • Communication with others in an appropriate way commensurate to their needs
  • Developing and expressing autonomy
  • Engaging and participating in learning activities safely and calmly
  • Accessing a bespoke curriculum that works to equip them with skills to engage, communicate and learn appropriately and functionally within a community
  • Fostering positive attitudes towards school, learning and others, by building on self esteem and confidence
  • Building positive relationships and trust with familiar adults and peers
  • Achieving their full communicative, sensory, physical, emotional and cognitive potential through the collaboration of school, parents, carers and other professionals.

How does the Complex Needs Curriculum (CNC) link to Curriculum areas?


The CNC LTP phonics coverage is taken from Read Write Inc. (RWI). We aim to cover one sound per week with regular revisits and consolidation.  Throughout the week pupils experience the sounds through song, real objects, play, senses and mark making/writing.  They are encouraged to communicate the phonic sounds through a total communication approach.  

Individual Reading is part of each Literacy session.  Pupils have a choice of texts, including the focus Tell Me Program book. They are supported with the processes of reading through AAC aids. 

Write Dance is a music and dance approach and a method that provides movement opportunities so children can develop the physical skills needed to develop mark making and writing skills. The movement is driven by the music and the underlying principle is enjoyment to build confidence. This combination of rhythmic and then melodic pieces of music are chosen so the children can follow and learn specific movements to develop their physical skills including, balance, coordination, flexibility and stamina.

The CNC LTP coverage is based on the Tell Me Program (by Carole Zangari, PhD, CCC-SLP and Lori Wise, MS, 2017).  The MTPs focus on each identified book in turn which offer a cumulative pattern of core language acquisition.  

The Tell Me Program was chosen as it was recommended by the Guernsey Speech & Language team. It is a quality, evidence based research programme that had been developed to be used specifically alongside AAC devices. It provides structured lessons which teach and practice core words; includes shared reading, shared writing, and further solidifies classroom routines. The tell Me Programme includes 11 book titles each focusing on 4-6 core words for communication development.

We supplement the Tell Me Program fiction books with other high quality texts which offer a range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry around the same focus.  We have moved away from the prescriptive nature of the Program whilst continuing to follow the cumulative core word focus. This has enabled us to deliver learning in ways that motivate and engage the pupils. Learning is predominantly practical, active and sensory.  If learning requires pupils to record their work and this is appropriate for the individual, adaptations are made to ensure this is accessible. 



The CNC LTP coverage is taken from White Rose Maths for Reception and 1.  The MTPs are based on the Reception and Year 1 White Rose schemes.  Reception and Year 1 were chosen to meet the needs and extend the learning of the current cohort in the Key Stage 1 and 2 L&C classes.  Should the ability range of these groups extend beyond this, we will look to incorporate further schemes into our MTPs.  Learning is predominantly practical, active and sensory.  If learning requires pupils to record their work and this is appropriate for the individual, adaptations are made to ensure this is accessible.  Core words continue to be a focus through Maths and the teams use a total communication approach throughout. 


Science, Geography, History, RE, DT, PSHE

The above curriculum subjects sit within Understanding the World and are delivered through Thematic units which are seasonal and/or aligned with community, Island-wide and/or World celebrations.  Each theme offers coverage in at least three curriculum areas. Content is stage-appropriate to pupils within the complex needs classes and learning is predominantly practical, active and sensory.

Themes include:

  • All About Me in Autumn
  • Festivals and Celebrations
  • Winter in the Woods
  • Spring on the Farm
  • Liberation
  • Summer at The Seaside


New concepts are introduced, learning is enhanced and knowledge and skills are revisited and consolidated through the use of:

  • Cause and effect toys
  • Hygge Sensory Room
  • Wanderlust Fully Immersive Sensory Room
  • Interactive Whiteboards
  • iPads

Language and Communication is a golden thread which runs through the CNC.  For some pupils this involves having access to and learning power-based AACs.  



Music sits within Exploration and Engagement on the CNC LTP.  It is planned and delivered by the School’s Music Service. The main focus of the music sessions is language and communication with a variety of call and response songs which pupils learn and become confident with over time.

The school has also purchased Kapow Music. This is available to use within the CNC  and pupils would be accessing the Year 1 topics to ensure they are stage appropriate. Should they exceed expectations then we would look to include topics from other year groups.

Pupils develop skills in: 

  • Listening
  • Turn taking and waiting
  • Responding to others


Art sits within Exploration and Engagement on the CNC LTP.  It is planned and delivered by an Art specialist who is also Art Therapy qualified.  The pupils benefit from Art linked to topic themes and also Art Therapy. 


PE and Swimming 

PE and Swimming sit within Physical Development

The pupils develop skills in: 

  • fine and gross motor 
  • undressing and dressing 
  • communication and interaction 
  • play 
  • fundamental movement: running, jumping, balancing, coordination, agility, throwing and catching
  • water confidence and safety
  • swimming