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Henry Tyndale School

Informal Curriculum

Definition of Informal Curriculum

Informal Education is a general term for education that can occur outside of a structured curriculum. The Informal Curriculum encompasses student interests within a curriculum in a regular classroom, but is not limited to that setting. It works through conversation, and the exploration and enlargement of experience.

Personal targets are identified in consultation with families, classroom staff and other professionals. These targets are based on current strengths and needs and focus on learning fundamental and functional skills and work on further improving their understanding of the world. These areas include Communication, Cognition, Physical, Self Help and Independence. These are likely to be ‘way in’ for the child and widen learning opportunities.

Skills of social interaction and engaging with the world may well be the starting point. It is important to engage them in activities they enjoy to increase their quality of life

Characteristics of learners functioning at P4 and below

Communication: many children are at a stage before their communication becomes fully intentional or at very early levels of communication. Staff need to be very good at interpreting children’s behaviour so we can respond appropriately. We need to respond as if the children are intentionally communicating to teach them how to become intentional communicators.


Engagement is a key area for consideration and the Engagement Profile and Routes for Learning Map will be explore alongside the Affective Communication Assessment


Example Pre-verbal communication Schedule


Needs right now

Needs next

Smiles to show he likes activities

Pushes away people and objects he doesn’t want

Particularly likes noisy, bright objects that move

Lots of activities with bright noisy objects that move to practice showing he likes them and other duller activities and toys to be pushed away


Smiling to show he can anticipate a favourite activity – starting with games such as tickling where the adult exaggerates the wait

Looks to and from 2 objects placed in front of him

Lots of chances to look at and explore 2 noisy, bright objects that move

Choosing between 2 objects – starting with the choice of a favourite toy and a not so favourite toy

Shouts (but with only a vague notion that shouting will attract someone’s attention)

People to respond consistently to his shouts as if he meant to call them over. Responses could be to produce objects he likes as well as social rewards of gaining someone’s attention

Anticipating someone is going to come to him when he shouts


Johnny will respond to adults playing with bright, noisy objects that move by showing obvious enjoyment, probably by smiling. Any objects he does not like, he will show he is not interested probably by pushing them away or maybe by not engaging with them. There is a list of James’ favoured and non-favoured objects below. Please add anything new to the list.

Cognition: Most children are at a very early stage of development in their cognitive skills. They are likely to be developing the sorts of skills that a typical infant will develop during their first year of life eg: learning about the properties of objects, how to move and how to make things happen.

Sensory: Difficulty in this area can hamper a pupil’s ability to learn and retain information, so understand the world around them in simple terms.

Resources should usually be used one at a time with plenty of time for the children to react to each one. They should also be used to encourage learning and not only for ‘an experience’. If a child is working on anticipating a repetitively presented stimulus then the sensory resources can be used in a burst-pause manner to allow the child to recognise the pattern and begin to anticipate that the activity will begin again after a pause.

Movement: Many children are wheelchair users who find it very hard to move independently which restricts their ability to explore their environment. Typically infants spend the first year of life physically exploring the world around them and any physical disability means learning through this means is seriously compromised.

Physical and self-help skills: are also very important and these 4 areas form the main aspects of the skills curriculum for this group. Practising basic skills on a daily basis is very dull without a range and variety of context and the curriculum for children with PMLD contains lots of ideas for embedding early learning in fun activities, using music and songs to ensure appropriate access to learning.


A child of 11 with PMLD is not the same as a typical infant of a few months old, but knowing about the developmental level of a typical infant can be really helpful in understanding what someone with PMLD might be able to understand. Understanding this level is important so we can get our teaching right for the level of learning. If a child has only just managed to smile to communicate ‘more’ when s/he wants an activity to continue, it is unreasonable to expect him or her to understand spoken language.

Staffing: Most children with PMLD do not have the skills to be part of the whole class group and have no concept of waiting for a turn. If they are part of a group then this group needs to be very small, say 2 children, then they can have lots of ‘turns’ at activities. If they are in a larger group then it is much harder for them to be engaged with the activity, unless there are plenty of resources and an adult sitting next to them interacting

Generally a good learning situation comprises one adult and 2 children with PMLD. That adult can engage children by alternating between the two, judging the length of time for each interaction by the children’s reactions. The session can be driven by the pace that’s right for those children and not by the tolerance level of other more able children. Some children with PMLD love to watch their peers but others have very little interest in anything that doesn’t happen within a few centimetres of them.

There should also be opportunities for individual work between an adult and child and often the routines of the day give the best possibilities for this to happen. Dressing and undressing, eating and drinking offer lovely moments for adults to interact individually with children. Staff can work on communication and cognition targets as well as self-help targets in these situations.

Areas of paramount importance

Cognition and Learning;

Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties

Communication and Interaction (to include Environmental control technology) needs

Sensory and/or Physical needs


                                                                         Communication and Interaction

                                                                                Environmental Control


Social, Emotional and                                                                                                               Physical, sensory, self help

Mental Health                                                                 THE CHILD                                               Independence


                                                                                       Cognition and Learning


Activities to include:

Physical: Hydrotherapy, Physiotherapy, MOVE

Communication: Intensive Interaction; Stories – Personal and Sensory

Music/Musical interactions: Songs, instruments,

Body Awareness:

Environmental Control:

Community Visits: