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PMLD Curriculum

PMLD Cohort Thematic Rolling Programme

The PMLD Curriculum at Millstead School


The official DfE definition of children with PMLD is:

“Pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties have complex learning needs.  In addition to very severe learning difficulties, pupils have other significant difficulties, such as physical disabilities, sensory impairment or a severe medical condition.  Pupils require a high level of adult support, both for their learning needs and also for their personal care.  They are likely to need sensory stimulation and a curriculum broken down into very small steps.  Some pupils communicate by gesture, eye pointing or symbols, others by very simple language.  Their attainments are likely to remain in the early P scale range (P1-P4) throughout their school life.”


The Curriculum

The PMLD curriculum at Millstead School is a process based, sensory and developmental curriculum, focussing on the experience gained through completing activities as opposed to the “end product” that is produced. It focuses upon developing children’s communication, engagement and experiences. We use an adapted, adult-led play based approach to teaching.  Classrooms are set up to provide continuous provision and sensory exploration activities throughout the day.  We use a topic approach which follows a 4 year rolling program which aims to cover a variety of themes.  Although sessions are planned and delivered in a variety of ways (whole class, group and individually) all teaching is individualised.   The adult’s role is to facilitate learning across all areas for the curriculum and school day.

Our curriculum is personalised, based on a variety of assessments.  Children have objectives and targets set from a variety of sources:

  • PScales
  • Quest for Learning
  • ICT Skills Checklist
  • Switch Progression Road Map
  • Intensive Interaction Progression
  • MOVE (support for children to sit, stand or walk)
  • Objectives and targets are also negotiated with parents and other professionals. 


Children with complex medical needs within these classes have teaching and learning activities delivered as and when their health allows, this does not necessarily need to be as timetabled.  Teachers should prioritise curriculum areas/sessions for children whose access is limited by their health.  The same applies for children who are not present due to absence or outside agency led sessions.


Therapies form an important part of the curriculum for most children with PMLD.  These should be seen as part of the curriculum and should not be seen as an addition.  Teachers planning should take into account how these therapies can be extended during the school day and should be included in planning. 


The Environment

The classroom environment can vary depending on the needs of the children in each class and the learning activity.  Some children work well in busy, stimulating environments; others feel more secure in lower stimulation, structured environments, especially when learning something new or experiencing something for the first time. 


Continuous provision

An adapted approach to continuous provision is used in classes for children with PMLD. Continuous provision areas can be shared between classrooms or can be duplicated depending on the individual needs of the children. 

Areas can include but are not restricted to:

  • Reading/Sensory story
  • Mark Making
  • Visual Awareness
  • Light/dark area
  • Tactile exploration
  • Water
  • Sand
  • Construction


Due to the physical, cognitive and sensory needs of children with PMLD, there will be a high dependence on adults to access continuous provision although adults should promote independence and independent exploration as much as possible. 


Classroom Displays


Information relevant to the children’s needs should be displayed within the classroom setting in appropriate areas.  This information can include care plans, self-help and changing needs positioning needs and manual handling information. 

Children’s current targets and objectives are displayed in relevant areas including within the classroom, bathroom/changing room and outdoor areas.  Targets for swimming, rebound and feeding are also displayed and can be made portable to be taken to the different areas. MOVE targets should be displayed in both the children’s classroom and bathrooms.


Learning and Celebration

Learning displays in PMLD classes should be interactive and often take the form of display tables or sensory areas.  This could be turning a corner of a classroom into an under the sea cave with a sensory exploration table for example.  Wall displays can be used to celebrate work created by children and their achievements.  These can include photographs, observations and pieces of work. 


Outdoor learning

The outdoor environment should be an extension of the classroom. Outdoor area should be planned for and resourced appropriately. Classrooms that share outdoor areas may share outdoor provision as opposed to replicating resources. 

Areas outdoors may include but are not limited to:

  • Reading/sensory story
  • Music
  • Visual awareness
  • Sand
  • Water
  • Physical Development
  • Mark Making



Millstead uses a topic based approach to long term planning which changes on a 4 year rolling program.  Each half term has a specific topic and focus.  There are whole school and cohort events planned for each topic.   

Medium term planning consists of 2 separate documents, 1 highlighting objectives to be focussed on across the half term and another detailing session specific ideas. 

Short Term planning is session specific.  These can be either consistent sessions where the activities stay the same or sessions where the activities vary day by day or week by week.   

Consistent sessions include

  • Hand Class
  • Tac Pac
  • Sensory Story
  • Movement to music
  • Music
  • ICT
  • Massage
  • Visual awareness
  • Intensive Interaction



Sessions which will vary include

  • Literacy – Mark making and Sensory Exploration
  • Numeracy – Including Number Rhymes *Although these may stay the same for a number of weeks
  • Sensory Cooking
  • Sensory Art
  • Science
  • ICT
  • Intensive Interaction


Physical Development (Also see MOVE Page)

Physical development is an integral part of the curriculum for many children with PMLD at Millstead.  Progress towards MOVE targets and physical independence, no matter how small, is promoted throughout all areas of the curriculum and within all aspects of the school day.  Planning highlights ideas for postural management positioning and opportunities to promote MOVE targets and physical independence.


To find out more about what the PMLD curriculum looks like, please go to the class pages below. There you will find out more information and see the children in action.