Engagement in a Sensory Curriculum

On this very practical day, Richard Hirstwood and Carol Allen will consider the issues involved in maximising the impact of sensory activities for students who have complex additional needs and autism.

We are used to offering a range of sensory activities for our learners, but how do we ensure that they are ready and receptive to participate in these?  Given that we all have clear communication strategies in place; how many of us have equally clear strategies to wake up the senses, to warm up both educators and students for action and engagement?

Learning Objectives

Delegates will…

  • move beyond providing passive sensory experiences to creating those which achieve reactive engagement
  • understand the sensory impairments which may be experienced within each modality and how to accommodate these
  • understand how to create an inclusive learning environment to further engage sensory learners
  • be introduced to a range of appropriate and effective sensory learning opportunities, designed to overcome barriers to learning, with a focus on the visual, hearing and tactile senses.
  • understand creative ways of evaluating pupils progress


The day will focus on four key areas: sensory learning, accessing learning and play through hands and the tactile sense, vision and hearing.

An introduction to sensory learning and key issues.
We will show you why using a learning styles approach is appropriate to our special learners. We’ll share how a positive approach can enable us to identify a learner’s strengths and possible barriers to engagement, to ensure continued progress. We will show you how to use this information to personalise an individual’s learning pathway.

Hands on/Hands off
Hands are crucial in play. They are how we experience the world around us how we experience the world around us; how we identify, manipulate and use objects, to encourage language and magic. For a learner with autism hands can be a primary focus, they frequently provide calming, stimming opportunities they may be protected and held back from unwanted sensory experiences and yet as a complete contradiction, fully engaged with other sensory experiences-often those that are not viewed by others as acceptable. This practical session will take a look at hands and hand play. How do we release the hands to engage in the most useful learning opportunities?

Look at this!
Vision is the primary sense for taking in and coordinating information.  For some students this requires simple ‘warm up’ activities. For others, the skills involved in visual engagement such as fixation and tracking can be developed (in creative ways.). From everyday items such as torches and shiny paper through to apps and projection, this session will provide a myriad of practical activities to try.

Can you hear that?
There is a world of of pleasure and learning to be shared when we focus on listening activities with our students. For some the aural route may be their primary or preferred route for interpreting their world.  Using a wide variety of easy to replicate activities, we will consider both the student who seeks sensory information via sound and those who struggle with too many sounds competing for attention at the same time.

When and where?

13 May 2019 – Novotel Manchester Centre, 21 Dickinson St, Manchester, M1 4LX

17 May 2019 – NCVO, 8 All Saints St, London N1 9RL

Who should attend?

This will be appropriate for colleagues from special schools, mainstream schools, EYFS services and adult provision who are working with those with PMLD/CLDD/Autism, and who wish to expand their sensory approaches to learning and their sensory environments to increase engagement in learning and inclusion.

Course notes?

All pertinent presentations & movies from the day will be available to you to continue your learning journey long after the training has finished!

Times & housekeeping: 

The day begins from 9am for coffee and registration, with the course starting at 9.30am. We will finish around 3.30pm. All refreshments & a lovely lunch will be provided.


£245  plus VAT per place, including refreshments & lunch.

Who will be presenting?

Carol Allen is now an independent advisory teacher for SEN. Her training is experienced worldwide and regularly presents at BETT and the Times Education show. Her experience goes back to the 1980’s in both mainstream – primary and high schools for students with SEN. She is list owner for SLD Forum, an international mailing list for practitioners and educators interested in the effective teaching and learning for those with complex barriers to learning so she has a wonderful feel for current topics. Her courses are always fun, practical and very thought provoking. She is a senior member of the Hirstwood Training extended training team

Richard Hirstwood is a fun, motivational and accomplished international presenter in the field of sensory learning.  His recent work in classrooms from the UK to New Zealand have proved invaluable when developing a sensory curriculum. He was one of the innovators os sensory rooms and he has a detailed understanding of sensory approaches. As well as a host of practical ideas his in depth knowledge of autism, sensory loss & sensory approaches are in demand worldwide. He over 300 videos on YouTube with over 1.5 million views and is constantly updating his knowledge and ideas.