Engagement in a personalised curriculum

With Richard Hirstwood and Carol Allen

A personalised curriculum is most effective when it offers learners with complex learning needs and autism a range of engaging sensory learning opportunities matched to their profile. However, launching into activities without ensuring that learners are ready for, and able to take part in; these sensory learning activities is never successful. Waking the senses is a crucial, and often overlooked, step to engagement and successful learning. 

This lively day with Richard and Carol will explore a variety of strategies and ideas to maximise the impact of the sensory curriculum that you offer. They identify clear strategies to wake up learner’s senses in readiness for learning. Using a combination of everyday, homemade and commercial resources; they will look at simple ways to make sensory learning irresistible for learners to engage with – and how to work on sustaining this engagement.  

Underpinning the day’s activities will be a sharing of simple ways of assessing a learners’ sensory skills; planning in the moment and evaluating progress.


The day will focus on four key areas:  


Sensory learning strengths and a personalised curriculum

‘Look at this!’ – developing visual skills.

‘Can you hear that?’ – developing hearing skills

‘Hands on/off?’ – developing tactile skills and play

An introduction to sensory learning strengths and a personalised curriculum. 

We know multi-sensory learning enables a learner with SEND to be more successful in their learning, and that this is especially important if a learner also has a sensory impairment. Carol and Richard show you why it is important to identify a learner’s

sensory strengths and potential barriers to their learning and how to do this. We then show you how to use this information to personalise a learner’s sensory curriculum.

Look at this! 

Vision is the primary sense for coordinating sensory information. Developing visual skills is so crucial. For some learners, simple ‘warm up’ activities are best. For others developing more complex visual skills, such as fixation and tracking; activities need to be more creative. In this session, Carol and Richard share a variety of practical activities to develop a range of visual skills. These range from simple ideas using everyday items, through to more complex ideas using apps; mobile technology and projection. 

Can you hear that? 

For some learners, hearing may be their main, or preferred, way of collecting sensory information from their world. For others, becoming more aware of sound and developing more successful listening skills is a priority. In this session, Carol and Richard focus on easy to replicate activities to develop hearing/listening skills. They have ideas for the learner who needs more sound awareness; stimulation and experimentation. And they also suggest strategies for those learners overwhelmed by too many competing sounds in their learning environment. 

Hands on/Hands off 

Hands are crucial in play. They are how learners explore; investigate and experience their world. For a sensory learner, manipulating, using and playing with objects encourages many vital cognitive skills, including language and communication. For a learner with autism, hands can provide calming and reassuring stimming opportunities. But they may be withheld or withdrawn from specific sensory experiences; whilst completely engaging in others, often not viewed as acceptable. This practical session will take a look at hands and hand play. We share ideas to encourage exploration and manipulation of objects and materials. For learners reluctant to explore using their hands, we look at ways of releasing them to take part in tactile learning opportunities.

Learning Outcomes:

  • How to create sensory experiences which are reactive not passive 
  • Why sensory impairments create barriers to learning and how to reduce or overcome these 
  • Understand how to create an inclusive learning environment to further engage sensory learners in their learning 
  • A range of effective sensory learning activities to develop vision, hearing and tactile skills 
  • Simple ways of assessing sensory strengths 
  • Creative ways to evaluate learners progress

Who is presenting?

Richard Hirstwood is a dynamic, motivational and accomplished international presenter in the field of multi-sensory approaches to reducing barriers to learning for all learners with SEND.

Carol Allen is an education advisor for ICT and Inclusion, currently offering specialised support to Local Authorities; schools; parents and carers and a wide range of educators across the world.

30 March 2020 – Newcastle

31 March 2020 – Manchester  

3 April 2020 – London

Who should attend?

This will be appropriate for teachers and classroom practitioners from special schools and colleges; mainstream schools and early years settings with specialist SEND provision who wish to implement a more effective sensory curriculum for learners with severe and complex needs and autism.

Course notes?

The learning continues after the course has ended with an online copy of all pertinent presentations, video & documents from the day on our website, for you to share with your colleagues and continue your learning journey long after the training has finished!

Times & housekeeping? 

We begin the day from 9am with coffee and registration with presentations beginning at 9.30am. We will finish around 3.30pm. All refreshments and a lovely lunch are provided! Please let us know on your application form if you have any specific dietary requirements. Please note, we always cater for vegetarians.


£265 plus VAT per place including refreshments & lunch.

How many days left to book?