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Complex Physical

Complex curriculum –  Physical

Physical Overview


We intend to support all pupils following the complex curriculum pathway in gaining and maintaining physical skills, in being as physically active as they can be and in using their physical skills to develop their independence and wellbeing.

The complex curriculum physical skills curriculum includes

  • developing physical skills for life
  • developing fine motor skills,
  • Taking part in a range of physical activities
  • Positioning and physiotherapy



Some complex pupils face significant physical and medical challenges, they may have significantly reduced mobility and may be wheelchair users. They also have a positioning and physiotherapy programme developed and overseen by physiotherapists and occupational therapists in addition to their sessions as part of the physical curriculum

Some complex pupils are very physically active and have sensory processing difficulties. These pupils benefit from sensory diet programmes to support them in being ready to learn. We acknowledge that pupils need to learn to sit and attend to activities but recognise that complex pupils may learn best when supported to be physically active or to work on the floor.

We encourage all pupils to experience movement as part of daily school life and aim for them to be moving for a total of 30 minutes during each school day. This may be independent movement during playtime, the ‘daily mile’ or supported movement for pupils who are wheelchair users.

A rich and varied physical skills curriculum supports pupils in learning and maintaining physical skills and skills in other areas of the curriculum including communication and cognition.

We provide a range of activities that are engaging for the pupils and that allow us to celebrate movement collectively. Blocks of work in the Special Olympics motor activity training programme (MATP) culminate in a celebration event when different groups can come together with the wider school community and with parents and carers.



Curriculum coverage

All pupils have at least 2 sessions each week of physical activity. Activities include

Gross motor skills

  • Rebound therapy
  • Aquatics/ Swimming/hydrotherapy
  • Sensory circuits / sensory gym
  • MATP (Motor activity training programme – Special Olympics)
  • Movement and dance


Fine motor skills

Fine motor skills are developed as part of a range of cognitive and sensory activities. Skills include

  • Early exploratory movement – scratching, touching, reaching
  • Grasping and releasing
  • More complex fine motor actions, using 2 hands to twist, press and manipulate
  • Using tools – cutlery, pens etc
  • Mark making for a purpose
  • Writing and drawing


Sensory diet

Many pupils on the complex curriculum pathway have significant difficulties in regulating their sensory needs. We acknowledge that in order to learn these pupils need to be able to regulate themselves by taking part in a diet of sensory activities. These sensory diet activities are woven into the pupils’ school day and are planned in conjunction with an OT.

Planning for sensory diet needs will be integral to daily planning and reflected in STP.


Physical skills and independence

Care Routines

Complex learners need a high level of support throughout the school day to manage their care needs. These care routines are not seen as sitting outside the curriculum, they provide valuable learning opportunities for pupils to develop their physical skills.

Pupils are given opportunities to develop and generalise their skills by using the whole school site and the wider community.

The physical skills curriculum and wellbeing

To be able to learn across the curriculum, pupils need to be as physically comfortable as they can be. We support them in maintaining this physical wellbeing through a programme of positioning. Pupils who are wheelchair users or who have reduced mobility have a minimum of 3 changes of position during the school day.

These changes in position are planned in a physio and positioing timetable.

Pupils who find it difficult to stay still have regular opportunities for sensory diet activities and free movement.

Addressing physical discomfort is a priority and is addressed immediately it occurs

Being outdoors in nature has a positive effect on well-being for everyone. Complex pupils have an opportunity to be outside each day unless being outdoors would affect their physical health.


The impact of learning opportunities is assessed on an ongoing daily basis through careful staff observation. Learning is evidenced using video and photographs. Impact is evidenced using the Evidence for Learning online system.

We use the engagement model to assess pupil engagement across the range of learning opportunities given to pupils following the complex pathway.

Many pupils have long term targets around physical development in their EHCPs. For these pupils we break down these long term targets into annual targets then further break them down into individual learning intentions that we work on for a term. Learning intentions for pupils who do not have EHCP targets in this area are planned using the Engagement Profile and VOE complex curriculum skills planners.

Complex Curriculum PD long Term Map