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Pre-Formal Physical

Pre Formal curriculum overview Physical skills


We intend to support all pre-formal pupils 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 pre-formal physical skills curriculum includes

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

Where ever possible pre-formal pupils take part in the wide range of sports and physical activities offered to the wider school community.


Some pre-formal pupils face significant physical and medical challenges, they may have significantly reduced mobility and maybe wheelchair users. These pupils have a session each day that focuses on maintaining and developing physical skills. They also have a positioning and physiotherapy programme developed and overseen by physiotherapists and occupational therapists.

Some pre-formal 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 pre-formal pupils may learn best when supported to be physically active or to work on the floor.

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.

Curriculum coverage

All pupils have at least 3 sessions each week of physical activity. Activities include

Gross motor skills

  • Rebound therapy
  • Swimming
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Movement to music
  • Sherborne movement
  • Learning outside the classroom
  • Adaptive sports (which Nicky?)

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
  • Passing objects from hand to hand and across the midline
  • Moving objects to the mouth, mouthing
  • Isolating a finger-pointing
  • Palmar grasp
  • Pincer grasp
  • Dropping
  • Posting
  • Using tools – cutlery, pens etc

Physical skills and independence

Care Routines

Pre formal 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 MOVE programme provides a framework to plan and deliver physical skills learning and teaching for some pupils.

The physical skills curriculum and wellbeing

In order to be able to learn across the curriculum, pupils need to be as physically comfortable as they are able to 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.

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. Pre formal 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. From September 2021 impact will be 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 pre-formal pathway.   We expect at least 2 observations each week for each pupil using the engagement model and use the approach as a basis for our moderation process.

We work collaboratively with parents and other professionals to set long-term physical skills targets as part of pupil EHCP reviews.