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Longcause Community Special School Learning for Life



Explorers Leader: Faye James 




Our Explorers pathway is for those pupils who are not yet able to access the National Curriculum due their complex communication needs. Communication underpins all of our core competencies and our main aim for pupils on this pathway is to develop their functional communication skills and engagement. Pupils on this pathway require a high level of support, very often 1:1. 



The pupils on our Explorers pathway require support with developing their communication skills, often the pupils on this pathway are unable to communicate their wants or needs functionally. This pathway runs from Year 1 to Year 11, however pupils are able to move to a different pathway if this becomes more appropriate to their needs. The intent of this pathway is to:


  • Develop functional communication skills
  • Develop engagement
  • Develop readiness to learn 
  • Develop sense of self



All Explorers learn through a Total Communication approach.This is made up of speech, symbols, and sign language. Symbolic communication may be PECS or an electronic communication system such as Proloquo2go or Grid 3. At Longcause our sign language is Makaton and a large number of our staff are trained in this. Speech in all classes of the explorers pathway is slow to allow processing time, clear, and often only keywords are used to avoid overloading pupils. 


We have developed our own list of core vocabulary that we use across all subjects throughout the day to promote independence in communication. 


Our Primary Explorers classes are small group numbers with high amounts of adult support, usually 1:1. Pupils have a range of stories and songs throughout the day to support with vocabulary development, engagement and routine. There are a number of structured communication sessions throughout the day to explicitly teach pupils to communicate functionally, as well as opportunities for social communication depending on the pupil’s stage of development. Each pupil in the primary Explorers pathway has a Speech and Language Therapy Plan which is reviewed regularly. 


The afternoons for the Primary Explorers are based on the AET Autism Progression Framework and are made up of: PE,  Sensory Processing, Emotional Understanding and Self awareness, Learning and Engagement, Healthy Living,Interests, routines and processing, Independence and community participation. 


All pupils have PDPs written for them 3 times a year which is based on the AET framework and linked to their learning in the afternoons. 




What do we want for our learners on the Explorer Pathway?


  • Intentional communicators who can communicate for a number of reasons- their wants and needs, asking questions, relaying information
  • To be able to sustain focus on a shared activity 
  • To be able to communicate functionally in the community, with unfamiliar people in different environments
  • To be able to swim 25m
  • To be able to ride a bike 
  • To have a developed understanding of personal safety
  • To be able to cook/ prepare themselves a meal 
  • To be able to have a functional reading age 
  • To have an understanding of number 
  • To have an awareness of money and time 
  • To have an awareness of online safety