Development Days

In-Person – An opportunity to visit a Curriculum Support School

This is an opportunity to visit a Curriculum Support School and spend time with senior leaders and in classrooms. The purpose of this day is to increase the understanding of a Informal and/or Semi-formal Curricula as well as being able to ask about assessment, planning or any other aspect of teaching and learning that you are interested in.

The Curriculum Support Schools involve specialist schools, where either Equals has provided additional consultancy over the past 2-3 years or where they are demonstrating best practice. They have been observed implementing Curriculum Schemes of Work well in their own school. These schools have provided presentations to Equals Members’, via Regional Curriculum Conferences over the past 36 months.

They are able to articulate how their curriculum:

  • can be implemented
  • how it works with other processes such as Mapping and Assessing Personal Progress
  • And to demonstrate the impact.

For further information please contact the Equals Strategic Development Manager; Paul Buskin using

Costs from £89 which goes towards expenses such as lunch/refreshments etc.

Further development days are being organised for Spring 2024 for the following schools.

  • Brackenfield School in Nottingham, 15th February and 25tht June 2024
  • Dee Banks School in Cheshire, date TBC
  • Kingsbury School in Lancashire on the 12th March and 22nd May 2024
  • St Ann’s School in London, date TBC
  • Sunningdale School in Tyne & Wear, date TBC

For further information or to learn how to book a place please contact the
Equals Strategic Development Manager; Paul Buskin using

Pre sales zooms – Equals Curriculum Schemes of Work

The Equals Curricula and Ofsted.

Paper 1.

Engaging with the Ofsted phone call and opening discussions

This is a short ‘advice’ paper to schools already (or considering) working with any of the Equals ‘different not differentiated’ curricula such as the Pre-Formal (PMLD) Curriculum, the Informal (CLD) Curriculum or the Semi-Formal (SLD) Curriculum.

The main basis for this advice is founded on discussions with former SEND lead HMIs such as Nick Whittaker and Maxine MacDonald-Taylor and the latest Ofsted information on SEND in the EIF (Education Inspection Framework) which is held in a webinar video released on 10th November 2022. This is entitled ‘Ofsted inspections in special schools’ and can be accessed at

Equals is actively seeking discussions with the new lead HMI for SEND (Kathryn Rudd) and will keep schools informed of any new developments.

The first thing to say is that preparation for Ofsted will include informing the visiting Inspectors that your school is not working with the National Curriculum for all learners, and some schools may well extend that to not working with the National Curriculum for any learners. Most SLD specialist schools will have a very small handful who might be, or are well on their way to being, fluently literate and/or numerate. The first thing to establish during the initial telephone conversation however, is that you are running a ‘different not differentiated’ curriculum model based on the Equals multi-tiered curriculum pathways, for most of your learners.

We also strongly advise that your SEF clearly and unequivocally states the case. There is no statutory obligation to have a SEF, but it is an excellent opportunity for your school to go into some detail about what you do and most importantly, why you do it. In other words, you can go some way towards answering the first of Ofsted’s Three Is of Intent, Implementation and Impact. Don’t hold anything back and don’t leave the Inspector(s) expecting to see one thing and actually seeing something else when they arrive. Like all teachers, Ofsted Inspectors need to prepare, and if you’re preparing them for the wrong things, this will cause difficulties which can easily be avoided.

It is likely that the Inspectors will have heard of the Equals Curricula, but it is also quite possible that they have not. Do not however, assume that Inspectors, even HMIs, will have a deep and meaningful understanding of any of the Equals Curricula in detail. Senior leaders should therefore have a sound understanding of the pedagogical justification for not teaching the National Curriculum and must be able to talk the talk! The point about this is, that ‘walking the walk’ (teachers being super-confident in their ability to understand and teach the various ‘subjects’ in the various Equals Curricula) will take time – at least two and quite possibly five years. Ofsted will not expect all teachers to be perfect, but SLT and teachers must know and believe in the reasons for change. Equals can offer practical support in this process – talk to Paul Buskin at Equals if you are interested in exploring this further.

Change is always problematic, and curriculum is the most fundamental change that a school can envisage. However, having a clear understanding of why you’re changing is a necessary pre-requisite and all stakeholders, leaders, teachers, governors and parents need to be able to hold a conversation on this. When faced with Ofsted, senior leaders must be the most knowledgeable of all and should be able to hold their line in any academic discussions that might arise.

Your main lines of ‘talking the talk’ might be

1. That you hold very high ambitions for all of your learners. Ofsted talk a lot about having ‘high ambition’ for those with SEND, though they do not say exactly what they mean by this, since it is up to each individual school to talk this talk, according to the school’s individual circumstances. In Equals terms, the school is demonstrating high ambition for all by adopting a curriculum model which seeks to enable each and every learner to be the best they can be and do the best they can do, regardless of their disabilities.

It is strongly recommended that school leaders, teachers and governors spend time with the Basic Principles sections of at least the four core Semi-Formal Curriculum ‘subjects’ of My Communication, My Play, My Independence and My Thinking and Problem Solving, as well as Basic Principles sections of the Informal Curriculum and the Pre-Formal Curriculum, assuming your school also houses learners with PMLD and CLD (Complex Learning Disabilities). Reading these through and discussing the issues with colleagues will help to ground the theory, and understanding the theory is a really important first step. It is also really important that new staff (and new governors) are encouraged to do the same as they begin their work with the school.

2. That you’re not trying to cure the learning disability by constantly teaching knowledge and skills to pupils (such as in a Systematic Synthetic Phonics programme) when the pupils are consistently and over time, unable to progress. Those with PMLD and SLD learn differently to neuro-typical, conventionally developing learners, and if the learn differently, we ought to teach them differently and teach them different things (Imray and Hinchcliffe, 2014; Imray and Colley, 2017). The Curriculum Imperative, a chapter from this latter book which goes into some detail about learning differently is obtainable from direct request to Sarah Binns at Equals via  

3. That you’re basing your curriculum on the fact that there is no research evidence, anywhere in the world, that indicates that fluency in literacy and numeracy is possible from a position of established profound, complex or severe learning disability. There is quite an amount of research about marginal gains being possible with intensive support, but none that states that short term marginal gains can be maintained over time. There is also quite an amount about ‘catch-up’ being possible for some with SEND, but none which says that all with SEND can achieve such success. The latest on research into SLD and PMLD is reviewed in Imray P, Kossyvaki L and Sissons M (2023) Evidence-based practice: the use and abuse of research. Support for Learning. 38 (1). You can obtain a free download of this article at

A separate short paper on Deep Dives into Reading, Writing and/or Mathematics will also be made available at over the next month or two.

Peter Imray

8th March 2023

Bespoke Online Sessions

Equals can provide bespoke online sessions with groups of 4-5 schools, where their Curriculum and Assessment needs are similar for a more in-depth session for any Equals members that currently hold licences, have maintained their Equals membership and have at least attended some of the online CPD sessions which are free for members for multiple schools/and an in person regional event/development day.

New from Sept 2022 –
Assessing & Recording Progress
within the EYFS

A new EYFS resource to support assessment
and recording in the Early Years Foundation Stage

An interactive learning journal designed specifically for children with complex and profound learning needs.

These materials reflect the key principles of the revised EYFS; reducing time spent on recording and recognising the importance of qualitative data and practitioner knowledge in order to provide high quality assessment for learning.

  • Records progress from the start of each child’s unique learning journey and keeps the child at the centre of the process
  • Emphasis on personalised strengths and significant characteristics of each child in order to capture progress without the use of checklists or excessive data
  • Provides useful links to support the transition beyond EYFS
  • A celebratory document that can be shared with parents, carers and child.


An Introduction and Guide to Using the Materials

  • My Communication & Language Development
  • My Physical Development
  • My Personal, Social & Emotional Development
  • My Cognition & Learning and EYFS Characteristics

Skills Maps

  • To Support Observational Assessment and Recording

An Interactive Learning Journal


£50 for Independent Schools, £60 for Equals Members and £75 for Equals Non-members

To order these materials please email

To learn more about these new materials from Equals, please contact
and previews can be provided via online sessions using Zoom or Teams.

Curriculum Support Schools

There is a new service now available. The Curriculum Support Schools involve specialist schools, where Equals has provided additional consultancy over the past 2-3 years or where they are demonstration best practice.

They have been observed implementing Curriculum Schemes of Work well in their own school.

Schools that have benefited from this additional support, have provided presentations to Equals members, via » Equals Regional Curriculum Conferences

They are able to articulate how their curriculum:

  • can be implemented
  • how it works with other processes such as Mapping and Assessing Personal Progress
  • And to demonstrate the impact.

A new service is available, where schools can visit a selection of Curriculum Support Schools and receive some consultancy.

This will involve one-day per term at a cost of £500 per day. 

As more regional curriculum support schools become available, this new service will become more accessible.

To learn more or to find out if there is currently a curriculum support school near you please contact our Strategic Development Manager,
Paul Buskin on 0191 272 1222 or by email

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We feel the online training delivered by EQUALS have been WONDERFUL.  The relevance and depth of the sessions has been fantastic, Peter is a very knowledgeable man. Having training delivered online has enabled all our teachers to attend and have discussions after the event rather than one teacher attending and disseminating which can water down the content.
Thank you so much and keep them coming!

Peter Imray

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“For those with a profound learning difficulty (PMLD), learning is best done when the learner is placed in the centre of the curriculum”.

Priory Woods School – Middlesbrough

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Pedagogy, Curriculum and Assessment of Pupil Progress for Children and Young People with SLD and PMLD

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“Information about different kinds of assessment models”
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