Using the Engagement Model to Support pupils not yet engaged in Subject Specific Learning


Online Training Workshops
by James Waller

May 13th 2021 4pm- 5.30pm
Sept 30th 2021 4pm- 5.30pm

Free for EQUALS Members.  

To book a place please email

The Engagement Model is now the statutory assessment for pupils working below the standard of National Curriculum and not engaged in subject-specific learning. The Standards and Teasting Agency (STA) originally published The Engagement Model guidance in January 2020. The Model is scheduled to become statutory from September 2021.

We are running this session to recap the main principles from the statutory approach as well as offer some practical ideas around how you might use the model in school for pupils not yet fully accessing subject specific learning.

These sessions will run virtually via the Zoom Meetings App.

This session will enable schools to: 

  • identify the relevant cohort of pupils; 
  • use the engagement areas to observe and assess the level of engagement for individual pupils; 
  • support and evaluate the curriculum for pupils not yet engaged in subject specific learning.

The session will cover:

Recap of what the Engagement Model is;

Exploring what is meant by the term Engagement and each of the 5 areas;

Understanding who the Engagement Model is for;

Implementing the Engagement Model;

Making links between the Engagement Model and the curriculum;

Integrating the Engagement Model into your current assessment system;

Sharing practice regarding practical use of the model;

Reporting progress & Accountability;

Ofsted & Engagement.


The session will also touch on the Pre Key Stage Standards for the end of Key Stage 1 and 2, the pupil group they are relevant to and their appropriate use.

James is the Headteacher of Sunningdale School, a specialist school for pupils with Severe, Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties and Autism in Tyne and Wear.  Following the publishing of the Rochford Review in 2016 James was involved in piloting the use of the Aspects of Engagement and was an Engagement Model Lead Trainer for the STA approved training on the Engagement Model.

James has developed and delivered workshops on a wide variety of topics related to Severe, Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties on behalf of the SENHub in Tyne and Wear, Together for Children, EQUALS and other organisations such as B-Squared.  James additionally works as a visiting lecturer for the University of Northumbria.


New Draft EYFS Framework

Have Your Say


The DfE has published the new EYFS statutory framework, along with the proposed Learning and Development Requirements.

Some aspects of the statutory framework are still available for comment.

This is the revised EYFS that is due to come into force from September 2021.

The DfE are inviting schools and settings with Early Years provision to provide feedback on some aspects of the draft framework by 18 March 2021.


The EYFS framework also covers the Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA), however, this is not available for feedback
as it has already been approved and finalised.

 Note that specialist schools along with mainstream schools are required to complete and report on the RBA for all pupils
entering Reception at any point in the year. 


Other aspects of the framework that have been finalised are:

  • Educational programmes (including significant changes to the seven Area of Learning)
  • Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning 
  • Non-statutory Development Matters guidance
  • Early Learning Goals and end of year (Profile) assessment 
  • Removal of statutory duty for LA’s to moderate profile judgements
  • Removal of ‘exceeding’ judgement from Profile assessment
  • Changes to the safeguarding and welfare section with added requirements to promote oral health
  • Progress check at age two


The draft framework, along with the draft SI and other useful information can be found on the Foundation Years web site:


Click here to download the EYFS Framework



Proposed changes are highlighted in red to show where DfE are seeking views.

 Schools may be particularly interested to provide feedback on the comments in red relating to recording evidence : it clearly states that the collection of written and photographic evidence by teachers to support assessments will not be required. (pages 10 & 17). 


Comments and feedback are to be sent to the dfE via:


At EQUALS we are interested in knowing what support or guidance you might want in order to implement the new
EYFS effectively for pupils with SEND.

Look out for further details on this coming out soon.

Organised Online Training Days – Multiple Schools

EQUALS will be hosting over a dozen online training sessions during the summer term in 2021.



These will be 100% free for EQUALS Members


These sessions will take place either on Tuesdays or Thursdays and be between 3:45 and 5:15 pm. Schools can send up to 3 delegates per topic.

Additional numbers can be considered subject to availability.


As these sessions will be free for equals members, they are likely to fill up fast, so please register your interest asap, to secure your place/s.

To register your interest please email



Not an equals member?
Then please contact to talk about new members offers and to learn
how you can access the free members training sessions.


This training will cover the following:


First part of Summer Term

  • Pre-formal (PMLD) CurriculumThursday 22nd April 2021by Peter Imray
  • Informal CurriculumTuesday 27th April 2021- by Peter Imray
  • Semi-formal (SLD/MLD) CurriculumTuesday 13th April 2021 by Peter Imray
  • Formal CurriculumThursday 6th May 2021 by Peter Imray
  • Using the Engagement Model to Support pupils not yet engaged in Subject Specific Learning
    –  Thursday 13th May 2021  – by James Waller
  • MAPP – Mapping & Assessing Personal Progress
    –  Tuesday 18th May 2021 by Mike Sissons
  • Logically Illogical – A Personal History of Autism
    Tuesday 4th May 2021 – by Ros Blackburn

Second part of Summer Term

  • Teaching Play and LeisureTuesday 11th May 2021 by Peter Imray
  • Teaching CommunicationThursday 20th May 2021 by Peter Imray
  • Teaching Thinking and Problem SolvingTuesday 25th May 2021 by Peter Imray
  • Moving On 14-25 Curriculum and Accreditation
    – Monday 7th June 2021
  • Teaching IndependenceThursday 10th June 2021 by Peter Imray
  • Teaching MathematicsThursday 17th June 2021 by Peter Imray
  • Teaching Reading and WritingTuesday 22nd June 2021 by Peter Imray

If you would like to book one of these please contact  

Would you like some training for a different area?  If so please email to put forward any suggestions for future training.  

Dominic Wall

Medicines in Specialist Schools (MISS)

Hello friends. A colleague of mine, Dominic Wall, who is also part of our ‘Medicines in Specialist Schools’ (MISS) group produced this excellent presentation for the SSAT Conference this week. SSAT has kindly allowed us to share it with you.

The MISS group was formed in November 2019 to try to articulate the discrepancies in Health provision across England into our specialist provisions. It meets regularly with the DfE and Dept. for Health to voice our concerns around, initially, the postcode lottery for nursing provision. It is ultimately our intention to then focus on physiotherapy, OT and SALT provision.

A great deal of work has gone on behind the scenes and we are of the understanding that CCG’s are slowly re-examining their commissioning arrangements to fulfil their legal obligations to our children and young people.

This presentation, in particular, focuses on the needs of children and young people with more complex health care, including those with AGP’s. By the way, did you all clock the DfE’s latest guidance on this issue returning to the use of FFP2/3’s for interventions?

Your comments and feedback would be much appreciated. Many thanks to Dominic and the SSAT for sharing.

Click here to download the presentation

Free Learning Resources

Whiteboard Room

The Whiteboard Room has a range of interactive resources for students with severe and profound learning difficulties. Although targeting interactive whiteboards most resources are equally useful at the desktop.

This brand new section launched here on the EQUALS website from September 2017 and contains lots of free educational resources.


Early Years Foundation Stage – EYFS – Free Resource
The characteristics of effective learning for pupils with complex learning difficulties
and disabilities in the early years foundation stage (EYFS)

Click here to learn more


The three Characteristics of Effective Learning in EYFS are:

  • Playing and Exploring – Engagement
  • Active Learning – Motivation
  • Creating and Thinking Critically – Thinking


EQUALS Membership Special Offers




12 months

Only £120.00 +VAT.


36 months

Only £297.00 +VAT.
Quote Code: EQUALS 36

+ a credit of £49 towards
our brand new
Semi-formal SLD/MLD



EQUALS Highlights

Why not take a look at our latest news, browse our webshop or view our upcoming events.

Latest News

Keep up to date with everything thats happening at EQUALS.

Keep up to date.

Purchase EQUALS publications, delivered by email in PDF and Microsoft Word Formats.

Shop now

We have a range of training options to suit every one. Take a look now.

Find out more
What Our Members Say

We have thousands of satisfied members since we began in 1994

Peter Imray

“Lets focus on things that matter”.

“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

“The Semi-formal Curriculum meets the needs of our special children and we feel more able to promote what the children need rather than being constrained by subject areas”.

“Freedom to be creative and concentrate on individual needs with a focus on independence”.

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

“Great delivery – motivational speaker, thank you’
“A fantastic workshop with many learning and thinking points!’
“Excellent informative course”
“Information about different kinds of assessment models”
“Thought provoking ideas on SLD curriculum”
“Analysing what we teach and why?”

Confident Parenting Workshop

“Fab content in terms of setting up a parent support group”
“Very useful and informative”
“Opportunities to discuss and information on THRIVE’
“Ideas for parenting course to run in school”
“I liked the whole concept of the course and the fact that it seems to be very parent driven”