5 November 2021: 9 am – 3.30 pm

Is your topic planning restrictive or creative?  This full day course offers you a structure for topic planning. The sessions will be practical and cover the why; the where and the how, of safe and ethical resource curation and selection through a theme.  The ultimate outcome is access to a ‘topic box’ of ideas for activities; appropriate resources and ideas to take away and use in your own setting.


Suitable both for ECT new to the profession and those who would like a refresh and easy access to new ideas.


9.00 am Admissions and virtual tea/coffee to start the session

9.05 am Welcome & introduction – Warm-up session  

9.15 am Session 1 Getting started..planning round a topic!

We start the day by sharing different approaches to planning your teaching and learning based on a topic.  We answer questions such as:

  • Why is topic based teaching so important?
  • Where do I start – with the student or the topic?
  • How do I plan topic related sensory activities?
  • What resources do I need to collect?
  • Where do I look for inspiring and fun resources?
  • What about copyright?


9.35 am Session 2: Literacy:  Choosing a core text

Next, we look at how to choose a text which will make a great base for your chosen topic.  We discuss how you can extend the learning opportunities offered by this by choosing additional literary sources, such as a poem or sensory story.  We move on to how to identify core vocabulary within your text and highlight effective strategies to work with it across the day.  Lastly, we briefly assess the role technology can play to support pupil’s access to learning.


10.10 am Chat Task


10.20 am Session 3: Cognition – Maths

In this next session, we look at planning for specific mathematical concepts and vocabulary, and how to embed these within your topic.  Continuing with our chosen topic from session one; we look at ideas and strategies to generalise concept formation and mathematical thinking in a sensory topic-based set of activities.


11 am COFFEE BREAK and mini task


11.30 am Discussion of key points from mini task 
11.40 am Session 4: The Wider Curriculum – finding the balance!
Our students often require effective over learning, retrieval practice and generalisation opportunities in order for concepts to become soundly established in memory.  Therefore, we need to offer our pupils a variety of different ways of exploring core curriculum concepts, skills and themes throughout the day.  This session will share ideas for extending our topic into Art and Music activities.
12.30 pm Lunch!

1.30 pm Welcome back: warm up activity linked to our theme

1.40 pm Session 5: Using the sensory room for your topic.

In this session, we move out of the classroom and into the sensory room.  How can we make this space, and what we do in it, match and extend our topic?  Ideas for individual, small group and whole group targets and activities are shared.

2.30 pm Coffee/Tea and a comfort break!

2.40 pm Session 6:  Beyond the classroom.

Our final session looks at topic based learning beyond the classroom. Outside of our sensory room and classroom, which other environments could offer our pupils  a different perspective or set of experiences linked to our topic? What unique opportunities does the library or the wider community offer for example?   What activities in the playground or sensory garden can we offer pupils? How can we involve parents/carers in exploring our topic at home?

3.20 pm Q & A

Delegates to put questions in chat so that any unanswered live can be followed up after the session.

3.30 pm Plenary, thank you and end of session!

Who should attend?

This will be appropriate for classroom practitioners from special schools and colleges, mainstream settings with specialist SEN provision and early years settings, who are working with pupils with complex learning needs and/or autism.



The following resources will be available in your account for one week after the course date: A digital recording of this event, any resources shared/signposted during the session and a transcript of Zoom chat.



If you wish to make a group booking for this course – we can do this quickly and easily for you! Please email a spreadsheet with the first name/surname/email addresses of the delegates you wish to book for. Email to lois@hirstwood.com. We will then create access to this course for your colleagues. A Purchase Order Number will secure your booking.

Important information before you book


The ‘Book now!’ button will take you to a new page where you can book and pay for this course.  Please note: if you are booking for someone else, please create the account using their name and email address.  You will still be able to pay by credit card (even it has a different name/school name on it.)

Cost: £100 plus VAT per place

(£120 including VAT)