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Fordwater School, Chichester

Achieving educational and therapeutic goals together

This celebration was nominated by Katalin Halasz a physio and hydro therapist who worked with teachers in the primary phase of the school to link planned therapy goals with curriculum topics.


Fordwater caters for pupils aged 2-19 years old with severe and complex learning difficulties. The school team aim to make the learning experience fun with a curriculum that meets the specific needs of each individual through a wide range of enriching activities.

The main part of the school was built in the 1960s but has been extended and updated to meet the changing needs of pupils. The facilities include a hydrotherapy pool and a food technology room, multi-sensory rooms, a play barn and well-resourced outdoor playgrounds.

The school is supported by speech and language therapists, physiotherapists and a full-time school nurse who work together with the school teaching team to ensure pupil needs are fully met from a multidisciplinary perspective.  All the pupils have an EHCP which inform individual education plans and guide tailored learning steps to progress at an appropriate pace.

The inclusive ethos of the school is clear particularly through their strong links with the local community. Pupils are encouraged and supported to contribute to their community through charitable work, work experience and participation in local events.

Every pupil has an individual ‘My Learning Map’. This Learning Map provides personalised and appropriate targets for each pupil and is linked to their EHCP outcomes as well the schools 10 Curriculum Aims. Targets are set collaboratively with teachers, parents and therapist to ensure next steps will enable the most progress possible.

Good practice explained

Here is the conversation Jane Crawford (Advisory Teacher with the Inclusion Strategy Team) had with Katalin, detailing  how she worked with school to link therapy goals to curriculum topics:

Jane Crawford: Katalin is a Paediatric Physiotherapist and here to talk with us today about an initiative she has been working on at Fordwater School. Can you tell us a little bit about your role?

Katalin Halasz: Yes, thank you Jane. I’m a Paediatric Physiotherapist based in Chichester, and a member of the TIS (Therapies in Schools) team so we are based in special schools. Our service is provided by the Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust.

Jane: So, you have been working with Fordwater School delivering therapy in a slightly different way linking it with the curriculum. How did you begin to look at this different way of working?

Katalin: Working with my other colleagues in my past workplaces, I have realised that they were spending more time in the classroom and that has allowed them to tailor their session in a more effective way. They gathered more information about the students, and it helped them to really enhance their therapeutic interventions.

Jane: So, you learnt from colleagues and took that knowledge into Fordwater School to develop this. Excellent. How did you develop this way of working with pupils?

Katalin: I believe that pupils spend most of their time in the schools, where every minute could be a learning opportunity. In my opinion, physiotherapy does not only take place in a therapy room or during face-to-face sessions. Some elements of it could easily be implemented into the young people’s day to day life. Also, I feel like their educational goals and topics, they are currently working on, could enrich my therapy sessions.

Jane: It feels like you are giving a bit of context and making it more meaningful for the pupils. Can you describe how the session works?

Katalin: I’m aiming to attend the class meetings to gain more information about the students’ current level of progress, new topics or even their difficulties. I’m aiming to understand them fully in a holistic way. Then, I plan my sessions based on this information.

Jane: Are these sessions mostly in the classroom or in other areas of the school?

Katalin: I’m involved in hydro and rebound therapy as well. I prefer to work this way wherever I provide therapy.

Jane: And you are pulling in the curriculum all the time into what you are doing?

Katalin:  Yes, I’m using the same toys, rhymes and other resources too.

Jane: What have you seen as the impact of this on the young people you are working with?

Katalin: It really helped me to build up a better and closer relationship with the educational team. Also, it helped me understand the students’ needs in more depth and to build up a good relationship with families. Delivering therapy in this way supports the students by giving them the sense of familiarity.

Jane: It sounds like the education staff, families and therapists are working towards the same goals, and you are being consistent in what you are doing with the children.

Katalin: Yes, and it helps us to keep the students in the centre of our attention.

Jane: What would be the next steps? What are you planning on that?

Katalin: I would like to liaise further with the senior leadership team to develop a new curriculum. My way of thinking and working would contribute to the new curriculum.

Jane: So, once they have got their plans in place for 2021/22 academic year, you will be taking a good look at the curriculum and try to integrate as much therapy as you can and weave them into each other?

Katalin: Yes, that is right.

Jane: Have you got anything else to finish on?

Katalin: I would like to thank everybody who contributed to the success of this, educational staff and the leadership team at the school and the Sussex NHS Foundation Trust.

Jane: Lovely, Thank you Katalin.

Katalin: Thank you.

Interview with Katalin Halasz – Specialist Paediatric Physiotherapist, Therapies in Schools Team (Fordwater School, Chichester) Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust

The staff at Fordwater school were also keen to share the positives of combining therapy goals with the curriculum in this video:

Top Tips for schools considering linking therapy goals to curriculum topics

 1. Give yourself enough time to understand the student’s needs.

2. Allow the therapist to spend some time in the classroom to observe the pupil in a different environment.

3.  If you can allow the therapist to attend class meetings.

4. Work with the therapist to understand the student’s educational goals to enable them to incorporate them into therapy sessions.

5. Encourage the therapist to use similar techniques and resources to the educational ones for consistency.

6.  Seek information from families to understand how the students are being supported at home.

7. Encourage the therapist to familiarise themselves with the students likes, dislikes and hobbies.

8. Approach the young person with an open mind.

9.  Work with the therapist to identify opportunities for pupils to learn motivating themselves.

10.  Choose toys and activities to support the young person therapeutic and educational goals together.

11.  Help the pupil to succeed in the activity by the end of each session and to recognise their success.

Links to the West Sussex Inclusion Framework

The partnership support at Fordwater School links to a number of Aspects and Dimensions within the West Sussex Inclusion Framework.

Within Aspect 4: Quality of Education there are clear links to:

4.1 Curriculum Design

  • The curriculum is geared towards ambitious outcomes for all and designed to give all children and young people (CYP), particularly the most disadvantaged, the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life.
  • The curriculum is designed to enable all CYP to develop a range of skills and abilities to prepare them for their life now and in the future, in their community and beyond. It is also designed with the needs of all CYP at its centre.
  • The curriculum is designed to incorporate a variety of ways that engage all CYP, including those operating at a younger developmental age.


  • The curriculum is specifically adapted, designed and developed to be ambitious and meet the needs of all CYP. The curriculum is carefully planned and sequenced towards accumulating sufficient knowledge and skills for future learning and employment.
  • Curriculum design is created in response to the needs of the CYP in the school and is fully reflective of the wider community. These needs and characteristics are reflected throughout all aspects of the curriculum.  Members of the wider community are regularly asked to contribute to planning that adds to the richness and diversity of the curriculum and counters stereotypes.
  • The organisation of the curriculum ensures CYP are ready to learn. There is a balance of opportunities that combines active learning with more traditional receptive learning, co-operative and individual learning and multi-sensory learning.

4.2 Quality First Teaching

  • Quality first teaching meets the needs of all children and young people (CYP) with appropriate reasonable adjustments being made for those that need it. E.g. more able, special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), Pupil Premium, etc.


  • The effective deployment of staff is planned and evaluated to enhance the learning of all CYP. Staff providing individual support and challenge can describe how this fosters independent learning.
  • There is a flexible approach, informed by on-going assessment, to the organisation of the teaching and learning environment that promotes co-operative learning.

4.4 Meeting the needs of individual CYP

  • The school shows evidence of preparing for the inclusion of a wide range of individual children and young people (CYP).
  • CYP who are experiencing barriers to learning and participation are viewed as individuals with different interests, knowledge and skills.
  • The school outlines the arrangements for and identifies and assesses CYP in order to provide additional and different provision to meet individual needs.


4.5 Parental engagement in their CYP’s learning

  • Parent carers understand how their child is doing, what their child or young person (CYP) needs to do and what they can do to provide support.


  • Parents are invited to attend school events.  For example, parents evening, performances, curriculum and social occasions such as quiz nights. Parents from all backgrounds are asked what events would be comfortable and engaging for them.