Learning Material


This material has been developed for practitioners working remotely to support students with SEND in their own homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. It should help colleges to provide quality materials to support home learning in a range of contexts. By focusing on the core principles of effective home learning, regardless of delivery method or content of the learning programme, we hope we have created a resource that will be relevant for all colleges.

Given the highly individual needs of our students, it will not always be possible for colleges to use the exemplar material straight “off the shelf”. However, the examples can be tailored to meet your students’ specific needs and should provide you with ideas for creating your own resources.

The resource material includes:

  • an overarching set of effective practice principles relating to the provision of high quality home learning
  • a checklist to assist with planning and prioritising actions to support the planning, development and delivery of effective home learning
  • cohort specific guidance and exemplars for:
    • students with sensory impairments
    • students on the autistic spectrum
    • students with profound and multiple learning difficulties
    • students on work-based learning programmes
  • guidance for parents/carers
  • links to national resources and commercial products.


This pack has been developed by Natspec working with a group of colleagues from member colleges. We are very grateful to them all for sharing their expertise so generously. In particular, we would like to thank Jay Marshall, Angela Newton‑Soanes and Shari Welsford for their outstanding efforts in co-ordinating the work of sub‑groups and their contribution to the final document.

Contributors include:

  • Claire Richardson, Daniel Mitchell, Morven Simpson and Raph Taylor from Camphill Wakefield
  • Wendy Hall from ESPA College
  • Helen Bird from Glasshouse and Argent College
  • Jess Rooney from Hedleys College
  • Aaron Boggett from Henshaws
  • Lien Brothwell and Polly Mallender from Landmarks College
  • Joanne Kingsbury-Elia, Livy Dickinson, Sian Breeze and Suzanne Pollard from National Star College
  • Amy Cowap, Darren Collings, Jay Marshall, John Mathers, Leanne Davies, Lyndsay Taylor, Nic Smith, Nik Whitford, Steve Catchick, Sue Denison and Tom Hall from Newfriars College
  • Alistair Beverle, Angela Newton-Soanes, Charlotte Watchorn, Dave Winter, Jaimee Burton, Mark Morton, Natalie Statham, Sally Edwards and Samantha Burnell from Portland College
  • Gillian Chittenden, Kanchan Rajput-Goode, Leah Woodall and Lucy Jackson from Queen AC
  • Gary Hyndman and Shari Welsford from Sense College
  • Kim Wilson-Smith from St Johns College
  • Elaine Green and Stephen Hogarth from Wargrave House College and LEAP College

Effective practice principles for high-quality learning for students in their own homes

The following principles can be used to inform the planning of home learning programmes for all students:

  1. Be young person centred.
  2. Ensure the voice (however this is heard) and the wishes of the young person are at the core of planning for home learning.
  3. Be mindful of the individual home contexts of each young person.
  4. Have the health and wellbeing of the young person at the core of all planning and home programmes.
  5. Have Education Health and Care (EHC) Plan outcomes and Preparation for Adulthood (PfA) goals at the core of all home learning.
  6. Ensure learning is as contextualised to the individual young person’s day-to-day life as possible.
  7. Have multi-disciplinary input including therapeutic input and support from social workers and social care, as appropriate – this is a time for team collaboration wrapped around a young person.
  8. Include a meaningful cycle of feedback and encouragement.

Home Learning Checklist

This Home Learning Checklist provides you with some key questions to ask yourselves when planning, developing and delivering home learning. You can use it as a self audit tool in a number of different ways: providers can evaluate the overall effectiveness of their home learning programmes or by practitioners  supporting individual students can assess their own approach.

  1. Is your approach learner-centred and responsive to the individual’s needs, environment and circumstances? Is the student voice evident in the planning?
  2. Is your approach individually focused? Have learning priorities, targets and goals been reviewed and updated to reflect the current situation?
  3. Was the programme negotiated and does it have clear expectations e.g. Are communication methods and frequency set out? Is it clear will work be sent home and how it should be returned?
  4. Does learning offer continuity and build on skills developed in college? Are learning strategies and approaches shared with parents and carers to help them to support learning as effectively as possible?
  5. Is the learning programme regularly reviewed and updated? Has the timeframe been agreed with the young person and the people supporting them?
  6. Does your approach prioritise the health and well-being of the student?
  7. Is the programme realistic and achievable and reflective of the home circumstances? Does it avoid overwhelming parents and carers?
  8. Have you taken into consideration facilities and resources at home, e.g. connectivity, technology devices, printer, subject-specific resources etc.?
  9. Are programmes structured and clear with an accessible timetable of activities?
  10. Are activities motivational and engaging?
  11. Are activities easy to understand for learners, and parents and carers who are supporting the young person?
  12. Do activities provide flexibility and options to ensure effective means of access?
  13. Do activities include high quality, differentiated and accessible resources?
  14. Are activities safe? Have practical and online activities been risk-assessed for a home learning context?
  15. Are learners and their parents / carers well-supported by a designated practitioner?

You can download the Home Learning Checklist in the form of a self-audit tool for use in your organisation.

Continuation of Learning

Things are very different at the moment for the young person and their family. Simply delivering your normal programme is just not realistic. Even though you are working with students you know well, you will need to review their programmes and prioritise goals and targets to ensure learning takes account of the home circumstances and what you are asking young people to do is achievable. Be mindful throughout of the health and well being of your student and their supporters.

We are in the midst of a rapidly-changing situation that none of us had planned for. We should accept that we won’t always get everything right straight away when it comes to delivering home learning at scale. It is perfectly appropriate to review and take a different approach, but don’t forget that any changes in practices or expectations should be negotiated, offer flexibility and be clearly communicated in an accessible and timely manner.

We suggest that a designated person holds an intitial review meeting to establish the learning priorities for the young person. This guidance will help you to structure the meeting. The same person should be responsible for ongoing contact throughout the period of home learning.

As remote learning on this scale is new to us all, you may find this guidance on maintaining professional standards to a high level useful. This best practice guide on video meeting and conferencing may also be helpful.

Ideas and tools from specialist colleges to support continuity of learning

National Star College has developed continuity of programme packs for all students in order to support families remotely, as well as those who have remained at college, to access an adjusted programme. They include social distancing guidance.

Newfriars College has developed a planning tool which uses EHC Plan outcomes to build and agree a Learning Plan at Home with learners and parents. The college has also developed an interactive timetable to support young people to build a routine combining college activity and day-to-day life to help provide a structure to each day.

Preparation for adulthood: embedding learning into day-to-day activities

Learning can be made more meaningful when we recognise the learning opportunities provided by engagement in everyday life. The following ideas and resources support learners to continue to prepare for adult life in the context of their own homes. You may also want to consult the Preparation for Adulthood tag.

Cohort-specific material

The following material is aimed at college staff supporting particular cohorts of learners. It should be read alongside the generic principles and guidance provided above. You may like to look through all four sections as some of the material could be easily used with or adapted for other cohorts. Remember that any exemplar materials may need to be adapted to make them work for your learners.

Students with sensory impairments

The information in this section is for teachers supporting learners with sensory impairments which may result in barriers to accessing information, communication and mobility. It includes top tips for creating home learning programmes for the target learner group, organised into five main categories: access; environment; structure; planning activities; and recording progress. There are also a number of exemplar resources.

Students on the autistic spectrum & behaviours that challenge

The information in this section is for teachers supporting learners with autism and behaviours that challenge. It provides guidance on helping learners adapt to new routines, deal with change and manage anxiety. It also includes a range of exemplar resources.

Students on work-based learning programmes

The information in this section is for teachers supporting learners who were on supported internships or other preparation for employment courses, including significant periods of work placement. It includes examples of activities to help learners continue to develop and practise vocational and employability skills.

Students with profound and multiple learning difficulties

The information in this section is for teachers supporting learners with profound and multiple learning difficulties. It includes some top tips on providing accessible and meaningful home learning activities, as well as examples of resources for use with learners and explanatory information that can be shared with parents / carers to help them support their young people’s learning.

Thinking about the role of parents and carers when setting learning activities

You can find out more about working effectively with parents and carers on the families page.

These are just few key points to bear in mind when planning home learning activities.

  • Parental / carer level of engagement will vary as will their ability and capacity to support their young person’s learning
  • Not all parents / carers have access or the ability to use IT, so don’t depend exclusively on online learning or communication
  • Parents are mostly not qualified or experienced teachers, so expectations of them must be reasonable; they will need support to fulfil a new role and information provided to them must be accessible and easy to understand.

Additional Links

There is a vast range of resources that colleges could draw on to support them in developing high-quality home learning material. It has been difficult to decide how much to share in order to provide you with good ideas but without overwhelming you when you are already over-stretched.

This list of suggestions is a collation of the many resources recommended by participants in our home learning project.