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Pathways SEND (Special Educational Needs & Disabilities)

The Pathways department at Aquinas College offers a two year programme providing specialist educational opportunities for students working towards Entry level and Level 1 qualifications. We focus on developing independence skills in order to prepare our students for life after college.

Students with additional learner needs wanting to study mainstream L2, A Level and BTEC qualifications should see the Learning Support section on this website.

Aquinas Local Offer

The Aquinas local offer document details what is available for our students who have special education needs and/or disabilities (SEND). The document can be found at the following link: The Aquinas Pathways Programme – Local Offer

Stockport Local Offer

The Stockport Local Offer pages tell you what is available for children and young people who have Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND) in Stockport. Stockport Local Offer website

Transition from school

We work closely with local authorities and schools to ensure that transition from school to college is successful. If appropriate, we offer familiarisation visits to our new students. These visits are an opportunity to explore the college, meet the pathways team, and meet other pathways students and to see what lessons and activities are like at Aquinas.

The Pathways Curriculum

We have four groups of students, each working towards Functional Skills qualifications in the core skills of maths, English and ICT at Entry Level 1 up to Level 1. The rest of the curriculum is made up of lessons promoting independence skills in the home, in the community and at work such as travel planning, personal care, shopping and cooking. Students complete a portfolio of units that will be submitted to achieve a BTEC Diploma/Certificate/Award from the Foundation.

Pathways students also attend weekly assemblies and tutorials. They access the tutorial programme either in our department or, with support, in a mainstream tutor group. They also receive a weekly ethics lesson covering topics such as citizenship and equality. In addition, students take part in a weekly PE session using the college gym and sports facilities, according to preference.

We also offer an enrichment programme where students can access clubs, for example: craft and media, enterprise shop, swimming, football, Boccia, adapted golf, music, art and circuit training.

To help prepare them for their next steps, we support our students with interview techniques, CV writing and completing job application forms. Pathways students get to experience a wide variety of work placements in the community including: cafes, nurseries, care homes, animal care, charity shops and supermarkets. Students are given placement support as required.

All groups go out on a weekly trip into the community working on skills such as using public transport, road safety and awareness and ordering / buying their own lunch. They travel in small groups with a ratio of staff to students of 1:3. Our students bring a weekly amount of money to cover the cost of these sessions.

The Course

The programme is delivered over 5 days, Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm during college term time. Learning Support Assistants (LSAs) are employed to provide appropriate support according to student/group needs.

Students typically enter a two year programme in Year 12 (aged 16) and complete the course, with the aim of progressing one level across the 2 years.

The Learning Environment

We are based in a quiet area of the college on the ground floor with the classrooms grouped near to each other and we have full access to a teaching kitchen, an allotment, a medical room, state of the art teaching facilities and our own toilet areas. The college is fully accessible and DDA compliant. Once a week the students cook their own lunch and eat together. The ingredients are bought at the beginning of the week when one group goes out to a supermarket.

Contact Details

Susan Marks – Pathways Curriculum Leader


Each student is assigned a key worker who stays with them over the two year programme and can give support with their academic and pastoral studies. In addition, learning support assistants (LSAs) also provide support during breaks and lunchtime both in the canteen and in classrooms. This may include helping with appropriate food choice, handling money and communal eating. Lunchtime activities are also organised which can include art and crafts, football in the sports hall and yoga sessions.

Personal care support can also be provided. Our LSAs are trained in manual handling, using hoists and specialist lifting equipment. We have a college minibus fitted with a tail lift and staff trained in using this and securing a wheelchair for transit. We can supervise administration of some medicines. We also have a rest bed that is electronically controlled and manual/ mechanical hoists.

We have trained First Aiders to support students with some medical conditions and we are committed to ensuring that staff receive any training that may be required to meet the needs of our students. We also work closely with other agencies that can provide specialist support such as Stockport Sensory Services, social services and the Careers Support staff.

Student Progress

We provide termly targets and subject reviews in line with the college. We arrange and conduct annual education, health and care plan reviews. This process includes setting the students targets to ensure they make progress both at home and in college. Students are also set further personalised targets within their lessons which are monitored by teaching staff and key workers.


There is a drop off area at reception where students can be met by staff and taken to their lessons. At the end of the day a member of staff can escort students to their taxi, parent, or carer.

We undertake risk assessments of all external activities and make use of LSA support for such activities as required and appropriate. All Pathways staff have been trained in safeguarding through Stockport Council. They are fully aware of the issues relating to the safeguarding of students and the procedures to follow.


On completing their programme, our student’s next steps tend to include:

  1. Other education providers such as Cheadle & Marple College, Stockport College, Reaseheath College
  2. Employment programmes such as Supported Internships, Supported Apprenticeships, Pure Supported Employment
  3. Adult Social Care Packages such as Pure Innovations run – Pure Radio, Animation workshops and their cafes and bakery

Teaching Staff

Pathways team: Claire, Nadya, Nikita, Sam, Sue, and Thom.