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Sensory Learning

Sensory learning is essential in supporting children with SEND.

Sensory learning improves pupils' engagement, wellbeing and behaviour.

The five senses of hearing, smell, sight, taste and touch along with the senses of proprioception, vestibular sense and interoception have a significant impact on pupils’ achievement.


The use of visual aids can help the pupils’ understanding and their retention of what is learnt for longer periods. Using Sign Language and symbols reinforces the understanding of what has been communicated.`


Most pupils benefit from a combination of physical movement and touch-based activities (kinaesthetic learning). Allowing pupils to enjoy touching, examining, building and moving things around is likely to have a positive impact on their learning. 


Auditory learners respond well to learning through songs, listening to stories or reading out loud.

Taste & Smell:  

Incorporating taste and smell into lessons can result in extremely engaging learning opportunities for most of the pupils.


Proprioception is the sense of where your body is in space. It helps you to coordinate your movements, and helps you to feel safe and secure. We allow pupils to use fidget toys, a weighted shoulder or lap pad, weighted blankets, stretchy socks and vibrating cushions, which can ease this anxiety.

Some proprioceptive activities which our pupils enjoy are:

  • Weight-bearing activities (crawling)
  • Resistance activities (pushing/pulling)
  • Heavy lifting (carrying books)
  • Cardiovascular activities (running, jumping on a trampoline)
  • Oral activities (chewing, blowing bubbles)
  • Deep pressure (body squashing with a therapy ball)
Vestibular Sense:  

The vestibular sense allows you to balance. To develop the sense of vestibulation, pupils need access to movement games and activities. When pupils need to sit in one place, a 'wobble cushion' may support them with this need.


Interoception is our sense of how we are feeling inside. For our pupils, this sense may not be well-developed, and identifying how they feel can be a big challenge.

To support pupils to develop their sense of interoception, we teach them to use areas of regulation on a regular basis. We provide calming spaces, fidget toys, and opportunities to take movement breaks.

At Wren Spinney School, we use the following:

Sensory Stories - provide the learner with a rich sensory experience.

The stories use a combination of words, 3D props and sounds. The learners are encouraged to move and use their sense of smell and touch. The words and the experiences are of equal value when telling the story.

Sensory Play Activities - a great opportunity for our pupils to learn about the world around them.

The pupils have access to soft play, sensory rooms, water play, sensory garden, cause and effect toys, foam, playdough, clay, water beads, slime, bubbles. Most of our pupils enjoy exploring natural materials such as shells, cones, leaves, conkers, mud, wood and more.

Sensory circuits - a form of sensory integration intervention.

It involves a sequence of physical activities that are designed to alert, organise and calm the pupil.

Relax kids - helps pupils' mental and emotional health and wellbeing through a variety of relaxation techniques.

Massage sessions - based on pupils' responses to tactile stimulation.

Massage can take place in a dimly lit, quiet room with soft music. The student may be lying down, or sitting. The massage is performed on the hands or on the head. Creams may be applied if the child likes it and she/he is not allergic to them.

Cookery sessions - hands-on sensory experiences, which develop the wellbeing of our pupils.

The pupils are encouraged to explore and even taste new foods, develop independence skills, improve their confidence and resilience.

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