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Cognition & Learning Service - Engagement Model

Welcome to the Engagement Model information site for Suffolk. This area is aimed at SENDcos and teachers who are working with pupils with significant and profound learning needs.

What is the engagement model?

The Engagement Model is the statutory assessment tool for all young people who are in education but are not yet ready for subject specific learning. From September 2021, the engagement model replaced P scales 1 to 4 for children working below the standard of National Curriculum assessments in KS1 and KS2. The engagement model is a new way of assessing young learners that was published on 23 July 2020. They might be in a special school or a mainstream school; they might be 4 or 14; the Engagement model is a way of meeting the students needs using the 5 areas of engagement that are essential for accessing learning.

Why use the engagement model?

In order for pupils to make progress in early subject study, they first need to learn how to learn. Using 5 key areas the Engagement Model gives educators the freedom to develop a bespoke non subject specific curriculum for these students. The curriculum is based on their EHCP targets, and educators plan for and assess progress focussed on the individual needs that are meaningful to that individual. This small step progress allows everyone from parents to therapists to teachers to work together, seeing and celebrating achievement that targets the key skills of learning.

How does it work?

The Engagement Model follows the Assess Plan Do cycle. It is a process of formative Assessment using guided but editable observation templates; Planning from the EHCP outcomes to target meaningful learning goals; and regular repetitive and stimulating activities (Do) that draw the pupil towards adult led tasks and learning opportunities.

The Engagement Model has 5 areas of engagement. Descriptions of these 5 areas can be found here (PDF)

  • Initiation
  • Persistence
  • Exploration
  • Anticipation
  • Realisation

Progress is measured in terms of their development in their EHCP skills, not in their engagement, ensuring that the curriculum in place for these learners is suitable and allows for engagement and progression. The Engagement Model does not replace schools existing planning and assessment systems and schools retain control over how it will be implemented.

What do I report?

  • use the model to assess students working below the standard of national curriculum assessments and not engaged in subject-specific study at the end of KS1 and KS2.
  • report which pupils are assessed using the engagement model to the Department for Education (DfE)
  • provide evidence of pupils' achievements and progress to parents as part of an end of year report
  • Submissions to the assessment team should state that the pupil is working within the engagement model and any supporting evidence should indicate progress towards small step targets taken from their EHCP outcomes.

How do I ask for help planning for my engagement model pupil?

If you think you may have a pupil who needs an Engagement Model approach, and want some support; you can:

  1. Book an ISM and ask to speak to the Cognition and Learning team
  2. Request a Solution Circle and specify that you want to explore Engagement Model approaches
  3. Make a referral to the SES Cognition and Learning team to support your planning to meet your student’s needs. 
  4. Visit CPD online to book engagement model training

Templates for observing and assessing a student


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