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Willow Dene have developed an assessment system called Learning Journeys. This allows us to identify children’s progress from their starting point, identify their next steps and address gaps in their understanding. 

Learning Journeys provides staff with relevant frameworks for assessing the learning of all the children who attend Willow Dene. It is broken down into four sections. 


is based on ‘Routes for Learning’. It is used to identify progress in communication, social interaction and cognition for children working at Early Development levels. It covers the important early processes and skills on which all future learning is built. 

Stepping Out 

was developed by Willow Dene School teachers and therapy teams to assess the learning of children at Emergent Concept level. This focuses on communication, social interaction, attention, physical and play skills and development of early concepts around routines and representation.   


assesses the progress of children working at a Basic Concept level, who are developing their communication skills, including an increasing vocabulary and social communication, and working on early reading and mathematical skills. 


assesses children working at an Applying Knowledge level who are able to generalise their communication, reading and mathematical skills to build their understanding in these areas and across the curriculum. 

Learning Journeys also takes account of indicators of wellbeing which can inhibit or support learning for all children. These include factors such as pain, sleep, significant medical events, sensory processing, attendance and behaviour, which can considerably affect the learning of children with SEN. These factors are considered for each child every term to ensure progress is contextualised and that the school is providing the right support to address any issues.   

All progress is supported by video, photo and observational evidence. This is moderated by school leaders and also used to support professional development. 

We work closely with families to ensure their aspirations for their child are addressed, building on existing skills to work towards future goals, regarding parents as partners in supporting their child’s learning.