As a mainstream, non-selective school, St John’s students present with a wide range of social, learning and emotional development. The school population will also include students experiencing a range for medical, physical and sensory needs. The majority of all students are able to access all aspects of school life and make good progress in their academic, social and emotional development without any amendments to the basic offering. Some students may find their own learning students or other needs mean that they require school staff to make simple, reasonable adjustments for them to participate and progress. Simple adjustments might include typing instead of writing, using the lift instead of the stairs, seating at the front of the class, having tasks presented one stage at a time or just having a bit of extra time to complete a task. These adjustments simple adaptions to what is on offer for everybody.
Within each year group, a relatively small number of students will not progress at the pace they should even though teachers have tried to make simple adjustments to help them. They may have a diagnosis – though we tackle barriers not labels. A child with ADHD may not be SEN if the condition can be managed without anything additional and different being needed. These students require something additional and different. Any student who genuinely needs this additional and different support will have special educational needs.
By additional and different, we mean that a student has access to resources or interventions that are not general available to all. The support may be direct or indirect. It may be in lesson or out of lesson. It may be before school or after school. The support, and hence SEN registration, may be short term or may longer. Success is occurs when “additional and different” is no longer needed.
Students on the SEN register may have learning support assistants with them in lessons who are there to help them achieve something specific. For example, they may be there to help them help them develop strategies to access text or maintain focus. They might be there is support the development of social skills, develop self-esteem or help a child start using the 5 point scale. They could be there to monitor and develop organisation and time management. In fact, the list of things the LSAs can do is endless! LSAs will have a maximum of four named students to work with and outcomes that they are trying to achieve. These outcomes may appear divorced from the subject content of the lesson they are in.
On other occasions, we extract students from lessons to work individually or in groups of up to four. They may be taking part in a literacy or numeracy programme; joining social skills groups; having mentoring or developing social communication skills. Some may just need time a short period of respite. Occasionally, we need to offer modified curriculum access– though we do believe that all students can progress and have a right to take part in every aspect of school life. No withdrawal of student from lessons, or in fact, any activity will occur unless we are confidence the perceived gains exceed their loss through lack of attendance. Our focus is to tackle a problem rather than avoid it.
Learning Support offers a by invitation only homework club. Student may be invited to attend if their access to the task is affected by the literacy demands or where their particular special needs may cause emotional distress for the wider family if the division of home and school life is not maintained.
We do work with outside agencies as required to ensure that we seek solutions and address our students’ needs to the best of our ability with the resources at our disposal. We access KCC resources, including advice, via the LIFT process. Not all agencies we work with are within the educational sector.
The identification of Special Educational Needs is achieved by a variety of methods. Clearly, we monitor performance of existing students via centrally recorded data. Teacher raise concerns through their daily contact with their students. Learning Support is located in the heart of the school, so students are also able to refer themselves for support and advice. Parents know their children best so we value their knowledge and hence give opportunities for them to raise concerns and contribute to provision. We seek Information about students from their previous school. Any SEN registrations noted is maintained until we have had the chance to review the needs in this environment.
This is Learning Support in a nutshell!
If you have any questions about what special needs are, what we do or the way we work, then please get in contact: