Some children are identified as having special educational needs (or SEN). This means that for one reason or another they cannot access the curriculum in the same way as the majority of the children in their class and may need either extra support or different resources to help them.
- Quality first teaching
- Learning support
- Assessment of needs
- Specific learning difficulties
- SEN documents
As much as possible, it is our aim for children with SEN to be fully integrated with their peers, and we approach every lesson and opportunity with an intention to make it fully accessible to all. Sometimes this means additional staffing or adaptation, and on rare occasions it means designing a different activity which delivers the same objectives by a different method.
Provision for children with Sen is covered by the SEN Code of Practice 2015. At Henleaze Junior School, we offer the same opportunities to all of our pupils and seek to involve them all in setting and achieving aspirational goals, both in the curriculum and in their personal development.
Henleaze Junior School has a strong history of fully inclusive education for children with a wide range of SEN, including cerebral palsy, ASD, ADHD, visual and hearing impairments, and SEMH.
The school buildings are fully accessible. 4 of our classrooms have direct level access from the outside, the first floor classrooms and library are accessed by lift, and the 4 classrooms in “temporary” huts have ramped access. Adaptations have been made to suit children with visual impairments, and there are facilities for physiotherapy and storage of mobility equipment. There is a fully equipped disabled toilet with shower and hoist.
Provision for children with SEN is led by our SENCO and delivered by class teachers with the assistance of our Learning Support Team. Between them, the members of the team have a wide range of expertise in the fields of speech and language, autism, ADHD, behaviour management, physical disabilities, anxiety and attachment disorders, as well as qualifications in delivery of literacy, numeracy, physical coordination and social skills programmes. All teaching and learning support staff have had training in dyslexia-friendly strategies and behaviour management, and most have been trained in Team Teach positive handling techniques.
The school has a link Educational Psychologist, and we regularly engage the services of consultants from Bristol’s Learning Improvement Team (LIT) and Behaviour Improvement Team (BIT). Depending on individual needs, we also work with agencies including the Sensory Impairment Team, CAMHS, speech and language therapists (SALT), occupational therapists and physiotherapists.
Quality first teaching
High quality teaching in the classroom will include and engage all pupils. Such teaching will, for example, be based on clear objectives that are shared with the children and returned to at the end of the lesson; carefully explain new vocabulary; use lively, interactive teaching styles and make maximum use of visual and kinaesthetic as well as auditory/verbal learning. Approaches like these are the best way to reduce, from the start, the number of children who need extra help with their learning or behaviour. Getting to know the individuals in the class is crucial, and teachers will use particular strategies to make sure that every child is able to get the most out of the lesson. This may be as simple as where they sit in the classroom, so that they can see the board, hear the teacher, avoid distractions. The teacher will know which children need an extra prompt to get started on their independent work, which will benefit from a carefully chosen partner, who might need an alternative method of recording, or who might need more frequent breaks to maintain levels of concentration.
When children are not able to keep up with the pace of learning in the class, they may be helped with targeted small-group or one to one interventions, delivered either by teachers or learning support assistants (LSAs). The aim of such interventions is to plug gaps in knowledge or skills so that pupils catch up with their peers. These programmes have specified learning objectives, and usually run for a fixed period of time. The class teacher at all times retains responsibility for the progress of the children. Often, children just need to develop more confidence in their ability, and they feel more sure of themselves in a small group than in the whole class situation. Having achieved success in the group, they are then able to manage, with some differentiation, back in the whole class situation.
More intensive support
For some children, quality first teaching and catch up programmes are not sufficient. There may be a medical or physical condition which makes access to the curriculum more challenging and they need longer term specialised support. Usually in these cases, other agencies will have been involved with assessment and will work with the school to design appropriate adaptations. Support is usually provided by our team of LSAs, under the direction of the SENCO and the class teacher. Whilst these children will still have appropriate challenging curricular targets, they will also have individual targets that may be more to do with physical, communication or social/emotional goals.
Education Health and Care Plans
Children who require substantial intervention above and beyond the normal provision of a mainstream school may be assessed for an EHCP. This is a process involving agencies from the health and education sectors, and the resulting Plan follows the child through their schooling and further education to the age of 25, subject to annual reviews. These children may have physical conditions, such as cerebral palsy, or communication difficulties, such as those with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). They may have a diagnosed condition such as ADHD, or behaviour difficulties arising from social or emotional or mental health conditions (SEMH). The support that the school provides will be very specifically tailored to their needs, and often the support also takes into account the need to ensure other children’s learning is not disadvantaged by the demands of the high needs pupils.
Assessment of needs
We gather as much information as we can, when children start at Henleaze Junior School, from previous schools and parents. We do our own assessments of literacy and numeracy ability on arrival, and we use a combination of prior attainment data and our own entry data to identify children who are working at a level lower than our expectations. in most cases, any gaps can be swiftly filled by targeted class teaching, but for some children the progress may be slow and additional intervention may be necessary.
The SEN team use a combination of data and meetings with each individual teacher to identify children who require additional support to access the curriculum at the age appropriate level. If children are identified as having SEN, they are logged on the SEN Register, and appropriate provisions are put in place. The school offers a Provision Map, effectively a palette of strategies and intervention programmes which have been proven to be effective in meeting most of the needs which we encounter. However, every individual child is assessed and their progress tracked, and sometimes we need to design a new unique programme of support tailored specifically for them.
When children are identified as having SEN, parents are informed and invited to meetings where we set targets and review progress. We are able to offer advice and support, which is particularly valuable when a child is first identified as causing concern. We recognise that this can be a worrying and challenging time for parents, and we endeavour to support them as well as the child through the process. Identifying a child as having SEN is not seen as a labelling process, it is the first stage in a constructive process of identifying how to help the child overcome barriers that other children do not have to face, to give them an equal opportunity to participate and succeed.
When a child is on the SEN register, it is possible that they will work regularly with staff other than their class teacher. Good communication is essential. The class teacher is responsible for setting learning targets, although other adults may take responsibility for planning the lessons and activities that will help the child to reach those goals. Records are kept on progress towards those targets in all lessons where additional support is given, and those records are shared with the teachers and monitored by the SENCO. At Review Meetings, parents are kept informed of progress and any changes to provision. We value the contributions of the child and the parents to these meetings, recognising that progress is dependent on partnership and collaboration.
Specific Learning Difficulties
One of the most common learning difficulties is dyslexia. This describes a range of features, broadly categorised by a disparity between apparent cognitive ability and the ability to read or write. Dyslexic children find it hard to learn to spell, take longer to read, and often have trouble sequencing ideas. This can sometimes also create difficulties with numbers and the linked condition of discalculia.
If a child is experiencing difficulties, which may or may not have been officially diagnosed as dyslexia, there are a range of strategies which teachers can use to help the child learn and to help teachers assess the child's ability in areas other than reading and writing: a truly dyslexic child will not be easily "cured" of the condition, but they will need to learn coping strategies, and they will need to build confidence in themselves as learners.