Special Educational Needs
Special and Additional Educational Needs at The Wells Free School
The Wells Free School is an inclusive school and we welcome children from a wide range of abilities and backgrounds to our community. We aim to ensure all children at our school have access to learning within and beyond the curriculum, and we are committed to an individualised approach to teaching and learning.
Planning for learning is aimed at identifying and supporting each pupil’s individual learning needs through a Quality First Teaching approach, where ongoing assessment of pupils’ learning forms the basis of further instruction and practice. Differentiated approaches are planned and implemented by the class teacher, sometimes with the support of additional adults who may work with small groups or individuals to ensure all pupils are able to make progress.
Staff work across the ability range, but there are a number of staff who have special responsibility for identifying, monitoring or providing support to, children with specific learning or social needs.
- The school SENCo (Special Educational needs and Disabilities co-ordinator) is Michelle Hinkley. The SENCo is responsible for monitoring and reviewing provision for pupils identified as having special educational needs and for supporting teachers and support staff to develop learning plans and tailored provision to meet those needs.
- Teaching Assistants are allocated to individual pupils where such support forms part of an Individual Learning Plan, and to deliver planned interventions to groups of identified pupils.
Sometimes, pupils require additional support to help them make progress in different areas of the curriculum and general school life. We offer this in a range of ways:
Group work with a supporting adult. Where a number of pupils require additional support in a specific area, this may be delivered in class by either the class teacher or another adult (Teaching Assistant, volunteer, student). This support is aimed at giving pupils the tools they need within a specific subject or with a given concept to be able to work independently.
Intervention activities. Where specific learning needs are identified by the class teacher, the pupil may be placed in a group to undertake additional work which is aimed at filling gaps in knowledge or skills, or supporting specific curriculum areas beyond the classroom lessons. Such activities could include additional phonics learning, work on number bonds, work on fine motor skills or handwriting practice, for example. These interventions are usually short term (maximum of 6 weeks) and are designed to give the pupils the support they need to access the learning in class independently.
Specific Learning and Support Programmes. These are run by experienced Teaching Assistants, and may include:
Sensory Circuits – a physical programme aimed at increasing pupils’ sensory and proprioceptive awareness;
SpeechLink – a speech and language assessment tool with associated activities, which help develop pupils’ speech, sound production and comprehension;
Wordshark and Numbershark – computer based programmes which support basic numerical and spelling concepts.
Specific programmes run on an “as-needed” basis, and change according to the identified needs of pupils. Currently, we have a programme of daily sensory circuits, for example, aimed at a group of identified pupils.
Through one-to-one support. This is usually undertaken with pupils with significant learning needs, who would be unable to access the curriculum without the full support of an adult. In most cases, a statutory assessment of the pupil’s needs will be undertaken and this may result in a statement of educational needs which specifies the support to be given in school. From September 2014, statements will be replaced by education healthcare plans (EHPs).
Behaviour Management. Sometimes a pupil’s behaviour can limit their learning or that of others. We engage a range of techniques including behaviour management plans, in class support, access to external anger and behaviour management agencies and, in extreme cases, fixed term exclusions. To date, we have not had to administer any exclusions. Our Behaviour Policy sets out the expected behaviour of all our learners, and the ways in which we enforce these expectations. Where pupils, either due to developmental stage, learning delay or other circumstances, are unable to understand or relate to the expectations, we work with them individually to ensure they fully understand what is expected of them.
Pupils come with many, and varied, educational needs, including those who are identified as gifted and talented. We identify pupils who are working at levels significantly above age relate expectations, or who have specific and advanced skills in areas such as sports, arts or music, and use our “stage not age” approach to learning to give these pupils learning experiences in line with their ability, with a strong focus on challenge. As the school grows, and pupils get older, we will be able to access groups and provision beyond school which allow pupils to work at high level challenges. We are always happy to talk to parents and to signpost support networks and additional provision beyond school.
Some pupils enter school with English as an Additional Language. We have followed an immersion approach in our first year, with careful monitoring to ensure that language and learning needs are met. Where additional support is required, this has taken the form of individual or small group provision, aimed at improving language and communication skills as well as ensuring pupils have the academic tools they require to make good progress.
Support for families. We pride ourselves on being an open, friendly school, and we recognise the fundamental importance of parents in the learning process. Where parents and families require additional short or long term support, perhaps in times of crisis, or where family members are experiencing difficulties, we are able to help with access to support networks, device and guidance, or sometimes just to be that listening ear. Social, emotional and physical wellbeing are at the centre of our provision in school, and this extends beyond the pupils to their immediate family too. We have a truly open door policy, and welcome family members as an integral part of our learning community. We can’t always solve problems ourselves, but we can often find others to help.
External Agencies. According to need, we work with a range of external agencies. Sometimes, we request their support; sometimes external agencies are involved with a pupil because of their statement, medical needs or other route. External agencies include the School Nursing Service, Speech and Language therapists, Occupational therapists, Educational Psychologists and Counsellors.
What to do if you think your child needs additional support.
In the first instance, it is important to speak to your class teacher if you have any concerns about your child’s learning or development. They will be able to talk to you about in class support or to raise the issues with the SENDCo. Where there are concerns about a child’s development, we may advise you to see your medical practitioner, or put you in touch with the school nurses.
We will regularly update you on your child’s progress through the termly parent and teacher meetings and end of year report, and we are always happy to talk with you after school if you have any concerns. It’s best to make an appointment through the office if you would like to speak to your teacher – they get very busy at the end of the school day.
Kent Local Offer