How can we help?
Special Educational Needs (SEN) that affect a child’s ability to learn can include their:
- behaviour or ability to socialize, e.g. not being able to make friends.
- reading and writing, e.g. they have dyslexia.
- ability to understand the content they have read or heard e.g. instructions.
- concentration levels, e.g. they have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or are on the Autistic Spectrum.
- physical needs or impairments e.g. sight or hearing, mobility,
The full requirements on schools regarding SEN can be found in the Children and Families Act 2014.
The aim of the Learning Support Department is to support all students to access the curriculum, enabling them to achieve their true potential. We offer a variety of interventions to target students with specific learning difficulties to overcome their barriers to learning. In addition all students might be offered intervention to develop their skills to become a lifelong learner.
Students with handwriting difficulties will start a programme of handwriting sessions. After a writing assessment it may be decided that they need to use an Alpha- Smart to record information.
The Alpha-smart is a lightweight portable note-taker, it can be a useful resource for students who are assessed to have dyslexia, dyspraxia or who have a slow writing speed or illegible handwriting.
A student using an Alpha-smart needs to have good organisational skills, to be able to print out their work and organize it for each subject. Alpha-smarts are provided by the college but some students use their equipment.
Some students experience visual or perceptual distortion when reading a page of print e.g. those with dyslexia. The letters may appear to move or to blur and the white paper might glare and cause eye strain or headaches. This distortion can sometimes be reduced or eliminated by placing sheets of precise coloured plastic over the page. (coloured overlays). The appropriate colour for reducing distortion varies from person to person; the Learning Support Department can carry out assessments and provide overlays as required.
Communication sessions are a tool used to help students become independent learners, building self-esteem and motivation. They are led by Elklan trained staff.
Sessions run for six weeks and are normally offered to students in KS3, however the ‘Communication Life Skills’ would be best suited to students in KS4. Students could be offered one or more of the following programmes, each lasting six weeks:-
A. Improving Listening & Auditory Memory Skills
Improve auditory memory skills, listen and use descriptive language confidently.
B. Improving Organization and Language Skills
Encourage students to listen, memorise and recall, help understand difficult concepts, links between things and organize work through visual frameworks.
C. Friendships and Social Interaction
Discuss feelings and friendships, how to be a good friend, show how to interpret facial expressions and body language.
D. Developing Verbal Reasoning
Helping students to follow and give instructions, follow logical sequencing and develop emotional literacy.
E. Developing Expressive Language
Improve a student’s vocabulary development, looking at attribute webs, spider diagrams and mind maps.
F. Communication Life Skills
Interview practices, communicating over the telephone, appropriate language in the work place etc.
The Access Reading Test online is used to screen year 7 students on entry as it gives results for 4 areas involved in the reading process the results are used to trigger appropriate interventions.
Year 7 also complete the WRAT 4 Single word spelling assessment.
Appropriate interventions are then triggered to support students with below average literacy skills. Currently the school uses Everyone Can Read, Toe by Toe, Talking Partners etc.
Using data from primary schools the intervention Talking Maths may be offered to some students. The Sandwell Assessment is used to identify particular areas requiring direct teaching, which is offered in small groups. The focus is to ensure students have understood the basic skills of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. There is also a focus on life skills maths e.g. telling the time and money.
The Listening Programme
The Listening Programme is a sound therapy based on music and was developed due to the discovery that modified music stimulates the ear and brain and can improve behaviour and learning. Students can be referred to the programme if they have difficulties in any of the following areas:-
- Central Auditory processing difficulties
- Attention difficulties
- Learning difficulties
- Sensory issues
- Energy levels and Confidence.
The programme is a continuous daily 30 minute session listening to a specific set of CDs.
Working in partnership
Parents are a very important part of the process of helping their child to succeed. We ensure that parents are kept regularly informed of progress and invited to reviews. We find that success is best achieved where school, student and parents work closely together. Students can pursue their studies in small groups while learning how to overcome any difficulties that have been inhibiting their success in lessons.
We expect that parents and teaching staff will keep us informed of changes that might affect the students’ learning and welcome calls to discuss any queries or concerns, no matter how small, at the earliest opportunity.
Students with sensory needs can find it difficult to connect with the learning process and participation in a short sensory circuit can prepare them to engage effectively with the day ahead. Sessions run every morning for approximately 10 minutes.