Special Educational Needs Policy
Special educational needs are addressed by all the staff in the school. As we have small classes and a very student-centred approach to each child, there is no clear distinction between students with special needs who get extra support and everyone else; there is a gradual transition.
Since yoga and meditation are an intrinsic part of the school day the students learn how to become aware of their own barriers to learning and with the help of their teachers and the school counsellor they can surmount them. With this the children will acquire a powerful and wonderful tool for understanding their needs and challenges while helping them to maintain a rich receptivity to learning.
Likewise, in different subjects and on different days students will need varying amounts of extra support and, as far as possible, the staff tries to provide that support both in and out of class.
The school Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo officer) has the responsibility of liaising with students and teachers to help children overcome barriers to learning. The officer is a member of the teaching cohort and is responsible for drawing up the SEN policy.
Types of extra provision
In general the provision from within the regular school budget is a balance between the level of need and the resources available. Where possible special needs will be met through:
i) Extra attention in class from the normal class teachers. This is made possible by our small classes.
ii) Extra support outside class. This is not formal extra lessons, but most teachers make time for certain students when they are having difficulty.
iii) Having extra lessons in very small groups or one to one sessions with teachers
iv) Having a flexible timetable, tailored to work around difficulties in accessing the normal subject provision.
Students with emotional problems, which can present as barriers to learning, also have access to the school’s counsellor.
Obviously our level of support is restricted by our resources and staff time. When the LEA provides extra funding we are able to resource a student better. Likewise, in the case of parents who can afford pay for the resources, we can hire in further help, see annex 1.
The school special needs register
A confidential list of the needs of each student is available to the staff as part of the Student Database. The Student Database shows:
• Academic needs
• Emotion, social, developmental needs
• Flexible time table agreement
• Access arrangements for exams
• Learning support in place
Though the list is available to all the staff there may be further confidential matters known only to the Principal.
The register also identifies other factors that are thought to be important issues in students’ academic or social progress. These included the following and are based on opinions formed through the open relationships that students have with staff, in particular with their tutors.
LPB: lack of parental boundaries
DM: Drug misuse
OCSL: Out of control social life.
NSSDS: Nonspecific social disparity syndrome
English as a second language
One specific special need that needs consideration is the incorporation of foreign language speaking students. By integration into the school community language skills progress extremely fast. The school does not offer specific ESOL support beyond the normal sorts of extra support available to all students.
It is a condition of being considered for a place at Hebden Bridge School that all paperwork from previous schools is submitted for consideration by our staff. A trial week will only be offered if the staff feel there is a reasonable prospect of the school being able to meet the prospective student’s needs. Often a student with special needs comes to the school precisely because of those needs, so the problem is already well known and both parents and other professionals are eager to provide a full diagnosis.
During the trial week they are assessed for any difficulties that might present, both academic and social, as well as being informally assessed in lessons by subject-teachers. This further informs the decision about whether or not the school can meet the student’s needs.
All new students are routinely assessed shortly after arrival in reading, handwriting, spelling, and comprehension and this information is a standing item on the weekly staff meeting agenda. A less formal assessment is made in maths as part of the academic reporting process. A more general assessment of each student as a learner is done through the Barriers to Learning questionnaire. This explores if and why students are feeling unsuccessful in class and can identify issues that can be addressed through SEN provision.
All staff is aware of the special needs of each student and with regular feedback, any necessary changes in provision are quickly implemented.
Communication amongst staff about students
One of the most important parts of our assessment and support of students comes from the constant communication between staff. Tutors feedback to subject teachers, subject teachers feed back to the SEN Team and staff discuss individual students. This is done both informally and during our weekly staff meetings.
Each student has a tutor who is responsible for keeping an overview of the student’s needs within the school. This is the person a student will go to if he has a problem and also the person who will be approached by other staff if they see problems from their point of view. This support is on-going and informal but is supplemented by termly tutorials where each member of staff feeds back to the tutor how a student is doing and this is discussed, at length, with the student.
Students with LEA Statements
Even though we will be an independent school we could have students with Local Education Authority (LEA) statements and even a few students who may be placed at Hebden Bridge School by the LEA. Maintaining LEA statements is an important part of the support for these students. Not only does this allow the student cost-free access to additional professional help it also provides a good opportunity to discuss the student and the help he is getting with an impartial external professional. Maintaining a statement also ensures continued support when they leave Hebden Bridge School.
More generally we try to foster a good relationship with the LEA as their support through educational psychologists and other professionals is invaluable. For each student with a statement there will be an annual statement review meeting with the student, their parents or carers, an educational psychologist and the school’s SENCO. These meetings can also be attended by other relevant professionals, for example a careers adviser. A record of the annual review is sent to all present and the county special education team (C.SET). Because of the individual education planning and support given to all students at Sands we do not do formal Individual Education Plans (IEPs) for statement students.
Special consideration in exams
To obtain special consideration for exam students it is necessary to employ a specialist teacher to evaluate what support is appropriate.