We aspire to make our curriculum ‘Irresistible to learn and irresistible to teach!’
Our leaders, curriculum teams, SENCOs, teachers and support staff are united in this aim. Many young people with SEND have tremendous potential for success in the wider curriculum. It is vital that opportunities to realise this potential are recognised, nurtured and celebrated.
A strengths-based approach
The identification of a young person’s strengths is as important as the assessment and support of their needs. Our Learning Plans reflect the young person’s strengths and passions. Opportunities to utilise these, are found in some of the more practical aspects of our foundation curriculum, through science and via extra-curricular activity. Our Learning Behaviours and School Values create a shared vocabulary where engagement, resilience and effort are celebrated by all. Our distinctive and Christian ethos guides us in our goal of celebrating individuality and learning difference.
Supporting barriers to learning
Understanding a child’s barriers to learning is a key part of our graduated approach to the identification of SEND need. SEND needs are identified and supported via cycles of plan, do and review. The use of Edukey has enhanced the quality of our Learning Plans and match targeted provision to identified need.
Children may have barriers in one or more of the key areas- Communication and Interaction, Cognition and Learning, Social, Emotional and Mental Health and Sensory/physical. Supporting these barriers is central to successfully planning in the wider curriculum.
Strategies to support teaching and learning for SEND -some examples
Specific Literacy difficulty– Alternative recording may include word processing, voice to text software, pictoral recording, scaffolding written work, photographs of learning journey, adult scribing, creative alternatives to written outcome (E.g. creating a video or poster)
Auditory processing/memory needs-Staff are mindful to provide visual support where the auditory load is high. Key word banks, visual task planners and chunking auditory input are all key strategies to support learners with needs in this area.
Working Memory– Some of our young people find it hard to integrate skills together and hold information to work with it. For our young people with specific literacy need, we may reduce the cognitive load by keeping the task practical and focussed on the intended learning outcome. A young person with barriers around literacy may thrive on a practical science experience, if the barriers of reading and writing are supported and tasks are adapted accordingly. This reduces the pressure on their working memory and enables them to focus on the learning intention linked to science. Examples of visuals structures may include; Now and Next visuals, Success criteria, Write Stuff framework, key words, concrete apparatus.
Difficulties with vocabulary and or word finding- Individual children benefit from pre-teaching and over learning of key vocabulary. ‘Word Aware’ is an example of an intervention that has been used to support teaching of vocabulary for groups in Key stage 2. A multi-sensory approach is often powerful for learners with barriers in this area. Making semantic links between real experience and vocabulary teaching has a key impact.
Slower processing for visual/verbal information – Some of our young people benefit from additional processing time to make sense of verbal or visual input. Teachers are mindful that the pace of the whole class session does not exclude learners with SEND. Additional thinking time make a significant difference.
Receptive language barriers – We assess and support receptive language needs via the Language Link tool for intervention. In whole class sessions, teachers endeavour to create a ‘language aware’ classroom. Teachers will refer to key vocabulary when teaching, draw on visual stimuli and sometimes adapt key instructions for individuals. Support staff adapt instructional/conceptual language for key groups of children.
Barriers with numeracy skills – Leaders are working closely to strengthen interventions to support maths for learners with SEND. Number Stacks is a targeted intervention that is being delivered by the SENCO assistant. Training is currently taking place around Numbersense as a new and exciting intervention.
In the wider curriculum, anxieties and barriers around number could affect other subjects such as science, geography and IT. Examples may include the use of technology to support a less confident mathematician within a geography task, or working in mixed ability pairings when presenting results in science. Tasks may need additional scaffolding for SEND pupils. A child with a place value barrier may find it difficult to order dates in history but still have a conceptual understanding of timeline events.
Social communication difficulties/Autism – The collaborative aspects of learning can present as a barrier for some of our learners with identified needs in the social aspects of communication and interaction. Our school community celebrates neurodiversity and the individual profile of strengths and needs that can occur with a diagnosis on the autism spectrum. Individual knowledge of the child is key and no assumptions are made about the young person. Some examples of support planning include
-The use of individual workspaces and TEACCH style support plans
-Sensory diet provision to support individual needs
-The use of visual planners, social stories and comic strip conversations.
-A whole school approach to the Zones of Regulation.
Social emotional needs (motivation, low sense of self, needs around attention, concentration and self-regulation) There is a commitment to personalised planning for our young people with SEMH needs. Behaviour is seen as a communication of need and individual children are supported to develop alternative tools to communicate their emotional experience. Increased pastoral capacity means that we can continue to provide a bespoke programme of support for children with a range of social and emotional needs.
Some young people have identified and emerging needs in the areas of attention, concentration and focus. There are other young people with sensory integration difficulties. Programmes of sensory activity, visual support, wobble cushions, sensory tools and ear defenders are widely in use across the school. The teacher in charge of resourced provision provides curriculum support for subject leaders to enable specific planning around SEND in the wider curriculum.
Working with partners in supporting agencies – For specific young people, SENCOS and teaching staff will work in partnership with colleagues in outside agencies. The Specialist Teacher Advisory Service (STAS) have provided responsive support for young people with PD, VI, HI and communication needs. We have also worked in partnership with colleagues in Educational Psychology and through Maple Ridge Outreach.