Special Educational Needs and Inclusion
SEND AT THAMESIDE PRIMARY SCHOOL
All schools have a duty to be accessible and inclusive for the children within their community. It is our job to support parents in providing the best possible education for children. For the vast majority of children, that will be through attending their local mainstream school.
For a small number of children their needs may be better met at an alternative setting. In those circumstances we have a role to support parents in identifying and accessing what is best for their child.
As part of the changes being implemented by the Department for Education in 2014 all Local Authorities must publish information about how they support special needs pupils. This is called the “Local Offer”. Schools must also publish information on their website about how they support SEND pupils within their own establishment.
What does SEND mean?
SEND stands for Special Educational Needs and Disability.
All children are individuals and their abilities in each area of the curriculum vary across a wide spectrum. Class teachers are used to providing lessons and activities which ensure good progress for pupils whatever their level of ability.
However, there are situations where a child’s needs are such that it is difficult for a class teacher to provide appropriately for them without additional and/or specialist support. This is usually when a child is described as having ‘special needs’.
Who decides if a child has special needs?
Every child is an individual and we aim to provide the best environment for all our pupils to grow and develop. If a child needs something more than what is available through normal classroom practises, then they can be described as having special needs. This covers a wide range of needs from a child struggling to make good progress in reading or maths to a child with significant disabilities.
As a result there is more than one route to deciding who has special needs. Sometimes children are identified in infancy, before they start school. There may be professionals involved with the child and the family who will work with the school to settle the child into Nursery or Reception.
Some children are diagnosed with a medical condition or disability either before starting school or during their time with us.
The school works with the relevant outside agencies to ensure that the child’s needs are met. A medical condition does not always mean that a pupil will find learning difficult. We may only need to make sure that we help them to be safe and healthy while they are in school and that their condition does not prevent them making the best possible progress.
We monitor academic progress for all our children very closely and put in additional support whenever we feel a child is not making the progress we expect. Parents are kept informed of this intervention through meetings and parents’ evenings.
When a child continues to struggle, even with this additional support, more detailed assessments are made.
Decisions about how best to address the difficulties are made through discussions between the SENCO, staff and parents often with advice from outside agencies.
Who will support my child while they are at school?
Class teachers plan and deliver the curriculum; the majority of lessons are taught by a class teacher to their own class.
There are a range of other interventions which are matched to the needs of individuals or groups of pupils. These are delivered by a teacher or teaching assistant often on a weekly basis.
It is the SENCO’s role to coordinate much of this (Miss Polley). She has a number of staff to call upon (teaching assistants, pastoral support) who deliver much of the individual and small group support. This is called the Inclusion team.
If a child needs specialist support the SENCO, in cooperation with parents, can arrange referrals. Many support services will assess a child and then provide the school with advice on how to best cater for a child’s needs.
How will I know about the progress my child is making?
All pupils at Thameside, including those with special educational needs, are set smart targets on a regular basis. These are shared with parents who are then provided termly updates on their child’s progress. Teachers may discuss any child causing them concern with their parents on a more frequent basis.
For pupils with special needs there are additional opportunities for parents to meet with the staff involved in supporting their child and to discuss their progress. These meetings might include members of support services and wherever possible the child themselves.
For pupils with an Education and Health Care Plan (EHC), previously known as a 'statement', there is a statutory requirement to meet each year for an ‘annual review’ of the child’s needs. Parents are always invited to take part in these meetings and wherever possible (and appropriate) the child is there too. The views of parents and the child are a central part of the report that goes to the local authority.
Which other services and outside agencies are available to the school?
Thameside has the support of a number of outside agencies provided by the local authority.
- Educational Psychologist – who helps the school in assessing pupils with the most significant difficulties
- Pupil and School Support Service – specialist teachers who work alongside the SENCO to assess pupils and plan appropriate support
- Communication and Autism Team – who advise the SENCO on strategies to support pupils diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder
- Physical Difficulties Support Service – provide advice regarding pupils with physical needs and disabilities.
- Pupils at the school may also be receiving treatment from services within the National Health Service such as Community Health, Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy or Physiotherapy. It is the SENCO’s role to liaise where possible with these professionals.
- The school has access to a school nurse to support medical needs.
- Families in the local community have access to Social Services which may also liaise with the school.
What training and expertise do the staff at Thameside have?
- All teachers at the school are qualified. Many staff undertake further training to develop their skills across a variety of aspects of school life. The school plans a programme of ‘Continuous Professional Development’ (CPD) which is designed to develop members of staff according to both their needs and the needs of the school.
- A number of the specialist services which support children with special needs within school also provide our staff with training either in school or on courses.
- Some members of the Inclusion Team have specific responsibilities for individuals or groups of pupils and so receive specialised training.
Supporting those with a disability?
Thameside prides itself on being an inclusive school. It is important to us that all children have the opportunity to achieve their full potential and that no child is put at an unfair disadvantage because of their special need or disability. The vast majority of the school site is accessible for children or adults with a physical disability, including wheelchair users.
A management/support plan is drawn up for pupils with a disability in conjunction with the relevant specialists to ensure that the child has the support they need to access all aspects of school life. The school regularly carries out an ‘Accessibility Plan Audit’ which can identify any aspects of the school building which needs improvement. We endeavour to make all reasonable adjustments to make the school as accessible as possible for pupils and adults with a disability.
Whenever children go on an educational visit or are offered an after school club, adaptations are made to ensure that no child is excluded or disadvantaged because of their special needs or a disability.
What opportunities do parents have to discuss their child’s progress and their needs?
All parents have 3 opportunities to talk about their progress with their teacher and to agree targets for the coming term. .
We endeavour to ensure that all pupils know who they can talk to if they have a concern. This may be their class teacher, a teaching assistant or a member of the leadership team.
How does Thameside support the emotional, social and mental well-being of its SEND pupils?
- Personal, social and health education has a high priority within our curriculum for all pupils. We recognise that pupils with special needs may find it harder to let us know if they are worried or anxious.
- All of our staff share a joint responsibility to be aware of the welfare needs of our pupils.
- A team of support staff/teaching assistants are available to work individually with pupils or with small groups to help them overcome any difficulties. Our Inclusion team liaise closely with them.
- Staff training is central to the quality of support we provide. This ensures that staff recognise the particular difficulties SEND pupils may experience and have the skills to support as needed.
- Social groups, nurture groups and quiet areas are available for pupils who need them.
How does Thameside support its pupils when it’s time for them to move class or to leave the school?
There are a range of procedures in place to support pupils in their transition to a new class or school.
- The SENCO or class teacher will liaise with feeder schools and often visit a pupil in their current setting before they join Thameside. Wherever possible a child and their parents will visit Thameside, have a tour of the school and meet with a member of the leadership team. There are usually parent meetings at the beginning of each year to enable parents to meet their child’s teacher and to hear about the routines of the class.
- At the end of each year children have opportunities to find out about their next class. For some special needs children who may need extra reassurance at these times a transition book is made so that they can become accustomed to the coming changes over the summer holiday.
- When a child is leaving us we liaise closely with their receiving school. Our feeder school (Larkmead) will send a member of staff to discuss prospective pupils with their current teacher and/or Inclusion lead. Where a Year 6 child has special needs or a disability there are usually additional opportunities to support the transition, through extra visits or activities to familiarise the pupil with their new school and for that school’s staff to understand the nature of the child’s needs.
Information about the SEND services provided by Oxfordshire County Council can be found on these web pages:
Oxfordshire’s accessibility strategy can be read at here.
Other Useful SEND Websites and Links
Special Needs Jungle – A website run by parents, for parents – https://www.specialneedsjungle.com
Autism Family Support Oxfordshire http://www.afso.org.uk/
Autism Education Trust – https://www.autismeducationtrust.org.uk/
ADHD Foundation – https://www.adhdfoundation.org.uk/
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) – https://www.oxfordhealth.nhs.uk/camhs/