AGFS SENDco Mr Macpherson , BA Hons; PGCE; NASENCo
I am responsible for overseeing the school’s provision for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). We have a dedicated team of professionals who support our learners, ensuring they develop the skills and knowledge to become successful and confident learners. This page is designed to give you information regarding our approach to supporting those with SEND and to signpost parents and carers to additional agencies.
SEND local offer in Greenwich -
What does it mean to have special educational needs and/or a disability (SEND)?
According to the Equality Act, 2010, a child has a disability if they have ‘a physical or mental impairment which has a long-term and substantial adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities’.
The Equality Act specifies that schools must:
- Not directly or indirectly discriminate against, harass or victimise children with disabilities
- Make reasonable adjustments to ensure that young people are not at a substantial disadvantage compared with their peers
According to the SEND Code of Practice, 2014/2015, a child or young person has special educational needs if:
- They have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her
- They have a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age
- They have a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age
At GFS, information about pupils’ special educational needs and/or disabilities is compiled in consultation with families and shared with all staff members, along with information about pupils’ strengths, any challenges they may face, and strategies to support pupils to achieve their full potential. This is then used to inform your child’s SEND provision, provision that is additional to or different from that made generally for other children or young people of the same age. The section below outlines some of the ways in which SEND provision takes place at GFS.
How does GFS support pupils with special educational needs and/or a disability (SEND)?
The first step to supporting pupils with special educational needs and/or a disability (SEND) is to ensure that every pupil receives high quality teaching in every lesson. At GFS, we support high quality teaching through regular training, coaching, observation and feedback. All teachers and learning support assistants have an assigned coach who supports them to continuously grow and develop their practice, and the senior leadership team and SENDCo regularly visit classrooms to observe pupils’ progress and to support teachers with SEND provision. All teaching staff attend training in specific educational needs and all staff members - including reception, administrative and site staff - attend a weekly briefing which includes sharing updates about pupils’ needs and discussing strategies to support individual pupils. There is also a weekly staff bulletin which includes information about how to support pupils effectively.
In the classroom, teachers support pupils through differentiation and scaffolding. This personalised approach varies from lesson to lesson but may include teaching a concept in multiple ways to ensure understanding, providing additional support (e.g. exemplar texts or support with accessing key vocabulary), or allocating a learning support assistant or volunteer to work with a pupil or group of pupils. Classroom displays are organised to support pupils with developing their skills, e.g. each classroom has a dedicated display of ‘key words’ to ensure that all pupils have access to the technical vocabulary they need. Depending on need, pupils may also have access to specialised equipment (e.g. writing slopes, supportive cushions, reading rulers or overlays etc.). Sometimes pupils also may require additional intervention support. This support is put in place in response to need and so is constantly evolving as pupils’ needs change. Some of the intervention programmes we run at GFS are detailed below:
Read Write Inc. Fresh Start
Read Write Inc. Fresh Start is a phonics based programme which supports reading and writing skills. The Read Write Inc. website (http://www.ruthmiskin.com/en/parents/) provides an overview of the programme and includes a parent section with suggested reading lists, parent tutorials to help you to support your child at home, and links to helpful resources.
Lexia is a computerised literacy development programme. Pupils are encouraged to access the programme at home as well as at school. Information about home access will be sent out by Mr Parkes (Head of English) shortly. The Lexia website (http://www.lexiauk.co.uk/parents/lexia-school-home-use/) includes details of the programme with suggestions as to how to make the most of the programme at home.
Our Speech and Language Therapist, Laura Rigby, visits once per week. During this time, she runs 1:1 therapy sessions (where appropriate); supports pupils to apply speech, language and communication skills in lessons; gives training and provides advice to teaching staff; works jointly to plan communication-friendly lessons; and supports us to audit our communication provision and to ensure that all pupils are receiving high quality support. Ms Rigby is also available to meet with parents or take part in annual review meetings. Her reports, guidance, and pupil targets are shared with all teaching staff as well as parents so that everyone in school has a clear picture of pupils’ needs and how best to support them.
ASD Outreach Support
The Greenwich ASD Outreach Service is a support service for pupils with autistic spectrum disorder, their families, and their schools. Mr Barry Lee and Ms June Biggs, the ASD Outreach workers who work with GFS, visit once per half term. During this time, they offer direct support and advice to individual students, carry out classroom observations, consult with teaching staff, and run staff training sessions.
Social Skills Groups
These are small group sessions (up to 6 pupils per group) in which pupils learn about and practice social communication. There are several social skills groups at GFS, some involving the development of basic social skills (e.g. eye contact, turn-taking in conversation) and some involving more complex social skills (e.g. conflict resolution). Social skills groups are run by trained learning support assistants in consultation with the school’s Speech and Language Therapist, Ms Laura Rigby.
This is a new intervention, beginning in September 2015. Researchers and specialists at the Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust have found that Lego therapy can be an effective way of supporting pupils to develop their communication and social skills. At GFS, Lego therapy groups are highly structured and will involve very small groups of just three pupils. The intervention is being overseen by the school’s Speech and Language Therapist, Ms Laura Rigby, and run by trained learning support assistants. If you have any Lego sets at home which you would like to donate to the therapy groups, this would be very much appreciated!
Mental Health Support
A range of mental health support is available in school. This includes group sessions run by our Student Development Officer (e.g. to support pupils with developing confidence), 1:1 mentoring, and counselling. Our school counsellor, Ms Ros Sewell visits twice per week and offers counselling on an individual or group basis. The school also has links with the local branch of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) which supports pupils with more complex mental health needs.
Sometimes the unstructured nature of lunch times can prove challenging for pupils with a profile of SEND. If this is the case, pupils may receive support from a learning support assistant or volunteer, or may attend a structured lunch-time club run by our Year 10 prefects.
The Assertive Mentoring Programme
This is a structured, data-based mentoring programme through which pupils are supported to work towards clear goals. Staff members undergo specific training to enable them to become effective mentors. Each session is 1:1, with pupils setting themselves targets and mentors supporting them to take the steps to achieve their goals.
Educational Psychology Support
The school commissions the services of the local authority’s Educational Psychology Service. Educational psychologists support pupils in a variety of ways: through specialised assessments, through 1:1 or small group work; and through staff training.
The occupational therapy service works with pupils with physical needs to support them to develop functional independence. This may include 1:1 physical therapy, designing a programme for a pupil to carry out with the supervision of a learning support assistant, or providing advice to teachers about how to plan activities to integrate pupils with physical needs.
Sensory Service Support
The sensory service provides support to pupils with sensory impairments. This varies according to individual need but can include support with managing vison or radio aids, supporting pupils to use assistive technology, sign language training, and working with teaching staff to ensure that pupils’ needs are being met in the classroom.
The Forest School is an outdoor education programme run by qualified instructors. Pupils participate in collaborative outdoor activities, helping them to develop their confidence, communication skills, mental health and resilience.
In addition to the interventions outlined above, the school also participates in a range of local initiatives, including music therapy, touch typing training etc. The school’s individual subject departments also run subject-specific support for pupils. This may take place through a structured programme (e.g. the Numicon Maths programme) or through lunch time sessions. If you would like to discuss subject-specific support for your child, please feel free to contact your child’s teacher by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your child’s full name, the subject you would like to discuss, and the name of his/her teacher in the email so that it can be forwarded to the correct member of staff.
What kind of support will my child get in exams?
If your child has special educational needs and/or a disability, they may be entitled to access arrangements. Access arrangements are adjustments made by examination bodies to ensure that children with special educational needs or disabilities (or temporary injuries) can access examinations without being at a substantial disadvantage in comparison to someone who does not have special educational needs or a disability. Some examples of the most common access arrangements include:
- Additional time to complete an examination (usually up to 25%)
- Access to a reader, who can read the examination paper to the pupil
- Access to an amanuensis, or scribe, who can write answers as dictated by the pupil
- Supervised rest breaks
For external examinations, such as GCSE exams, schools must apply for access arrangements on a case-by-case basis to the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ). Schools are required to provide evidence that access arrangements are necessary in order to ensure that a child will not be at a significant disadvantage when compared to their peers.
If your child is in Years 7-9, the school will already be exploring some of the potential access arrangements which might benefit your child when they come to take external examinations. This will involve trialling different types of access arrangements so that we can work out whether special arrangements should be made to support your child with examinations and which ones best suit your child’s way of working. This information may also provide useful supporting evidence for a later application to the JCQ, if required. If the school will be trialling access arrangements for your child, you will be informed by letter prior to the end of year exams.
If your child is in Year 10, the school will shortly be commissioning external assessments to determine which pupils will be eligible for access arrangements. These will be carried out by an external examiner and the results of the assessment will determine whether the school will make an application to the JCQ on your child’s behalf and, if so, what kind of access arrangements will be requested. You will be informed in advance if the school would like to commission an assessment for your child and I will keep in touch with you about this process as the year goes on. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please do get in touch.
My child has a statement of special educational needs. What is the process for transferring his/her statement to a new Education, Health and Care plan?
Following the introduction of the SEND Code of Practice in September 2014, the national system for supporting children with special educational needs and/or disabilities is changing. If your child has a statement of special educational need, you should have received a letter from the Department for Education in September 2014, outlining these changes. For reference, I have attached it alongside this letter.
One of the main changes is that statements of special educational need are being slowly phased out and replaced with Education, Health and Care plans (also known as EHC plans or EHCPs). An EHCP is much the same as a statement: it outlines your child’s needs and the provision which should be made for him/her by the local authority. However, EHCPs are intended to be more person- and family-centred than statements and will combine information about your child’s history, education, health and care needs in order to ensure that all of this information is available in one place.
The process for transferring statements to EHC plans is being managed by the local authority. In Greenwich, only pupils in Year 9 and Year 11+ will have their statements transferred in 2015-2016. This means that only GFS pupils in Year 9 will have their statements transferred this year. For pupils in other year groups, their current statement will remain in place.
In the first week of February 2016, the local authority will inform schools which Year 9 pupils will require new advice from professionals, and which will use existing advice. The school will then arrange for any new professional assessments to take place. The local authority will review the results of these assessments, along with your child’s current statement and his/her most recent annual review. If your child is in Year 9, the local authority will then write to you individually to formally advise you of their intention to initiate the transfer review process. This letter should be sent 2 weeks before the transfer review process starts. The transfer process takes 16 weeks and begins with a transfer review meeting, which will take place in lieu of an annual review.
Before the transfer review meeting, I will work with you and your child to collect all of the information necessary for the transfer and to produce a pupil profile. There are three stages to this process so this may involve more than one meeting. Following the creation of the profile, the transfer review meeting will be held in school, much like an annual review. The Greenwich local authority SEND team will not necessarily attend this meeting, though if you would like a representative to attend then this can be requested. The local authority has informed us that all transfer review meetings for Year 9 children should happen no later than Friday 1 April 2016 to allow them to issue final plans by 22nd July 2016.
On receiving the transfer review paperwork, the Greenwich SEND Assessment Team will check that they have all of the information they require. In a small number of cases, the school and/or the family may be contacted again and additional information requested. No later than week 10 of the process, the local authority will decide if there is a sufficient level of need in order to issue a plan. If the decision is made that a plan is not required, parents will be written to and advised of their right of appeal. Schools will also be notified. If the decision is made to issue a plan, a plan writer will be assigned by the local authority to complete your child’s EHC plan. The local authority aim is that the draft plan will be issued to the family no later than week 12 of the transfer review process. Families will then be given 10 days to comment and will also be offered a meeting with a local authority officer if there is anything in the plan that they wish to discuss.
If your child is in Year 9 and has a statement of special educational need, I will shortly be in touch to arrange the process for creating your child’s profile and to schedule the transfer review meeting. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Where can I get more advice about how to support my child?
The parents’ section of school website is a good place to start. Here you will be able to find a guide to what your child is learning this term, including topics for revision and suggested activities for home. Your child’s teachers will also be happy to discuss your child’s progress and ways to support them at home; feel free to email email@example.com with specific questions. As mentioned above, you are also always welcome to email me with any questions you may have via: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additionally, the following resources may be useful. The list below includes just some of the resources available for some of the most common special educational needs and disabilities at GFS. However, if you would like information about a special educational needs and/or disability that is not listed here, please get in touch and I will be happy to discuss or meet with you in person.
The Royal Greenwich Special Educational Needs and Disability Information Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS) offers a range of support services to parents, including impartial advice, practical support (e.g. with filling out forms or with EHC plans), and support in understanding the new changes to special educational needs provision. They also connect parents with one another or with independent supporters, and run drop-in advice sessions for parents, details of which can be requested by phone on 020 8921 2549 or through this website:
For Pupils with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD):
The National Autistic Society (NAS) has an excellent and comprehensive website which will direct you to a range of other resources: http://www.autism.org.uk/. This includes a helpful directory of local services for children with autism: http://nasgreenwich.org.uk/nas-greenwich-branch-useful-info/
For Pupils with Dyslexia or Literacy Difficulties:
The British Dyslexia Association has a very detailed website, which includes a parents’ section with advice on homework, handwriting, supportive technology etc.: http://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/.
The ‘Get Help’ section of the Dyslexia Action website includes free advice, details of short courses, and links to learning resources for supporting your child: http://www.dyslexiaaction.org.uk/get-help
For pupils with phonetic difficulties, this sound pronunciation guide can be very helpful, both for your child to practice and for you to learn how to support them: http://www.ruthmiskin.com/en/resources/sound-pronunciation-guide/
This website has a range of phonics video tutorials to support you with practising phonics at home with your child: http://www.oxfordowl.co.uk/for-home/reading-site/expert-help/phonics-made-easy
For Pupils with Speech, Language, and Communication Needs (SLCN):
The ICAN website provides support for parents, including advice to parents and practitioners about speech, language and communication. It includes a free call-back service with a speech and language therapist: http://www.ican.org.uk/help:
The Talking Point website includes a parents’ section with free resources, local services, progress checker, fact sheets etc.: http://www.talkingpoint.org.uk/
The AFASIC website includes information about how to support your child as well as how to access support for yourself, including parent support videos and a forum for talking to other parents: http://www.afasic.org.uk/
The Communication Trust is a coalition of over 50 not-for-profit organisations working in the area of SLCN: https://www.thecommunicationtrust.org.uk/
For Pupils with ADHD:
The Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) website includes a very detailed overview of ADHD, along with tips for parents and an extensive directory of resources: http://www.chadd.org/
The National Attention Deficit Disorder Information and Support Service has a dedicated resource centre with information books, videos, articles and staff members on hand to answer questions. They can be contacted on 020 8952 2800 and through their website: http://www.addiss.co.uk/
For Pupils with Mental Health Needs:
The Mental Health Foundation provides a clear and helpful overview of mental health needs in children: http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/mental-health-a-z/C/children-young-people/
Young Minds run a parent helpline (telephone: 0808 802 5544) and have a detailed website with resources for children and parents: http://www.youngminds.org.uk/.
The Mind website includes a guide to parenting and mental health, along with a list of useful contacts: http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/children-and-young-people/