Commonly Asked Questions
Please find our response to some commonly asked questions about pupils with special educational needs, taken from the Special Educational Needs Information Report we undertook in September 2019.
What is the school’s ethos/approach to teaching pupils with SEN and Disability?
- We are a highly inclusive school and have high expectations for all our pupils, including those with additional needs.
- Pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) are included in every aspect of school life and where necessary reasonable adjustments are made to make this possible. Children with SEND regularly attend our wide range of before- and after-school clubs.
- The school monitors the impact and effectiveness of what it does on the outcomes for pupils with SEND very carefully in various ways:
- The Headteacher scrutinises the data on attainment levels.
- The classteacher and SENDCo meet every term to review and discuss targets for children in their class.
- Parents are regularly involved in these discussions.
- The SENDCo has an open door policy and it is not necessary to wait for a specific parents’ evening to see her. Parents simply email or phone and book an appointment.
- Children with SEND are supported in a number of different ways. There may be strategies that can be used in class to support them, such as a visual timetable or a task list or they may receive 1:1 support, work in a small intervention group during school hours or be invited to attend additional booster lessons after school. The children are carefully monitored and the support is given on a needs basis.
- Most class teaching is done with mixed ability pairs which we believe benefits all children in the class: those that are currently attaining at a higher level are given the opportunity to explain their understanding to those currently attaining at a lower level. This requires precision and a clear understanding of the subject matter. For those attaining at a lower level, it provides an additional opportunity to understand the concept or theme in question, having it explained to them by a peer.
- A number of different resources are used for intervention support such as “Read Write Inc” to support those children who, for whatever reason, are finding decoding a little difficult in Year 2. Much intervention work is bespoke, designed to meet the needs of a specific child or children. Support staff who lead these small intervention groups are highly trained to deliver each specific intervention.
- We think pastoral care is very important and for this reason we have a Wellbeing Mentor who works three days a week on a 1:1 basis with children and their families who are facing difficult or stressful times.
- Resilience groups are also run following the “Friends for Life” programme.
- Class teachers, phase leaders and support staff work closely to ensure that lessons are differentiated appropriately to meet the needs of all the children in each class.
- Support staff each have an individual timetable so that they know exactly who they are working with and what they are doing at every point of the day.
- We have put a lot of work into adapting the environment so that it meets the needs of all pupils including those with mobility issues. Both the KS1 and the KS2 sites are fitted with lifts.
- We have also created a number of additional rooms that are used for small group and 1:1 work without the distraction of working in a large shared area.
- The environment has been created with muted colours and structured in such a way that is calm and conducive to an alert relaxed state appropriate for learning.
What expertise training and experience do school staff have in SEND?
- All staff attend weekly Continued Professional Development (CPD) sessions. Training is organised in line with the school improvement plan and on a needs basis as a result of the routine observation of staff throughout the year.
- Staff are regularly filmed and this is used as a training tool in order to share best practice across the school.
- The SENDCo has a Post Graduate Diploma in Special Educational Needs and a Post Graduate Diploma in Specific Learning Needs (Dyslexia).
- Staff are also encouraged to attend training courses run by Achieving for Children and other external providers. For example, the educational psychologist (EP) attached to our school recently led a twilight Continual Professional Development (CPD) session for staff on Gender Differences in ASC (Autism Spectrum Condition).
- Currently and historically we have a high proportion of pupils with complex needs who have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
- The school supports children with cognition and learning difficulties by consistently providing high-quality first teaching and, where necessary, support through intervention and 1:1 support.
- The school works closely with the speech and language therapist attached to the children in our school to provide support for those children with communication and interaction difficulties.
- Children with social, emotional and mental health difficulties are supported by the class teachers and support staff and where necessary may work with our well-being mentor or attend resilience training.
We make reasonable adjustments for those children with physical and sensory needs and recently ran CPD sessions for all staff on supporting children with sensory needs.
- If we are unable to put support in place for a particular child or require further assessment and advice in order to provide appropriate support, we will refer them to the appropriate external service, typically the speech and language therapist, the educational psychologist, the occupational therapist, physiotherapist or CAMHS (Child and Adult Mental Health Services). We also make referrals to The Emotional Health team or Family Support Workers.
How will I know how my child with SEN is doing in school or if they may have SEN?
- The school tracks the progress of all children very closely. It is our job to identify need, assess need and meet need. This is referred to as the “graduated approach”.
- The importance of early identification, assessment and provision for any child who may have special educational needs cannot be over-emphasised.
- Every term the SENDCo meets with each class teacher and support staff to review children’s targets and set new ones following the graduated approach with an “assess, plan, do, review” cycle.
- The school monitors pupils’ progress carefully not just in terms of academic progress but also social and emotional as well. This is done in collaboration with parents and pupils. For example: termly target meetings, half termly assessments which are added to the online tracking systems.
- Teachers and parents meet on a regular basis and the SENDCo is available to meet with parents most afternoons.
- If a teacher is concerned about a pupil’s progress, he or she will discuss this with the SENDCo and parents, and steps are put in place to support the child’s learning. These may be discrete in class strategies or additional support outside the class room depending on the level of need.
How does the school know if its SEN provision is effective?
The school takes great pains to ensure that the support given to children has maximum impact.
The school has recently taken part in the “Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants” and has put measures in place to ensure that there is consistently outstanding practice across the school.
Throughout the school regular formal assessments are completed by the children and these, along with teacher assessments, are used to allocate additional support.
The school uses a comprehensive and thorough tracking system to monitor pupil progress in class and in intervention groups.
Support given is monitored closely to ascertain whether it is having the necessary impact and, if not, it is modified to ensure that children make optimum progress.
At all times we look at the whole child rather than simply the academic.
Every year each Key Stage holds a review. The key stage undertake a self-review and then a day is spent when the Head, Deputy, SENDCo, our School improvement advisor and at least two governors lead a review of teaching and learning. This day includes lesson observations, monitoring the deployment of support staff, work book scrutinies as well as pupil and parents interviews.
Findings of these reviews are reported to staff and parents and feed into the School Improvement Plan and the regular CPD training schedule.
What support will there be for my child’s overall well-being or behaviour?
- The behaviour policy is applicable to all children but we understand that a child with certain types of special educational needs may find it harder to understand and follow the playground rules than a child who is typically developing, and support is put in place and allowances are made for this.
Key children have “communication passports” that are shared amongst staff so that they are aware of these children and are able to approach and communicate with them in a way that best supports their needs.
- We try extremely hard to deal with issues and help support children rather than excluding them for their behaviour. A fixed-term exclusion is a very rare occurrence and has only applied to one pupil in the last ten years.
- The school focuses a great deal of time on developing the children’s social and emotional skills. Beginning in the Nursery and Reception, a major focus is helping the children to understand the routines and behaviour expectations of school. From the Early Years through to Key stage two the daily timetable (often with visual supports) is on the board so that the children are aware of what is coming up.
- We also use a behaviour reinforcement system that is readily understood by all starting in Nursery with the golden flower approach to reward good behaviour.
- The school does not tolerate any form of bullying. Where behaviour may be construed as bullying, the culprit is spoken to in the strongest terms and will be expected to write out the behaviour policy or the name-calling policy where appropriate.
- At Barnes we place great importance on children being happy and feeling good about themselves and life in general. We appreciate that they can face many challenges during their childhood. Part of our role, working in partnership with parents and carers, is to nurture children and provide them with the skills and strategies that will equip them to deal with problems, difficulties and anything that arouses strong emotional feelings. A key part of the job of every teacher is to support children and assist them whenever they are finding something hard. Some of our older children in Key Stage 2 sometimes require some extra help. We currently offer three forms of additional support:
- Well-being mentor – Polly Kelynack
Polly’s role is to give children the time and space to talk through feelings. She empowers them to reflect on situations where we have identified that they are experiencing emotional difficulty. The difficulty can be friendship based; coping with anxiety; managing tricky situations at home; or coping with real or imagined worries and feelings of isolation (and not knowing who to turn to for help). Children can be referred by the Headteacher, their classteacher or their parent. They can also self-refer through the school’s worry box. Parental consent is always sought prior to Polly beginning work with a child. Sessions with Polly can be a single session, a series of sessions or ongoing support. Polly also has a network of contacts across the borough and at Achieving for Children so that she can refer a child on to more specialised support if she feels it is necessary. She is supervised by a senior psychotherapist at Richmond Community and Mental Health Service (CAMHS).
- Resilience skills group – Angela Pearson & Jasmine Lehmann
One of our eight school values is resilience. We view this as an essential personal attribute that is key to having a happy life. Problems and setbacks will arise in life – that’s what happens; it’s normal. Children need to develop inner strength and the confidence to tackle setbacks and difficulties if they are to deal with them. These groups run every half term for five sessions. Over the five weeks, children learn how their bodies communicate if they are feeling anxious, worried, frightened or scared. They find out about what to do to help control and manage these feelings. They do so by doing interesting, creative activities. The group also consider how people think about things and how to recognise and deal with helpful and unhelpful thoughts. Children look at their strengths – what other people like about them and what they like about themselves. They also find out about how the people around them can offer support and how they can help others. The aim of the group is to empower, build confidence and provide a ‘toolbox’ for those times when they will feel worried, or less confident. We would like as many children as possible to engage in this group to equip them for dealing with setbacks and difficult feelings as and when they arise. This is a low level, ‘blanket approach’ and we do not refer pupils to these sessions as a result of a concern or a problem. Pupils who take part are spread across different year groups, as this is a great way of encouraging introductions and new friendships between different aged pupils. Some positive, healthy bonding arises. Pupils’ feedback about these sessions has been extremely positive, with many asking to do the course again and giving examples to Polly or Angela of how they have used what they have been taught.
- Social communication skills group
Some groups run in KS1 and KS2, focusing on social communication skills. The sessions are based upon the ‘social thinking’ programmes, including the Superflex curriculum. ‘Superflex’ is a social thinking superhero who helps the citizens of ‘Social Town’ outsmart the team of ‘Unthinkables’ and diminish their powers to distract, disengage, and otherwise detour children. Pupils learn strategies to manage their own behaviour and understand feelings. The focus is on developing and extending their communication skills. It is a recognised programme recommended by the speech and language therapist attached to the school.
How will I be involved in discussions about, planning for, and involvement in, my child’s education?
- We place the utmost importance on positive working collaboration between school and home: all staff place a high value on keeping parents informed of their child’s progress.
- We strive to include parents in every part of the assess, plan, do, review cycle by inviting them in to meet with teachers on a regular basis. Parents meet with the class teacher at least three times a year but invariably much more frequently with parents of children with SEND.
- Some children with SEND have a home-school communication book that is used to pass on key information.
- All staff: teachers, SENDCo, Head and Deputy are happy to arrange a meeting with parents to discuss their child’s progress at a mutually convenient time. Staff across the school see parents either as their child arrives at school or at dismissal and short key messages may be conveyed at these points, but these are busy times and so are not suitable for longer discussions. If this is necessary, staff are only too happy to book a more convenient time to meet.
- The SENDCo works a part-time week but is available with prior notice to meet at a range of different times to suit parents.
Who, outside of school, can I turn to for advice and support?
Richmond and Kingston Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Service or SENDIASS is a free, confidential and impartial service for parents and carers, children and young people (up to 25 years). www.kids.org.uk � firstname.lastname@example.org
The type and range of support offered includes:
Information regarding the local offer, local policy and SEN/ disability law from independently trained staff.
Advice for parent/carers, children and young people on gathering, understanding and interpreting information and applying it to their own situation.
Personalisation of personal budgets.
Information on the local authority’s processes for resolving disagreements, its complaints procedures and means of redress.
Signposting children, young people and parents to alternative and additional sources of local and national information, advice and support.
Individual casework and representation where needed including support in attending meetings, contributing to assessments and reviews and participating in decisions about outcomes for the child or young person.
Support for parents and young people in managing mediation and appeals to the SEND Tribunal.
Jonathan Rourke is a SENDIASS coordinator for Richmond and Kingston based at the Windham Croft Centre, Windham Road, Richmond TW9 2HP 020 8831 6179
Other voluntary and charitable groups include:
*SENDspeak www.sendspeak.org which is a local charity for families of children and young people with SEN and/or disabilities.
*Action-attainment is about enabling children with speech, language, communication and sensory needs to achieve and have active lives. Led by Samantha Silver, the organisation builds on Sam’s personal and professional experience of supporting children, and their families, to have fun and learn in and out of school. Action-attainment works directly with families, professionals, schools and with community groups to provide understanding, strategies and opportunities for learning, play and friendships. email@example.com
*Skylarks is an independent Richmond upon Thames based charity that provides activities and therapies for children with disability and additional needs. They also support and provide therapies, courses information for whole families. www.skylarks.charity
*A number of our parents have attended Early Bird Plus training. The National Autistic Society (NAS) EarlyBird Plus* programme is a three-month training programme for parents, carers and professionals working with children 4 to 8 years with an autism spectrum disorder. The programme addresses the needs of both home and school settings by training parents/carers together with a professional who is working regularly with their child, the aim being that a child will be given consistent support. The programme works to build both parents’ and professionals’ confidence and encourage them to problem-solve together. Courses are run in Kingston and Richmond. Families don’t need a referral to attend the courses but should attend an information session before committing to attend the sessions.
If you are interested in attending either an EarlyBird or EarlyBird Plus course please contact: Course Co ordinator: Beth Hitchens Phone: 020 8547 6698/6799
* For other support groups, please look on the local offer www.kr.afcinfo.org.uk/local_offer
What advice is available for school staff regarding SEND? How does the school get that advice?
The SENDCO is a parent’s first port of call after their child’s class teacher if they are concerned about their child. The SENDCo works both as a teacher generally either in a 1:1 or small group setting and in a managerial and liaising role. She liaises with outside agencies who are working with children in the school, scheduling visits and ensuring that their recommendations are put into practice. She is well placed to advise parents on necessary referrals to the following professionals. After discussions with parents, she can make the appropriate referrals.
The educational psychologist (EP) attached to our school is referred to when support we have put in place for children does not seem to be having the required impact, or there are specific concerns for which we require additional advice. We may refer to the EP for more in-depth assessment of a perceived difficulty or for a consultation with him or her for further advice on how to best support a child. We have a limited number of EP hours per term which are allocated on a needs basis.
If there are concerns about a child’s language development or their speech sound production we can make a referral to the Speech and Language Service. Those with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) will be seen in line with the provision outlined on the document. For children without an EHCP we support as follows:
If there are concerns about a child’s language development or their speech sound production we can make a referral to the Speech and Language Service. Children may be seen in clinic and may be offered a block of sessions and given some activities or exercises to practise at home and at school.
For older children:
For older children with language difficulties, the speech and language therapist attached to our school offers a termly consultation advice clinic when class teachers and the SENDCo can discuss individual cases with the therapist who will then make recommendations and provide strategies for support. This is an advice only service and they will not assess children or take them on their caseload. The speech and language therapist also delivers training to school staff. At times the school have bought into enhanced SLT provision when the therapist is then able to deliver further training to staff and support in the leading of various language groups across the school.
If there are concerns about a child’s fine or gross motor skills, their sensory needs or organisational skills we can make a referral to the Occupational Therapy Service. The child and parents will then be invited to an Advice Clinic where the issues are discussed; the OT can observe the child participating in various activities and then make support recommendations. If the needs are complex, the OT may make a visit into school to observe in the school environment and thereafter make recommendations for support strategies.
If there are social, emotional or mental health concerns that go beyond the capacity of the school’s professionals we can make a referral to CAMHS through the single point of access. This is also our child protection referral route. A referral to CAMHS may be for a variety of reasons: if the child is undergoing or has undergone a trauma, or if we are seeking further assessment of their social communication skills or emotional difficulties. Children and parents are usually seen together at Richmond Royal for an initial meeting and a decision is then made whether ongoing assessment or further work is appropriate. The wellbeing mentor has close links with CAMHS and can seek advice and has monthly supervisions sessions with a senior CAMHS psychotherapist.
We can also refer to the Welcare charity for both mentoring and family support. https://welcare.org/centres/richmond
The Family Support Team focus heavily on early intervention and prevention which is achieved by the family support workers completing an Early Help Assessment with children and their families to identify unmet needs that require multi-agency support. The family support team workers co-ordinate regular ‘team around the child’ meetings with the child, their families and the other professionals to ensure that the child’s and family’s needs are continuously met by the agencies involved.
The family support workers can offer parenting support as well as support directly to the child to access local resources available. These include extra-curricular activities, children’s centres and local projects. Children and families can be referred to the Family Support Team by schools, children’s centres, any other agency with concerns for a child or family. It is also possible for a family to self-refer. We work closely with the family support team working with any children in our school and can make referrals once this is agreed with parents. The Family Support Service may also recommend Strengthening Families which is a programme working with the wider family surrounding a child.
The school has referred children for support to Richmond Young Carers: firstname.lastname@example.org
If we have a query about how to support children with a particular diagnosis and there is a local school with a resources provision to support children with this diagnosis, we can ask for their support. For instance, members of staff have been to visit and observe practice in the Jigsaw Unit (a pre-school provision for children with autism) at Windham nursery and we have also sought advice from staff at the Pear Tree Unit at Stanley school (also a resources provision for children with autism spectrum disorder).
How does the school involve children/young people with SEND in their education and in the decision making process?
We aim to include the opinions and thoughts of children at the heart of the learning process. To this end every term the children have a say in setting set their own targets in conjunction with their teachers and support staff, work towards these and review their progress on a regular basis.
Every term the class teachers, support staff and SENDCo meet to discuss individual children and to review their progress. Whilst it might not be appropriate for the child to attend the whole meeting, his/her targets and progress is discussed with them and opinions shared at this meeting.
Key stage reviews are scheduled on a regular basis, usually annually. A central part of this is interviewing pupils for an overview of their opinions about learning and the learning environment at school. The reviews then feed into the school improvement plan (SIP).
Each class also elects two representatives for the school council which meets regularly and puts forward ideas for improvement. These feed into the SIP as well. In the past, ideas have included improvements in the provision of playground equipment or the choices available in the school lunch hall.
How will the school support my child when they move classes, move schools or move towards adulthood?
The school has worked extremely hard in recent years to ensure that there is a smooth transition between each year group and key stage (KS), particularly the move from Early Years (EYFS) to KS1 and then from KS1 across the road to the KS2 site.
The transition from EYFS to KS1 is carefully managed by initially maintaining the Reception timetable and layout of the class rooms in the Year 1 classes. The transition to the Year 1 timetable and structure is gradually put into place over the first term.
Whilst children from EYFS upwards regularly visit the KS2 site for music and PE sessions, careful thought is put into preparing them for the move from KS1 to KS2. They visit the classrooms and teachers they will be having towards the end of the summer term, and have their lunch in the KS2 dining room and play in the playground so that they are familiar with the environment before September.
Children who would benefit from more visits prior to the end of Year 2 will visit the KS2 site more regularly, and take photographs so that they have a visual reminder of the new surroundings and where their cloakroom is before the end of the summer term.
When children are moving to secondary school we again endeavour to make the transition as smooth as possible: the Year 6 teachers and the SENDCo liaise closely with the local secondary schools. For those children we consider vulnerable we ask the SENDCo from the receiving secondary school to come in to meet with staff and the child. We fully support children’s attendance at transition days that the secondary schools organise. Where there are schools to which more vulnerable children are transferring, we coordinate a more thorough transition programme. For example, a child transferring to Year 7 at the Gateway Unit attached to Twickenham Academy, visited the school with his Learning Support Assistant every Tuesday morning from the February half term through the rest of the spring term and the summer term. This ensured that he was fully familiar with the environment and felt confident and fully integrated in the school before Year 7 had even begun.
Should a child transfer to our school mid-year we strive to make them feel as comfortable as possible as soon as possible. Children are given a buddy to help them navigate around the school and may also have the support of our wellbeing mentor to help them feel comfortable and settle well. All staff in the school are told if new children are starting so that they are aware of new faces and can be supportive.
Where can I find information about Local Authority provision for children and young people with SEND?
This is a link to the SEND information section of the Achieving for Children (AfC) website: www.kr.afcinfo.org.uk/local_offer
This section of the AfC website provides information on local services and support available for families including children and young people aged 0–25 years with special educational needs or disabilities.
How should complaints regarding SEND provision be made and how will they be dealt with?
We hope that your child is happy at our school. Occasionally, however, a problem may arise. We hope that we will be able to resolve any concern speedily, in a helpful, informal manner. We accept that on occasions our initial attempts to resolve an issue may be unsuccessful and the person raising the concern remains dissatisfied and wishes to take the matter further. A staged procedure is outlined below. This has been created to ensure that all problems and difficulties can be resolved. The general procedure for dealing with complaints of any kind, is summed up as follows:
1) In the majority of circumstances the matter should be raised with the class teacher.
2) If a satisfactory conclusion is not felt to have been achieved, then an appointment should be made with the Deputy Headteacher or Headteacher. This meeting should take place as soon as possible and normally within three working days.
3) Occasionally the person complaining may be of the view that the complaint should go directly to one of the senior professionals at the school. If this is the case the matter should be raised in the first instance with the Deputy Headteacher or the Headteacher.
4) If a satisfactory conclusion is not reached after a meeting with the Deputy Headteacher or the Headteacher, a second follow up meeting can be requested.
5) If the matter remains unresolved following this, a formal letter should be made to the school’s Chair of Governors. The letter should be addressed to the Chair of Governors, sealed and left at one of the school offices.
This is the link to the full Complaints Policy
Who in school do I contact for further information and support re SEND?
When was this information last reviewed and when will it be updated next?
- Report published in October after consultation with school staff (at school leaderships meeting), governors (at the Teaching, Learning and Inclusion sub-committee meeting) and parents (parents of children currently on SEND register)
- To be reviewed November 2020.