The Headmaster and Governors are committed to supporting the learning, attainment and personal development of all pupils at the school including those with additional learning needs.
The Head of Learning Support is Mrs Sarah Boardman, who is assisted by specialist Dyslexia Teacher and Assessor, Ms Dawn Meers, and Learning Support Assistants, Mrs C Claymore and Mrs K Harmer.
The role of the Learning Support Department is to work with pupils, staff, parents and outside agencies to support those with additional needs such as SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) and EAL (English as an Additional Language). Our priority is to identify pupils with such difficulties as early as possible and to put strategies in place that will enable them to overcome their individual barriers to learning. All teachers have access to a bank of strategies known to be effective with pupils with a range of difficulties, and this resource is regularly updated to reflect recognised best practice.
For those pupils in need of more individualised support, a Pupil Summary is created with input from the pupil, parents, teachers and, where appropriate, outside agencies. The Pupil Summary details the pupil’s strengths, interests and ambitions as well as their particular difficulties and gives clear advice as to how subject teachers can best support them. Pupils themselves are also given guidance as to what they need to do to achieve their potential. The Summary gives information about any additional support that is available to the pupil through the Learning Support Department and lists any examination access arrangements that the pupil may have been granted or that may be under consideration.
Education, Health and Care Plans
A very small number of pupils with complex additional needs have an EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan) which may include local authority-funded support.
Pupils may access additional support in one or more of the following ways:
- Literacy Club, which takes place in the first half of the lunch hour one day a week. This gives pupils of all ages the opportunity to develop spelling, reading and touch-typing skills using a range of independent learning programs. Handwriting support is also available by arrangement.
- In-class or small group support provided by the Maths and English departments during timetabled lessons in First Year
- Timetabled Learning Support groups focusing on literacy, numeracy and study skills in Second and Third Year
- Timetabled Learning Support groups focusing on English, Maths, Science and study skills in Fourth and Fifth Year
- One-off or regular one-to-one appointments with a member of the Learning Support Department for pupils of all ages.
Any pupil may make an appointment to speak to a member of the Learning Support Department by coming to the Learning Support Room at the top of Convent House.
Parents or pupils may also email Mrs Boardman on email@example.com to initiate a discussion as to whether additional support or exam access arrangements may be needed.
Exam Access Arrangements
Examination access arrangements refer to any special arrangement that is made to enable a pupil to access examinations without being placed at a significant disadvantage compared to their peers. The most common access arrangement is the granting of 25% extra time to compensate for a pupil’s very slow reading, writing or processing speed. It is important to understand that in order to avoid conferring an unfair advantage, this and any other arrangement will only be granted to Lower School pupils in end of year exams if the school has clear evidence of need.
For GCSE and beyond, most access arrangements can be granted only on the basis of assessed medical need or, in the case of specific learning difficulties, if individual assessments have been carried out with a qualified assessor no earlier than the start of the Third Year. Ideally, the assessments should be carried out in school by our own specialist staff; however, in some cases, parents then choose to pay for a full diagnostic assessment with an external assessor. Although this is an expensive option, it is worth bearing in mind that schools and universities have different criteria for granting exam access arrangements and disability support; unlike schools, universities currently require a full diagnostic assessment report by an educational psychologist or a specialist assessor (for specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia) or a diagnostic medical report for other conditions such as Autism or ADHD.
If parents are considering commissioning an assessment with an external assessor to use as evidence of need for exam access arrangements at GCSE or A-level, it is important that they contact Mrs Boardman at the earliest opportunity so that she can liaise with the assessor in advance of the assessment and ensure that any assessment data can be used by the school in accordance with exam regulations.