The department consists of a very supportive and committed team comprising two full-time teachers, an Assistant Learning Coordinator, a Behaviour Mentor and around 17 Special Support Assistants (SSAs). The number of SSAs may vary depending on the requirements of particular cohorts of students at any given time. Some of the SSAs have specific additional responsibilities and may have specialist links with curriculum subject areas or outside agencies working alongside the school.
The Learning Support department’s primary statutory responsibility is towards those students who have Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs), but a great deal of support is also provided for those with significant needs who may not meet the threshold for the statutory assessment process.
Most SEND support takes place inside curriculum lessons, but there are also a range of tailored interventions which may involve students being withdrawn from the mainstream classroom. These interventions include: individual reading and spelling programmes, shared reading, small group literacy withdrawal, speech language and communication groups, social behaviour for learning mentoring and emotional literacy groups and individual mentoring (e.g. to support ‘anger management’). Occasionally, students are withdrawn from Modern Foreign Languages lessons to work on particular skills with the aim of maximising student access to the curriculum. A small number of students are also provided with laptops to support their learning. At lunch time, there are a range of supportive activities which students can access (usually by invitation) and these include a lunch club aimed at supporting vulnerable students who may have particular difficulties at unstructured times during the school day.
During Key Stage 4, some students are encouraged to take the ‘Supported Studies’ option in place of an additional GCSE course. This lesson aims to maximise student access to the GCSE curriculum in other areas by providing ‘booster’ lessons on topics covered in all other areas of the curriculum with a particular focus on English and Maths.
There is a high level of liaison and consultation between the members of the Learning Support Department and curriculum and pastoral staff. A wide range of outside agencies work closely with the department to provide specialised support to students with more substantial barriers to learning. The Little Heath outreach team work with students with communication difficulties. The New Rush Hall outreach team offer interventions for students with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. Besides this, the school is supported by the Redbridge Educational Psychology Service (EPS), the Educational Welfare Service (EWS), Connexions, The Special Educational Resources Centre at Newbridge School, Roding Hearing Impaired Outreach and The Joseph Clarke School for the visually impaired. There is also regular liaison with and referral to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), Social Services and an external counselling service.
A regular cycle of meetings is held and staff are offered training and updated on new developments in the area of SEND and on the latest whole school initiatives. Continuing Professional Development training is encouraged and is offered to SEND staff through both in-service training and through attendance at externally run courses.
The department is situated in the Prenderville Provision which is completely integrated into the main school. As well as an office, the department has a small classroom for individual or small group withdrawal and a larger classroom where larger groups and the Supported Studies option are taught. This classroom has a projector, a screen and 11 school networked computers which are all linked to the school internet server.