Blackthorns C P School in Lindfield is a one-form entry primary school with a strong sense of community, belonging and inclusion for all.
There are currently 243 children on roll, including children with Education and Health Care Plans placed in a Special Support Centre for specific learning difficulties, additional needs and speech and language difficulties.
Our aim is to inspire and fulfil children through a creative curriculum combined with vital basic skills to produce confident, resilient and independent learners. This can only be achieved through working collaboratively alongside parents, governors and professionals using a flexible and personal approach.
We can only give you a flavour of how we will endeavour to meet your child’s needs, but this does not replace personal conversations and working together to find solutions and achieve shared aspirations. Nor do we claim that the six hours spent in school will achieve success without a supportive home environment for the eighteen hours spent at home each day, but we do claim to put the child and their family at the centre of everything we do.
1. How does the school know if children need extra help and what should I do if I think my child may have special educational needs?
From entering our school, your child’s teacher has the responsibility to recognise and support the emotional and educational needs of the children in their class.Some children present in different ways at home and in school and so it is very important that parents raise any concerns they may have as early as possible with their child’s teacher and share information that will help us support children in a holistic way.
‘Special Educational Needs’ is a broad term, and we recognise that this can range from a relatively minor and temporary problem such as not wanting to use the toilets at school, to a disability or learning difficulty that will require lots of specialist and intensive support. Without a flexible and effective response, both present barriers to inclusion and wellbeing.
It is our usual practice for teachers to meet with senior leaders, including the SENCo, termly to monitor and discuss the development and progress of all pupils. This will include children with a special educational need or disability, or those who are underachieving for a variety of reasons.
- gifted or have a special talent that needs extending
- speaking English as an additional language at home
- speech and language delays or disorders
- social, mental and emotional health issues
- immaturity – just very young for their year
- troubled start to life due to health or family history
- specific learning difficulty, such as dyslexia and dyspraxia
- sensory or physical impairment
- social communication or sensory processing difficulties
2. How will school staff support my child?
Children will be taught a broad and balanced curriculum, which is differentiated in terms of the way children learn and the pace they learn.However, if a child needs some further support to achieve their best, a graduated response is used. This may mean working with additional adults, adapting the environment, or using resources such as ICT. This level of inclusive support would be considered as part of our normal practice and would aim to be ‘seamless’ in the sense that it would not appear out of the ordinary. Parents will have the opportunity to discuss all provision termly, either with the class teacher, SENCo or member of the senior leadership team.
If, despite this ‘light touch’ your child, you or your child’s teacher feel that issues or problems are not being fully resolved, further advice will be sought. This process will start with a joint meeting, which will include the child, their family and those working with them at school. The co-produced plan may include seeking advice from outside agencies, voluntary groups or specialist staff in our school, and increasing the provision within school.
Detailed records are kept of the provision, and if at any stage it is felt that the child would benefit from further support, it is possible to apply for an Education and Health Care Plan, which brings together professionals working across agencies to create a holistic plan. At this stage, it is unlikely that the level of support required for a child can be met within the school’s own budget.
3. How will the curriculum be matched to my child’s needs?
High quality classroom teaching and adjusted plans and resources for individual pupils is the first step in responding to children who may have special needs. For example: a child will be given the opportunity to record information in different ways, such as using a camera or recording device. This type of teaching is known as ‘differentiation’ and will enable your child to access a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum. Our Teaching & Learning Policy gives further detail of this.
4. How will both you and I know how my child is doing and how will you help me to support my child’s learning?
Information can be shared in home school diaries, perhaps on a Post it note which is quickly removed at home or school, or a word with your child’s teacher at the beginning or end of the day. A longer or more private meeting can be arranged with teachers, SENCo, or the Head Teacher. The learning mentor is also a good contact, and may be able to reassure you regarding the all-important social aspects of a school day, such as playtimes.
Parent consultation evenings take place twice a year and offer an opportunity to discuss progress, attainment and ‘next steps’, and how we can work with you to achieve these. An Individual Provision Map is created termly for all children and you and your child have an opportunity to fully contribute to this process. There is also an opportunity to discuss your child’s end of year report. The SENCo attends Parents Evenings, and great value is placed on collaborative learning at home and school.
Outside services involved with some children provide reports and information about attainment and expected progress for health based needs, such as speech and language or physical development. Annual Reviews of Statements of Educational Need, or the planned Education and Health Care Plans, are carried out with all those providing support invited to attend and contribute.
5. What support will there be for my child’s overall well-being?
5. What support will there be for my child’s overall well-being? We have a caring, understanding team who look after all our children’s well being in school. This includes trained first aiders and links with the school nursing service to provide health care plans if appropriate.
Our behaviour policy is available on our website, but essentially it values a joint, proactive approach to supporting a child who struggles to manage their behaviour appropriately in school. Boundaries are clearly set, and we recognise the importance of building trust with a child before they are able to self-monitor their own behaviour. However, we are always mindful of protecting the safety of all children in our school, and our Governors have a clear view that we will not go beyond the limits set in the policy in order to protect the safety of staff and pupils.
We are very much a community school and feel that children are shaped by the contribution they can make. This ranges from a strong presence on Village Day to singing at a local Care Home.
The Learning Mentor has a key role in supporting children’s social and emotional needs and higher-level juniors volunteer to receive training in helping to resolve problems for younger children.
6. What specialist services and expertise are available at or accessed by the school?
There is a range of agencies that work in schools. These include the Education Psychology Service, the Speech and Language Service, the Child Development Clinic accessed through the school Nurse Service and providing paediatric and occupational therapy services, the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), Support key workers, and LIAT – Social Communication and Behaviour Team. There are also voluntary sector organisations that support families and children. A comprehensive list can be found on the Local Authority’s Local Offer.
In our own school, we have members of staff who have specialist qualifications and knowledge. Our SENCo is a teacher with specialist training and experience who has undertaken the nationally accredited SENCo training, and who has responsibility to raise the achievement of children with special educational needs or disability, and children who are vulnerable to not meeting their potential because of barriers to their learning.
7. What training have the staff supporting children with SEND had, or are having?
We have a rolling programme of training and support for staff, based on the needs of the pupils within school. Members of staff are sent on more individualised training if they are supporting a pupil with a more specific educational need or disability. Medical training to support pupils with medical care plans is organised as needed.
8. How will my child be included in activities outside the classroom, including school trips?
School trips are planned with regard to the needs of all children. Risk assessments are carried out for school visits including residential trips and reasonable adjustments will be made where required. Where needed, the risk assessment would include a meeting with parents as well as taking account of any medical advice. On some occasions an individual member of staff may be assigned to support a small group or individual child if the risk assessment indicates that this is necessary.
After school clubs are available to all pupils. Vulnerable pupils are given priority and adjustments will be made to support their participation. Health and safety audits are conducted to ensure that the school provides a safe environment for all pupils.
9. How accessible is the school environment?
We have a disability and accessibility action plan and policy that is available on request.
There are limitations to both our site and buildings, and whilst we do our very best to meet the needs of children with physical disabilities, it has to be recognised that our physical environment presents us with some difficulties, that may need to be discussed personally.
10. How will you prepare and support my child to join the school, transfer to a new school or the next stage of education and life?
We recognise that transitions can be difficult for a child with SEN and take steps to ensure that any transition is as smooth as possible. The key is good communication with those involved and working with the child to dispel their concerns with practical measures such as extra visits.
Within school, teachers work closely with the learning mentor as necessary to support transition between classes. A transition book providing photographs of the new setting and people involved can make a huge difference to a child over the summer holidays.
Records of all previous provision, targets, achievement and interests follow the child through the school, so that new teachers have a very good picture of the child’s strengths and weaknesses as the start the new term. This gives them some time to review and prepare the future provision at the Autumn Half Term, and then around the Spring and Summer Half Term. Termly meetings assess data and outcomes achieved and aim to put in place the necessary provision to achieve the next steps.
In Reception, there are induction events during the summer term for all children who are joining the Foundation Stage in September and visits to family homes by the reception teacher and teaching assistant. A child entering school with identified special educational need or disability may require a visit to their nursery setting by the class teacher and SENCo. Transition points are always discussed at Annual Reviews, and a joint meeting across agencies is called if there are complex issues, which need to be addressed.
11. How are the school’s resources allocated and matched to children’s special educational needs?
The school budget received from the Local Authority includes money for supporting pupils with SEN. The Headteacher and Bursar decide on the budget for SEN in consultation with school governors and based on the needs of pupils in the school. Our reviewing process, which completes the cycle of ‘assess, plan, do and review’ looks closely at any intervention in terms of greater inclusion for a child and best use of resources.
12. How is the decision made about what type of and how much support my child will receive?
Inclusion at Blackthorns starts with high quality teaching and the decision about what type and how much support a child will receive is a joint decision based on high expectations and assessment of need to be able to achieve these. There are, of course, limitations with regard to funding and the needs of other children in our school, and our aim is always to work towards an independent love of learning, not a dependency on adult support.
13. How are parents and carers involved in the school? How can I be involved?
It is our aim that the school works in close partnership with parents and maintains regular and purposeful communications between school and home. Communication tools include:
- The school website: www.blackthorns.w-sussex.sch.uk
- The school’s fundraising group known as FOBS organise fundraising events throughout the year to raise money for additional resources
- Parent mail
- Parent Forum
- Annual Questionnaire
- Class information, which outlines the work your child will be doing for that term, as well as providing ideas for how you can support your child at home.
- Termly individual provision maps detailing targets agreed jointly with you and your child, and how the school intends to achieve them with you.
14. Who can I contact for further information?
The class teacher is the first point of contact, but parents are also welcome to contact the SENCO or Head Teacher directly about any concerns that may arise.
Useful contact details:
|Headteacher||Mrs Marianne Brand|
|Inclusion Manager and SENCo||Mrs Wendy Paul|
|Learning Mentor||Mrs Liz Fowler|
|Teacher in Charge of SSC||Mr T Jordan|
All can be contacted by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: 01444 454866
If you are considering applying for a place at Blackthorns Primary Academy and your child has special educational needs, then the first action to take is to telephone the school and arrange an initial visit with the Headteacher.
An invitation for feedback:
Schools are fluid organisations where personnel change, but we hope this gives you an idea of our philosophy and our aims to try and meet the needs of all children with special educational needs or a disability. We have developed this Local Offer with parents in mind, and would be pleased to receive feedback via our email as to its clarity and usefulness.
The Special Support Centre at Blackthorns Primary Academy
This is an eight-place unit to support children with existing Statements of Special Educational Need or Education and Health Care Plans. Some children have a specific learning difficulty, such as dyslexia, dyscalculia or dyspraxia, and some have an additional need, such as Attention Deficit Disorder, or a combination of the two. Others have a significant language disorder, either receptive or expressive. Children are placed in the unit to receive specialist help in Reading, Writing, Maths, Speech and Language and social skills during the mornings. In the afternoon they join their peers in the mainstream classroom to fully participate in the wider curriculum including music, art and PE – subjects in which some children with learning difficulties shine. Children are fully included in extra curriculum activities with their peers, and frequently make a strong contribution to the life of the school.
Children are not offered a place in the unit if they have significant behavioural difficulties that put other children or staff at risk, as we do not have the necessary facilities to meet their needs sufficiently well.
Children are only accepted into the unit with a Statement of Special Educational Need, applied for by their previous school or parents.
Please do call us, or email if you have any questions regarding the Special Support Centre at Blackthorns, or if you would like any advice. We may not have all the answers, but hopefully we would be able to point you in the right direction!