NDHS approach to SEND
At Notre Dame, we welcome children who have needs in all four of the new SEND categories identified in the new Code of Practice.
Planning and support for our special needs children is highly personalised and goes well beyond simple academic success. We will consider each child individually, putting great emphasis on listening to his or her views and those of parents and carers before creating a plan to best suit the needs and aspirations of that child. Of course, none of this can happen without strong and healthy relationships between children, parents and staff and creating an environment in which special needs children and their parents or carers feel valued is one of the most important aspects of our work.
In seeking how best to fulfil these aspirations, Notre Dame has developed a very clear and distinct approach to special needs education. This could best be described as 'inclusive'. Our default position is that ALL of our students, regardless of their abilities or challenges, participate in EVERY aspect of school life. Hence, almost all of our support for children with SEN takes place in the mainstream of school life. This means that children are almost never withdrawn from lessons. Consequently, a very high premium is set on the quality first teaching our children receive. This in turn means that we regularly review and update the SEND training and resources that are available for teachers and Learning Support Assistants (LSAs). Our subject teachers place great emphasis on creating the conditions in which all of their students can successfully access their subject. Much of the School's success in recent years is due to the enormous efforts put in by our subject teachers and the high quality 'first wave' interventions used to support their students.
Staff are helped in their efforts by our excellent monitoring and information sharing systems. Teachers have instant access to the most current information regarding the needs of individual students, targets set to help them and progress toward these targets. They then use this as a guide to support their special needs students. This information also gives an overview of students' progress, which can be used by parents and the SEN department to review the effectiveness of plans and strategies that have been developed to support children across the curriculum and to modify these plans if necessary. Wherever possible, this will be done in partnership with the student and his or her parents or carers.
Where extra support is needed, our LSAs work in lessons alongside our teachers in ensuring that our special needs students can participate in lessons and follow the school curriculum. If our children have very specific needs, we will take advice and training from other agencies, through the Local Offer, and seek to apply these in the best service of the student, but this will still place within the classroom. Over the years, by learning from colleagues in other agencies we have developed effective programmes for supporting children with communication, cognition, social, emotional and health difficulties and physical impairments. We will continue to develop our expertise in these areas, prioritising any new needs that arise. Looked After Children with SEND are supported in all these ways with the addition of a dedicated member of the Senior Management Team, who takes responsibility for ensuring that SEND support, pastoral care and local authority agencies work together to ensure that a child-centred approach is
adopted in any additional provision or support.
In order to be successful in this approach, the School has to invest considerable resources. Hence, within the SEN team, alongside the SEN co-ordinator, we have an SEN administrator to ensure the rapid and efficient passage of information and a team of nine LSAs to support our students in the classroom. In addition, to ensure all our children fulfil their potential in maths and English, at present, we employ an extra teacher in each subject to allow the children most in need of support to work in much smaller classes. We also offer a small number of children the opportunity to receive extra literacy lessons at Key
Stage 3 (Years Seven and Eight) in place of studying a modern foreign language.
At Key Stage 4 (Year Nine and beyond), some children will continue to receive extra support with literacy and other may be offered General Support, a personalised learning programme, as an alternative to one GCSE option. We also offer various 'life skills' and 'personal effectiveness' programmes, depending on the needs of our students.
Beyond our classroom support, the LSAs also run a lunchtime homework club, known as '208', where children can receive support and guidance with any aspect of their work they are finding difficult. We also provide excellent paired reading and numeracy programmes, in which our Sixth Form students provide additional support for children in Year Seven and Year Eight.
If you are thinking of coming to Notre Dame, or sending you child here, we would strongly encourage you to contact us directly to discuss provision, as we regularly review and improve our curriculum in light of new research and legislation and the needs with which we are presented.