Welcome to our Special Educational Needs (SEN) Information Report. Its purpose is to give you an overview of how we can support your child and you if your child has additional needs that require a special response. We hope that it will answer any questions that you have, and links to other important sources of information are included at the end. However, if you need any further clarification, or have additional questions, please feel free to contact the Special Needs Coordinator (SENCO), whose details are listed below.
Every child has a unique combination of strengths and needs, and St Nicolas School is committed to educating children with as wide a range of abilities as possible. All pupils at our school share the right to experience a broad and balanced curriculum that matches their needs and to achieve to their full potential. We are committed to working closely with all parents to enable this.
What is SEN and how does the school identify and respond to it?
The majority of children will learn and progress within the general teaching arrangements made to meet their varying aptitudes. A pupil has SEN if he or she:
SEN covers four broad areas: communication and interaction, cognition and learning, social, emotional and mental health, sensory and/ or physical. The school has extensive experience of supporting all of these needs.
The school works in close partnership with parents to develop an understanding of all children from before they enter Reception (or as soon as a transfer from another school is being considered). Staff incorporate their knowledge of children’s previously- identified SEN upon entry to Reception into teaching plans to provide the appropriate additional or different provision, adopting the graduated approach described below. Previously- unidentified SEN will make themselves evident through children’s response to ‘quality first teaching’; teaching activities designed to meet the differing needs of most children. Ongoing assessment by staff will identify where children have significant difficulties and need a higher level of support than usual. Staff also listen closely to concerns expressed by parents.
Cause for Concern
This is an intervention stage used by staff at St Nicolas to record investigations into a child’s concerning performance where there is no clear understanding of the reasons for it. The class teacher and the SENCO work with the family to form an action plan, and a review date is set. As at all stages of the graduated approach, staff refer to Oxfordshire’s Identifying and Supporting SEN handbook for guidance. The involvement of specialist agencies may be necessary at this point. At reviews, the effectiveness of the action plan is evaluated and a further plan made if necessary.
Where a child is clearly identified as having SEN, the school takes action to put effective special educational provision in place by removing barriers and making adaptations to their learning. This is known as SEN Support (a national intervention stage), and is formalised in SEN Support Plans. SEN Support takes the form of a four-part cycle (assess, plan, do, review) through which earlier decisions, actions and goals are revisited, refined and revised based on a growing understanding of the child’s needs, and the adaptations to learning that the child needs to make good progress. Examples of actions taken could include changes to the physical environment, higher adult to child ratios, enhanced or different methods of communication, strategies to improve self-esteem, extra support at playtimes, the use of ICT programs and specialist catch-up intervention programmes. The child’s views on their learning form a vital part of this process. Formal reviews with parents take place at least three times a year.
SEN Support with additional funding
Where a child’s needs require a more detailed approach, more frequent review and more specialist expertise in successive cycles in order to successfully match provision to them, the school may be able to secure additional funding upon satisfying local authority criteria.
Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)
Where, despite the school having taken relevant and purposeful action to identify, assess and meet the SEN of the child, they have not made expected progress, the school or parents can request an Education, Health and Care needs assessment from the local authority. When a decision to make an EHCP is made, the views and aspirations of the child and parents form a central part of its formation. EHCPs are reviewed annually by schools in conjunction with the local authority at multi-professional meetings, with the full involvement of parents and the child. EHCPs carry additional funding, and sometimes include personal budgets.
How will my child and I be included in these processes?
The views of children and parents are central to the school’s approach to SEN. Regular, open dialogue with parents is encouraged and children’s comments about their learning are considered and acted upon. Formal questionnaires are completed once a year by both groups, and a discussion forum for parents of children with SEN is held in school three times a year.
Who will support my child and me?
The class teacher has a duty to ensure that your child’s additional needs are considered when planning any work for them. As the person with overall responsibility for your child’s progress on a day-to-day basis, and a good knowledge of their performance in school, they should be first point of contact for you and your child. The class teacher will also be able to draw on other staff’s knowledge of your child, e.g. the previous class teacher, teaching assistants or subject teachers. Key SEN information and documentation will have been passed on to the new class teacher before your child started in their class, and you may have already met them at the end of the previous year. The SENCO can be involved at any point in supporting you and your child on request, and is often approached directly by staff for advice and guidance.
Outside agencies have their own procedures for supporting you and your child. These may include monitoring visits and meetings in school, home visits, written reports, email and telephone communication. The local authority can also offer help and advice.
How will I know how well my child is doing?
A clear understanding of your child’s SEN is the best starting-point for judging how well they are doing at school. Working with the school on knowing what they find difficult and how barriers to their learning can be lessened or removed allows realistic learning goals to be set for your child. These goals are written into SEN Support and EHCPs and revisited at reviews. While it is important to be ambitious for your child, it is also important to judge their success against their difficulties and previously-set goals. The key to success is for school and yourselves to engage in regular dialogue about how effective your child’s support is, and to agree changes to it where necessary. The effectiveness of the SEN interventions used across the school generally is regularly monitored, and this information helps to inform decisions made about the provision made for individual children. The school will also provide you with information about your child’s progress and attainment against age-related expectations.
Careful planning is needed for children with SEN when they move between year groups, and especially different phases of education. The SENCO takes a lead role in the transitions from preschool/ nursery to Reception and Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3 (primary to secondary), working closely with families and educational settings to enable smooth and effective movement. In Years 1-5, class teachers meet with receiving class teachers to discuss the needs of children with SEN in Term 6. Pupil Profiles, a summary of children’s strengths and needs, are updated and passed on so receiving class teachers to have good prior knowledge of their children with SEN before they begin to plan for Term 1 of the new academic year.
General emotional support
It is vital that the emotional wellbeing of children with SEN is closely monitored. The school continues to develop a sensitive, inclusive culture that recognises that children with SEN can be vulnerable to feelings of low self-worth, bullying and social exclusion, and need to be supported and encouraged to develop in confidence and independence. The wide sharing of information about your child’s needs and responses in school allows all staff to respond in the most supportive ways possible. There are a number of staff within school who take on pastoral support roles: please approach your child’s class teacher or the SENCO if you feel that you or your child would benefit from their involvement.
Expertise and training
Our staff team possess very wide ranging, often in-depth, skills. If your child requires a very high level of additional adult support to meet the needs of a diagnosed condition, training is targeted at the appropriate adult(s). This may be provided in-house, or through outside providers. The SENCO regularly delivers training to all staff. A record of SEN training received by all staff is maintained centrally.
The school is able to respond to significant difficulties arising from a child’s additional needs that impact on the family. To start from a position of knowledge, staff help families to complete the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) form, which describes the child’s strengths and needs in detail in the context of family, school and the wider community. Goals to achieve for the child are then set, with their involvement where possible. A Team Around the Child (TAC) is formed by school professionals and others agreed by the family. It may include wider family members, health or Early Intervention Hub staff amongst others, and will frequently include the school’s own Home-School Link Worker, a key figure in helping to establish trusting and supporting relationships which benefit the child. TAC meetings are held each term to work towards achieving CAF goals, with previous actions being reviewed and new actions set. Where two or more children in the family are involved in this process, the group is referred to as a Team Around the Family (TAF). Where difficulties cannot be resolved due to underlying relationship problems between parents, referrals to appropriate agencies can be made.
Outside agency involvement
The use of Oxfordshire County Council’s Special Educational Needs Support Services (SENSS) accounts for a significant proportion of the school’s liaison and communication with outside agencies. Specific agencies within SENSS operate their own referral criteria, and respond to schools’ requests for advice and ongoing support for children and families. The school has an attached educational psychologist, employed through OCC Educational Psychology traded services, who works closely with the SENCO to identify and support children and families with complex needs. Traded services to support children with social, emotional and mental health needs are also available through OCC. The school has an attached SEN Education Officer, who acts as a point of contact for parents and the school, and is responsible for the central coordination of the school’s EHCPs.
The school uses National Health services extensively, most commonly Speech and Language Therapy services, Primary Child and Mental Health Services (PCAMHS), Occupational Health and Physiotherapy services. As with SENSS and OCC traded services, each separate agency operates its own referral system. It is common for outside agencies to use different staff for Reception and ‘school age’ (Key Stage 1 and 2) children. The school regularly liaises with departments at the John Radcliffe Hospital, e.g. Community Paediatrics.
Children who come into care are supported by a legal framework and a support package both within and beyond the school to ensure that they have every chance of fulfilling their potential. Each child in care receives support through a detailed personal education plan (PEP). Progress is monitored regularly by the attached social worker, designated teacher, classteacher , carers and the local authority through the Virtual School for Looked after Children. Additional funding is received to support integration, extra tuition and pastoral activities as needed.
Key SEN personnel
Parents who are unhappy with the SEN provision being made for their child should approach the Headteacher. All concerns will be dealt with as speedily as possible. The local education authority also has a complaints procedure. Copies of this are available on request from the authority.
It is the duty of the local authority to ensure that parents are made aware of the Parent Partnership service and of Independent Parent Supporters who can advise and guide them.
2014 Code of Practice
Oxfordshire county Council local offer
OCC Special Educational Needs Support Services
Oxon Parent Partnership
OCC Identifying and Supporting SEN handbook
School policy documents below for: SEN / equality/ anti-bullying/ behaviour policy/ access plan.