The Learning Support department is an integral part of the whole school and provides a caring, positive atmosphere for children who need support with their learning; whether they have learning difficulties or have been identified as gifted and talented.
The classroom where Learning Support lessons take place is a light, colourful and airy room off the library and is well equipped with a range of multi-sensory resources including the use of specialist computer programmes and assistive technology. Staff who teach within the department hold specialist qualifications that enable them to understand and effectively support children in order that they may reach their full potential. Support is mainly provided for literacy and numeracy but can also cover other subject areas. We may also work to enhance other aspects to support learning such as handwriting skills, listening skills, memory techniques, study skills and touch typing. It is particularly important to enhance a child’s confidence and self-esteem which can become adversely affected through the difficulties they face. Children are given the necessary support through the provision of 1:1 or small group lessons, for which a fee is charged, or support within the classroom. There is close liaison with the child’s subject teachers to ensure a co-ordinated approach.
The school recognises the importance of early detection and diagnosis of any specific learning difficulty including dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia in order that appropriate strategies are put in place to support the child. Our policy is to screen all Year 3 children for dyslexia during the Autumn term using the Dyslexia Screener; a 30 minute online assessment that identifies dyslexic tendencies. We will also screen any new children coming into the school. Depending on the results of the Dyslexia Screener we may then recommend further assessments within the department that will examine any difficulties in more detail. Occasionally it may be necessary to refer to an Educational Psychologist. Other identified difficulties may require a referral to external specialists such as an Occupational Therapist, Speech and Language Therapist or a Paediatrician. If a child has joined us from another school we would expect the details of any previous assessments or support to be shared with us. It is Thorngrove School’s policy to admit and work positively, wherever possible, with children who have statements of special educational needs. However, each child’s circumstances are unique and therefore the child and their needs must be considered on an individual basis and discussed in detail with their parents so that the school can ascertain whether this is a suitable place for the child to thrive, taking into account the needs of all concerned. If a current child is assessed for a statement, further and ongoing discussions with parents will be required, so that all parties feel confident that we can provide a suitable education for their child and that all children in the class are happy and learning productively.
Individualised learning programmes incorporating a range of multi-sensory techniques, are tailored to the needs of each child and reflect their preferred learning style. Individual Education Plans (IEPs) are prepared termly for each child who is either receiving Learning Support or who may have difficulties that can be met through support within the classroom. Targets for the IEPs are discussed with the children and shared with subject teachers. A copy is given to parents so that support may also be given at home. These targets are reviewed at the end of each term.
There is regular contact with the parents of children receiving Learning Support and parents will receive information on the progress their child is making through Parent Teacher Meetings and twice-yearly reports. However, more informal communication is encouraged and parents are invited to discuss their child’s progress and share any concerns that they may have at mutually convenient times during the week.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch with Mrs Neudegg, Head of Learning Support, if you require any further information, or if you have any concerns that you wish to raise.
English as an Additional Language (EAL)
Children who are learning English as an additional language are supported by visiting teachers from one of the local language schools (for example: Berlitz, Newbury Language School, Vici Language School) depending on their native language and their perceived level of need. These teachers usually support the children within the school day. Initially it might be on a daily basis (care is taken to ensure literacy lessons are not missed). Although progress is usually swift, classroom work is always differentiated for them until they are comfortable working in English. Form Teachers will ensure that basic understanding of English is covered immediately to allow the child to operate at a basic level. For example, asking for the toilet, requesting food and water and other essential question tags will be covered.