Blackburn with Darwen Council’s Local Offer for Children & Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) – Pleckgate High School
Pleckgate High School is an 11-16 comprehensive school with the capacity for 1350 pupils; there are currently 1270 pupils on roll, approximately 105 of whom are on the special educational needs register. In September 2011 the school relocated to a new, purpose built, state of the art building and on 1st February 2016 Pleckgate converted to academy status. In January 2019, Ofsted judged Pleckgate to be an outstanding provider in all areas.
In addition to striving for academic excellence and giving all pupils the opportunity and encouragement to fulfil their potential, pastoral care and emotional support are an important focus. Pupils have continuity of pastoral support during their time here, having the same tutor and head of year throughout their five years at the school; this promotes the development of productive working relationships, where expectations are clearly understood.
All pupils at Pleckgate are equally valued and, as such, much is in place to ensure accessibility of curriculum for all, whatever the nature of their special educational need or level of ability.
- Educational Psychology
- School Nurse
- Inclusion Support Service (advisory teachers)
- Speech and Language Therapists
- Occupational Therapists
- ELCAS (adolescent mental health service)
What training and experience have the staff supporting children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities had, or are having?
All TAs have received extensive training, delivered mainly by professionals from outside school. This has included:
- Visual impairment – advisory teacher for VI
- Hearing impairment – advisory teacher for HI
- Speech and Language – senior speech and language therapist
- Behaviour management – advisory teacher for SEBD; SENCO
- Safer people handling – advisory teacher for physical needs; occupational therapist
- Promoting better literacy – advisory teacher for SPLD
- Autism – advisory teacher for autism; SENCO
- Working memory – senior educational psychologist; follow-up training delivered by SENCO
- Maximising the impact of TA support – SENCO
- Promoting English with EAL pupils – SENCO
In addition, all staff delivering intervention programmes have received extensive training on Literacy Catch-up, Numeracy Catch-up, Dyslexia support, speech and language and EAL learners.
Pupils are provided with appropriate aids and adaptations are made as necessary to enable them to access the curriculum without disadvantage, thus having equality of opportunity to reach their potential. For example, most pupils are issued with an iPad-mini, but visually impaired pupils are issued with a full size iPad or a Macbook and, where necessary, a laptop with specialist software. Resources are enlarged prior to lessons by designated teaching assistants.
The medical room has been adapted with a hoist and sling to enable the safe toileting and changing of wheelchair bound pupils.
Two lifts ensure that all areas of the building are accessible to all pupils.
Advice issued by speech and language therapists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists is distributed to the relevant staff to ensure recommendations and strategies can be incorporated into lesson planning.
Pupils with dyslexia are given coloured overlays and reading rulers for use in lessons and with homework.
Writing slopes and pen grips are available for pupils whose dyspraxia and/or poor motor skills makes it difficult to write neatly on a flat surface.
- Extensive liaison with the primary school.
- Information and advice from other professionals involved, e.g. speech and language service, occupational therapists, paediatricians.
- Discussion with parents/carers, including visits to the school during the working day to look at provision and discuss priorities of need.
- Expressions of concern from teachers.
Speak to the school in the first instance and the SENCO should be able to advise you on appropriate next steps. These may involve assessments being carried out within the school, or a referral being made to the appropriate service. Such referrals may be done by school or, dependent upon the nature of the concern, by the GP.
The Learning Support Department comprises a team of twenty six staff who work in a variety of roles to promote the learning and wellbeing of all pupils. The nature of the support provided is determined by the needs of the individual pupil.
Many teaching assistants work within whole class lessons, with the aim of removing the barriers to learning that pupils with SEN can experience. This involves the differentiation and adaptation of resources, as well as ensuring, through additional explanation, that the pupil is fully aware of the desired learning outcome of the lesson, i.e. what the lesson objective is and what is expected of them. Pupils completing work as independently as possible is an absolute priority at Pleckgate; teaching assistants will never complete the work for a pupil, as this would be detrimental to their progress, impacting negatively too on the acquisition and development of their independence skills.
Not all pupils with SEN have access to additional in-class support. It may be that they attend interventions, usually taught 1:1 for 2 half-hour sessions per week. These include Literacy Catch-up, Numeracy Catch-up, Speech and Language, Dyslexia Support and Motor Skills Practice. The purpose of these sessions is to give pupils the basic skills to enable them to access the whole curriculum effectively throughout the wider school.
Pupils entering the school in Year 7 who are working at levels significantly below age related expectations are taught in a Key Stage 3 class, made up of pupils in years 7 – 9 all working at similar levels. Taught mainly within Learning Support, the curriculum is differentiated to an appropriate level and the focus is on improving basic literacy and numeracy skills, while at the same incorporating humanities and ICT. Science, technology, music, art and drama are taught in specialist classrooms by subject specialists.
Pupils with high and complex needs follow personalised curriculums and are taught within Learning Support for all lessons; they attend art, ICT, technology and drama lessons in the wider school. Their individual timetables might include sessions for speech and language, physiotherapy and gross and fine motor skills. Some pupils receive fulltime care, including at breaks and lunchtimes, some are assisted with toileting and eating and some require adult supervision at all times.
In addition to extensive liaison with the primary school and with parents/carers, all pupils are assessed on entry to Pleckgate and this informs setting; at Key Stage 3, pupils are taught across 8 or 10 sets for all subjects. This enables pupils of similar ability to be taught together and that the curriculum is tailored to their ability levels with a relatively small range of ability within each set. In addition, in Years 7, 8 and 9, a Key Stage 3 class, made up of pupils working at well below expected levels, is taught within the Learning Support Department. The focus of this class is the acquisition of basic skills and the emphasis is very much on literacy and numeracy, which is embedded into the whole curriculum. Pupils functioning at lower levels than this are taught an alternative, personalised curriculum, much like those delivered in special schools. From September 2017, this class consisted of ten pupils in years 7 to 10. Pupils are regularly assessed in literacy and numeracy and there is a focus on life skills, preparation for adulthood and promoting independence.
Work is planned and delivered at a level appropriate to the abilities of the pupils within the class. For pupils with specific needs, for example, dyslexia, visual impairment or hearing impairment, teachers follow strategies recommended by advisory teachers and the SENCO. Pupils are issued with resources to remove barriers to learning and ensure they are able to access the curriculum as fully as possible.
Half-termly assessment and monitoring takes place for every pupil across all subject areas and this is reported to parents/carers in the form of a mark sheet five times during the year. These include effort grades and an indication of progress towards end of year target levels. Full written reports are issued annually and parents’ evenings take place annually too. In addition, as well as the full parents’ evening, usually held in April, year 7 pupils have a ‘settling in’ evening with form tutors and the head of year. This is usually held in November and is a valuable opportunity for any concerns to be shared, as well as for praise to be given. Year 11 pupils have an additional ‘Raising Achievement’ parents’ evening in the Autumn term too. This is an opportunity to discuss current levels of attainment in relation to target grades, teachers’ expectations of pupils and how parents/carers can assist in ensuring their child reaches his or her potential.
Pupils who attend interventions are assessed three times over the year, enabling adjustments to be made to provision as appropriate.
Of course, parents/carers are always welcome to contact the school should they have concerns and, likewise, the school will contact home should it be deemed necessary.
Pleckgate has several initiatives in place to help you assist with your child’s education.
Accelerated Reader – you can encourage your child to read and take time to discuss with them what they are reading.
Behaviour/Reward Record – this is accessible from home, so you can see any incidents of poor behaviour, as well as praise given.
You are encouraged to ensure that pupils have a suitable, quiet environment in which to complete their homework. It is useful to check homework diaries daily and these should be signed weekly.
Speaking and listening is an important focus of the school and you are encouraged to have conversations with your children as often as possible. Speaking in English is important too, as is having television and radio programmes on in English.
Pleckgate has a strong pastoral network. Pupils have the same head of year and tutor for their five years at the school, so they get to know these people very well. In addition, there are three safe-guarding officers who work with vulnerable pupils, sometimes long-term, sometimes short-term, providing a safe environment where the aim is develop a relationship of mutual trust with someone who is not a teacher. Should there be serious concern about a pupil’s mental health, a referral may be made, with parental consent, to the educational psychologist or to ELCAS (the child and adolescent mental health service).
Pleckgate treats all allegations of bullying seriously and all are fully investigated. Pupils are encouraged to let someone know immediately if they feel bullied. The school is proud of the fact that in a recent survey, 100% of parents felt that ‘the school deals effectively with issues of bullying’.
Visits and activities, including trips abroad, mostly linked to the curriculum, are offered to all pupils and take place throughout the school year.
Pupils looked after at lunchtimes have activities arranged, both indoors and outside (weather permitting), and all are encouraged to join in.
A small group of pupils studies life skills, taking part in sessions which include baking, shopping, washing up and putting bedding on. These are valuable learning experiences which the pupils both enjoy and benefit from. These take place mainly in the life-skills area within Learning Support.
In the summer term, the SENCO visits all feeder primary schools and meets with key staff there. This enables information to be shared and appropriate provision to be put in place prior to the September transfer. In addition, vulnerable pupils are invited to pre-induction day visits. This gives them the opportunity to meet their prospective form tutor and head of year, as well as to familiarise themselves with the school building, in particular the Learning Support area; some of the more vulnerable pupils have several pre-induction day visits. Where appropriate, Pleckgate’s TAs spend time in the pupils’ primary schools, learning how best to support them and meet their needs, thus facilitating a smooth transition. Parents/carers are encouraged to visit Pleckgate too, to discuss their concerns and make clear their expectations for their child.
Advice is sought from the relevant professionals to ensure that appropriate resources and equipment are in place prior to a child starting at Pleckgate.
Communication and the gathering of information is key, so, in addition to transition meetings in the summer term, the SENCO attends all year 6 statutory review meetings for pupils who have stated Pleckgate as their preferred high school; many year 5 review meetings are attended too.
Provision in place at the primary school will not necessarily continue in the same form following transition. This is due to both the changing needs of pupils and the nature of a large secondary school environment. For example, great importance is placed on pupils working independently, in preparation for independent living in adulthood, so only a very small number of pupils at Pleckgate have a teaching assistant working with them on a 1:1 basis fulltime. The role of the teaching assistant is to contribute to pupils’ wellbeing, to remove barriers to learning and to ensure the lessons are accessible to all, with the pupils themselves completing tasks to the best of their ability. This ensures that the integrity of what the pupil is able to achieve is maintained, enabling teachers to build an accurate picture of where the pupil is at in terms of their learning and so plan future provision appropriately.
Regular and lengthy discussions take place with all those involved with the pupil, to ensure the best possible package of support is in place.
Do you require impartial advice and support about SEND?
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