My name is Jackie Salter and I am the SENDCo (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Coordinator). This means that I lead on learning support across the school. All parents can be worried about their child starting at ‘big school’, but these worries can be greater when their child has special needs. Below are some questions that our current year 7 parents said they would have liked to ask before their child with special needs started at secondary school. I do hope that you will find them helpful.
I’m worried that my child will get lost in such a big school. What will happen to help him/her?
It’s amazing how new starters find their way around so quickly!! In the first few days they will usually have an older student acting as a buddy for their class. Some classes have a Teaching Assistant with them and our Teaching Assistant dedicated to Transition (Mrs Wathanasin) will be looking out specifically for SEND students. The pastoral team (Mrs Maxwell and Mrs Burgess) and the Learning Support department work very closely together and make sure that anyone who is struggling has the support that they need. Some students are given visual timetables, which link to pictures placed on the walls around the school and this helps students to find their way around.
How can I be sure that my child will know what to do if he/she needs help or hasn’t made a friend?
You child’s Form Tutor will be looking out for them every day. The pastoral team are also out on the year 7 playground. Our Learning Support Department also known as The Hut is next to the year 7 playground and is quickly spotted. The Hut is open every lunchtime and before school. We have games and activities and students can eat lunch there if they find the canteen overwhelming. We also have a dog, Rosie, who is happy to make friends!
How do I find out what support is available for my child?
Please have a look at the SEND report on our website, which explains exactly how our support works. Every child will have an Individual Student Support Plan (SSP), which I will write using information from primary school and any outside agencies that have been involved. This will be sent out within the first half term and you will be invited to add anything that you think would be helpful for us to know. Pupils will also contribute their views. If your child has any out of class interventions you will receive a letter to inform you and all outside agencies will ask for your permission before being involved.
How will support in place in primary continue or adapt when moving to secondary?
We have in depth discussions with year 6 teachers and SENDCos so that we feel like we know your child when they arrive! Children are keen to be treated like everyone else and we allow them to join in with everything on offer but with support if needed. Students will be in all classes at the start of term.
What does the school do to ensure all teachers are aware of our child's specific needs?
The SSPs are given to individual teachers as soon as they are written. Each teacher knows of any child on the SEND register as soon as they have their class list and all SEND students are highlighted on the teachers seating plan. Our teachers are constantly being brought up to date with the best support for your child and I am available for training and advice. Teachers will always try to differentiate work for individual needs.
How are parents involved in support?
We think that the most successful learning happens when parents and school, work together and we welcome your comments and suggestions. Throughout the year there will be coffee mornings, parents evenings and you are always welcome to call or email.
Our homework is set through an app called Show My Homework and it is helpful for you to download the parent’s version and help your child with organisation. We all want to help our children, but it’s important that you teach them to be independent right from the beginning. You know your child best and so we want your help.
In primary school, if I had a concern about my child’s needs I would speak to their teacher. But at secondary school they will have so many teachers who do I contact if I think my child is struggling?
Your child’s Form Tutor is usually the first point of contact. I can always signpost you to the correct person or give you an email address. An email is always welcome as we are often teaching or out of the office during the school day. We will endeavour to get back to you within 24 hours.