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SEN support in maintained schools, colleges and Early Years settings

All children and young people learn in different ways and progress at varying rates. Some children may need extra help along the way. This document is for parents whose children may require extra support and or possible interventions to enable them to make progress.

What is SEN Support?

Special Educational Needs (SEN) Support is additional to or different from the support generally given to other children or young people of the same age. The purpose is to help a child or young person to achieve the outcomes or learning objectives set for them by their setting. Parents should be involved in this process.

What should you expect from your child’s setting?

Every school must publish an SEN Information Report which will detail their processes for identifying and supporting pupils with SEN and the SEN provision the school has available. This report can be found on the school’s website. In addition, parents can find general information on a range of education providers such as early years settings, schools and colleges in Merton’s Local Offer.

All education providers should offer SEN Support from their own resources for any pupil who has been assessed as needing additional help to progress in their learning. Providers can pay for this additional support from place funding, funds given to schools based on a formula to predict the demand in each school and/or Pupil Premium (for qualifying SEN pupils).

The Local Authority expects the following to be available in all settings:

  1. A whole-setting approach to SEN
  2. Differentiated teaching methods
  3. Sharing of information
  4. Tracking progress in areas of need
  5. Adjusted staffing ratios
  6. Evidence-based interventions
  7. Use of appropriate outside agencies
  8. Implementation of reasonable adjustments

In order to support settings to meet these expectations, the Local Authority offers a range of on-going training opportunities for staff in education settings and for other members of the Children and Young People’s workforce. This is offered either via a training programme, bespoke training for specific staff groups or covering specific categories of SEN. Not all training is offered free to providers, a proportion is provided under a “buyback” arrangement.

Who decides what SEN Support my child gets?

Class teachers or Early Years practitioners in consultation with the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) or Learning Support staff will conduct regular reviews of the progress of all children/young people. These seek to identify “less than expected progress”.

Sometimes you may be the first to be aware that you child may require some additional support. In this case, do raise this with your child/young person’s teacher or key person.

A graduated approach will be used by the setting when your child/young person is identified as requiring SEN Support. The teacher/practitioner, in consultation with the SENCo or Learning Support staff, will decided which specific interventions are the most appropriate. It is expected that all settings will do this as part of a high quality assess, plan, do, review cycle.

All children/young people identified as having additional SEN Support needs should have outcome-based targets that are reviewed termly. Targets should be agreed between professionals, pupils and their families (if appropriate) and should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-related).

Most children with special educational needs will make progress with the SEN Support put in place. However, if this is not the case, some children may require extra help through an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP)

How will the setting communicate with me? 

It is expected that all settings will use a person-centred approach in their communication with parents, children and young people in order to put them at the centre of the process.

Meetings with parents (and/or young people) will be scheduled on a regular basis and take place at least every half term in Early Years settings and 3 times per year in schools. All settings will inform parents, children and young people when there are any changes proposed to provision and will hold an annual review of their EHCP / Statement of SEN (if applicable) each year on behalf of the Local Authority.

Where can I get more information, advice or support?

You can find out more about SEN Support through:

Communication and interaction including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

The following are some examples of the types of interventions and resources available. This is not an exhaustive or definitive list nor is it a checklist to be worked through. Branded tools / resources referred to are examples only and not approved,  recommended or quality assured by London Borough of Merton. This section covers social communication and interaction difficulties, social imagination difficulties, behavioural difficulties, sensory difficulties, language difficulties, speech difficulties

Examples of pupil needs

  • understanding non-verbal communication such as gestures and body language
  • short attention span, easily distracted
  • lack of awareness of own and others states of mind, including thoughts, feelings and motives
  • negotiating and compromising in social situations and imagining how situations affect others
  • coping with change or unfamiliar situations
  • following appropriate adult agenda, understanding adult roles
  • beginning or retaining focus on activities not of their choosing or not of immediate interest, resulting in repetitive play / interests for example
  • Hyper- or hypo- (over or under) sensitivity to noise, light, texture, smell, colour, people in close proximity, busy social environments
  • understanding of words or sentences
  • comprehending written material
  • understanding aspects of speech such as intonation and using literal interpretation
  • difficulties saying words or sentences, slow speech, lisp, missing out sounds

Examples of interventions

  • consistent use of language, routines and rules
  • clear and simple explanations
  • use of descriptive praise, concrete and specific language so pupil understands their achievement and can repeat it
  • a consistent learning environment including in unstructured times, such as lunchtimes / breaks)
  • preparation for change of activity or lesson
  • support for high anxiety levels such as relaxation techniques
  • alternative methods of recording work
  • support for attention and listening skills
  • support for language and literacy (including comprehension, prediction and inference)
  • backward chaining, that is working backwards from an end point/goal
  • interventions to support social inclusion such as :
    • social Stories / social review
    • cartoon Conversations
    • peer support overseen by teaching staff
    • buddy systems, circle of friends
    • flexible grouping in class
  • break instructions into smaller chunks and check understanding regularly
  • multi-sensory teaching, such as visual materials, hands-on and active interactive learning

Examples of resources

Environmental examples

  • low arousal areas available in learning environment, including work space and space / time for homework
  • areas clearly defined and labelled, such as visual timetables, schedules, task breakdown sheets, symbols including tactile symbols
  • printed vocabulary cards such as Talking Frames, Barrier Games
  • calming activities such as sensory activities (e.g. tactile items, chewables, music, soft play)

Resources within the learning environment

  • Time to Talk / Talkabout programmes,
  • Talk buttons, Talking Postcards
  • Social Stories (Carol Gray)
  • Cartoon / Comic Strip Conversations (Carol Gray)
  • engagement:  Helen Sanderson Associates materials

Staffing

  • support from outside agencies such as MAOS (Merton Autism Outreach Service), Language and Learning Team, Speech and Language Therapy, Educational Psychology
  • access to Emotional Literacy Support Assistant
  • PSHE (Personal Social Health Education) sessions

Technology

  • tablets, laptops
  • Outlook diaries, apps (e.g. wheel of ASD and Acc apps)

Cognition and learning

The following are some examples of the types of interventions and resources available. This is not an exhaustive or definitive list nor is it a checklist to be worked through. Branded tools / resources referred to are examples only and not approved, recommended or quality assured by London Borough of Merton

Examples of pupil needs

  • difficulty acquiring new skills (particularly literacy and numeracy)
  • difficulty in dealing with abstract ideas or in forming concepts
  • some speech and language difficulties, such as generalising information, understanding abstract language
  • some difficulties with fine or gross motor skills
  • some signs of frustration or episodes of disengagement
  • difficulties with skills such as sequencing, ordering, word finding
  • some phonological and short-term memory difficulties

Examples of interventions

  • say pupil’s name and eye contact established before giving clear and simple instructions, broken down into chunks and given one at a time
  • visual cues and prompts, visual timetable
  • clarify, display and refer back to new and/or difficult vocabulary and  key vocabulary displayed or available
  • multi-sensory approach to learning (Visual Auditory Kinaesthetic)
  • consistent use of terms, positive language and positive marking
  • consistent implementation of rewards and sanctions
  • repetition and reinforcement of skills
  • targeted / guided lessons in literacy and/or numeracy
  • develop a range of working memory strategies and study skills

Examples of resources

Environmental examples

  • writing frames (tables or headed boxes to provide structure / prompts)
  • individual whiteboards
  • vocabulary, memory or flash cards

Resources within the learning environment

  • ACE dictionary (for spelling, a look-up system using vowel sounds)
  • Cloze passage (pupil fills in missing words from a word bank)
  • Numicon, Unicornmaths, Rapid Maths
  • Merton Clever Communication Toolkit – objects, film clips, concrete apparatus
  • reading programmes such as Rapid Reading, Letters and Sounds, Wellington Square, Oxford Reading Tree, Every Child a Reader
  • Wave 3 maths resources

Staffing

  • specialist support from outside agencies including Educational Psychologist, Specialist Advisory Teacher, Dyslexia Teacher, Education Welfare Service, Language and Learning Team, Virtual Behaviour Service, Occupational Therapy Services
  • Early Literacy Support (ELS)

Technology

  • laptop / tablets / dictaphones,
  • spellcheckers, predictive text, speak to text software
  • Wheel of Apps Literacy, BBC touch typing, Dragon Software, Clicker, Textease, Texthelp, Wordbar, Clicker 6, Easispeak

Social, emotional and mental health difficulties

The following are some examples of the types of interventions and resources available. This is not an exhaustive or definitive list nor is it a checklist to be worked through. Branded tools / resources referred to are examples only and not approved, recommended or quality assured by London Borough of Merton 

Examples of pupil needs

  • presenting as withdrawn or tearful, significantly unhappy or stressed
  • disruptions or attention-seeking behaviours in lessons
  • showing signs of frustration and early indications of disaffection
  • fluctuations in mood or unpredictability over attitude to learning tasks
  • difficulty making and maintaining healthy relationships with peers
  • increasing inability to follow instructions and routines and remain on task
  • sudden increase or decrease in habits such as eating, group engagement, arousal level, level of interest
  • seeking frequent adult support

Examples of interventions

  • visual prompts for positive behaviours, reinforcement of rules
  • consistent use of rewards and sanctions, structured routines and clear guidelines
  • social seating and consideration of proximity to adult
  • time out and calming systems within the classroom
  • supportive peer systems, Buddy systems, friendship strategies, circle time, peer mediation / mentoring scheme
  • provision of a significant adult
  • pastoral support plan
  • anger-management programmes, solution focussed problem solving

Examples of resources

Environmental resources

  • ‘Drop In’ centre for pupils
  • Referral to Learning Support Unit

Resources within the learning environment

  • Thrive individual assessments, Emotional Literacy Assessments, Jane McSherry Coping in Schools Scale, Boxall
  • SEAL (Social Emotional Aspects of Learning) (Silver Set), small group work, nurture groups
  • differentiated curriculum including PSHE/Citizenship Curriculum
  • CASA (Common and Shared Assessment ) cross-agency assessment of need
  • informal behavioural analysis such as. ABCC (antecedent, behaviour, consequence, communication approach), if advised by Educational Psychologist
  • individual behaviour plan
  • supervision systems for Out of Class behaviour

Staffing

  • advice from external agency (such as mental health nurse, Educational Psychology Service, counselling services, behaviour consultant)
  • Family Liaison Officer
  • Merton Transforming Families services, Family Support services
  • visit/observation by external agencies for advice e.g. Targeted Mental Health in Schools (TAMHS), Language and Learning Team, Virtual Behaviour Service
    • Merton Transforming Families services, Family Support services
    • Home School Liaison Officer
    • outreach support work from Advanced Skills Teachers, Special Schools

 Technology

  • Miss Dorothy.com, Watch Over Me app

Physical and / or sensory needs

The following are some examples of the types of interventions and resources available. This is not an exhaustive or definitive list nor is it a checklist to be worked through. Branded tools / resources referred to are examples only and not approved, recommended or quality assured by London Borough of Merton 

Examples of pupil needs

  • mild or moderate hearing impairment
  • unilateral hearing impairment
  • fluctuating hearing loss
  • mild or moderate visual impairment
  • dual impairment with a mild or moderate loss in both modalities
  • difficulties with moving around the environment
  • missing spoken information leading to misunderstanding
  • difficulty retaining information
  • processing of unknown language takes longer 
  • difficulty with new social situations

Examples of interventions

  • frequent checking of understanding using open questions which require more than a Yes / No answer
  • summarise key points at start and end of lesson
  • preferential seating of student and unobstructed view of early years practitioner / teacher
  • reduce background noise to improve acoustic environment; consider personal FM System use
  • practitioner/teacher repeats the spoken contributions of others
  • support for theory of mind development, emotional literacy and peer relationships
  • use of large print, visual aids and prompts including to changes to routine
  • specialist touch-typing teaching sessions
  • Sensory integration programmes

Examples of resources

Environmental resources

  • Improved lighting
  • blinds/curtains to block sun
  • subtitles on audio visual material
  • high colour contrast materials, including on whiteboard
  • high quality print and photocopier facilities
  • well supported and comfortable seating
  • uncluttered and well organised learning environment
  • sloping boards
  • use of carpets and curtains and other soft materials to support acoustics

Resources within the learning environment

  • visual aids and prompts
  • subject vocabulary dictionary
  • tactile calendars
  • large print books, electronic books

Staffing

  • Monitoring advice / support from HI/MSI/VI Sensory Support Service advice, specialist Habilitation Officer in mobility and life skills

Technology

  • specialist equipment e.g. iPad, Soundfield
  • Radio Aid/FM System
  • SFS (Speech Filing System)
  • processing and keyboard training
  • ICT training to increase independent access
  • Laptop/board connection via appropriate links

Independent living

The following are some examples of the types of interventions and resources available. This is not an exhaustive or definitive list nor is it a checklist to be worked through. Branded tools / resources referred to are examples only and not approved, recommended or quality assured by London Borough of Merton

Examples of pupil needs

  • difficulty making some day to day choices or longer-term decisions
  • difficulty managing own safety in the community and travelling independently
  • vulnerable to abuse as a result of disability or special educational needs (sexual, financial, bullying)
  • unable to manage own finances
  • unable to find own accommodation
  • difficulty managing emotions in education settings and in the community

Examples of interventions

  • language and communication support focussed on communication of critical needs
  • communication support focussed on reduction of vulnerability and lowering risk in the community
  • communication systems for pupil to seek guidance and support, when necessary
  • targeted PSHE sessions and introduction to travel training skills
  • functional maths curriculum
  • structured conversations
  • accessible transition plans
  • decision-making and personal responsibility actively encouraged in schools and colleges
  • support to understand how to seek help and to understand risks

Resource examples of resources

  • advice available about benefits, bursaries and other financial advice services (including via SEN Local Offer)
  • IT / mobile technology to provide reminders, guidance and information and to promote independence skills
  • specialist software / equipment to support independent working
  • intervention and advice from outside agencies e.g. adult mental health, speech and language services

Staffing

  • peer mentors
  • personal tutors
  • voluntary sector services
  • leaving care services
  • advocacy and/or counselling

Participation in society

The following are some examples of the types of interventions and resources available. This is not an exhaustive or definitive list nor is it a checklist to be worked through. Branded tools / resources referred to are examples only and not approved, recommended or quality assured by London Borough of Merton

Examples of pupil needs

  • unable to make friends easily / at risk of social isolation
  • planning or accessing outings or attending events is challenging
  • tends to get into conflict situations / unable to maintain friendships
  • unaware of rights and / or place within society

Examples of interventions

  • opportunities for structured social contact
  • support to join interest groups / clubs
  • support to develop confidence with regard to social media
  • support to research or apply to appropriate venues / clubs
  • support with managing emotions / impulsivity
  • PSHE curriculum
  • support to engage in representation activities

Examples of resources

  • access to social skills groups
  • staff training with regard to pupils with social communication issues / ASD
  • advice about finding specialist clubs / activities and accessible mainstream settings / activities
  • mentor time
  • staff training with regard to behaviour / mental health

Health

The following are some examples of the types of interventions and resources available. This is not an exhaustive or definitive list nor is it a checklist to be worked through. Branded tools / resources referred to are examples only and not approved, recommended or quality assured by London Borough of Merton

Examples of pupil needs

  • not able to access health services independently (GP, A & E, preventative screenings)
  • not able to self-regulate diet or exercise levels
  • not able to self-medicate or make own health-related decisions
  • requires significant medical input (e.g. long term condition, mental health condition)

Examples of interventions

  • PSHE curriculum adapted to cover healthcare, healthy eating etc
  • support to access physical activity
  • may require medical plan in school or college including reference to SEN support needs

Examples of resources

  • nutritionist advice
  • support to register with a GP and access annual health checks
  • use of fitness apps / technology
  • support to find suitable exercise opportunities
  • Merton obesity services (via GP)
  • referral to NHS or social care or specialist advice from NHS professionals, if appropriate
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