Dear Parents and Carers,
Inclusion, Support and Additional Needs at White Mere
I wanted to write to you about our approach to supporting children with additional needs in school,as it is one of the topics which comes up most often in discussions with parents, carers, staff and even head teachers at other schools.
One of the most important things not only to myself, but also to the staff and governors here at White Mere, is that we are proactive and thorough both in terms of identifying and responding to needs in our pupils. Often those needs are of an educational nature but just as frequently they relate to a child’s emotional well-being or their physical or medical needs. This means that we work with a very wide range of outside agencies, often on a daily basis, to help ensure that we are meeting the needs of our pupils as best we can.
Parents and carers can sometimes feel anxious when we suggest referring to outside agencies, something I think we all understand. However, I want to emphasise that whenever we make such a suggestion, it is for one purpose and one purpose alone – to access advice and support so that we can ensure we are doing the best we can to provide your child with a full, well-rounded education. We never seek to simply ‘label’ a child – a label won’t help us to help you and your child. There are times when it may become clear that a pupil does face an additional challenge to their learning, for example in the form of dyslexia or autistic traits, in which case identifying that challenge is useful but the purpose in any referral is to help us to improve our provision for the children we teach.
It is also always our intention to work with you and to make any referral a joint process between school and you, a process in which you are fully involved and informed. We can, as mentioned, call upon many support services for advice and support. Some of these agencies include:
– The Speech and Language Team (SALT)
Speech and Language therapists work closely with school but also with families, particularly with younger children to support them with their speech and at times their understanding.
HINT is a service which offers support across a very wide range of educational additional needs, including children who are showing dyslexic tendencies, who find it difficult to process instructions and information (this is very common in primary schools), as well as children who have attention issues or are showing possible autistic traits.
– Educational Psychology
Joanne Hoyle is our Educational Psychologist and she works with children across school in an advisory capacity, helping us to adapt our provision to support individual children and ensure that the curriculum is as accessible as possible for each child in school. She supports us with educational issues, emotional well-being needs, pastoral support and also behavioural support. Joanne is a very important member of our school staff, being in school roughly once a fortnight, and has already worked many children and families since beginning her association with school in September 2017.
– CAMHS (Children’s and Adolescent Mental Health Services)
CAMHS work with children, families and schools across the country to provide support and advice when a child’s emotional well-being or behaviour is causing concern to parents, carers and teachers. This service is in huge demand in Gateshead and Newcastle – we were recently told that they receive up to 300 referrals for support each week in our area alone.
– Early Help and Social Care
These agencies are part of Social Services and offer invaluable support to all schools across all aspects of additional needs and pupil well-being. We work closely with both of these agencies on an ongoing basis and they are especially effective when we need different support services to work together.
As most schools do, we operate a model of ‘early intervention’ which means that where we feel there may be a need for additional support, we begin the process of seeking advice straight away. This means that many of our referrals happen in the lower half of school. Over the course of a year over a quarter of our pupils will typically receive some additional support of one form or another. You can probably imagine that this means that by the time a class of children reach Year 6, most children have had some form of short term intervention! Hopefully this helps to show the full picture of support around additional needs. That figure usually surprises parents and carers and that is how it should be. Our work in providing additional support is done as sensitively and discretely as possible, meaning most people have no idea that it’s happening, not least as it is so common in school with a seemingly endless number of outside professionals being in school on a continuous basis.
I hope that you find this letter useful. If you would like to know more about any of the points mentioned, do not hesitate to get in touch with either myself (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Mrs Lowrie (email@example.com).