The School, and within it, the Individual Needs Department aims to provide all students with equal access to the curriculum and every aspect of school life, to support them so that they can achieve their full potential academically. The main focus of the department’s work is to ensure that students become as independent as possible in their learning, and less reliant on the intervention of other adults. A second major theme of the department’s work is to raise literacy standards, in particular those in writing and reading comprehension, which are crucial to long-term success.
Island School accepts students with a wide range of ability, some of whom have Special Educational Needs. The Individual Needs Department is responsible for identifying these students, and supporting them both directly and through collaborative work with mainstream teachers. Our approach to meeting the Special Educational Needs of our students is loosely based on the ESF wave model. Students’ Special Educational Needs are identified using information passed on from Primary schools, from school-based assessments and from concerns raised by parents, students, staff or other relevant bodies.
A range of strategies are employed, to ensure that the school meets the needs of these students. These include:
Withdrawal groups for students in Years 8 and 9 for students with literacy development needs. They are taught in place of a modern foreign language.
In both Years 7 and 8 an English support group exists, with reduced student numbers (14-20) and two teachers, to boost the progress of identified students. Every form in Years 7-8 has a fortnightly English Library lesson which is also supported by an Educational Assistant from the I.N. department.
In-class support from educational assistants in some Maths, Science, Humanities and Island Time classes.
1:1 Social Thinking sessions for students with identified difficulties with their social communication. This incorporates elements of Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking, and Zones of Regulation
The 16-week PEERS programme is also used, in the Elements programme, with students in years 9-11 with identified difficulties in their social communication.
Liaison between Individual Needs Support staff and mainstream staff (on academic and pastoral issues).
Special examination arrangements for some students at both IGCSe and IB level.
The dissemination of relevant information to staff through regular updates to the Individual Needs Register.
The provision of advice and training to staff on a variety of learning needs/strategies.
Meetings with parents to discuss intervention strategies and Student Support Plans (SSPs).
When necessary, referrals can be made to the Educational Psychologist.
When a student is identified as having Special Educational Needs his or her name is placed on the school’s Individual Needs Register in one of the following categories:
Level of Adjustment 1: subject teacher is responsible for ensuring student progress through differentiation of materials and assessments.
Level of Adjustment 2: subject teachers and Individual Needs teachers liaise to establish appropriate programs of intervention.
The school also has a specialist Learning Support Class (LSC) for students at Levels of Adjustment 3-4. From August 2016, 12 students will have designated places within this class. Entry to this class is regulated by ESF, as with all other ESF schools. Provision for students within the LSC can include many of the elements above, but goes further in offering a distinctly different programme when it is deemed to be in the student’s educational interests. This often includes elements of withdrawal, subject by subject.
The school’s Individual Needs Register is not a fixed entity – students may enter, leave or move between stages according to their particular circumstances.
The school’s Special Educational Needs policy is available here, and is based on the ESF’s template.
Gifted and Talented Policy – Rationale and Definition
The initial context for the school to develop a policy on making provision for gifted and talented students was the 2002 OFSTED inspection that highlighted a need to ‘challenge’ the more able in Key Stage 3. At the same time the ESF placed it on their Development Plan. The subsequent ESF Gifted and Talented Curriculum group has stated that
“All students have the right to access a comprehensive curriculum that provides relevant and worthwhile educational programmes, that acknowledges differences in pace and learning styles and that enables them to participate, learn and experience success. The ESF recognises the need to offer and deliver a differentiated curriculum that enables gifted students to achieve their full potential and, at the same time, provide for their social and emotional needs”.
Island School policy is to provide as many opportunities as possible for ALL students to be stretched academically in different aspects of the curriculum, rather than identifying a particular cohort for these opportunities. This educational offering is provided within both the subject areas, the cross-curricular lessons and in extra-curricular programmes such as Mathematics competitions.