Individual Needs

Learning Support for Individual Needs

The school and the Individual Needs Department aim 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, spelling and reading, which are crucial to long-term success.

Island School accepts students with a wide range of abilities, some of whom have special educational needs (SEN). 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 standardized 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 7, 8 and 9 for students with literacy development needs. They are taught in place of a foreign language or other lesson, negotiated between the student, parents, teachers and the IN department.
  • In-class support from educational assistants in Maths, Science, and the Humanities.
  • Social thinking sessions for those with autism and other students with marked difficulties with social communication in Years 7-10.
  • The PEERS programme, for students in Years 9 to 11, for those with autism and other students with marked difficulties with social communication, on a biannual basis.
  • Liaison between Individual Needs Support staff and mainstream staff (on academic and pastoral issues).
  • Special examination arrangements (such as extra time or use of a laptop) for some students.
  • For those considering the USA as a potential university destination, it is important to make the school’s Head of Individual Needs aware of any learning difficulties and the existence of professional reports, as early as possible (Year 7).
  • The dissemination of relevant information to staff through regular updates to the Individual Needs Register. 30 Island School
  • 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) where necessary.
  • Although a limited resource, referrals can be made to the Educational Psychologist when necessary

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 programmes of intervention.

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 also has provision for those students who are at Levels of Adjustment 3-4, where significant modification to the mainstream curriculum is required, typically entailing withdrawal from a range of mainstream subject lessons. Admission to this level of Learning Support provision is controlled through ESF’s central AR (Admission and Review) process, and places are strictly limited. At present, this facility is full.

The school’s SEN policy is available on the school’s website and is based on the ESF’s template.

Any enquiries should be addressed to Mr. Mark Rutter, Head of Learning Development and Individual Needs at, mark.rutter@online.island.edu.hk

Gifted and Talented Policy

Island School’s policy is to provide for students within its curriculum. For students who may be defined as gifted, or talented, it is the class teacher’s responsibility to ensure that there are opportunities in every lesson to extend their knowledge, thinking and learning.

Additionally, there are specific aspects of the curriculum where gifted, or talented, students can take their learning further. For example, international competitions in Maths, the ‘Solo E’ project in Year 8 Island Learning, the Battle of the Books Club and Science competitions, to name but a few. In the Middle School (Years 9 to 11), students are given the opportunity to choose from a wide variety of courses. In addition to the large number of GCSE courses, students can choose from over 50 Elements courses that offer increased breadth and depth. Many of these, such as Law, Cryptography and Brilliant Books, provide opportunities for gifted and talented students to extend their learning beyond the traditional curriculum.

Students may also want to take advantage of the extra-curricular opportunities available, such as the Robotics club or become involved in the well-established debating team.