GOVERNOR UPDATE – DECEMBER 2019
I thought that I would use the opportunity of this update to focus on just one aspect of our school life – Special Educational Needs (SEN). Is it not the case though that every child in Thorley Hill is special? Of course, the answer to that is a resounding - yes! A school does not get to be 110th in the Sunday Times list of the top 250 primary schools in the whole country without that sort of ethos at its very heart but the truth is that not every child is the same. Only some 14 % of our children are in the SEN category so the vast majority of parents/carers may have little idea of how the school treats those that need a bit of extra care and attention. This article lifts the curtains a little and gives us a look inside.
Our Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) is responsible for ensuring that all pupils with additional needs receive the right help to reduce barriers to making progress. This might involve the child working on a one-to-one basis, in pairs or in small groups. The SENCo might use, or facilitate the use of, bespoke literacy or numeracy programmes to encourage particular learning needs. She works with class teachers to enhance progress by the use of individual support plans (ISPs) and strategic interventions. Where needs are more complex, she will be the focal point in working with external professionals and will take on the role of Lead Professional where there is multi-agency involvement. Sometimes, support is not just about learning. Children might struggle with friendship problems, anxiety or trauma, for example, and this is where our SENCo makes an impact as well. She is trained in dealing with autism, speech and language, mental health first aid, Protective Behaviours and many other aspects of SEN work.
A while ago, I asked our SENCo how she would judge success. If I was an Ofsted inspector, then I am sure that I would be anticipating a statistical analysis by way of an answer. Sure enough, there are some meaty statistics that show the success of the SEN area of our school – the percentage of SEN children achieving age related expectations in reading, writing and maths in 2019 were all up considerably on the same figures the previous year. I did not get a statistical answer, what I got was that a measure of success in the SEN category is when you see that a child is happy and confident in spite of their additional needs. When children are happy, they learn. I found that a humbling answer at the time. I still do.
Enjoy your children this Christmas. They are all special and these primary school years pass by all too quickly.
VICE CHAIR OF GOVERNORS