It is my privilege to introduce myself as Otford Primary School Assistant Head Teacher, leading on inclusion. I have twenty-six years teaching experience, fourteen years as SENCO, nine years as Deputy Head Teacher and have worked in three primary schools. I have been a member of staff at Otford since 2016 and it is a joy being a part of the school community. Otford has a supportive, nurturing team where all children are encouraged to thrive.
Our inclusive Otford vision is to create a safe, supportive learning environment that is adapted to meet the varying special educational needs of our children, enabling them to thrive and experience success. All children need to feel valued and have a sense of identity to have the courage to acknowledge their strengths and grow into independent learners that accept their mistakes and build resilience. We guide our children to value themselves as unique individuals and come together to celebrate difference as we work within our community as a kind team. Our children are entitled to an enriched curriculum to promote curiosity of the world we live in and are resourceful to learn in different ways. We encourage our children to be open-minded and acknowledge the importance of personal growth academically, socially and emotionally. It is vital that we remove barriers to achievement and progress and promote partnership with our parent community to ensure our children attain good progress and achieve their potential by the end of year 6.
Identification of children with additional needs.
At Otford, we believe there are 3 key influences that interactively affect pupil’s learning and development: time, personal characteristics and environment.
Time- Children's development is not linear: children transition through different patterns of development over time as they experience and interact with different environments in different ways. Some children might not have additional needs to begin with but will develop as they mature. Others who are considered to have additional needs at the beginning of their lives may no longer have these needs later in life.
Personal Characteristics- Children have different characteristics that lead them to react differently to the same environment. Personal characteristics alone do not determine the presence, type or complexity of additional need or special educational need.
Environment- Children's needs will change as they move through different environments and life experiences.
We recognise that children's needs change and we must create a positive and supportive environment for all children without exception.
The SEND Code of Practice (2015) groups needs into four broad areas of special educational needs:
Cognition and learning
Communication and Interaction
Social, emotional and mental health
Sensory and physical needs.
At Otford, we recognise that children are unique individuals and know that we need to understand the individual characteristics of children's needs and how these relate to the classroom environment and curriculum. We focus on the individual learning needs of the child rather than the condition or diagnosis that a child might have. The question is therefore not, "What is most effective for pupils with dyslexia?" the question is always, "What does this individual child need to thrive?"
At Otford, we believe in equity and access to an enriched curriculum and adapt the environment to enable our children to thrive. Research shows that in class support through quality teaching has the greatest impact on children’s academic progress and well-being. Otford has a differentiation culture that is promoted through an 8R structure-room, relationships, resources, response, relevance, resilience, recall, retention.
Room- adaptions to the learning space will reflect & promote engagement, allowing space for different ways of learning & recognising children’s different learning needs.
Relationships-the adults in the room will know the children and will provide personal check in times to meet the different social, emotional and mental health needs of the class.
Resources-learning aids, visual cues, manipulatives and equipment will be used to provide access to the learning.
Response-adaptations to our responses with regard to declarative language and processing time will support the children with language, social, emotional and mental health needs.
Relevance-passports are used to discover what inspires and engages the children and discover what their interests and motivations are.
Resilience-a culture where it is safe to make mistakes as part of the learning process is promoted. Self-esteem and confidence are drivers in building this can do culture.
Recall (short term memory)-differentiated questioning is used to prompt what we know and support the recall of learning.
Retention-(long term memory) Meta-cognition strategies to promote recall and retrieval are used to promote independent learning and a recognition of what they know and understand.
At Otford, we believe in-class focussed guided groups and adaptations through the 8R model will lead to the best outcomes for our children. Focussed additional support is also planned to compliment children’s in class learning, providing opportunities for catch up learning, over learning, review of misconceptions and or specific social and emotional interventions.
Children’s well-being is at the heart of all that we do at Otford and our core values of kindness, courage and curiosity are embedded within our enriched curriculum. The PSHE curriculum offers specific opportunities for our children to explore their own identity and feelings as well as connect with others and develop empathy. At lunch times children have opportunities to go to a games club or mindfulness group if the bustle of the playground is too much for them. Equally, we have a Listening Ear strategy that children can attend if they have any worries or would like to talk to an adult. Qualified counsellors also provide bespoke support for children with specific emotional or mental health issues.
A cycle of assess, plan, do, review is integral in identifying our children’s specific needs as well as monitoring their academic, social and emotional progress. Teachers, learning partners and SENCO meet three times a year to review children’s progress, discuss their needs and plan support. In response to the outcomes, provision adaptations are implemented and resources redeployed to ensure impact is effective. Provision plans record the focus of the in class support and interventions to target the learning.
Ongoing teacher assessment is used to monitor children’s academic, social and emotional progress through marking, verbal feedback and observations, which is validated by end of term unit tests to track attainment and progress in reading, spelling, writing and maths. Attendance is also tracked as research shows that this can be a barrier to children’s attainment and progress.
Teachers will discuss children’s progress and provision as part of the twice yearly parent consultation.
We are committed to working with our parent community to ensure our children feel safe, happy and make progress academically, socially and emotionally. If parents have any concerns about their child's academic, social or emotional well being they are encouraged to arrange a meeting with their child's class teacher. Following this, if parents would like an appointment with myself please use the online booking system https://www.schoolinterviews.co.uk/
Parents will see me on the playground before and after school, on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday so do come and introduce yourselves to me. I look forward to meeting you and working in partnership with you.
Please find a range of useful website links below, which provide information and useful tips on how we can support our children with their specific special educational needs.