Special Educational Needs
Thornhill Academy is an inclusive school, which ensures students, parents/carers and staff work together to make sure the needs of pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN) are met.
The school recognises and works towards supporting students with needs in four broad areas:
- Communication and interaction
- Cognition and Learning
- Social, Emotional, and Mental Health
- Sensory and/or Physical.
Some students with an SEN may have a diagnosed learning disability such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, or ASD, others may have a more generalised learning need. The school works closely with students, to ensure their needs are met within lessons, and that they make progress throughout their time here.
To find out more about the arrangements for SEN provision at Thornhill Academy, you can visit the policies section of the website, or, you can click on the questions below:
How does the school find out whether my child has a special educational need?
A special educational need (SEN) is a barrier to a child’s learning, which means that they may not be making as much progress as they should be. The barrier could be caused by a range of factors, for example: a medical condition, a learning disability (such as dyslexia or dyspraxia), social, emotional or behavioural difficulties.
Students are placed on the SEN register at Thornhill Academy through a number of pathways:
- If a child is on the SEN register in primary school before coming to Thornhill Academy, they will transfer straight across onto our SEN register.
- Parents can contact the SENCo or Head of House, to discuss concerns that they have regarding their child’s learning. The SENCo will then discuss with the child’s teachers, whether they share the same concerns. If there is evidence of a learning barrier, the child will be placed on the SEN register.
- Termly meetings are held with Directors of Learning, during these, students may be highlighted as making less progress than they should. The SENCo will look at the barriers behind a child’s progress, and if there is evidence of a learning barrier, the child will be placed on the SEN register.
- Class teachers may make a referral to the SENCo, as a result of concerns that they have around a child. The SENCo will look at the barriers behind a child’s progress, and if there is evidence of a learning barrier, the child will be placed on the SEN register.
- If a parent has allowed the sharing of information, a medical professional (such as a paediatrician), may inform the school of an underlying medical reason which is creating a child’s barrier to learning.
In all cases, parents are made aware of any concerns that mean their child is not making progress.
My child is currently in Year 6, and we are considering Thornhill as an option. What support will we receive during the transition process?
Once we are made aware that a child with an SEN will be coming to Thornhill Academy, we liaise with your child’s current SENCo. The SENCo from Thornhill Academy will attend your child’s last review meeting, which gives us an opportunity to set out a plan for transition. Information from this meeting may be shared with your child’s teachers at Thornhill Academy, to help them prepare to teach your child from their first lesson.
All students who come from Year 6 to Thornhill will have the opportunity to spend some days here before the summer holidays, but we do realise that SEN students may require more time to make the adjustments.
Some SEN students are highlighted as needing additional transition arrangements, these students will be invited into the school, with parents, to meet the Learning Support team and also get to know some of the other SEN students who will be in their class.
Additional visits and transition arrangements can be made, depending on the need of your child.
If my child has a special educational need, will they be kept away from non-SEN students?
Thornhill Academy is an inclusive school, and we encourage all students, regardless of ability to mix with each other. Some classes will be taught in smaller groups to make sure that our SEN students can access the right level of support; however, all students are expected to be part of a mixed ability tutor group.
If your child’s SEN means that they struggle with larger groups and social time, lunchtime clubs are available daily within the SEN department, to allow them to feel comfortable at school.
How does the school make sure that my child, with SEN is making progress?
At Thornhill Academy, we closely monitor the progress of all students. Parents will receive a termly print out of their child’s progress, which they can talk through with their child.
Progress of students is monitored at three levels – class, department and leadership.
- The class teacher will monitor the progress of students in their class, and offer additional support for students who are not progressing at a satisfactory rate.
- Where the class teacher has tried to support the student, but progress is still slow, the Director of Learning will be informed and the student will receive additional interventions.
- The leadership team, Heads of House and SENCo also meet on a termly basis, to discuss the progress made by students within the school. Additional school support is offered as a result of this to targeted students.
In addition to this, the SENCo also looks at progress data for SEN students and uses this to support the review process, to make sure that outcomes are set that support the child in achieving their target grades.
Information and assessment data that is collected around your child, will be shared with you during SEN review meetings, which will happen on a termly basis. During these meetings, we will also decide whether the support that is in place is still appropriate for your child, or whether the support needs to be changed.
The support that your child receives, will be allocated based on their needs. Each student is allocated support and resources based on their individual needs, but may include:
- Access to fidget/self-regulatory toys in lessons
- Access to a teaching assistant for part or all of the lesson
- Access to additional provision during break and lunchtimes
- A time out pass
- Safe spaces
- A differentiated curriculum
- Additional intervention sessions around numeracy, literacy or social skills.
- Behavioural support
- School counselling/ mentoring
- Small group or 1:1 support
- Visual resources
Please note that this list is not exhaustive and simply gives some of our more commonly used support.
All teaching staff also have access to an SEN tool kit, which includes: reading rulers, ear defenders, fidget toys, coloured screens, magnifiers, regulation fans. This is to support students with specific needs in accessing their lessons.
Any resources that are bespoke to your child, are secured in school so that they can be accessed the next day.
Who will be involved in the review process?
Parents and SEN students are central to the review process.
During the review process, we will talk with yourself and your child, to check that the provision in school is helping to support their needs.
On occasion, we may also invite key people from external agencies, if they are involved with your child. These people or organisations may include:
- Educational Psychologist
- Teacher of the Deaf
- Autism Outreach Team
- NHS Speech & Language Therapy
- NHS Occupational Therapy & Physiotherapy
- NHS Children’s and Young Peoples Services (CYPs)
- Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)
- EAL Advisor
- Children’s Social Care Team
- Behavioural support service
- Youth Offending Team
If an external agency is unable to attend a meeting, they are sometimes able to send information to the school, to help support the target setting process.
Are staff in Thornhill qualified to teach students with SEN?
All teachers are qualified to teach students with a special educational need. As a school, we deliver regular training sessions, to refresh staff knowledge and to update them on any changes that they need to be aware of. Staff also receive regular, confidential, fortnightly SEN bulletins, which will give them additional information about specific students on the SEN register.
How do teachers support students with an SEN in the classroom?
Support provided by staff for SEN students depends on a child’s individual needs. Staff have access to a child’s learning support plan, which gives them an overview of an individual students difficulties, as well as a list of strategies that work for that child. Some examples of these strategies include:
- Differentiated resources
- Scaffolded tasks
- Additional time to complete class/ exam work
- Support from a TA
- Coloured resources
- Increased visual resources
- Enlarged text
- Access to a school counsellor
- Time out pass
- 1:1 support
- Additional subject interventions
- Provision in the nurture group
- Social skills clubs
Staff have an expectation to follow the guidance set out on a child’s support plan.
Does the school offer any support in choosing a placement after Year 11?
Where a child goes after Year 11, is an important decision. In school, we work closely with the connexions service and colleges, to ensure that students have a place that is suitable to their needs.
What services does the school work with to help support my child?
The academy works with a range of external agencies, depending on the need of the child. These include:
- Community CAMHs
- Educational Psychologists
- Occupational Therapy
- Children and Young Peoples Services
- Speech and Language Therapy
- Autism Outreach Team
- Behavioural Support
As well as any other service that supports your SEN child.
How does the Academy support my child’s social and emotional development?
The Social and Emotional development of all children at Thornhill is a priority, and students are supported through the school's pastoral system.
As a school, we understand that some students do require additional social and emotional support, particularly those with an SEN. The school offers a range of services to support students with their social and emotional development, including; access to a school counsellor, breakfast club, the star fish club, mental health caseworkers. We also work closely with CYPs and CAMHs.
How can the school support my SEN child through their GCSE examinations?
Students carry out work around revision skills from Year 7 at Thornhill Academy, within their tutor groups. This is reinforced every year before they begin their end of year exams. Some SEN students may need additional support within their exams. As a school, we can assess a student (in line with JCQ guidelines), to see whether they are entitled to an exams access arrangement. This could include:
- 25% additional time
- Use of a reader
- Use of a scribe
- Modification of a paper (enlarged text/ different coloured background).
Exams access arrangements are rewarded on an individual basis and only following strict JCQ guidelines. Students will need to carry out additional tests to demonstrate that they qualify for the arrangements as well as demonstrate that they have a significant learning need. In most cases, students are identified for access in Year 9 and parents are informed of this decision.
Does the school offer support for my child outside of the classroom?
The academy offers support for students both within and outside of the classroom. The support offered depends upon the need of the child, and will be discussed during your transition visit, and reviewed termly.
I am not happy with the provision that is currently in place for my child. What can I do?
In the first instance, you should contact your child’s Head of House, or the SENCo. You may
be asked to come into school, to discuss how we can better support your child.
If you feel that your concerns have not been addressed, then you can contact the Head
teacher, who may direct you to the school’s Complaints Policy and Procedure.
If you wish to talk to somebody at Thornhill about SEN, contact the SENCO on 0191 5007981, alternatively, you can email, firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also find additional information and support by clicking here, which will take you to the Sunderland local offer.