SEN / Individualised Learning
Individualised Learning is the title given to the provision for all students at The King’s Academy who have a special educational need, be it moderate or specific learning difficulties, sensory impairment or physical disability. Our provision for pupils with a sensory loss attracts young people from across the region.
“Individualised Learning” reflects our commitment to finding the best possible way of meeting the educational needs of individual children. In our last Ofsted report (2013) it was stated that:
Disabled students and those with special educational needs, including those in receipt of resourced provision, make good progress, because teaching is effective and the quality of care and support is excellent.”
The Academy has specialist provision for students with statements of special educational needs. This includes students who are Deaf or Hearing Impaired, are Blind or Visually Impaired or have Moderate Learning Difficulties. The Academy also provides an excellent education for children with a wide range of needs that do not necessarily fit into the specialist provision; for example children with physical disabilities or children on the autistic spectrum.
Ofsted also stated in 2009 that:
Provision for the most vulnerable students and those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities is exemplary. Outstanding inclusion practices and excellent links with external agencies support their excellent achievement.”
In order to establish these excellent practices we have to work closely with families. If you are the parent or guardian of a child with special educational needs and are considering The King’s Academy as your school of choice please contact us to discuss your child’s learning needs.
Mrs S Griffiths, Assistant Vice Principal, SENCO
Mrs Vicki Bonner, Deaf and Hearing Impairment Coordinator
Mr J Chester, Visual Impairment Coordinator
Mrs R Waistle, Moderate Learning Difficulties Coordinator
Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD)
When The King’s Academy opened it provided a forty five place Support Base for students with statements indicating that they have Moderate Learning Difficulties. Since Middlesbrough Local Authority, (LA) stopped writing statements for Moderate Learning Difficulties children with more complex learning needs have been given these places. The students are fully integrated into the Academy both academically and socially. The Academy is committed to improving the pupils’ literacy and numeracy skills and to encouraging the students to become independent learners, well prepared to follow their chosen career, when they leave the Academy.
MLD staff includes two teachers, and a number of Learning Support Assistants. Mrs R. Waistle is the Learning Co-ordinator supported by Miss S. Watson. Both are well experienced and qualified in the area of MLD support. King’s Academy is justly proud to be pioneering.
All the support assistants have acquired teaching level expertise and often additional knowledge in the area of specific learning difficulties. The MLD team take every opportunity to participate in the training of other staff, highlighting issues concerning MLD students.
Curriculum and Social Integration.
All students with a Moderate Learning Difficulties statement are fully integrated into the Academy. The school does not operate a system where students with support are educated separately from their peers. The students do receive small group or one-to-one support for specific reasons, e.g. in order to improve their literacy or numeracy skills, keyboard practice or when additional behaviour support is required.
At Key Stage 4 students follow the full range of GCSE, Entry level or BTEC courses as appropriate. They access special arrangements for their examinations such as extra time, a reader or scribe. All students participate in the Academy’s Work Experience Programme.
The students belong to tutor groups and are encouraged to participate in the full range of extra curricula activities including inter-house competitions and a Social Club that is run by the team.
The resources at the Academy are second to none. In all classrooms there is access to ICT and a Sound Field system that benefits all students. In addition there is the MLD Resource room, where a range of reading, numeracy and other learning equipment is available. Teachers within the Academy provide excellent, differentiated materials for the students. The support team also develop additional games, worksheets and practical equipment. Laptops and voice activated recorders are used when appropriate.
The MLD Support Base works closely with a full range of outside agencies. IYPP works with all the students, especially at Key Stage 4, to ensure they have a full range of Careers advice. When necessary other agencies are involved such as Educational Psychologists.
The students are welcome to access the successful Sixth Form at the Academy. They can follow an individually planned timetable that meets their needs, interests and future aspirations.
The MLD team is dedicated to providing individual support to each student placed against the Support Base for their Moderate Learning Difficulties. It encourages the pupils to function independently within the mainstream school, participating in the wide range of activities and experiences on offer. High standards of work and behaviour are set by the team with a view to producing confident, happy students. The students we work with continue to benefit from the excellent standard of educational provision provided at the King’s Academy.
Deaf and Hearing Impaired (D/HI)
The provision for children who are Deaf and hearing impaired is a specialist, resourced provision at one school and under one umbrella.
The D/HI department has developed from two predecessor schools. Coulby Newham School provided places for children with hearing impairments for 25 years, while Deaf education in Middlesbrough has a history going back 100 years. The former Beverley School for the Deaf provided for Deaf children for over 40 years before moving into King’s.
The staff of the Academy includes Teachers of the Deaf and Learning Support Assistants with qualifications and experience in hearing impairment. In addition, we employ a BSL Tutor who is herself Deaf. Provision for Deaf and Hearing Impaired pupils is led by a Learning Coordinator, who is a qualified Teacher of the Deaf and who is also responsible for the day to day management of hearing technology as well as liaising with James Cook University Hospital. Many teachers take advantage of our “in house” training in order to develop their Sign Language skills and deaf awareness.
The Academy buildings, opened in September 2003, were purpose built with the needs of hearing impaired children central to the architect’s brief. We have one of the largest soundfield systems in Britain, with every classroom equipped as part of the building programme. This equipment helps to deliver low volume, high quality sound, throughout every teaching room. It also powers the FM system. High acoustic specifications, carpets in most areas, double glazing and ceiling treatments all help to produce excellent acoustic conditions.
The Academy works closely with James Cook Hospital to offer pupils access to audiological services. Hearing tests, ear mould services, hearing aid replacement and repair are all undertaken in school by qualified, Health Service professionals. We have close links with the Connexions service and are able to offer excellent support from a dedicated careers officer. We also work with the Health Service Speech and Language Therapy Department making time and space available for their staff to work in the Academy.
We engage a Sign Language Interpreter for all major Academy events (Parents Evenings, Open Evenings, Dramatic Performances, etc), so that access is open to all students and parents who prefer Sign as their communication mode.
Curriculum and Hearing Impaired Students
The mission of the King’s Academy is to provide the very highest quality of educational experience to all our pupils. This is equally true for Deaf and Hearing Impaired children. All pupils are equal members of the Academy, belonging to tutor groups and our House system. They are encouraged to play a full part in all aspects of Academy life, from drama productions to football teams and from playing music in assembly to the inter house quiz. We also run an after school Deaf Club at which deaf and hearing impaired pupils of all ages are encouraged to meet and socialise. This group has included sport coaching and a weekend visit to the Lake District amongst its activities. We also run a Sports Ability club after school, where coaching is offered by staff from the Disability Sports Association.
When it comes to the really serious business of lessons, we again want all children to join in groups at their own ability level. They may be supported in this by LSAs or teachers. Children with hearing impairments can, and do, find themselves in any group, from the very highest academic level to the one offering most support to children with learning difficulties. However, in recognition of the very particular learning needs of some deaf children, we are also able to offer lessons designed and taught by teachers of the deaf. This small group provision, where needed, is the equal of anything offered at a special school for deaf children. We feel that this makes the provision at King’s very special indeed. The overall impact of this range of provision is to offer hearing impaired children a unique educational experience – All the benefits of a top quality Academy are combined with key features of a special school for the deaf in one establishment.
Another new opportunity, never previously available to children with a sensory loss in this area, is our 6th Form. Students at the Academy are encouraged to think of their school as an 11 to 19 school, at which they are able to continue their studies beyond the statutory leaving age. The opportunity to enjoy the level of support which is available at the Academy represents a significant broadening of the range of choices available at 16+. These students are encouraged to play an equal part in the life of the Academy – not just through academic work of a high standard, but through leadership and role modelling. The 6th Form at King’s is a great success and is delighted that students with a sensory loss are able to share in that success.
Any student who has not been at King’s is very welcome to approach the Academy to find out more information about the opportunities we can offer.
As a school which is home to a community of deaf children, we are constantly looking to improve our deaf awareness and to improve the suitability of both the design and delivery of our curriculum. Hearing impaired children who come to the King’s Academy should expect to work hard, behave well, and achieve success in their studies. We offer what we believe to be an outstanding range of opportunities and we are proud to be able to share those opportunities with hearing impaired children from across the North East.
Visually Impaired (VI)
Our aim is to provide an inclusive education for all students with visual impairment within the King’s Academy.
Students with visual impairment will enter a community where they will be encouraged to develop their personal, social academic and adaptive skills, through interacting with their sighted and visually impaired peers. They will realise their potential and develop the skills required to lead full lives.
Provision for the visually impaired in Middlesbrough has developed over many years, allowing the King’s Academy to draw on a wealth of experience. Since its opening The King’s Academy has been proud to offer educational opportunities to children with a range of visual impairments, including Braille users.
Who are pupils with a visual impairment?
Visual Impairment is diagnosed medically and can have a massive impact on the pupil’s ability to access the curriculum. The term, “visually impaired” covers the full range of impairment from blindness requiring Braille and tactile methods to less severe VI requiring minimum intervention including those “grey” areas where pupils require a mixture of teaching approaches. We believe that the King’s Academy is able to offer an outstanding range of educational opportunities to these children.
Which pupils may be able to come to the King’s Academy?
Some pupils will have attended Sunnyside Primary School which has a primary resource for the VI. Some will have attended other primary schools, but are recommended to attend a school with a resource base at secondary stage in order to access the specialist teaching and resources at The King’s Academy. Not all of these children will have been educated in Middlesbrough – other LAs can apply for places if they feel unable to meet a student’s needs in their own schools.
Students admitted to The King’s Academy are often referred through the Children’s Service for the Visually Impaired, based in Middlesbrough Teaching and Learning Centre, who liaise with the Inclusion Service of Middlesbrough LA.
The staff for visually impaired children is led by Mr J Chester Qualified Teacher of the Visually Impaired (QTVI), our Learning Co-ordinator for VI. She is supported by qualified and experienced support assistants. Visiting staff currently include a fully qualified and experienced Mobility Officer for the Visually Impaired who is employed by the CSVI. Selected students are taken for mobility training, which includes routes around the school, around the school area, home area and in the area in which the individual students use (e.g. local libraries, shops etc.). The Mobility Officer will always be involved at times of change…e.g. one school to another, school to college, work experience placements, or if a student’s vision deteriorates.
Curriculum and social
All pupils with visual impairment are equal members of the Academy, belong to tutor groups and are members of the house system. The rules and regulations and expectations of the Academy apply equally to the students with VI. Students with VI are encouraged to play a full part in all aspects of academy life, including in recent years, the swimming gala, the productions of Oliver, Bugsy and Hello Dolly, the annual talent competition, and singing in assembly. Students with VI have moved on to 6th Form and have already achieved outstanding results.
Students with Visual Impairment are included in academic groups at their own ability level. They may be supported in the lesson by the QTVI or by a learning support assistant. There is always a member of support staff in practical lessons, such as food, and science experiments.
Much of the work of the team goes on “behind the scenes” – Resources that are used by the subject teachers in their lessons have to be adapted for use by the students with visual impairment.
The Academy building was designed and built to be accessible by children with visual impairments. The building is easy for them to find their way around; there are Braille labels on all the rooms and colour coded areas for those who can see and who have full colour vision. VI students learn their way around quickly with the help of the mobility teacher and staff from VI base.
The computer facilities are excellent and are accessible to all the VI pupils. The IT support department ensure that profiles are individual to the VI pupils. There is a screen reader system and a Braille translation programme. The VI Resource Base has specialist equipment for the students to use, including for example, task lighting, “talking” microwave, jug kettle, scales, thermometers, and tape measure, a supply of magnifiers for close work and telescopes/binoculars for distance. The large CCTV is placed in the library to provide magnification of books in situ.
The King’s Academy is an 11 to 19 school and pupils are encouraged to think in those terms. There is no obligation to move on to a new location at 16 – In fact, we are able to offer continuity of support and quality of support which is not available elsewhere. We would like The King’s Academy to become the natural place for children with visual impairments to continue their education beyond the age of 16.
The King’s Academy offers an outstanding range of educational opportunities for children who have visual impairments. They should expect to work hard, behave well and succeed in their studies.