Longhill High School - How we meet SEN needs

How do you know if my child/young person needs extra help?

The SENCO at Longhill visits every primary school that is sending us children with known special needs. On this visit, there will be a meeting with the primary school SENCO and any other appropriate staff (such as a 121 TA, learning mentor or a class teacher). Details of your child's needs and what works to help them will be gathered. This important information is then used to inform our support for students in year 7. We make sure all the teachers have a copy of key facts right from the very first day of term so they can plan for your child to be included. Sometimes, we will try to do the same things that the primary school did.To prepare for life after Longhill, some of our students might be invited to join our "Foundation Studies"programme.

Sometimes we might do more, sometimes we might do less because your child has made progress. You can talk to the SENCO about what you think they might need around the time your child knows they are coming to us but to get the best information, the SENco will also be at the Year 6 parents evening at Longhill and can make time for you there. Specific questions about proposed support can usually be answered at this time. Just to be sure we haven't missed anyone, we also check what we have been told by screening the students once they join us to make sure we know about any reading and spelling needs they might have. We also check other needs (such as ability and social skills) in various ways.

As soon as possible in the first term, we will send you a letter telling you if we have entered your child onto our special needs register. We will tell you what the entry says, what it is for and which member of the learning support team will be your key contact. If we think your child has a need we didn't know about from primary we will tell you and work out together what is best to do.

What should I do if I think my child/young person may have special educational needs?

The SENCO and the head of year 7 work very closely together so if you are worried about your child and want to discuss their needs with us, tell us! You can either email us directly, call us or speak to the mentor of your child. In some cases the mentor might be able to reassure you or answer your queries so this is a good place to start. In some cases, they might refer you to a member of the learning support team. If we are worried about your child or just want to update you with information, we will call you or write to you.

How will staff support my child/young person?

Once your child with special needs is on our roll, you will be given the name of a teacher who works in Learning Support. As well as the SENCO, we have a deputy SENCO, a full time learning support teacher and a part time learning support teacher. We also have three teachers who work in our special facility. These staff are all really dedicated and will know about your child. In some cases, they will directly support your child either in the classroom or in a small group. Usually, they will also be directing the work of the teaching assistants who go into your child's classes, to make sure they know the best way to help your child achieve and make progress. They will also receive feedback from the TA's about how well your child is doing, with the support on offer. This means if we've got it wrong, or if a new need seems to have arisen, we can usually pick it up quite quickly. If your child has a statement/EHC Plan, this Key Support teacher will be the one you see for Annual Reviews. You will be given their email address and a phone number and you can contact them at any time. All the teachers in the school will have a copy of the special needs register so they know which member of the learning support team to see if they are not sure how best to help your child. We help the teachers too, if they need extra support to understand your child's needs.

How will the curriculum be matched to my child/young person’s needs? 

Each class teacher is responsible for making sure the work they set is right for the student's they teach. They will use the information in our special needs register to help them do this. Sometimes the Learning Support department might help them do this. When we have a child who has quite unique needs or very complicated needs, we run special training sessions for the staff so they know what to do. We also run sessions for all the teachers, cover supervisors and trainee teachers on how to make work more accessible for those with more basic extra needs. If you feel your child has a teacher who is not aware of their needs, speak to the key support teacher. They will check for you.

How will both you and I know how my child/young person is doing? 

There are several set times in the year for parents and carers to meet the staff. These are called parents evenings and subject surgeries. Usually, these follow a school report so you can check what we think we know and then make appointments with us to discuss it. As well as the class teachers, the learning support teachers are at these events too. The learning support staff will usually contact you to make an appointment. We don't use the same online bookable system as the other staff because we like to make appointments that are the right length to discuss your child's needs. For some parents, this might only be five minutes but sometimes we will both want longer. Our department admin assistant will make these arrangements between you and us. You can speak to us at any time though and make an appointment to come and see us if you want to. You do not have to wait for a parents evening. If there is something we think you should know, or if we want to ask you for more information about your child, we will make sure we ring you.

How will you help me to support my child/young person’s learning?

There are several ways we do this. Talking together is probably the best and most often used one. The Key Support teacher will share information with you about what works for your child. This can include discussions and advice about how you can help them at home. Sometimes we will both want more advice so the school might approach one of our outside agencies for extra information. We can either have a meeting with us all together or we can speak to them on your behalf and feed back. We will work with you to see what works for you, based on your individual circumstances. Some of our agencies are even flexible enough to do home visits or make telephone calls to you at a convenient time, including out of "normal" school hours once your child is on their case load. Some of our working parents find this especially helpful. Some parents feel they would like one of the support teachers to come to an outside meeting with them. We will try to do this if we possibly can. The school also runs training sessions for parents at some of our parents evenings. In the past, topics like "The Teenage Brain"; "Cyberbullying"; "Tips for Parenting Teens" and "Maths for the Terrified" have been offered!

What support will there be for my child/young person’s overall wellbeing? 

We take your child's well-being very seriously at Longhill and there are lots and lots of things we do to help young people. Some of these are; learning mentor support, in class support, withdrawal work for literacy, speech and language or social skills support. We offer anger management programmes, circles of friends, exam support, organisation support. We have run physio sessions and helped students use special equipment. We have a special club at lunchtime for students who find the field and the canteen too much to cope with. We do so many things we can't list them all here- mainly because we believe every single young person is important. Sometimes we might think they have a need that we must try something totally new for- we will try hard to do this and we will be open to your ideas. Some of our students need to take tablets and medicines through the day. Our student services department helps with this. Some of our students need help with personal care. We will usually identify a small group of staff who can provide that, who your child feels comfortable with. We think it is really important your child can tell us what they think of what we do. As a school we have several ways to do that. The typical student at Longhill soon learns we are open to hearing their views and speaking together is often the easiest way. However, we also have several surveys that we get the students to do each year and these are totally anonymous. They tell us what the students think as groups. We also have a strong student council and the students can see one of the council members (photos of them are up so the students know who they are). They can tell the council member their views and these can be bought up at the next council meeting.

How will you prepare and support my child/young person with transitions?

We have two "transition learning mentors" who just work with our year 7. They start to visit all the students joining us in year 7 from when the secondary school allocations are released. They will see every child at least once. The most vulnerable children have many visits and do lots of one to one work to help them get ready to join our community. Sometimes this includes extra visits to the school to reduce anxieties or to get to know key people. These staff can build a good relationship with your child and will continue to support them in Year 7, until the new year group in Yr 6 are ready to start their transition.

If your child has a particular friend you know they rely on and who you want them to be with, let us know! Unless the primary school advises this isn't in their best interests, we will make it happen. Sometimes, our very best friends might not be our best learning partners but we look at this carefully. We work closely with the mentors in Year 7 to get a clear understanding of the students and how they present in their new school. Sometimes, we need to make changes to support because the student works better or less well than we thought they might and we do this as quickly as we can.

To prepare for life after Longhill, some of our students might be invited to join our "Foundation Studies"programme. This is a life skills course that runs in year 10 and 11 and helps prepare students for the world of work or college. Usually, this is offered to students with statements/EHC Plans we think will benefit from a longer lead in to transitions. There's a school wide PSHE programme to help students apply to college. Sometimes, certain students need more than this standard programme and we work with them and their families on this. For students who have or had a statement/EHC Plan a careful transition will be organised. This could involve support from any relevant agencies

How are resources allocated and matched to my child/young person’s special educational needs?

The school receives it's SEND budget from the local authority. We review this annually and the school frequently spends additional money on support for our young people. The money is to make sure we can fulfil the aims of our SEND policy and as such is spent in the manner laid out in our SEND policy.

How are decisions made about what type and how much support my child/young person will receive? 

There is no one set way because the students we support are all different. Every two weeks, the SENCO meets with the head of year. At this meeting, we think about the students with extra needs and look at whether things might need to change. This could include extra support being added or support being changed or reduced. It will always be based on information like concern from parents or staff; new information from an outside agency; information from the child themselves or scores on a test or a report. At this meeting, we will decide who else we need to consult. Sometimes this is just one person (for example a head of department to request a child moves a teaching group, where a parent might have requested this).

Sometimes it will involve lots of people and to make this work well, we would usually call a meeting so everyone can have their say and hear each other. Each time something like this happens, the parent will be asked their view or asked to come to the meeting. Sometimes, we might know a student needs a certain support but there might be a waiting list for it to happen. Although we hate making people wait, sometimes it is unavoidable. If this is the case, we will let you know and try to tell you how long you might have to wait. If things change (get better or worse) this might change how quickly your child is seen. It is important you tell us if you think things are changing so we can bear this in mind.

How are parents involved in the setting?

We think it is really important your child can tell us what they think of what we do. As a school we have several ways to do that. The typical student at Longhill soon learns we are open to hearing their views and speaking together is often the easiest way. However, we also have several surveys that we get the students to do each year and these are totally anonymous. They tell us what the students think as groups.

Parents views are always welcome. As previously mentioned, all staff email addresses are on the website or you can call us at the school. We have a valued and active parent governors committee. You are part of our school community too as parents and we value your feedback. There are anonymous slips to tell us what you think at most parent's evenings if you prefer to approach us less directly. Of course we also have a complaints procedure but we hope you never need to use that! Details are on the website.