There is no stigma attached to needing additional support for specific learning differences at Abbotsholme. In line with the school’s ethos, we look to the strengths in our pupils, so self esteem and confidence are raised accordingly.
The School offers specialised help to a limited number of children with average or above average ability who have specific learning differences such as dyslexia, dyspraxia or dyscalculia. The aim of this support is to build up each pupil’s confidence and competence to enable them to achieve the highest standard of which they are capable.
The children we can best help
Children with specific learning differences can flourish in the school if they are willing and able to take advantage of the specialised help to enable them to overcome their particular difficulties. The children need to be well motivated both to hold their own in class and fulfil their potential. The School is not able to accept children with primary emotional or behavioural difficulties.
Essentially we are a school for pupils who are able to follow an academic programme but we can admit a proportion of pupils who have appropriate levels of intellectual ability, who also need some specialist help to overcome their specific learning differences. Many have previously experienced difficulties which have caused a lack of confidence and other secondary problems.
We have a team of qualified and experienced specialist teachers, who are able to provide help at all stages. The department is purpose built and provides a well resourced, attractive environment for learning to take place. All teaching staff are also aware of the needs of pupils with specific learning differences.
Prep (ages 4-11)
Pupils generally attend up to 4 lessons of 40 minutes per week. The work is usually an individualised programme carried out in a small group of 3 or 4. Within the Junior Department the tuition is in close co-operation with the class teacher. Assistance given at this early stage, before the experience of repeated failure has built up a lack of confidence, and perhaps a learning block, can make all the difference between a child who struggles and one that has the satisfaction of being able to achieve standards comparable with classmates.
Careful liaison takes place over the transfer from Junior to Senior Departments of the school.
Seniors (ages 11-18)
In the senior school those who are admitted are carefully assessed to determine their particular strengths and weaknesses.
They follow flexible, individual programmes on a small group basis to cope with and overcome their specific difficulties. The work varies from structured literacy (reading and spelling) programmes to help with ‘A’ level essays and study skills.
The aim is to develop skills so all pupils are able to flourish in their curriculum subjects. All pupils are fully integrated into normal classes, although at GCSE level pupils may follow a slightly reduced programme.
Close co-operation with subject teachers is important and we try to ensure that all staff have appropriate levels of expectation from pupils with Specific Learning Differences. As a result of the liaison individual pupils' assignments may be modified or additional help given.
Throughout there is a continued emphasis on building up confidence and a sense of achievement until the pupil is able to cope independently.
Pupils typically have the following number of lessons of learning support:
4 lessons per week in Year 7
3 or 6 lessons per week in Year 8-9 depending on whether they have French or Spanish lessons
4 lessons per week in Year 10-11 [unless taking all 4 GCSE options]
A minimum of 1 lesson per week in Sixth Form
The pupils are generally taught in small groups.
All pupils with Specific Learning Differences will receive appropriate concessions for public examinations in accordance with JCQ regulations. In internal examinations extra time is always available.
Assessment and Screening
Pupils are given a range of standardised tests [reading and spelling] on a twice yearly basis. Teaching staff and parents may request an assessment where there is concern about a pupil’s rate of progress and where there may be an indication of a specific learning difference. This allows problems to be identified at an early stage so they can be addressed. We are also able to call upon the expertise of an Educational Psychologist who spends time in School each term.