Special Educational Needs
Special and Additional Educational Needs at Hever Primary School
Hever Primary School is an inclusive school and we welcome children from a wide range of abilities and backgrounds to our community. We aim to ensure all children at our school have access to learning within and beyond the curriculum, and we are committed to an individualised approach to teaching and learning.
Planning for learning is aimed at identifying and supporting each pupil’s individual learning needs through a Quality First Teaching approach, where ongoing assessment of pupils’ learning forms the basis of further instruction and practice. Differentiated approaches are planned and implemented by the class teacher, sometimes with the support of additional adults who may work with small groups or individuals to ensure all pupils are able to make progress.
Staff work across the ability range, but there are a number of staff who have special responsibility for identifying, monitoring or providing support to, children with specific learning or social needs.
- The school SENCo (Special Educational needs co-ordinator) is Mrs Seymour. She can be contacted here: firstname.lastname@example.org
- The SENCo is responsible for monitoring and reviewing provision for pupils identified as having special educational needs and for supporting teachers and support staff to develop learning plans and tailored provision to meet those needs.
- Teaching Assistants are allocated to individual pupils where such support forms part of an Individual Learning Plan, and to deliver planned interventions to groups of identified pupils.
- In addition to the above, our governor with responsibility for SEND is Mrs Margaret Cooke.
Sometimes, pupils require additional support to help them make progress in different areas of the curriculum and general school life. We offer this in a range of ways:
Group work with a supporting adult: Where a number of pupils require additional support in a specific area, this may be delivered in class by either the class teacher or another adult. This support is aimed at giving pupils the tools they need within a specific subject or with a given concept to be able to work independently.
Intervention activities: Where specific learning needs are identified by the class teacher, the pupil may be placed in a group to undertake additional work which is aimed at closing gaps in knowledge or skills, or supporting specific curriculum areas beyond the classroom lessons. Such activities could include additional phonics learning, work on number bonds, work on fine motor skills or handwriting practice, for example. These interventions are usually short term (maximum of 6 weeks) and are designed to give the pupils the support they need to access the learning in class independently.
Specific Learning and Support Programmes: These are run by experienced Teaching Assistants. Specific programmes run on an “as-needed” basis, and change according to the identified needs of pupils.
1:1 support: This is usually undertaken with pupils with significant learning needs, who would be unable to access the curriculum without the full support of an adult. In most cases, a statutory assessment of the pupil’s needs will be undertaken and this may result in a statement of educational needs which specifies the support to be given in school. From September 2014, statements were replaced by education healthcare plans (EHCPs).
Behaviour management: Sometimes a pupil’s behaviour can limit their learning or that of others. We engage a range of techniques including behaviour management plans, in class support, access to external anger and behaviour management agencies and, in extreme cases, fixed term exclusions. To date, we have not had to administer any exclusions. Our Behaviour Policy sets out the expected behaviour of all our learners, and the ways in which we enforce these expectations. Where pupils, either due to developmental stage, learning delay or other circumstances, are unable to understand or relate to the expectations, we work with them individually to ensure they fully understand what is expected of them.
Pupils come with many, and varied, educational needs, including those who are identified as gifted and talented. We identify pupils who are working at levels significantly above age relate expectations and give these pupils learning experiences in line with their ability, with a strong focus on challenge. We are always happy to talk to parents and to signpost support networks and additional provision beyond school.
Some pupils enter school with English as an Additional Language. For children who have English as an additional language we carefully monitor their progress to ensure that language and learning needs are met. Where additional support is required, this has taken the form of individual or small group provision, aimed at improving language and communication skills as well as ensuring pupils have the academic tools they require to make good progress.
Support for families
We pride ourselves on being an open, friendly school, and we recognise the fundamental importance of parents in the learning process. Where parents and families require additional short or long term support, perhaps in times of crisis, or where family members are experiencing difficulties, we are able to help with access to support networks, advice and guidance, or sometimes just to be that listening ear. Social, emotional and physical wellbeing are at the centre of our provision in school, and this extends beyond the pupils to their immediate family too. We have a truly open door policy, and welcome family members as an integral part of our learning community. We can’t always solve problems ourselves, but we can often find others to help.
According to need, we work with a range of external agencies. Sometimes, we request their support; sometimes external agencies are involved with a pupil because of their EHCP, medical needs or other route. External agencies include the School Health Team, Speech and Language therapists, Occupational therapists, Educational Psychologists and Counsellors.
What to do if you think your child needs additional support?
In the first instance, it is important to speak to your child’s class teacher if you have any concerns about your child’s learning or development. They will be able to talk to you about in class support or to raise the issues with the SENCo. Where there are concerns about a child’s development, we may advise you to see your medical practitioner, or put you in touch with the school health team.
We will regularly update you on your child’s progress through teacher meetings and end of year report, and we are always happy to talk with you after school if you have any concerns.
How to Support Your Children with Stress and Build Resilience.
My 8 year old told me she was stressed last week. Stressed. I wasn’t sure I was comfortable with her using this word. Should she feel stressed at her age? How does she know what stressed is?
And what was my reaction to this disclosure? Well obviously…stress! I was stressed that she knew the word stressed, I was stressed that she was feeling stressed and stressed that my stress had worn off on her. What a lot of stress!
But really at the moment - with all the external stresses around us (not least the petrol panic) why should I not be surprised that my children are experiencing a level of stress in their lives. The key question is - how much stress is ok and what can we do about it?
I am a huge fan of Professor Tanya Byron. a Clinical Psychologist who found fame when she appeared as the voice of reason and advice on the TV programme: The House of Tiny Tearaways. And the good news is, according to Tanya, some stress is good for our children. It helps build that magic word: Resilience.
‘Given that stress is part of life and enables us to adapt to challenges, a childhood without stress would mean a lack of opportunity to develop resilience: the ability to bounce back from stress, adversity, failure, challenges and trauma.’
While stress itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing for our children - we still need to be mindful of the amount and type of stress they are exposed to.
So what are the obvious stressors for our children at the moment?
- The uncertainty of school - throughout our childhood, school is the one constant - the rigid routine which although can feel stifling and restrictive at times, it also creates a secure boundary and net around our formative days. Covid has shaken this to the core and no matter our assurances our children still carry the uncertainty of lockdown, home-learning and isolation with them.
- The uncertainty of fuel - on top of everything - it is only natural that the media coverage, disrupted journeys and our own stress about an empty tank will rub off on our children.
- Work and falling behind - lots of children have a fear that they have lots of ‘catching up to do’.
- The stress of change - last year’s school looked very different to now and while we are rejoicing in the fact that our school community can come together again, for some of our children the change to lunch time and play time can feel overwhelming at times.
These are only 4 common areas of stress, but each individual Hever household will have its unique stresses and we must all be mindful of how we manage our own stress in front of (and away from our children!) Remember they hear and see everything!
So what can we do to support how our children manage their stress levels and build resilience at the same time?
Here are Tanya Byron’s top tips on how to identify and address stress in our children:
Know the signs:
A stressed child can behave differently from how they normally do. They may become moodier, withdrawn, irritable, aggressive, or clingy. They may get into trouble more or show a lack of interest in friends and activities. They may develop new fears or nervous habits. Physical changes include deterioration in sleep and complaints of headaches or tummy aches, bed-wetting might occur. They may start to have breathing difficulties or panic attacks. They may noticeably eat much less or much more.
How to address it:
Create a calm safe environment around your child and spend time with them doing things they enjoy and eating meals together.
You could notice that they seem changed and express concern that they may have things on their mind. Ask questions, stay calm, don’t jump in with solutions and remain non-judgmental. Provide affection and encouragement. Try to talk when you are out and about, walking or perhaps driving so that there isn’t a need for focused eye contact. Younger children might draw how they feel or enjoy having a worry box where they can post what they have written or drawn.
Health and Lifestyle changes
Create a calm tidy space to rest at home. Being in nature and exercising increases the feelgood brain chemicals. Stabilise healthy eating with regular mealtimes together. Monitor online content and set boundaries around time online.
If your child is struggling with breathing, try doing this Go Noodle Rainbow Breath together: Rainbow Breath - Flow | GoNoodle - Bing video
It is important to create healthy sleep routines that include wind-down time before bed, no screens an hour before sleep, devices out of the bedroom at night and using audio books or meditation apps for falling asleep.
Remember to encourage your child to use their ‘breathing hand’ - Peter pointer needs to run up and down your fingers - breathe in on the up and out on the down. Nice and slowly to get to a lovely place of calm.
Allow for opportunities where your child can have control over a situation and help them to prepare for changes or challenges. Encourage activities where they feel skilled.
Be a role model
Your child will learn from and be affected by how you manage your stress. Model adaptive healthy behaviours in terms of diet, exercise, and lifestyle.
Practise gratitude with your child: notice three good things about your day and encourage them to do the same. Show them your skills of frustration and distress tolerance and address areas of life where you feel overwhelmed by letting go of things and accepting what you can’t change. Look after yourself to best look after your child; as in an aeroplane, put your own oxygen mask on first.
And finally…how to build a resilient child:
- Don’t jump in to fix what is stressing your child; listen and ask questions to help them to generate their own solutions.
- Let them experience discomfort and learn to tolerate it.
- Develop their emotional articulation so they can label and express their feelings.
- Normalise difficult feelings - feeling stressed and overwhelmed at times is part of life. These feelings can be managed, and they will pass.
- Help them to understand how stress affects our body so they can learn skills to manage breathing, relax and bring down their racing hear rate; engage in more physical activity. Take a look at our school website for some ‘Awesome and In Control’ emotional regulation activities AWESOME AND IN CONTROL STRATEGIES - Hever Church of England Aided Primary School
- Ensure they understand that mistakes are not failures but vital learning experiences. Give them examples from your experiences.
- Teach them how to problem solve - brainstorm solutions and help them to look at pros and cons.
- Show how you cope by talking about your feelings, the problem solving and decision making strategies you use - self-care routines and positive lifestyle choices.
- Encourage healthy risk taking.
- Gratitude and optimism are useful mindsets when life feels overwhelming. Make time to focus together on the good of everyday, however small.
(Information and advice from Times2 14/9/2021)
For extra reading and viewing on similar topics:
Read Matthew Sayed’s amazing book
‘You are Awesome’
This is a great read for adults and children alike. I have read it myself and am now reading it with my children. We are
learning a lot of useful mantras e.g. ‘Take a risk, dare to fail, and give it your all!’
For helping your child understand and manage their emotions check out:
Emotional Health Activities (justonenorfolk.nhs.uk)
For understanding those angry outbursts take a look at
Why Do We Lose Control of Our Emotions? - Bing video
And for younger children - this clip is a useful cartoon which supports our whole school implementation of the Zones of Regulation.
"Emotions" - StoryBots Super Songs Episode 8 | Netflix Jr - Bing video
Thank you for taking the time to read this and remember, put your oxygen mask on first!
Best, stress free wishes
Having Fun with Words! What can you do at home to support and develop your child's vocabulary?
For information about our Local Offer, please click here:
Mental Health Difficulties in Children and Young People: A Toolkit for Parents
Language Link Parent Portal
One of the most important things we can do with our children is talk! Talk is the pre-cursor to literacy. Children need to be exposed to and involved in a language rich world. How can children communicate if they can't find the right word? How can children understand what we're asking them to do if they don't understand the language we are using. Talk, talk, talk! A completely free resource that we can do any time, any place, anywhere. Explore the world around you, or one that is right under your nose. The more you and your child talk and listen the more equipped they are to survive and thrive in our modern world.
We have recently subscribed to Language Link. A wonderful resource for us to support your child's expressive and receptive language skills. Please use the link to the parent portal for a superb wealth of language rich exercises for you to do with your child. There are really useful videos to watch - a new one is added each week, and lots of other strategies/talking points for you to try. I particularly recommend clicking on the links below for everyday ways of promoting and encouraging talk.
Resources to Support and Promote Wellbeing
There are lots of resources available to support and promote wellbeing. I have selected a few examples which you can use with your child/children. It is really important for children to be able to 'label' their feelings...but how do they know what 'that feeling' is? Use the resources below to explore all the feelings we can experience...sometimes in just one day! Children need to know that it is ok to feel angry, anxious, sad, confused but they also need to learn how they can manage these emotions and get back to a state of calm.
What does being angry, delighted, frustrated, nervous, happy, sad look like/feel like?
Does your tummy flip, do you get a worry bubble? Does your brain want to pop? Explore these questions and use the videos of Lucy to help start this discussion. Also take a look at My Many Coloured Days by Dr. Seuss. Watch the video and then look at the activities you can do with your child to talk about feelings and emotions.
What can I do to take control of my emotions?
Look at the films for strategies on being awesome and in control. They are all taken from the book by the same name: 'The Kids' Guide to Staying Awesome and In Control'. I cannot rate this book or these activities highly enough. If they become part of your everyday dialogue with your child, they will begin to do 'the finger pull' or 'the bear hug' without you even prompting them...thus being able to be awesome and in control all of the time
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Reflexology for Kids
The healing power of touch is a well known thing. A cuddle when you're feeling sad can go a long way to cheering you up. So why not try a bit of reflexology? A good foot rub can work wonders to calm down an angry mood. I try pulling the anger (or any other emotion) out of my children's toes (this is not as painful as it sounds)! Once I've pulled the unwanted emotion out of their toes we flush it down the toilet so it won't bother us again! The children line up to have a foot rub these days and are always keen to flush each other's 'moods' down the loo! Use the picture guide to help you. It's a really lovely thing to do at bath time or even bed time with some lavender oil to promote a healthy night's sleep.
Reflexology for Kids
The Use of Social Stories
Social Stories present information about coronavirus visually and so are easier to process for autistic children and young people. Choose the Social Story best suited to the child or young person you are working with, you may need to edit it so it is personalised to them.
The symbols provided can be used to create a home Visual Timetable to provide some structure to your child or young person's day.
It may be valuable to use a Talking Mat; a visual scaffold designed to enable children and young people to express their views and concerns.
Try using Worry Plans to address specific worries the child or young person might have. Work together to list personalised strategies to address the worry, record them on the plan and keep it to refer to again.
7 ways to support anxiety
ASD Support Group information
Hever Primary School SEND Policy
Our Special Educational Needs and Disability Policy can be found on our Policies page: https://www.hever.kent.sch.uk/policies/