St Thomas More is an inclusive school where we value the achievements, attitudes and wellbeing of all (pupils and staff). The school is committed to providing the best possible teaching and learning environment for each pupil. Inclusion encompasses all children, including:
* pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND)
* pupils with English as an Additional Language (EAL)
* pupils who are Looked After
* pupils with an entitlement to Pupil Premium Funding
* pupils from ethnic minorities
* pupils of all religions and beliefs
* pupils with medical conditions which may affect ability to access the curriculum
Please click on the following link to view the support available in the local area: Local Links for Parents and Carers
The Equality Act 2010 requires schools to publish information that demonstrates that we have due regard for the need to
Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct prohibited by the Equality Act
Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it
Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it.
At STM, we value the uniqueness of the individual and seek to celebrate the strengths and talents of all our community. As an inclusive school, we focus on the wellbeing and progress of each and every child, and believe that all members of our community are of equal worth. We are committed to valuing diversity, tackling discrimination, promoting equality and fostering good relationships between people. In following the principles listed below, we strive to tackle issues of disadvantage and underachievement of different groups:
* We recognise the equality of all learners and have high expectations for all
* We promote the Catholic agenda of working towards the Common Good
* As a Rights Respecting school, we recognise and promote the rights of all
* We recognise and respect difference
* We foster positive attitudes and relationships so there is a shared sense of cohesion and belonging
* We strive to identify and overcome barriers to learning
* We follow good practice regarding staff recruitment, retention and development
For more details please take a look at the following documents:
Latest update: September 2023
1. What should I do if I think my child may have a special educational need or disability (SEND) or the school thinks my child needs extra help?
We work in partnership with our parents and carers. If you have any concerns about your child, please speak to your child’s teacher in the first instance to share your observations and concerns. The class teacher, supported by the SENCo, will listen to you, discuss your concerns and together will plan a way forward.
We aim to identify and assess children with SEND as early as possible so that we can work together to provide the best outcome for your child. Together with you as parents and carers, we look at a range of information to inform our plan:
• Views of the child
• Views of the parents/ carers
• Views of school staff
• Information from previous school/ nursery
• Continuous assessment of a child’s learning
• Data from assessments
• Observations of the child by staff
• Behaviour records
• End of Key Stage results
• Information from external professionals
You are most welcome to make an appointment to discuss your child with the SENCo and/or Headteacher via the school office: 01462 620670.
If we at school have any concerns regarding your child, we will contact you to discuss as soon as possible.
2. How will the school staff support my child?
Learning is at the centre of your child’s development in school. Teachers provide quality-first teaching to both support and challenge all children. It is not unusual for children to require additional support to help them learn and make progress. Our teaching staff offer support which may include specialised resources, teaching in a small group or individually, or other adaptions to the curriculum, resources or classroom. Your child may need an Individual Support Plan (ISP) which will set out agreed targets for learning, proposed by the school and shared with parents/ carers. This will include the child’s view on their learning, where appropriate. Children may have an ISP for a while, after which time it may no longer be required. Other children may need an ISP for extended periods of time.
A few children may require more specific provision and we will seek advice from external professionals. These children’s needs may be best met through an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). See: https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/microsites/Local-Offer/Education-Health-and-Care-Plans/Education-health-and-care-plans-EHCP.aspx
Children with disabilities of all kinds (seen and unseen) will have reasonable adjustments made to the school environment, curriculum and resources to ensure that they are happy and make progress alongside their peers.
3. How will I know how my child is doing and how will I be involved?
We follow the Assess, Plan, Do, Review cycle for children with Individual Support Plans. As parents/carers you are part of this cycle and will be asked to meet with the class teacher termly in addition to the usual parent consultation meetings. During this meeting we will celebrate your child’s successes, assess your child’s progress towards targets and plan our next steps. We will set SMART targets for your child’s learning:
S- Specific M- Measurable A-Attainable R-Relevant T-Time-based
As children progress through the school, we encourage them to be involved in these meetings. Younger children’s views will be gathered by staff prior to a review. We have an open-door policy and teaching staff can be met informally at the end of a day for a brief chat. If you would like a longer or more private meeting with the class teacher, please make an appointment via the school office.
4. How will the learning and development provision be matched to my child’s needs?
The Assess Plan Do Review cycle (‘the graduated approach’) is essential for meeting the needs of pupils with SEND. Support is carefully planned to make sure it is effective for your child before being implemented.
Interventions used are evidence-based and may include advice from external professionals.
5. What support will there be for my child’s overall wellbeing?
Children’s mental health and wellbeing are extremely important to us. We recognise that children who are struggling with mental health/emotional issues may be not be happy or learn effectively.
Every child is invited to name adults in school to whom they can talk about any emotional or wellbeing issues. Pupils are invited to update the names of adults on a termly basis. Each adult knows who ‘their’ children are.
Mental and emotional health is part of our curriculum and we invite specialist external agencies to provide workshops and support. Our school has access to further support via the Letchworth Family Support Worker service. Please contact the school for further information.
6. What specialist services and expertise are available at the school, or can be accessed by the school?
St Thomas More School can access specialist advice from a variety of agencies, depending on the needs of your child:
NESSie (North Herts Emotional Health in School)
Speech and Language Therapy
School Nursing Service
North Herts Behavioural Support Service
Educational Psychology advice
Advisory teachers offering advice on areas such visual impairment, hearing loss, SLCN needs and neurological needs
Woolgrove Outreach Service (for moderate learning difficulties)
Parental consent will always be sought prior to any referral made by the school. Once a service is accessed, we aim to work in partnership with relevant professionals.
7. What training have the staff supporting children with SEND had, or are having?
Training is ongoing and responsive to the needs of the pupils currently at the school. Staff are trained in the following areas:
• Support for specific learning difficulties
• Wider Speech and Language issues
• Understanding and support for Autistic Spectrum Disorder
• Therapeutic Thinking behaviour support training
• Training for specific pupils, as needs arise (such as visual impairment or physical disability).
8. How will you help me to support my child’s learning?
A Passport to Learning is sent home at the beginning of each term and is also available on the school website. This document provides parents with an overview of key topics for the term with suggestions about how parents can support learning.
Home learning tasks are sent out on a fortnightly basis. This rises to weekly in Year 6. Tasks are age-appropriate and there is an emphasis on reading regularly with your child. The message is little and often. Tasks can be differentiated by need in order to help pupils to learn more effectively.
We hold information sessions at the beginning of the academic year to provide an overview of the year and inform parents of the expectations of a particular year group. Parent Consultations, Open Mornings and Open Evenings provide further opportunities to view your child’s progress. A detailed report on your child’s attainment and progress is written in the Spring term (Year 1 – 5) and in the Summer term (Early Years and Year 6).
We signpost parents to relevant training courses on specialist issues which may help to support your child. If you need any further information to support your child, please speak to us.
9. How will my child be included in activities outside the classroom, including school trips?
A risk assessment is undertaken for all school trips. This is to ensure that each child is safe. All children with SEND are included on all school trips, including residential. Appropriate reasonable adjustments (e.g. additional staff) are deployed. Parents are consulted to ensure full participation and active engagement of all children. Where the outings are run by outside agencies, the agency is made aware of each child’s needs so that they can relate to the child in a sensitive and appropriate manner.
We understand that changes to routine may be difficult for some children with SEND so, where appropriate, we will prepare the child for the trip by explaining what will happen, how they will be helped and remind them how to ask for help during the visit. Social stories will be used, where appropriate.
10. How accessible is the school environment?
The school is compliant with the Equality Act and reasonable adjustments are made for all children with SEND (see Equality Plan on the school website). The building is wheelchair accessible and has disabled changing and toilet facilities. We have a Soundfield system in each classroom as well as the school hall. Specialized equipment is provided where appropriate for the child and advice is sought from relevant medical/ health professionals to ensure that all children’s physical needs are catered for in the school environment. The school website has the facility to translate into a different language.
Classroom provision and the wider school environment are regularly reviewed.
11. Who can I contact for further information?
Please contact the School Office to make an appointment to speak with:
SENCo - Mrs Kate Jaworski
FSW – Mrs Jenny Kilgallon
Headteacher - Mrs Jane Perry
With your consent, we will share information with relevant members of staff to ensure your child’s needs are fully met.
12. How will the school prepare and support my child at times of transition?
We recognise that all transitions are important stages in a young person’s life, therefore we have developed many ways to make these experiences as positive as possible. This includes the provision of enrichment afternoons and Mud Clubs where children mix with teaching staff and pupils from other year groups in order to become familiar and comfortable with different members of the school community and different spaces within the school. All pupils take part in a moving-up day and specific transition mornings take place towards the end of each year, so that pupils can see their new classroom and get to know their new teachers and support staff. We have close links with local secondary schools and work with them to tailor transition programmes according to the needs of our pupils.
We appreciate that some children may need even more support in order to cope with these times of change and, working closely with the child and their parents, we will tailor a specific programme of activities to help them at this crucial time. Transition meetings are held for specific pupils at the end of the school year so that pupil, parents and the current class teacher can meet and share information with the class teacher for the coming academic year. Bespoke transition books are made for pupils who struggle with change.
13. How are the school’s resources allocated and matched to children’s special educational needs?
The school has an amount identified within its overall budget called the Notional SEND budget which is used for resources to support the progress of children with SEND. This is mainly used to purchase resources and to provide appropriate staffing. The allocation of the school budget is prioritised according to need.
Where a child requires provision which exceeds the nationally prescribed threshold additional top-up funding can be applied for through the local authority (High Needs Funding). Parents will always be consulted prior to the school making an application.
Funding for pupils with an Education, Health and Care Plan is worked out using a banding tool. The parents will be invited to complete this with the SENCO and it will then be triangulated by the local authority before an amount is agreed.
14. How is the decision made about how much support my child will receive?
We aim to support children within the whole class setting, where possible. Where a child has specific needs identified through observations and assessments, individual targets will be set. We will seek the views of parents and report back regularly on progress towards targets. This forms part of the Assess Plan Do Review process as previously outlined.
15. How do I make a complaint regarding my child's SEND provision?
If you wish to make a complaint, please follow the school Complaints Procedure as set out in the Complaints Policy.
If your complaint is about the way the School has been delivering the provision set out in Section F of your child's Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), you may complain further to the Local Authority that maintains your child's EHCP. If the EHCP is maintained by Hertfordshire County Council, you may complain further by setting out the detail of your complaint and sending it to:
Customer Service Team – Complaints
Postal Point: CHO118
Once in receipt of your complaint, the Complaints Manager for Children’s Services will ensure that the Local Authority completes a Section F Provision Checklist. This process entails a Provision Checklist being drawn up directly from Section F of the EHCP. A Senior SEND Officer will then visit the School in order to work through the checklist point by point and complete it. The Senior SEND Officer will seek the comments of the Headteacher, Senior Leadership Team, SENCo and Governors as appropriate, as well as any other information or advice that they deem necessary.
Once the Provision Checklist has been completed, the Local Authority will notify the complainant of the outcome in writing, enclosing a copy of the checklist. A copy of the outcome letter and Checklist will also be sent to the School for its information and record keeping. This process will take up to 25 working days (of the Local Authority) to conclude.
Complainants who remain dissatisfied following further investigation of their Special Educational Needs provision complaint by the Local Authority may complain to the Secretary of State who may decide to conduct an additional investigation. The contact details for the Secretary of State at the Department for Education are set out below:
Telephone: 0370 000 2288
In writing: Department for Education, Piccadilly Gate, Store Street, Manchester, M1 2WD
16. How can I find information about the Local Authority’s Local Offer of services and provision for children with special educational needs and disability?
Follow the link; School /LA Commitment to SEND
To see the DfE guidance please click on the link - SEND Code of Practice
Mrs Jaworski is the school’s SENCo and Autism Lead. She is your initial point of contact if you need information about services available. Mrs Jaworski has completed a training course in the Scerts Model for supporting pupils with Autism.
The school’s library and St Bede's classroom provide safe places where your child can go to be quiet and free from any distractions.
Our staff have received, and continue to receive, training by the Autism Education Trust to ensure that everyone who comes into contact with your child has an understanding of their individual needs. Individual members of staff have attended training sessions on varying aspects of Autism from the Communication and Autism Team.
We ensure that there is a positive ‘Transition Pathway’ that will support transitions within the setting/school and when your child moves on to their next school.
We aim to foster and maintain strong parental partnerships so that any change in your child’s circumstances are quickly responded to and needs are met. This relies on open parental communication.
We endeavour to listen to your child’s views, we take in to consideration that children have different ways of communicating and we will need appropriate strategies to support them.
We believe that all behaviours are a form of communication and need to be noticed and acknowledged as such.
We use the Herts Steps model, in which all staff both teaching and administrative have received training, in order to provide a coherent approach to behaviour issues.
We aim to provide a pupil with Autism with the essential tools which they need in order to communicate and express their needs.
We use the services of outside professionals to support us in providing strategies for pupils with ASD, including the North Herts Educational Support Service, Step 2, Educational Psychology and Speech and Language therapists.
Approximately 30% of our pupils have English as an additional language (EAL). We therefore feel that it is important to understand some of the particular issues that are associated with this in order to ensure that we can offer the very best support to our pupils. We continually review and adapt our provision to ensure that it meets the needs of our pupils.
Key Principles of Additional Language Acquisition
EAL pupils are entitled to the full National Curriculum programme of study. Teachers have a responsibility for teaching English as well as other subject content. Access to learning requires attention to words and meanings embodied in each curriculum area. Meanings and understanding cannot be assumed, but must be made explicit.
Language is central to our identity. Therefore, the home language of all pupils and staff should be recognised and valued. Although many pupils acquire the ability to communicate on a day to day basis in English relatively quickly, the level of language needed for academic study is much deeper and significantly more detailed. This can require ongoing support for up to ten years.
We understand that language develops best when used in purposeful contexts across the curriculum. The language demands of learning tasks are identified and included in planning. Teaching and support staff play a crucial role in modelling uses of language. Knowledge and skills developed in learning the first language aid the acquisition of additional languages. A clear distinction is made between EAL and Special Educational Needs.
Five Stage Model for Language Acquisition
A. New to English
A child at this stage needs significant support, evidenced by the following characteristics:
Use first language for learning and other purposes.
Remaining silent during lessons
Copying/repeating some words and phrases.
Understanding some everyday English expressions but have minimal or no English literacy.
Following day-to-day social communication in English.
Beginning to use spoken English for social purposes.
Understanding simple instructions and follow narrative/accounts with visual support.
Developing some skills in reading and writing
Becoming familiar with some subject specific vocabulary.
B. Early Acquisition
A child at this stage requires support to access the curriculum fully, evidenced by:
Participating in learning activities with increasing independence.
Expressing themselves orally in English but structural inaccuracies are still apparent.
Requiring ongoing support in literacy, particularly for understanding text and writing.
Following abstract concepts and more complex written English.
C. Developing Competence
A child at this stage needs support to access subtle nuances of meaning, to refine English usage, and to develop abstract vocabulary, evidenced by:
Developing oral English well, allowing successful engagement in activities across the curriculum.
Reading and understanding a wide variety of text.
Written English may lack complexity.
Demonstrating evidence of errors in grammatical structure.
At this stage a child can operate across the curriculum to a level of competence nearing to that of a pupil who uses English as his/her first language. They may still make grammatical errors and need support to develop their linguistic skills.
A child at this stage can operate across the curriculum to a level of competence equivalent to that of a pupil who uses English as his/her first language.
All EAL pupils are assessed in line with the school’s assessment procedures. Staff have the opportunity to discuss pupils’ progress, needs and targets via Pupil Progress Meetings. Progress in the acquisition of English is regularly assessed and monitored
Teaching Strategies and Pedagogical Approaches
The curriculum is personalised to support pupils to use their prior knowledge and experience. Speaking and listening activities provide the starting point of a new topic or activity. Writing is the last step in the process. The grammatical rules and the sentence structures are taught within the context of the different topics and genres. Visual resources are used to aid their learning.
Partnership with Parents/ Carers
We work in partnership with parents/carers to:
provide a welcoming induction process for newly arrived pupils and their families/carers.
identify linguistic, cultural and religious background of pupils
acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of EAL pupils.
recognise and encourage the use of first language for developing positive links between school and home.
support parents so they can help their children at home.