2020 Winners.

Most Inclusive Practice Across a School

Partnership with Parents

Inclusion in Early Years

Inclusion in Further or Higher Education

Support into Employment

Contribution to the Sector

Most Inclusive Practice Across a School

Penwortham Primary School

What the Judges Said

A school, who the judges felt made a real effort to be inclusive for all types of need, not just focussing on those with the largest or most complex needs.

Context

Penwortham SEND vision statement:
Community: Everyone is included.
Unity: United by our school’s values.
Opportunity: Aim for happiness and success.

Penwortham Primary School is bigger than average – 3 form entry mainstream primary school. It is situated in South West London. There are 647 pupils on roll; 33% are EAL learners and 39 different languages are spoken. 18% of children are entitled to Pupil Premium funding. Currently there are 17 pupils with EHCPs and there are 79 pupils on the SEN register for SEN support. The most significant need is speech, language and communication (8%) followed by ASD (1.5%), SEMH (1.4%) and specific learning difficulties (dyslexia) (1.2%). Ofsted judged the school as good in November 2017.

In 2017 the new SEND team structure was introduced. SEND team consist of:
Head of inclusion – Deputy Head, SENCo, Class teacher, SEN administrator. The SEND team is actively supported by: Headteacher and Governing Body (SEND Governor).

Penwortham operates over 3 sides – all are easily accessible for children with disabilities (e.g. Ramps, lift). Each floor has accessible toilet. One classroom is fitted with a professional soundfield system that is beneficial for children with Hearing Impairment.
Penwortham’s efforts to be an Inclusive School have been recognised widely.
Penwortham has recently achieved the following, hugely respected awards:
– IQM Centre of Excellence

– Right Respecting School – Gold Award

– The National Quality Mark for Coaching in Education – Silver

Entry

How do you go above and beyond the expectations?
Introduction

“Penwortham Primary is clearly an inclusive school and this is felt as soon as you walk through the doors of the building ….They care about children, they care about getting it right for individuals, they care about being adaptable, flexible and they care about offering bespoke solutions to children and families – but they frame that flexibility within a clearly defined philosophy, belief and set of principles, every student is at the centre of what they do”- IQM assessment, February 2020

Penwortham aims to enable pupils to achieve their full potential in a caring and stimulating environment. “The school’s overall positive ethos provides a nurturing environment for pupils with SEND. The high expectations of behaviour of all pupils support those with SEND to maintain high standards of behaviour” – Link Inspection, February 2019

“You have made sure that Penwortham Primary School is a safe and welcoming place where pupils are happy and enjoy learning. Pupils speak enthusiastically about the initiatives and activities available to them. They are able to talk about the school’s values and how they influence everything. Pupils believe that staff expect them to work hard and do their best. They say that teachers encourage them to ‘have a go’ but help them when work is really difficult.” – OFSTED 2017

The recent IQM assessment highlighted the following strengths:

• All staff, parents and Governors are committed to inclusive practices. Inclusion was evident and prominent in the classroom and student’s work.
• Rapid response from the inclusion team for training and in class support has contributed to the positive approach being “bought into” by all staff.
• Inclusion is woven into the very fabric and essence of the school – there are pupil profiles for vulnerable children, promoted schools’ values and excellent systems of communication.
• Child centred approach to all areas of school life ensure that all are included and feel part of the school community.
• The inclusion team have a clear vision for the school and their ambition will keep this on track.
• Strong senior leadership team who work very well together. The SLT play to their strengths and support one another.
• Genuine sense of warmth and welcome emanates throughout the school. This has been fostered by all partners – staff, parents, governors, pupils and community. (IQM report 2020).

Learning environment

The learning environment at Penwortham is fully inclusive and welcoming for all learners. The classes are colourful and purposeful – there is evidence of inclusive practices in each class including visuals to support the children. The learning is accessible for all. There are plenty of spaces to ensure the children have a variety of spaces to access their learning and interventions.
The school has a pottery room and kiln, which is used to ensure the children are provided with yet another learning opportunity that would otherwise not be available to them.
The school’s staff is constantly working on improving outcomes and quality of education for the most vulnerable children. Last year the SEND children were involved in creating sensory wall. Following on this project, the school have recently installed a professional sensory room. This was funded through the staff fundraising; 5 members of the staff completed a running event and managed to fundraise over
£ 5 000! “This is yet another noticeable recognition of the staff’s commitment to giving the children the best resources and learning environment possible.”(IQM report 2020)


The school’s inclusive approach is immediately noticeable in the learning environment through their use of Communicate in Print, to ensure all aspects of the school is visual including their rights respecting school information and their school ethos.

Early identification

Early identification of additional needs is a high priority for us so that support can be provided at an early stage. We know that recognising difficulties quickly will enable us to put the right interventions to support children and their families so that any issues can be tackled quickly. If interventions are ineffective, we refer the children for external assessments such as: Educational Psychology, Speech and Language, Occupational Therapy, Physio Therapy and CAMHS.
“The encouragement to refer pupils where there are concerns is resulting in more referrals being made, which is positive in that this is flagging up at an early stage that a teacher or a parent has a concern about the progress of a child.” (Link Inspection report, 2019)

Outcomes for SEND children

Our all staff put the children in the heart of everything they do. We use a Person-Centred Approach and active support. We ALL work as a TEAM to help our SEND children to achieve their full potential. Our staff is caring, knowledgeable, dedicated and passionate about supporting children with special needs.
SEND children are included in all curriculum activities and are offered additional, personally tailored activities and are given opportunities to attend events such as: trips to the places of their interests. This worked particularly well for children who lacked of motivation to come to school or to learn.
We all consistently use visual resources such as visual timetables and communicating cards and we can see that this practice benefited not only children with a diagnosis of Autism but all of our pupils.
Every child with SEND has personal ‘One-page profile’. It is a document that captures all the important information about a person on a single sheet of paper. It often reveals information that may not be gathered in more formal ways. It also helps people in the child or young person’s life to either get to know them quickly, or ensure that they are providing consistent support in the way that the person wants.
Example
All our children with EHCPs have access to their child friendly IEP and outcomes:
Example
Here at Penwortham, we make sure SEND children have a say in key decision making for example we invite them to attend Teaching assistants/ LSAs interviews. Their role is to ask potential candidates questions and their views are taken into account when final decision is being made.
“I really enjoyed joining the SENCO and the Deputy Headteacher in interviewing new teaching assistants. It was a great experience, it made me feel really proud and important”. (Boy, Year 5).
“I was delighted when my son had the opportunity to participate in an interview panel. He really enjoyed the process and talked about it a lot afterwards. I think this is a great way of involving SEN children into the school community and in the decision-making process for choosing new staff. I am sure that this has helped to develop my son’s confidence and feel a part of the school community”. (Year 3 Parent)

We want our SEN children to be heard and visible during the key meetings such as Annual Reviews and SEN Plan Reviews. We have embedded a practice of video-recording children’s views and opinions about their progress and next steps related to their education and well- being. The video is then presented at the beginning of the review so all attending adults can hear what the young person has to say. This practice was praised during our recent Link Inspection- “This is an excellent initiative”.
“I have seen interview videos of my daughter in the setting during her annual EHCP meeting and she is present during the review meetings throughout the year” (Year 1 Parent)
We believe that in order to help our SEND children to achieve their full potential we need to work in close cooperation with parents and external professionals.

Cooperation with Parents

All staff at Penwortham Primary value the role that parents play in the education of their children and are committed to working in partnership with them to ensure best possible outcomes for all pupils.
We have an “Open Door Policy”, parents are always welcome to contact the SENCO and other members of SEND team. We aim to offer them support and guidance as soon as possible. We provide a wide range of communication opportunities to keep parents involved and engaged. These methods include parental consultation evenings, email, Twitter and an effective and up to date website.
At the beginning of the academic year we invite our parents to meet with the SENCO and a TA who supports the child. 100% parents told us that this practice is such a great way of getting know the support staff who play a very important role in child’s education.
We actively support parents in accessing additional help through the Local offer. We help parents to apply for Wandsworth’s WAND Card. The card can be used by families to get extra support when they are out and about without having to explain their child’s disabilities every time.
We hold regular – termly coffee mornings for parents of SEND children. We invite professional speakers such us: representatives from our Borough, Speech and language therapists, Place 2 Be councillors etc.
“Coffee mornings have been helpful in giving useful information to parents and also enabling parents of SEN children to meet each other and feel less isolated” (Year 2 Parent.)
To offer even more targeted and effective support for the most vulnerable families we organise half termly home visits – the SENCo with ELSA mentor visit parents to share resources and help them to implement appropriate strategies to support issues like: behaviour, sleeping, eating, routines, attention and listening.
“I feel that this is a very good initiative and we get a lot from this support. I have three children with special needs and the visits helped our family to deal with challenging behaviours and our daughter finally goes to bed without any problems. We are very thankful and lucky as not many schools go that far”.(Year 1 Parent)

Here at Penwortham we understand the importance on transitions. All children with SEN are provided with a transition booklet at the end of each academic year, we start transition process to secondary school as early as in Year 5. We organise secondary transfer workshop for parents of pupils with EHCPs and we visit potential schools with the parents.

Work that all staff of Penwortham has been praised by parents, here are some comments they have made about us:
“ I am incredibly thankful for such a hard work and dedication of the SENCo and her team. The process of getting an EHCP for my son was very smooth and quick. I felt supported all the way.” (Year 1 parent)
“I am greatly pleased with the level of support we have received by the friendly staff at Penwortham and their Senco department. My daughter has an excellent caring, hardworking support worker and a very organised, diligent and efficient Senco. My daughter has had a stroke at birth so she has a variety of complex medical needs and several doctors and professionals working with her. The school has played a huge extremely efficient role in helping to liaise and coordinate with all of my daughter’s professionals. They involve me in decisions and discuss changes with me and update me regularly. Also they advise me regarding referrals and listen to my suggestions regarding any additional requirements or external referrals, tools or therapy required. The school has successfully incorporated the doctors strategies and suggestions and has gone out of their way to perform several adaptations in order to help improve my daughter’s condition. As well as helping her to keep up with her peers and to achieve the targets set by the various professions involved. I also feel that my daughter’s views are taken into account and she even feels valued at school which she loves. I have seen interview videos of her in the setting during her annual EHCP meetings and she is present during the review meetings throughout the year.
Lastly in addition to all this, the school has even taken into account the welfare of Sen parents and has kindly set up a successful termly SEN coffee morning. From which an active WhatsApp group has been created with the aim of offering support and advice and becoming a platform and parent voice. There have been various meetups, friendships have been formed and parents have gained a wider support network”. (Year 2 parent)
“I feel that my views have been heard and responded to when expressing concerns about my son. For example, in year one, he had to share a playground with year two children, which was a big change for him, as in reception the children had their own playground. My son is not steady on his feet, and was getting knocked over a lot, so the teacher spoke to senior management and they agreed to change the playtimes for the year 1 children so that they were not out in the playground with the year 2 children. This helped a lot to make my son feel more confident in the playground. Now he is in year 2 and much more relaxed to play in the ground.
I feel that the school is a safe environment for my son, and that he is cared for and happy there, despite his additional needs” (Year 3 Parent)

Cooperation with External Professionals

We are very proud of the strong relationship we have built with external professionals. This enabled us to offer training provided by them to staff and parents. We receive weekly visits from the following external professionals: Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapist, Dyslexia Teacher, Advisory Service for Autistic children, Education Psychologist.
“The external agencies who met with me over the two days, spoke with pride and admiration for the school as they have all been part of the journey to ensure this school has inclusion and well-being at the centre of everything they do.
While talking to the leadership team, it was clear that there is a focus on community for Penwortham Primary and it drives everything they do on a daily basis for the students and families. The school seeks opportunities to involve the parents and professionals to break down barriers and ensure they feel as involved in school life as their children” IQM report 2020.

Interventions
We offer a range of different interventions to support 4 broad areas of SEN needs.
Penwortham is particularly proud of introducing in 2018 two therapies:
1. Reading with the therapy dog – small group weekly reading sessions.
“I am now happy in school because I like reading with Percy” (Boy, Year 6)
“One thing that has had a huge positive influence on my son is the ability to spend time with Percy, the therapy dog. This has had a big positive impact on his mood and motivation to come into school”. – (Y6 Parent)
Reading with the therapy dog intervention helped children with SEN to develop their confidence and in some cases helped to overcome the school refusal.
2. Speech and Language Interventions – we have two teaching assistants, who under the supervision of the visiting speech therapists deliver SALT sessions.
This approach and interventions are highly effective, 76% of pupils met their targets and many being close to achieving all or most.

Well-being of our pupils

Rights Respecting report found that – “The school has a very strong focus on children’s social and emotional wellbeing. They are a Place2Be school, they invest in Emotional Literacy Support with a Happy Place where children can go and talk; and are working towards a Nurture Award. Classrooms have wellbeing areas where children can go if they want a quiet time. Children proudly showed all these areas during the learning walk. The school holds the Healthy School award. Children identified their school lunches as healthy. PE and a wide range of extracurricular clubs ensure children develop healthy lifestyles.
It is evident from talking to all staff that the well-being of the children is at the forefront of what they staff do daily. Their aim is to ensure that all aspects of school life are child centred and they have achieved this. During my learning walk, the motivation and positive relationships between the children and teaching staff was clear to see and when I spoke to the students, they were proud to be members of their school.
Monday mornings focus on the well-being of children and staff via their singing assembly to ensure they return to the class ready for learning. In addition to this, the children have opportunities to manage their own emotional well-being via ELSA or Place2Be counselling, which offers a self-referral process for the children. They excitedly explained about lunch club as well as the benches in the playground for when you are feeling lonely. There is always someone to come and keep them company or talk to them.
From speaking to the leadership team, it was clear that they had been on quite a journey and their strength as a team has driven the “positive” feel that is felt throughout the school. All members of staff had a clear understanding of the school’s ethos and vision for all their children.”

We actively support and promote children’s well – being by working closely with Place 2 Be – a children’s mental health charity providing school-based support and in – depth training programmes to improve the emotional wellbeing of pupils and their families.

Penwortham offers also a professional ELSA Support (Emotional Literacy Support Assistance). We have three, fully qualified ELSA mentors who work with our most vulnerable children.

Place2Be provides a block of time to work with pupils with SEND to prepare them for transition to secondary school. The lead ELSA and learning mentor are placed in Year 6 and carry out more intensive support and work on transition with SEND pupils after SATs. Local services such as Garratt Park are also used to provide support for transition and help to prepare pupils for their next stage of learning.
Penwortham promotes wellbeing and provides a caring and safe environment for pupils with SEND. There is, for example, a lunch time club, ‘Happy Place’, for those who find it difficult to be outside or get anxious. Learning mentors and other support is available to help promote pupils personal and social development.

The school is participating in the National Nurturing Schools Programme – this is a two-year programme focused on embedding a nurturing culture throughout their school, and includes enhancing teaching and learning by focusing on emotional needs and development in a whole-school environment. The programme assesses schools against six key principles and one of the principles is based on transition. Hence, being part of the programme is further enhancing the move from primary to secondary school. “The work on the National Nurturing Schools Programme also helps to demonstrate the school’s very positive approach to pupils’ personal and social development and well-being”. – (Link Inspection, 2019)
The school has been nominated by Place2Be for the School’s Well-being Award and has been shortlisted which is a significant achievement. It has yet to hear whether the final outcomes of the nominations. Nonetheless, being nominated is already a very positive endorsement of the school’s support for pupils with SEND.
Personal development, behaviour and welfare for pupils with SEND are being judged outstanding (Recent Link inspection) because of the high level of care and support for personal development. Our positive ethos provides a nurturing environment for pupils with SEND. The high expectations of behaviour of all pupils’ support those with SEND to maintain high standards of behaviour.
Transitions
Preparation for their next steps in education is very thorough. Transition has a high priority for the school. The school arranges several visits to a secondary setting and before pupils go up. Pupils also have visits to the secondary school they will be transitioning to. The SENCos from these schools are involved in the annual reviews in Year 6 and this is followed up with hand-over meetings where the pupils’ needs are discussed in detail.
The school is now starting transition work earlier, i.e. in Year 5, so that there is even better preparation for pupils’ next stage of education.

Training opportunities for staff so they can support the children even better

Penwortham provides a good range of training for staff. CPD needs are identified firstly through the needs of pupils with SEND and ensuring that staff have the expertise to support these needs effectively; pupil progress meetings are also used to identify the individual CPD needs of staff. The training is very specific where there are specific, identified needs i.e. a teacher getting training on selective mutism following a recent diagnosis of a pupil in their class. Training covered includes: sensory needs; supporting child with Downs Syndrome; speech, language and communication needs; ASD with Garratt Park Advisory Service for Autistic children.
Training and briefing are also in-built into the school’s work. For example, teachers have 1:1 session with the speech, language and communication specialist to get a briefing on any pupils with SEN in their classes who are receiving specialist support from the therapist. They are given advice on how to continue support in class. The training and support provided is being used actively by staff to improve their effectiveness with pupils with SEND and in ensuring that they are using appropriate strategies and methods.
Wider support

Penwortham Primary school support not only the local community but also often take part in fundraising/raising awareness events for example – “Walk for Autism” national complain and raised incredible £182. The money will help to pay for equipment, training and support that people with Autism need.

How is your work innovative?

We strongly believe that our passion for inclusion and hard work makes a significant and positive difference to our most vulnerable pupils and their families.

Reason for entering the SEND Award 2020

We are extremely proud of the provision we provide for our SEN children and support we offer to their families. We are very pleased to see that children with special needs are thriving in our setting. “This is a very caring, nurturing school and my son is very happy there”. (year 2 Parent).
Last year we have been nominated for SEND National Award in category om most inclusive practice across the school. Although we did not win, we were praised and given a very positive and encouraging feedback from the judges:” The judges felt you had made a fantastic start and would like to encourage you to enter next year with data evidence over a longer period of time.”

Winning this prestigious SEND Award 2020 would reassure us that we serving our SEND children and their families well and that we make a positive difference to their lives. It would also inspire us to do much more – above and beyond, so the most vulnerable pupils, despite their additional needs can achieve their full potential and become happy, independent and confident young people.


How is this work sustained over at least two years?
The school’s data shows that pupils are making good progress in meeting their short-term and individual targets.
The data for individual pupils with EHCPs indicates that they are meeting their targets well.
The sustained impact of all above is clearly visible in pupils’ outcomes.
Results for three consecutive years have been very positive.

We measure progress in relation to pupils’ personal, social and communication skills, and their wider development by setting targets for these and assessing how well pupils are achieving against them. Specific interventions are also assessed by checking where pupils are when they start and then comparing the end points with the baseline assessment.

“The outcomes clearly indicate that the funded support for SEND is having a positive impact on removing any differences in progress and attainment. The small step targets provide a good indicator of progress for pupils with more complex needs who are
unlikely to reach nationally expected or age-related standards (….)–The outcomes for pupils with SEND are good because of the positive results of pupils in national tests and assessments and also because of the good progress pupils make in relation to small step targets they are set”. (Link Inspection Report, 2019).
The use of data at Penwortham is used to direct the interventions and support that the children access. The importance of quality first teaching is felt as you walk around Penwortham Primary, as there are minimal interventions in place as children can access learning via their inclusive classroom.
“It was clear from the tracking that the SEN children are making gradual progress and comparing the previous data shows that the steps and changes she has implemented in her role over the last 18 months has ensured all children with additional needs is able to succeed at school” IQM report 2020.

We regularly receive positive feedback from our pupils gathered through pupil voice. It indicates that they are happy at school and enjoy their learning. Pupils make friends at school and know who to go to should they have concerns or need help, including with their work.

Partnership with Parents

Penwortham Primary School

What the Judges Said

The judges were impressed with the school’s commitment to working in partnership with parents. There were clear signs that they are thinking about coproduction with parents, as opposed to broadcasting to parents.

Context

Penwortham SEND vision statement:
Community: Everyone is included.
Unity: United by our school’s values.
Opportunity: Aim for happiness and success.

Penwortham Primary School is bigger than average – 3 form entry mainstream primary school. It is situated in South West London. There are 647 pupils on roll; 33% are EAL learners and 39 different languages are spoken. 18% of children are entitled to Pupil Premium funding. Currently there are 17 pupils with EHCPs and there are 79 pupils on the SEN register for SEN support. The most significant need is speech, language and communication (8%) followed by ASD (1.5%), SEMH (1.4%) and specific learning difficulties (dyslexia) (1.2%). Ofsted judged the school as good in November 2017.

In 2017 the new SEND team structure was introduced. SEND team consist of:
Head of inclusion – Deputy Head, SENCo, Class teacher, SEN administrator. The SEND team is actively supported by: Headteacher and Governing Body (SEND Governor).

Penwortham operates over 3 sides – all are easily accessible for children with disabilities (e.g. Ramps, lift). Each floor has accessible toilet. One classroom is fitted with a professional soundfield system that is beneficial for children with Hearing Impairment.
Penwortham’s efforts to be an Inclusive School have been recognised widely.
Penwortham has recently achieved the following, hugely respected awards:
– IQM Centre of Excellence

– Right Respecting School – Gold Award

– The National Quality Mark for Coaching in Education – Silver

Entry

How do you go above and beyond the expectations?

“Penwortham Primary is clearly an inclusive school and this is felt as soon as you walk through the doors of the building ….They care about children, they care about getting it right for individuals, they care about being adaptable, flexible and they care about offering bespoke solutions to children and families – but they frame that flexibility within a clearly defined philosophy, belief and set of principles, every student is at the centre of what they do”- IQM assessment, February 2020

We aim to include and involve our parents in every aspect of our school life and in decision making. Parents have been instrumental and actively involved in a process of getting an IQM and Right Respecting Awards.

“During the IQM assessment period a group of representative parents were interviewed by the assessor. The parents confirmed that Penwortham Primary values the role that parents play in the education of their children and is committed to working in partnership with parents to ensure best possible outcomes for all pupils. Penwortham Primary provides a wide range of communication opportunities to keep parents involved and engaged. These methods include parental consultation evenings, email, Twitter and an effective and up to date website.
The parents of pupils at the school are proud and supportive of Penwortham Primary, especially in recent years and they are quick to note significant improvements. Those spoken to were keen to emphasize a long list of positives which they felt were indicative of the school’s inclusive nature.
Parents commented on the “above and approach” that the SENCO brings to the school including visiting them at home to help with routines to always being available if they need support.” IQM report, 2020

All staff at Penwortham Primary value the role that parents play in the education of their children and are committed to working in partnership with them to ensure best possible outcomes for all pupils.
We have an “Open Door Policy”, parents are always welcome to contact the SENCO and other members of SEND team. We aim to offer them support and guidance as soon as possible. We provide a wide range of communication opportunities to keep parents involved and engaged. These methods include parental consultation evenings, email, Twitter and an effective and up to date website.
At the beginning of the academic year we invite our parents to meet with the SENCO and a TA who supports the child. 100% parents told us that this practice is such a great way of getting know the support staff who play a very important role in child’s education.
We actively support parents in accessing additional help through the Local offer. We help parents to apply for Wandsworth’s WAND Card. The card can be used by families to get extra support when they are out and about without having to explain their child’s disabilities every time.
We hold regular – termly coffee mornings for parents of SEND children. We invite professional speakers such us: representatives from our Borough, Speech and language therapists, Place 2 Be councillors etc.
“Coffee mornings have been helpful in giving useful information to parents and also enabling parents of SEN children to meet each other and feel less isolated” (Year 2 Parent.)
To offer even more targeted and effective support for the most vulnerable families we organise half termly home visits – the SENCo with ELSA mentor visit parents to share resources and help them to implement appropriate strategies to support issues like: behaviour, sleeping, eating, routines, attention and listening.
“I feel that this is a very good initiative and we get a lot from this support. I have three children with special needs and the visits helped our family to deal with challenging behaviours and our daughter finally goes to bed without any problems. We are very thankful and lucky as not many schools go that far”.(Year 1 Parent)

Here at Penwortham we understand the importance on transitions. All children with SEN are provided with a transition booklet at the end of each academic year, we start transition process to secondary school as early as in Year 5. We organise secondary transfer workshop for parents of pupils with EHCPs and we visit potential schools with the parents.

Work that all staff of Penwortham has been praised by parents, here are some comments they have made about us:
“ I am incredibly thankful for such a hard work and dedication of the SENCo and her team. The process of getting an EHCP for my son was very smooth and quick. I felt supported all the way.” (Year 1 parent)

“I am greatly pleased with the level of support we have received by the friendly staff at Penwortham and their Senco department. My daughter has an excellent caring, hardworking support worker and a very organised, diligent and efficient Senco. My daughter has had a stroke at birth so she has a variety of complex medical needs and several doctors and professionals working with her. The school has played a huge extremely efficient role in helping to liaise and coordinate with all of my daughter’s professionals. They involve me in decisions and discuss changes with me and update me regularly. Also they advise me regarding referrals and listen to my suggestions regarding any additional requirements or external referrals, tools or therapy required. The school has successfully incorporated the doctors strategies and suggestions and has gone out of their way to perform several adaptations in order to help improve my daughter’s condition. As well as helping her to keep up with her peers and to achieve the targets set by the various professions involved. I also feel that my daughter’s views are taken into account and she even feels valued at school which she loves. I have seen interview videos of her in the setting during her annual EHCP meetings and she is present during the review meetings throughout the year.
Lastly in addition to all this, the school has even taken into account the welfare of Sen parents and has kindly set up a successful termly SEN coffee morning. From which an active WhatsApp group has been created with the aim of offering support and advice and becoming a platform and parent voice. There have been various meetups, friendships have been formed and parents have gained a wider support network”. (Year 2 parent)

“I feel that my views have been heard and responded to when expressing concerns about my son. For example, in year one, he had to share a playground with year two children, which was a big change for him, as in reception the children had their own playground. My son is not steady on his feet, and was getting knocked over a lot, so the teacher spoke to senior management and they agreed to change the playtimes for the year 1 children so that they were not out in the playground with the year 2 children. This helped a lot to make my son feel more confident in the playground. Now he is in year 2 and much more relaxed to play in the ground.
I feel that the school is a safe environment for my son, and that he is cared for and happy there, despite his additional needs” (Year 3 Parent)

How is your work is innovative?

We strongly believe that our passion for inclusion and hard work makes a significant and positive difference to our most vulnerable pupils and their families.

Reason for entering the SEND Award 2020

We are extremely proud of the provision we provide for our SEN children and support we offer to their families. We are very pleased to see that children with special needs are thriving in our setting. “This is a very caring, nurturing school and my son is very happy there”. (year 2 Parent).
Last year we have been nominated for SEND National Award in category of Partnership with Parents. Although we did not win, we were praised and given a very positive and encouraging feedback from the judges:” Thank you for your entry, you are clearly doing a lot for your children. We felt that your entry for this category would benefit from more evidence of how you are working side-by-side with parents to coproduce policies or documents.”

Winning this prestigious SEND Award 2020 would reassure us that we serving our SEND children and their families well and that we make a positive difference to their lives. It would also inspire us to do much more – above and beyond, so the most vulnerable pupils, despite their additional needs can achieve their full potential and become happy, independent and confident young people.

How is this work sustained over at least two years?
We are very proud that our families feel valued and supported in our school.
Our continued efforts to provide the best possible support for our parents were recognised and summarised in the final IQM report: “Open door policy and the SENCO is always available to support them. At home support to ensure there is a united approach to supporting the families and children. Empowering parents through training and information sessions. External agency sessions to further support and empower parents in the school. Regular coffee mornings to parents to meet and support each other.

Inclusion in Early Years

Lanesend Primary School

What the Judges Said

We were impressed with the fuller transition programme they offer into Reception. It is clear that transition is a gradual process, not just an event.

Context

Love Learning – Our Teachers Love Teaching and Teach our Children to Love Learning.
We do what needs to be done for every child.

Lanesend Primary School is a large Primary School in Cowes on the Isle of Wight. We currently have 437 children on role, 35% of these children are currently on the SEN register. The school currently has 28 Education Health and Care Plans across all year groups.
We are a highly inclusive school and have become the ‘Go To’ primary school for families of children with special educational needs from across the Isle of Wight.
Our largest ethnic group is White British followed by White with Any Other White Background. Our context published for the primary data report comments that we have children from five out of a possible seventeen ethnic groups. The average number of groups for Primary School is nine.
On PLASC day (16th January 2020) our number on roll was 439. We are now at 437 with two children having recently left.
The percentage of boys is higher across the school

We currently have a waiting list of 13 children, 1 for Reception, 4 for Year 1, 6 Year 3 children, 2 year 5 children. We have 64 children in first choice for September 2019 including 3 children with EHCPs in place , 18 second preference and 15 third preference.

Leadership and Management: Head Teacher, Caroline Sice, Deputy Head Teacher David Cooper, Assistant Head Teacher and SENCO , Nicola Napier.
Inclusion/Pastoral/Family Team: Inclusion Officer – Vicki Wallis, AEN Assistant – Chloe Johnson, AEN Assistant – Jessi Holmes, Family Support & Safeguarding Lead – Hannah Holmes, Family Liaison Officer – Andrea Flux, Family Support Assistant – Maddie Dyer

Entry

How do you go above and beyond the expectations?

Each year on entry to Lanesend, around twenty per cent of our Reception cohort are already recognised as having Special Educational Needs. Therefore, our transition and support for these children begins long before their first official day at school and continues throughout their time in EYFS.

Informal Stay and Play sessions are held one morning a week from January onwards. Children either attend with staff from our main feeder Pre-school, or a family member. Children mix with current Reception children and staff to form positive relationships and explore the learning environment. Our EYFS Lead regularly visits our main feeder Pre-School throughout the year. She meets with staff to discuss children’s progress, carries out informal observations, engages in play with the children and runs group activities, with a particular focus on building relationships with children with special educational needs. The EYFS Lead and Inclusion Lead will carry out tours and meet with families of children with special educational needs who are considering applying for Lanesend.

Home visits are completed early in the Summer Term. The EYFS Lead and another staff member visits the child and family at home. The Inclusion Lead will attend home visits for children with special educational needs wherever possible. If she cannot attend, information from these visits is cascaded to her. Visits last approximately twenty minutes and children are given a toy squirrel, to match the school logo, as a welcoming gift. This is often used on transition days and in the Autumn Term as a transitional object to support children’s emotional needs when starting school. A questionnaire is also completed to ascertain information about the child, their interests and their learning and development. Families are asked to complete a ‘Ready for Learning’ booklet and this information is then shared with class teachers to identify areas of support.

A member of the EYFS Team visits each child in their Pre-school setting during the Summer Term. We meet with their key person to discuss transition documents and, if these are not available, we follow up with a telephone conversation. For children at our main feeder Pre-schools, the whole EYFS teaching team attends a transition meeting with all relevant Pre-school staff. A meeting is also held in the Spring Term with the Family and AEN Teams to identify children and families who may require their support. Children and families are given booklets with photographs of staff, the learning environment, indoors and outdoors, toilets etc. to share at home over the Summer Term. Phased transition can be adapted for children with special educational needs and we meet with families to discuss an individual approach to this that best suits the needs of the child. Transition is steadily built up and the needs of the child are prioritised at each stage.

The EYFS Lead and the Inclusion Officer attend Annual Reviews, progress meetings and professionals meetings for children with SEN at the request of families, prior to children starting school. The Early Years Lead also attends any person centred planning meetings with Educational Psychologist’s at the request of families. She liaises closely with Pre-school SENCOs and any external professionals throughout the year to support children known to be applying for Lanesend. Partnership agreements are completed for all children with EHCPs to support an effective transition and the EYFS Lead is the lead professional for these. Staff from Pre-schools or the Portage Team are encouraged to attend transition days for children with EHCPs. This facilities an effective handover to adults working with the child in the school setting. All paper work and individual plans are shared by the Pre-schools. These are read by the EYFS Lead and adults supporting the children and used by the AEN Team to inform personal plan targets. If visuals or a communication system is already in place, the school will adopt this for individual children. Follow up emails or phone calls take place with Pre-schools and Portage in the Autumn Term to feedback on how children have settled and discuss any challenges that may have arisen.

All EYFS staff are Makaton trained and we use this communication approach to specifically support children with special educational needs. We also support children using Trick Box, which is an emotional management and personal development programme based around stories and visual trick cards. In addition, we use Isle Attend Bucket Group intervention to support the communication and language needs of children with SEN.

How is your work is innovative?

There are two main reasons why our work is innovative. The first is that our relationships with children and families are developed months before they formally start school. We fully invest in transition as a process rather than an event and we commit time to adopting approaches that support this. As a result, there are secure foundations to build upon from the start of Reception and a strong awareness of the children’s individual needs and how best to support these. Relationships are our strength and this allows us to work in partnership and focus fully on children’s individual needs.

The second reason our work is innovative is that our support for children with special educational needs in Reception focuses predominantly on their personal, social and emotional development and communication and language skills. The interventions that we use, such as Isle Attend Bucket Group and individual speech and language programmes, such as Sound Around, put communication at the forefront. We understand that this impacts on all areas of learning and that if children can communicate effectively, there are less likely to have behavioural challenges. We also have a strong whole school focus on embedding oracy into learning and the foundation skills for this are taught to children from the outset of Reception to encourage them to be strong communicators. Our expectations for oracy are shared by all children, regardless of their additional needs and children are encouraged to develop these in a safe and supportive environment with trusted adults.

How is this work sustained over at least two years?

Our transition programme has been developed over the past six years, since the present EYFS Lead took on the role and it has been securely embedded for the last three years. We have a clearly planned programme for transition and review our approaches each year to ensure they remain effective. Similarly, our communication and language interventions and whole school oracy focus have been running for the past three years. The children’s progress and next steps are reviewed with the year one team to ensure that support continues and progression is planned for. Staff training is provided to new staff members at the start of the academic year and updates provided as and when required to ensure our approach is sustained.

Inclusion in Further Education

Beechlawn School

What the Judges Said

We felt that this entry showed much more than other sensory gardens that we have seen, so much of it done by the pupils. We were particularly impressed with the engagement from pupils in developing and maintaining their sensory garden.

Context

Beechlawn school is a special school which is recognised as an outstanding school by the educational inspectorate. The school has over 200 pupils and caters for a variety of varying needs and abilities. Beechlawn Sixth form department is currently in its seventh year (2019) and its growing in strength and developing to meet the needs of the pupils from year to year. As the school is situated in a landscaped 7-acre site on the outskirts of the historical village of Hillsborough. Pupils use the school environment to investigate all aspects of the Northern Ireland curriculum including History, Geography and Science.
After discussion involving the pupils in Sixth form, Our Key stage five felt that we should utilise the environment to create a stimulating and safe space which would benefit the whole school and staff. Especially as we as a school want to promote emotional wellbeing and positive self-esteem, whilst developing the full potential of our wonderful pupils.
The sixth formers started to create ideas of what we could use the space for and agreed a sensory garden would benefit the school. Year 15 (19 Year olds) started to make and craft sensory equipment and planting herbs, flowers and shrubbery that create a multi-sensory, kinaesthetic environment for learning and calm time, especially for our pupils in need of sensory input.
The sixth formers really took ownership of their own outdoor learning and created hand crafted games, colourful areas, a sensory curtain, plant tyres and changed a once unused area into a light, bright and calm garden for pupils and staff. The garden was officially opened in June 2019 by members of the Hillsborough castle team.
Our aim at Beechlawn is to develop the individual personal skills by focusing on the strengths of the individual, their needs and abilities. This is done through life skills and skills for work. We did this by focusing on the pupils, some created sensory items while others planted, others designed areas, and some led the year group in an assembly to disseminate the information to the while school. This was something the pupils would not have dreamt of participating in before they undertook this project, but due to the pride and effort they felt they wanted to share their space.
This year between September and December 2019 the Year 14 (18 Year olds), have been building on last years framework and concentrated on repurposing pallets. These were sourced to construct furniture in the garden. We have now established a new partnership with the local Southern Regional college and together discussed and arranged for stools, raised beds and tool racks to be made.
The pupils are in the process of painting the furniture, ready for use. There are designated pupils in charge of this as these pupils are currently completing A level art and are designing motifs to be painted on the furniture. This is giving them ownership and responsibility for their area and a sense of positivity. The pupils are all making additional outdoor games and bird feeders to attract wildlife.

Entry

How do you go above and beyond the expectations?
The project involving the sensory Garden went over and beyond expectations as it is being used by the whole school on a timetabled basis (2019), pupils have forged connections with the local regional college to make furniture and our Sixth formers were invited to the Hillsborough castle to tour the Gardens with the Duke of Edinburgh and Duchess of Cornwell (May 2019).
The initiative then expanded, as our current Year 13 (17 Year olds) wanted to raise environmental awareness after spending time in the garden. They sourced (October 2019) wildflower seed bombs that can be scattered in the garden to attract Bees. They researched the decline In the Bee population and created two very meaningful products that could be sold to potential customers raising money for the Sensory Garden. They are now the only distributers in Northern Ireland for Seed Bombs which are a packet of six clay balls filled with Wildflower seeds. The company name is the Bee Team. All packaging is biodegradable. The research also found that the UK produces 5 million Tonnes of plastic waste yearly, so the pupils have packaged and created Bees Wraps which are reusable wraps to replace clingfilm. The reasoning behind this is because the Bee population is declining and we need bees to survive.
The pupils sell this product in the local area and have entered this year Young Enterprise programme.
This initiate has now exceeded expectations as the pupils have established links with the NI Beekeepers association who are interested in our school products and we are currently in discussion with them about getting a Beehive for the school grounds and in the future producing our own honey.
Through the gardening and business start up work, we established links with the local Nursing home in Belfast. We were invited to attend the Home in November 2019 to meet the residents and discuss our wildflower seeds. We (Sixth form) have now agreed to help the residents start a sensory garden at their home after discussing the benefits of the one based at school.
Our pupils have gone over and beyond any expectations through delivering assemblies to the school on raising awareness about environmental issues. They have created a calm and safe space that benefits the whole school and they have grown in confidence, developing communication skills by selling their products and attending events for Young Enterprise related to promotion, selling and entrepreneurial skills.

How is your work is innovative?
The work of the pupils has been innovative as they have designed items for the sensory garden based on their own needs but also the needs of the school. They created a calming space using natural materials and materials that would otherwise be disposed of including; flower beds made from old tyres, a sensory curtain made from beads and other textured materials and a windchime made from an old fruit bowl and curtain hooks.
The pupils researched ideas themselves taking ownership of the space, they extended their ideas by creating partnerships with the local college, nursing home and creating a sustainable business based on research into the decline of bees and preserving our environment.
The pupils used creative thinking to produce garden games using pebbles and tree trunk cuttings. They designed and painted each product discussing ideas for each area to include skittles made from old water bottles filled with coloured water beads. All of the items in the garden have a purpose which is to create an outdoor sensory space for the school which it would otherwise have not had.
The pupils have completed the manual work by planting and maintaining their area, they have invited parents to attend and in June 2019 a student invited his youth group to attend the garden and sixth form gave them a tour as they used our sensory garden as a benchmark to create their own.
Beechlawn school came runner up in the SEELB best kept school awards and was commended for the sensory Garden in May 2019.

How is this work sustained over at least two years?
This work will be sustained and developed over the next two years and further, as gardening is now a part of the sixth form timetable. We also now accredit horticulture in Sixth form through life skills units and we place ownership of maintenance and upkeep on the pupils to give them a sense of pride in their work.
The garden is used within the school for staff and pupils and is a calming area, we intend to build on this area over the coming years to develop the space into a natural outdoor learning zone. Beechlawn school sixth formers have established links with the NI beekeeper’s association and have agreed that the school will be getting a hive to hopefully start the production of honey. This will be maintained by the beekeeper’s association, but they are offering training to staff in this area.

We have also agreed with the local fruit and veg shop in Hillsborough that from Spring 2020 they will be selling our wildflower bee bombs.

We are extending our work to the local community and creating partnerships with the Manor Park nursing home as we have agreed that in Spring 2020 the sixth form pupils will be helping them create a sensory garden for the elderly residents.

Support into Employment

Oldham College

What the Judges Said

The judges were impressed by what has been achieved, with all staff involved working extremely hard to establish links with a very large number of employers. This has enabled students to choose from a wide range of pathways. Being able to follow a route that matches their interests and ambitions may well be one of the reasons for early signs of excellent outcomes.

Context

Oldham College is a technical and professional college in the heart of the town centre. This is a borough with more challenges than many other regional and national areas in terms of deprivation (56 per cent borough-wide) and education and skills levels (only 56 per cent at Level 2 or above).

These levels of deprivation are ranked among the highest in the country. The linkages between deprivation, social mobility and educational attainment in Oldham are currently the focus of a Department for Education ‘Opportunity Area’ initiative. They include the prevalence of low skills, low prior achievement and the interconnection between these and other complex issues, such as mental health, drug and alcohol misuse, workless-ness and similar challenges.

The disproportionate levels of deprivation associated with Oldham College learners is accompanied by related issues including a full range of safeguarding and support concerns, forced marriage, domestic violence, crime, drug and alcohol misuse, mental health and self-harm, lack of confidence, language, social isolation and poverty.

Oldham College works alongside employers to offer an extensive range of qualifications and work experience across a variety of sectors. We have a vibrant SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) community and work hard to achieve the highest possible levels of positive student experience and successful outcomes.

The Supported Internship programme has revolutionised our discrete SEND pathway into work. Strong and consistent work outcomes have acted as a catalyst for both students and staff to raise the aspirations of young people and to change the goalposts in terms of what is achievable.

Entry

How do you go above and beyond the expectations.
Oldham College Skills & Employability Faculty has tailored all aspects of its Supported Internship programme to address the real issues students will be facing in the workplace.

This has included strengthening students’ ability to use specific assistive technologies, travel training, workplace communication and dealing with problems. This in turn has improved the work preparatory courses and created a streamlined, targeted and meaningful pathway from Oldham College courses onto the Supported Internship, and then into work.

Unlike many other Supported Internship provisions we do not operate a one employer model whereby all the students access the same workplace. We are passionate about widening participation and social inclusion so, instead, we take the aspirations and skill set of the student prior to enrolment and begin to make individual connections with large and small businesses within the community so that our students get a real and sustainable experience of work. We are very proud and passionate about this and believe it promotes full inclusion within the community.

Our hardworking Employment Officers and Job Coaches go above and beyond to develop secure employer relations. They work closely with employers to create employer targets and support the students learning both within the workplace and the classroom. All the employers we have engaged with demonstrate that they want to work with our students again.

We also have a highly-skilled and passionate curriculum team who believe in creating and delivering a bespoke learning experience for our students. As such, our 27 students this year are all following a differentiated timetable whilst completing their placement commitments, and working towards a City and Guilds qualification. Individualised targets add to the differentiated nature of the programme.

The work doesn’t end then either. Our staff continue to work closely with students, families and employers for six months after the course has ended in order to offer support and maximise achievement.

How is your work is innovative?
We believe that our approach to delivering this programme is unique.

To acknowledge the difference of ability of our students, we have created a streamed approach to the Supported Internship that is now able to accommodate the needs and aspirations of a wide range of students. This ranges from learners that are working at EL2/3 to those that have a L3 qualification. This has led to tailored pathways being developed requiring a different staff skills set, varied class-based input, differentiated employer connections and individualised progression routes.

Strong employer collaboration is at the heart of the rigour of this programme and staff work extensively with employers to design a bespoke ‘on the job’ learning experience for each student that will prepare them for the specific demands of that industry.

Our Supported Internship students get a genuinely meaningful work experience and we are currently engaged with 33 employers to provide work experience for up to 15 hours a week per Intern. Our employers include Clean Plate Kitchen, Savers, Remedian IT Solutions, The Crossley Centre, Oldham Council, SR Sports, Heathbank Services, and Royal Mail, to name just a few.

Students report feeling confident that they can go on to achieve a higher level of independence than they previously thought possible, and family members also inform us that they feel confident and reassured about the student’s future prospects.


How is this work sustained over at least two years?
At the heart of this provision – and the reason for its unprecedented success – is the belief that students, family and employers should be fully and actively involved in the co-design of the programme.

We have continued to build on this belief and on our commitment to social inclusion since 2017 by working with students, families and employers, before, during and after their time at Oldham College.

This has led to excellent achievements, recruitment that has doubled for the last two years and students that report increased confidence in their ability to secure work.

From 2018 our progression into employment has been 100 per cent and that is again our prediction for this year.

Students now aim, with excitement, to attend the Supported Internship and, upon completion, secure work which previous Interns openly state has changed their life and prospects.

Contribution to the Sector

Nicola Fisher

What the Judges Said

This person does not just do a job, she has an impact on her surroundings and others in the school. Someone who is not in leadership, not a super head, nor a member of trust staff, this person is an ordinary person doing their job, but in a way that means others are learning from her.

Context

The Barlow RC High School is a secondary school that works in an extremely challenging context. Although from the ‘outside’ we are situated in the leafy Didsbury, 44% of our students are classed as ‘disadvantaged’ which is almost double the National Average. Our profile shows that students come from areas with the highest social deprivation in Manchester. Despite this, we are committed to removing barriers to learning for all our students, so they can reach their full potential and be the best that they can be. Our mission is: “If you believe you can achieve”. We live our mission out each day in our school so we can improve the life chances of all our pupils. This mission shines through in the way our SEND Department looks after SEND pupils with a range of needs. The SEND register at The Barlow is made up of 153 pupils, which is above the national average. 24 of our pupils are designated as having complex needs and receive additional funding from the LA. Again, this is significantly above the national average. 62% of our SEND cohort are classed as Pupil Premium, meaning that they have double the barriers to overcome. Our SEND pupils are our inspiration and we strive, in everything we do for them, to give them the best opportunities in life that we can. We are massively proud of them and all of the work we do for them, in order to allow them to be important contributors to society as they grow older.

Entry

How do they go above and beyond the expectations?
Nik is a TA4 and the work she does changes lives. Nik leads Hive 2, our support base for pupils with additional learning needs, physical difficulties and speech, language and communication needs such as autism spectrum condition. Within our Hive 2 provision, SEND pupils are given 1-1 and small group support with Nik, in order to help them access the mainstream curriculum and build positive relationships with more success and with less anxiety. Some of the interventions Nik leads include: additional literacy and numeracy, including independent living skills such as budgeting, completing a passport or driving license application form and how to use money accurately in a shop, fine motor skills work, social stories, Lego Therapy, comic strip stories, keyworker mentoring and Speech and Language Therapy support. Nik is ELKAN trained, having completed this qualification in her own time.

In Hive 2, we have our ‘Blue Room’, a sensory room where pupils who feel overwhelmed by the demands of mainstream schooling can go to find peace and calm. This was an idea developed by Nik, with support from TAs, who gave up their holiday time, to come into school and decorate the room so that it could be ready for our most vulnerable pupils. Nik bought or donated much of the equipment in the room herself. This sums Nik up: She inspired other staff members with the vision that she had of outstanding SEND provision for our most vulnerable pupils. The pupils love the space and are proud to have it. When they’ve had their time in the ‘blue room’, Nik is always there to listen and guide. She is an absolute lifeline for a number of highly vulnerable pupils.

Nik has introduced our VIP Club in school, which is a lunchtime PE group that Nik oversees for pupils who really struggle to access PE due to their anxiety around the subject. These children, thanks to Nik are facing their fears, building their resilience, making new friends and learning to love PE. Nik rarely gets a lunchtime due to running clubs such as this, yet she never complains. She knows pupils need her and so she is determined to be there!

Thanks to Nik’s experience and outstanding practice as a TA, we have been able to open our doors to pupils who usually would attend specialist provision. This has meant that parents who desperately wanted to send their children to a mainstream provision have been able to have their wishes met. Nik came to The Barlow from a Resource Provision and she has brought a wealth of experience and knowledge of working with ASC pupils with her. She not only uses this knowledge on a day-to-day basis herself, but she has shared this knowledge across the department and the school. Nik’s work has changed the school life of a significant number of SEND pupils and we are very proud of the amazing work that she does within Hive 2. Hive 2, thanks to Nik, has transformed the lives of a number of pupils, who were previously unable to cope with the demands of mainstream, but with Nik’s support and guidance, they are happy and making progress.

Nik is an amazing asset to The Barlow – she has worked as a TA for many years now, going above and beyond what could ever be asked or expected of her. We would love for her to gain the recognition she so deserves by winning this award!


How is their work is innovative?
Nik is constantly reviewing the practice within our Hive 2, whether that be the interventions we offer to our pupils or the curriculum diet they receive (she is looking to bring in new subjects such as BTEC Home Cooking, which is amazing for our lowest ability learners and gives them independent living skills). She is constantly reading around the subject of SEND, keeping up to date with the latest thinking with regards to SEND. Through transition and building relationships with parents and pupils, Nik is able to find out what works for our most vulnerable and, no matter how challenging, she finds a way to deliver personalised support in Hive 2 for pupils. These pupils, thanks to Nik’s work, are able to access and thrive in a mainstream provision where potentially, they might not have been able to, without Nik’s dedication.

Just an overview of her innovative work is:
The VIP Club – designed to encourage anxious pupils, particularly those with autism, to attend PE. She spends every Wednesday lunchtime leading a PE session with them and some of our PE prefects. Pupils love it and are beginning to attend some mainstream lessons… and love the subject!

Our sensory room – designed by Nik to support our pupils with autism. This is a quiet and calm space with a range of sensory items that are designed to calm anxious pupils. This includes: sensory lights, water tubes and fishes, different sensory wall coverings for pupils to touch, worry monsters. These combined help pupils to feel safe and secure.

Sensory boxes – Nik has helped our pupils with autism to make their own personalised sensory boxes that are able to calm them when they are distressed. She maintains these so they are on hand when pupils need them most.

Weighting – Nik has researched and organised a range of weighted items that are used to help ground pupils with autism, particularly if they are overwhelmed or unable to cope. These have had a significant impact on pupils’ wellbeing.

How is this work sustained over at least two years?
Nik embodies everything that our school is about. She is an outstanding TA. She is hardworking, dedicated, enthusiastic, tenacious and absolutely committed to the SEND children in her care. The difference she makes to the lives of our most vulnerable pupils is immeasurable and we are absolutely honoured, and our SEND pupils, so lucky, to have her as part of our school community. Nik leads the other TAs (we have 13 of them in total, so it is a big team) as a role model on how to treat others and how to really cater for the needs of our most complex pupils. Nik doesn’t shy away from a difficult conversation with the team and takes her leadership role extremely seriously. In a professional and supportive way, she challenges members of the SEND team to make sure that the provision on offer for our pupils is the absolute best it can be. No matter what time of the day it is, how busy she is or what might have already been asked of her that day, Nik is always available to our pupils and they absolutely think the world of her – as do their parents!

Over the last 2 years we have had an increase in the number of pupils with autism and very complex learning needs we have had join our school and a significant increase in the number of pupils who attend our mainstream setting but essentially, would also be at home in a specialist setting. Nik has taken this in her stride – I have watched (and learned) as she has built relationships with pupils with more complex needs than any of us are used to working with. When some of these pupils have become overwhelmed and very distressed or unable to verbalise their feelings to us, Nik has stepped in and reassured, calmed and supported them, so that they can communicate with her. She has developed our blue room, our sensory room, for our pupils with autism. She gave up her own time to do this and spent her own money, along with other members of the team, who she had inspired with her vision, to make this room a safe space for our children.

The proof of Nik’s sustained impact…
• Pupils who would normally be in a specialist setting are settled and making progress at The Barlow!
• Increased numbers of SEND pupils have requested pupils next academic year (over 20% of the applications are from SEND pupils)!
• Improving external SEND data in the last 2 years!
• An Ofsted inspection which previously highlighted SEND as a significant concern, sang our praises in 2019!
• The staff and parental testimonials that are attached!

Catch us at this years Mental Health Shows in Leeds, Find out more.