Frequently Asked Questions
Will my child be welcomed at Peter Hills?
We believe all children are unique and special. We recognise each child has his or her own personal talents, experiences, learning styles and needs. We value their abilities and achievements, and are committed to providing an effective learning environment which promotes their intellectual and personal development. We are an inclusive school – we wish to see children of all abilities, talents and disabilities educated together. We aim to enable all children to participate fully in school life.
Our experience has helped us realise the positive benefits that inclusion brings. The effect is an enriching and strengthening of our community. Where children have additional needs the whole school community is committed to supporting them. All teachers here are teachers of children with SEND. We seek to support all children’s’ access to the curriculum so that they have the opportunity to progress and achieve success. We strongly believe in involving the children, and you as their parent/carer, in a helpful working partnership with us.
WHOLE SCHOOL/SETTING APPROACHES
Information on policies, people and statutory guidance
What kinds of special needs are provided for in this school?
We provide for all kinds of needs at Peter Hills, usually grouped into 4 categories:
- communication and interaction;
- cognition (thinking) and learning;
- physical and sensory;
- social, emotional and mental health needs.
Who is involved?
Everyone at school is involved in making sure your child is supported and achieves their full potential. Your child’s class teacher:
- checks on your child’s progress and (where needed), identifies, plans and delivers any additional help; your child may need;
- plans for all children who need extra help;
- monitors this help to make sure it is making a difference for your child;
- asks, with your permission, for further specialist help if your child isn’t making progress – for example, they may ask you if they can include the Speech and Language Therapist in an assessment of your child’s speech, language and communication needs, or refer them to one of our Intervention Support Assistants, for literacy and mathematics intervention;
- discusses with you at all stages how your child is doing, what help and support is needed and agreeing together plans and reviews of how things are working.
We have an Inclusion Team at Peter Hills, dedicated to communicating the requirements of SEND children. The team is headed by Benjamin Gorner (SENDCo), Literacy Intervention groups are run by Emer O’Brien, Maths Interventions, by Jackie Taylor and Learning Mentor Cycles, by Naomi Palmer. The SENDco:
- co-ordinates all of the support that we provide for children with SEND and their families and develops our approach so that all children get the best quality help;
- ensures children and their parents/carers are included in knowing what’s happening and are involved in checking what’s working/ what’s needed next;
- works with the outside agencies that we sometimes need support from – Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Paediatrics, School Nursing, Educational Psychology, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and so on;
- keeps our school systems up-to-date so we know who in school has SEND and what we are doing about it;
- makes sure teachers and support staff have what they need to help children with SEND in the school achieve the best progress possible.
NB: Our SEND link Governor is Pauline Madison.
Wider World of School: Approaches to extra-curricular activities and pastoral care
How accessible is this school for my child?
- While there are stairs leading to Y3-4, this is our only first floor teaching area. Where a child’s disability prevents them from using the stairs, these year groups will swap rooms with Y1-2, on the ground floor;
- We are wheel-chair accessible and have toilets for people with disabilities. We also ensure that equipment and adaptations are put in place to support each child’s individual needs;
- The school has interactive whiteboards in every classroom and there is access to laptops and iPads for all children;
- Our classrooms are communication friendly, and staff are trained in EAL awareness;
- We have an Inclusion Room, equipped with a wide-range of resources (including sensory resources), and which is designed not to over-stimulate children with autism, for example, who do not respond well to over-stimulation.
How will my child be welcomed at Peter Hills?
We recognise that transition – both into school and from Peter Hills on to other schools – can be both an exciting but worrying time for children and their parents. To help children feel welcome:
- we spend time in the Summer working with new parents/carers whose children will be taking a Nursery or Reception place;
- depending on the situation, this can include visiting the family at home or seeing the child in an EYFS setting to make sure we are prepared to meet their needs on entry;
- we encourage all new children to visit the school prior to starting where they are shown around the school and meet some key members of school staff;
- for children with SEND, we encourage further visits to assist with getting used to the new surroundings;
- we also visit children in their current school or setting, and talk with you about what will make your child feel most secure and settled.
If you would like to find out more about admissions to Peter Hills, please click here
How will my child be supported to be part of the Peter Hills?
- Most children with SEND are supported through the regular opportunities provided to all children – high quality teaching, excellent play opportunities and supportive and empathetic staff who want to listen to your child
- Some children do find the social and emotional aspects of school life to be more difficult than others – for them. We have an excellent Mentoring service in place, run by Naomi Palmer, as mentioned above. Naomi provides individual and group-based support covering areas such as self-esteem/confidence, social skills and making friends, anger management, coping skills and learning to relax and so on;
- Mrs Palmer also acts as the Parent Liaisons Lead and ensures that communication between staff and parents runs smoothly, and has a pastoral role when it comes to supporting parents with specific concerns.
How is behaviour managed?
- We want all of our children to grow into responsible adults, who respect themselves and each other;
- Self-discipline is important for learning and behaviour, as is your child learning about cooperation and friendship. This atmosphere of mutual trust between students allows us to build the foundations of a clear stand against bullying. Children from groups that may be vulnerable to bullying are carefully monitored and supported within an inclusive, whole-school approach (for more information please see our behaviour policy);
- To help make this happen, we feel it is essential for staff to establish a consistent approach to behaviour, including attitudes and behaviours for learning;
- We want children to want to behave well, and to achieve, because they see the benefits for themselves;
- We need to teach children about social and emotional aspects of development and we use a range of opportunities to do so. For example, we hold weekly class discussions for children to express concerns, and have a platform to get their opinions across. Each week 2 Class Presidents are chosen, who do not regularly get an opportunity to have their voice heard, to conduct these meetings;
We use a range of strategies to manage behaviour:
- the most important strategy to ensure good behaviour is to provide the highest quality teaching that fully engages your child;
- we listen and attend to what children say and do, as this provides us with important clues for why they behave as they do;
- we praise them when they have done well (the children have an opportunity to be recognised for their efforts through the school’s merit system, including awarding of ‘Dojos’, Club Time and celebration of their work on the school website, for example);
- children are provided with warnings if their behaviour is not in keeping with what is expected of them;
- there are sanctions that teachers and support staff apply when a child is not making good choices;
- our behaviour management approach allows children to have a fresh start each day, and that it is always the behaviour that is ‘undesirable’- not the child;
We cannot manage behaviour effectively without your support and it is essential that you understand and support the policies of the school with regard to learning and behaviour. We need you on board with our system for rewarding good behaviour and sanctioning challenging behaviour and to work together with us. Supporting your child’s learning at home to help them achieve their best is a very important part of the help we get from you.
What support do we offer you as a parent/carer of a child with SEND?
Engagement with parents/carers is very important to us and we make use of a variety of strategies to do this:
- Weekly blog updates
- Parents’ evenings
- Parent Governor
- Coffee mornings/afternoons for parents of children attending the resource base
- School productions
- Parent workshops
- Text messaging service.
Your child’s class teacher is available to discuss your child’s progress or any concerns you may have. We have regular parent-teacher meetings also, where you and the teacher share information about what is working well at home and in school so everyone uses strategies that work for your child. If your child has an individual plan, this is also a chance for you and the teacher to look at targets that have been set for your child, the support we gave and how it’s made a difference.
The SENCO is available to meet with you to discuss your child’s progress or any concerns/worries you may have, on appointment. All information from outside professionals will be discussed with you, or where this is not possible, provided in a report. Please make sure you keep your contact details up-to-date with the school office to make sure we can always get in touch with you for meetings, sending reports and so on.
What extra-curricular activities can my child participate in?
We do not discriminate against children with SEND, and all extra-curricular opportunities available for children without additional needs are available to those children with SEND. We have a range of excellent extended services (both before and after-school) – breakfast club, Art Club, Homework Club and so on. For children with SEND in our resource base, we place a high emphasis on learning life skills in practical situations – self-care, cooking, shopping, getting ready for independent travel, etc.
It is important to us that children with SEND access school visits and trips, which are such exciting and interesting learning opportunities for children. We conduct a risk assessment of each visit/trip beforehand to ensure we have everything in place to make it a success (e.g. some children with SEND may find periods of walking difficult, or find new environments upsetting); and we make adjustments to our plans to meet their individual needs.
School visits away from home, and overnight (i.e. PGL in Y4 and 6) can be a milestone for any child for whom this is a new experience, let alone children with SEND. We understand this, and therefore, class teachers and the SENDCo offer time to listen to any concerns confidentially, aside from general meetings are held.
What support is available at less structured times of the day (e.g. playtime, lunch)?
- All children at Peter Hills are well supervised at all times;
- There is always more than one medically trained member of staff, in the dinner hall, and outside with the children during lunch and playtime;
- If needed, we provide a Learning Mentor or teaching assistant to support children with complex SEND who find playtime more challenging;
- We also ensure that children who would find such an approach beneficial have jobs and responsibilities at lunchtime.
Approaches to Teaching and Learning
How will teaching be adapted to meet the needs of my child?
All teachers adapt their teaching for every child – we aim to give each child the most personalised learning experience possible. As such:
- class teachers plan lessons according to the specific needs of all groups of children in their class, and will ensure that your child’s needs are met;
- specially trained support staff can adapt the teachers’ planning to support the needs of your child where necessary;
- specific resources and strategies are used to support your child individually and in groups;
- planning and teaching is adapted on a daily basis, based on your child’s responses to the previous teaching and what needs to happen next.
How will I know how my child is doing?
You are always well informed about your child’s progress in learning and development, and you have regular opportunities to discuss their progress with staff who know them well:
- class teachers meet and greet all children every morning, in the playground;
- speak to your child’s class teacher on an individual basis about your child’s progress;
- at the end of each year, you receive a written report of your child’s achievements and their suggested next steps for learning;
- there is a programme of parent workshops and briefings across the year where you can come in and learn more about children’s learning and progress in core subjects such as literacy and numeracy;
- you are most welcome to make an appointment at any time in the school year to discuss your child’s progress and any concerns you may have;
- if there are significant concerns about your child – e.g. a sudden deterioration in their progress or emotional well-being – we do not wait until the end of term to discuss this with you. We meet with you to find out how he or she is at home, whether there have been any changes in family life, what we can do to help and so on.
What skills do staff members have to meet the needs of my child?
Peter Hills is deeply committed to ensuring that your child is educated by high quality, professional staff members who have the key skills and abilities to meet their needs. For example:
- all class teachers are qualified teachers who are well supported by specialist staff – the SENDCo, the Literacy Intervention Assistant, Emer O’Brien etc. – in working with your child. They work with the teacher in planning for children with SEND and provide in-house training where needed;
- the school also has a school development plan that addresses the identified training needs for all staff to improve the teaching and learning of children, including those with SEND;
- this may include whole-school training on SEND issues or to support identified groups of learners in school, such as attention difficulties, dyslexia and so on. We are keen to provide whole staff training to disseminate knowledge, strategies and experience to ensure consistency of the school’s approach for children with SEND;
- teachers and support staff also attend training courses run by outside agencies that are relevant to the needs of specific children in their class;
- this training takes place on a regular basis. If you would like to hear about the training which is currently taking place or has taken place by the staff members in the school, please speak to the Headteacher or the SENDCo;
Information about early identification, assessment and intervention
What happens if I am worried about my child?
If you are worried about your child’s progress, please speak to the class teacher. We can then work together to identify what specific concerns you have, what we have observed in school and what we can do next.
How do you identify children who may have special needs?
We use a range of strategies to identify children who have SEND:
- some children come to school with their needs already identified by their previous setting/school or specialists working with them (e.g. community paediatrics, Speech and Language Therapy and so on);
- we always contact these practitioners to find out what goals they have been working towards, how your child has responded and what needs to happen next;
- for other children, we first provide high quality teaching and observe their response to this;
- it is only when your child doesn’t make the expected progress after having had good quality teaching that we start to further assess whether your child has SEND;
- for example, we may analyse their work for errors they’ve made – e.g. their spelling mistakes – and work out what might be holding them back;
- we also use specialist assessments to help us pinpoint specific needs (e.g. we use assessment software, called Rapid Lucid to screen for dyslexia);
- most importantly, we talk with your child and with you about their learning; what is working/where the gaps are and work together on setting targets.
How will my child manage tests and exams at Peter Hills?
In England, schools are responsible for checking whether a child is working at the level of a test (e.g. Key Stage 2 SATS) but is unable to access them. The Headteacher makes the final decision about this, for example if your child has:
- a physical or sensory disability (e.g. a visual impairment);
- spent lots of time in hospital towards the end of the Key Stage.
Specific arrangements can be put in place to enable children to access the tests. These are based primarily on typical classroom practice for children with particular needs (e.g. if our child uses Enlarged Print every day in class, this should be available for the exam). Detailed information about each access arrangement and how it can be used is available on the DfE’s website at www.education.gov.uk/ks2.
SEN SUPPORT including students with EHC Plans
What happens if my child does have some difficulties?
The best thing that can happen if your child has SEND is for them to have excellent classroom teaching, known as Quality First Teaching. For your child this would mean that:
- the teacher has the highest possible expectations for your child and all children in their class;
- all teaching is based on building on what your child already knows, can do and can understand;
- different ways of teaching are in place so that your child is fully involved in learning in class. This may involve things like using more practical learning;
- specific strategies (which may be suggested by the SENDCOoor outside staff) are in place to support your child to learn;
- the teacher will have carefully checked on your child’s progress and will have decided that your child has gap in their understanding/learning and needs some extra support to help them make the best possible progress.
All children in school should be getting this as a part of excellent classroom practice when needed.
Your child may also benefit from specific group work with a smaller group of children. These kinds of groups, often called interventions, may:
- be run in the classroom or outside;
- be run by a teacher or teaching assistant who has had training and is supervised to run these groups;
- include clear assessment before and after to measure progress;
- have specific targets or goals set for the children involved so they know what they need to do next and when they have achieved this;
This type of support is available for any child who has specific gaps in their understanding of a subject or area of learning. We also sometimes provide specialist groups or individual support as advised by external professionals if children would benefit from this approach. For your child this would mean:
- your child will have been identified by the class teacher (or you will have raised your worries) as needing more specialist input, in addition to Quality First Teaching, or in place of intervention groups;
- you will be asked to come to a meeting to discuss your child’s progress and help plan possible ways forward – for this, we use an approach called Team Around the Child or Team Around the Family.
You may be asked to give your permission for the school to ask for the involvement of a specialist e.g. a Speech and Language Therapist or Educational Psychologist. This will help the school and you understand your child’s particular needs better and be able to support them in school. The specialist will work with your child and their team to understand their needs and make recommendations, which may include:
- making changes to the way your child is supported in class e.g. some individualised support or changing some aspects of teaching to support them better;
- support to set better targets which include the area of their specific expertise;
- a group run by school staff under the guidance of the outside professional e.g. a social skills group
- a group or individual work with an outside professional.
This type of support is available for children with specific barriers to learning that cannot be overcome through Quality First Teaching and intervention groups.
Information on the schools graduated approach - Assess, Plan, Do, Review
How will you find out more about what my child needs?
We work with you, your child and their previous teacher and assessment results to find out what they already know, how they learn best and what is next in learning. We then use a variety of engaging and interesting teaching approaches to stimulate your child’s participation and engagement. Through observing their responses to teaching – both what is taught and how it is taught – we find out more and more about what they need and how best to provide it.
What will you do once you know what my child finds difficult?
Once we have assessed what it is they are finding difficult and why, we plan together a range of strategies and approaches to address any gaps. We then implement the plan and monitor it, reviewing at the end whether it is has made a difference. Usually, this approach is enough to support most children in making adequate progress; it is only when we are not making the difference we would expect that we may ask you for permission to bring in another expert to work with us in meeting your child’s needs.
What extra support can be brought in to help the school meet the needs of my child?
There are a range of services that we draw upon – Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Paediatrics, school nursing, Educational Psychology, specialist teachers in literacy and numeracy, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), audiology and so on.
Who makes sure everything is happening?
You and the class teacher working together are critical to ensuring everything is happening. Every class teacher teaches all of the children in their class, including the children with SEND and they are responsible for your child’s progress. If we need to involve external professionals, we may need you to take your child to appointments, share information with the practitioners concerned and let us know what they have told you. We also need you to keep your child motivated and engaged in their learning!
If your child requires specialist assessment and intervention, this is discussed at termly progress meetings with the Deputy Headteacher, and the SENDCo .The SENDCo checks to make sure external agencies are working together as they should be and makes requests for additional resources if they are needed.
How will I know if the provision is making a difference for my child?
You will notice positive changes in whatever areas of need had been identified; that is why our initial identification and assessment is so important. It may be improvements in their reading, spelling and writing; or it could be that they tell us that have less fights at play-time or that they are happier in school. Listening to what your child has to say, as well as what you notice in their behaviour at home, is important in knowing whether the provision we’re making is working.
What if it isn’t working as much as I’d hoped?
It can be difficult, especially at the beginning of working together, to know exactly how much progress a child is going to make with extra support. It is important to have high expectations for them, and also to be reasonable and realistic in what we all think can be achieved each term or year.
What we do if an intervention isn’t working as we might have hoped depends on the reason for lack of expected progress. If the extra support isn’t working, it may be that we haven’t given it enough time, or it wasn’t the right intervention for your child or that we uncover another barrier to learning while were providing the support.
The most important thing if you are worried is communication – talk to your child’s teacher or the SENDCo. We have to ensure that everyone has a shared understanding of what is happening – do we all have the common goals and timeframes? Have we shared these with each other? Do we share high and realistic expectations for your child? Working together we will come up with a plan for what to do next, and hopefully that revised plan will lead to success for your child!
What happens if I am still worried or disagree?
Again, it depends on what you are worried about – do you feel your child needs further assessment? Do you feel a different sort of specialist advice needs to be provided? Does your child need more time in a different intervention? Talking through your concerns with the SENDCo will help you identify what’s worrying you and what we can do about it. Remember that the option of requesting an assessment for an Education, Health and Care Plan is always open to you.
If you cannot reach agreement with the class teacher and the SENDCo, you can arrange to meet Mrs Longman and discuss with her your concerns and what could happen next. You can also seek advice from the Parent Partnership Service in the local authority, or through Contact a Family.
Education Health and Care Assessments and Plans
What if I think my child needs more help than the school can provide?
If you think that your child needs more help than the school can provide, there is the option of asking the local authority for an assessment to decide whether an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan is needed. These plans used to be called Statements of SEN. Having an EHC Plan means your child needs a very significant amount of individualised support that cannot be provided from the budget available to the school. It also usually means their needs are very severe, complex and likely to have a lifelong impact on their learning and development.
For your child this would mean:
- The school (or you) can request that the local authority carry out an assessment of your child’s needs. This is a legal process which would set out the amount of support that will be provided for your child if they had an EHC Plan;
- After the school have sent in the request to the Local Authority (with a lot of information about your child, including from you), they will decide whether they think your child’s needs are complex enough to need an assessment. If this is the case they will ask you and all professionals involved with your child to write a report outlining your child’s needs. If they do not think your child needs this assessment, they will ask the school to continue with school-based support;
- After the reports have all been sent in, the local authority will decide if your child’s needs are severe, complex and lifelong. If this is the case they will write an EHC Plan. If not, they will ask the school to continue with school-based support and also set up a meeting in school to ensure a plan is in place to ensure your child makes as much progress as possible.
What if I disagree with some aspect of the plan, or I disagree about them conducting the assessment?
The best thing for you to do is to talk to the local authority about why they have made the decision they have. The Parent Partnership Service are also available to help you, and there are routes you can go down if you remain dissatisfied – please see the relevant local authority’s procedures for this.
Arrangements for supporting transitions for pupils with significant SEND
How will the school help my child to manage the transitions into the school, into a new class or on to a different school/adulthood?
We firmly believe in using the Team Around the Child or Team Around the Family approach at all stages of a child’s time with us at Peter Hills. This means we work together with the family and all of the other practitioners working with them to plan, deliver and review an action plan that is based on the family’s priorities. Relationships are central to this approach – building connections between you and the school, as well as trust and openness.
At times of transition, whether into the school or on to secondary, we meet together as soon as possible to plan the kinds of experiences that the child and family would feel would best help making the transition go as smoothly as possible. It is particularly important for secondary transfer that we include the child as much as possible in the transition and they participate in making the decisions about what works for them.
When your child moves classes in school:
- information is passed in advance to the new class teacher and a planning meeting takes place. All of the individualised planning is shared with the new teacher so they know what has been tried, what’s worked and what’s next for your child;
- he/she visits and meets with their new teacher before the end of the school year;
- any external professionals working with your child advise the new teacher of the extra help your child needs to make progress;
If your child is moving to another school:
- we contact that school’s SENDCo and ensure he/she knows about any special arrangements or support that need to be made for your child;
- we make sure that all records about your child are passed on as soon as possible.
For secondary transfer:
- school staff work with you as early as possible to identify the choices for secondary school that you and your child would like, including accompanying you to visit a school if that would be helpful;
- we advise you on the processes, deadlines and the paperwork that needs to be completed in advance;
- we get the team working with your family together to plan the transition about a term before your child is due to leave, always trying to ensure we have included staff from the new school in this meeting;
- we work together with your child on focused learning about aspects of transition to support their understanding of the changes ahead;
- where possible, your child visits their new school on several occasions and in some cases staff from the new school will visit your child here.
Information about funding and resources
How will the school fund the support needed for my child?
The school budget includes money for supporting children with SEND, and the Headteacher decides on the SEND budget in consultation with the school governors, on the basis of needs in the school. All of the evidence and research suggests that one of the most effective ways of using funding for SEND is to use it to improve the quality of teaching. We use the funding we have in a variety of ways:
- helping every class teacher to improve their teaching so that they provide the best learning experiences for children with SEND;
- resources such as the Lexia programme to help children struggling with reading;
- high quality small group interventions
- We also have some personalised provision for children with severe and complex needs.
How are decisions made about funding and what can I do if I’m unhappy with this?
The Headteacher and the SENDCo discuss all the information they have about SEND in the school, including:
- the children currently getting extra support;
- the children needing extra support;
- the children who have been identified as not making as much progress as would be expected.
and decide what resources/training and support is needed. This happens after each progress meeting and parent-teacher meeting (termly) so that all of the information about children’s progress and achievement is used to make decisions about funding. All resources, training and support are also reviewed regularly and changes made as needed. Please see below for what to do if you would like to raise a concern or a comment with the school.
Information on where to find further support
Where can I or my child get further help, information and support?
- The first port of call is your child’s class teacher or the SENDCo;
- The school website is also regularly updated, and is an important source of information for parents/carers, as well as links to other helpful sites – make sure your regularly check in for updates!
- There are local drop-in services for parents/carers for children with SEND (e.g. the drop-in at Sunshine House Child Development Centre on Friday mornings);
- Please speak to the SEND and Vulnerable Child’s Lead for further information on drop-in services
Where can I find out about what is available locally for me, my family or my child?
- Each local authority is producing their own local offer, depending on which borough you live in you will be able to find out more information by clicking here for Southwark and here for Lewisham
- You can also contact Southwark's Information, Advice and Support team for impartial advice here, the Family Information Service click here and the national charity Contact a Family click here
How do I complain if I am not happy with what is happening for my child?
We hope that every parent/carer is happy with what is in place for their child. If you have anything you are not sure about, or have a concern with, the first thing to do is always discuss this with your child’s class teacher. In most instances, issues are resolved at this stage. However, if you remain unhappy you can also speak to the SENCO (Benjamin Gorner), or the Headteacher (Mrs Longman). There is a link to the school’s complaints policy below.