At Brill School we believe that the best support we can provide for all children, including those with additional needs, is to prepare them for life beyond Brill C of E School.
At Brill School we believe that the best support we can provide for all children, including those with additional needs, is to prepare them for life beyond Brill C of E School. All children face challenges of varying kinds whether they be as a direct result of learning needs, processing difficulties, emotional needs or other high incidence SEN needs that may have a 'label' or a diagnosis. Our approach is a holistic one where we aim to help the children to understand any particular barriers they may have and then focus on strategies to support them with these additional difficulties.
We believe that there is a fine balance between supporting our children with identified needs and ensuring that children receive the important message that they can achieve their best whatever their needs. We aim to recognise what are genuine difficulties for our children but we also have the intent to enable our children to feel positive about themselves. We believe that no one is defined by their 'need'. Everyone is an individual. As far as is possible, support is discrete and aims to boost confidence and promote a positive mindset. Our greatest successes have been when children have grown in confidence about themselves and have developed (with support) their own strategies to cope with particular difficulties they encounter as a result of their additional needs. We also recognise that may areas of 'additional need' also result in other particular areas of strength for those children. We celebrate our differences and recognise all of our children are individuals and at Brill are treated as such.
Following our SEN information evening, we had some very positive feedback from several parents who said they found the evening inspirational and helpful. Mrs Baker told parents at the outset, that to try and encapsulate all we do for all the differing needs of our children in the space of a short evening session would be impossible but the focus would be looking a little at Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Dyslexia and how we support these needs within school. Another priority of the evening was to share our ethos as a school as to what constitutes best support for children with additional needs.
Quite a difficult message for anyone with additional needs? Or quite a difficult message for all?
At Brill School, we believe that every difficulty we encounter is an opportunity to learn a new skill or face a new challenge. Each opportunity to face challenges has the potential to make us stronger and increase our skills and abilities in many ways.
This message is as true for our children who have SEN or are 'wired differently' as it is for any of our neurotypical children who may not have needs as clearly identified. With the right balance of adult or peer support, we encourage independence wherever possible and when appropriate, depending on the needs of the child.
Many of our children with identified SEN and those who are neurodiverse grow a stronger Growth Mindset as they move through school. They 'have a go' at things, and this often proves to be one of their greatest strengths and a real life skill!
Learned Helplessness is what we want to avoid for ALL our children, including those who are neurodiverse or who have an identified special educational need.
What is it? In it's simplest form, it would be demonstrated in a child feeling that there is no way to positively affect something they are finding difficult. They might begin to believe they are unable to affect any level of change in their situations. This is a dangerous mindset and is something we are keen to address in school. It is also in total contrast to our Growth Mindset philosophy in school.
If a child with any level of need is working consistently with an adult to ensure they access any level of learning, they begin to truly believe that they are incapable of achieving or attempting anything without support from that adult. Once this approach has been in place for a significant amount of time, that child then refuses to even attempt anything without that adult support. If we were to promote this, we would be putting in place more barriers to learning for that child. A bigger danger is we would not be preparing that child for life beyond Brill School.
Instead, we strategically support all our children, including those with additional needs, making sure there is always an opportunity to try some tasks independently in each lesson. Appropriately pitched praise is then used for effort; the effort being far more important than the attainment level.
We have noticed the morale of our pupils has increased and their self-esteem has grown as a result of this approach. The large majority have been more keen to try tasks and activities by themselves, knowing they feel more proud of themselves when they do that.
We combine that with the fact we are keen for the message to all to be:
An Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) is a legal document which describes a child or young person's special educational needs, the support they need, and the outcomes they would like to achieve.
There are certain criteria that would mean it was more or less likely to be successful in securing an EHCP. For advice about this please click on this link. There is a video on the page that will provide additional information.
Chess? Why Chess? How will chess help my child?
One of the many different approaches we use in school to support our children with some additional needs is through the medium of chess. Several of the children in the pioneer group have a diagnosis of dyslexia, but others need a boost of confidence and others demonstrate some traits of ASD. We are lucky enough to currently have a volunteer with experience of specific learning difficulties who comes in each week to work with a small group of 6 children. The trial of this has been extraordinary! Discussions are had within the group about how as individuals we are all 'wired' differently. A term sometimes used is 'Neurodiversity'. Together with their group leader, they discuss what it is to be neurodiverse alongside working in an environment where they are learning a skill (chess), are boosting their confidence and also are learning to be young leaders.
The children in this group are soon to be embarking on their next adventure where they plan to use their weekly sessions to organise what they'd like to do in a small club session where they will lead and help others to learn the skills of playing chess.
The trial has had a quite incredibly positive impact upon all the children involved and some of the feedback we have had is so brilliant to hear:
"He came home on Thursday excited about having played Chess and very keen for us to dig out our chess board, which we’ve done. He seems very enthusiastic to continue and I’ve no doubt that if he enjoys it, it’ll be a brilliant way of improving his concentration skills."
"Feedback from Chess Club - huge grin from a four move play taught by Ian this week resulting in checkmating older sister!"
What is it? Can I find out more? Yes!
Superheroes! So many people in history have seen the world through a different lens to others. Several people who have made great discoveries and have excelled in specific areas have been identified as having additional needs in some form or another. There may be some areas of significant difficulty but these areas must not over-shadow the very real strengths many have too. It might not seem obvious in all lessons of the curriculum, but there will be something every person in our school can develop and feel they have a strength in. Look at the examples we have here!
Mrs D Baker
Deputy Headteacher and SEN Coordinator
When the needs of a child in Buckinghamshire meet the threshold for being able to get an Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP), Specialist Teachers from Buckinghamshire County Council come in to work with the staff and children. They provide individualised support and we have some amazing people from the team who come and work with us. The frequency of their visits is dependent upon the need of the child. To find out more, click on the BCC logo below.