Special Educational Needs and Learning Support

Heads of Faculty: Amra Duherich


Aims of the SEN Department

The SEN department operates a ‘Policy for Including Pupils with Special Educational Needs’ as agreed with the whole staff of Mulberry School.  This policy is concerned with pupils with special educational needs as defined by the Education Act of 1981:

“A child has special educational needs if he or she has a learning difficulty which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her.  He or she has learning difficulty if he or she has a significantly greater difficulty than the majority of children of his or her age or has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of educational facilities generally provided in schools within the area”

The SEN department recognises that around 20% of children will have special needs at some point in their school career, but not all these needs are permanent and some may change.  Included in this 20% are pupils with statements of special educational needs (approximately 2%) and the majority of pupils with special needs who do not have a statement of SEN.  The difficulties experienced may be in learning, literacy or numeracy, they may be emotional or behavioural, some are in communication and others relate to physical impairment.

Through the process of producing a whole school policy for ‘Including pupils with Special Educational Needs’, the staff of Mulberry school are committed to facilitating partial or full inclusion of children with a physical disability or learning or behaviour difficulties whenever the school is able to meet their needs.  The process of inclusion relies on the involvements of Specialist School staff, as well as Teaching Assistants together with the SEN teaching team, to be effective.

Pupils with special needs are assessed and identified by the SEN Teaching Team.  Their names are recorded on the SEN register with a code for the nature of difficulty and a stage in accordance with the SEN Code of Practice (October 2000) as appropriate.  The details of the assessment procedures are described in the handbook.

“The goals are the same for all children, but the help they receive in attaining these goals will be different”.

(Klaus Wedell – “The Implications of the National Curriculum” June 1989).


The teaching of pupils with SEN happens throughout the school and across the curriculum. However there are 4 designated SEN rooms: 2 classrooms- SL11 and SL12, a small ‘Visual Impairment Room’ and a multi sensory area ‘The Learning Laboratory’. These classrooms are fully equipped with up to date resources and technology to make the learning experience an engaging and enjoyable one.

KS 3 Introduction

Literacy Learning and Language Skills
Within the mainstream classroom literacy and language are developed through (among other strategies) the use of:

Differentiated resources, Directed Reading Activities, Writing frames, Simplified texts with visual stimuli, Active Learning and activities to develop speaking and listening skills

In SEN taught courses literacy skills are taught through project work as well as explicitly, for example:
Skimming, Scanning, Reading for Information, Detailed Reading and Organising and Structuring Writing

In Small Group Work the literacy needs of the group are met through work using:
Games, Discussion and Drama to develop Speaking and Listening Skills; Teacher designed work packs based on fiction, non-fiction and media texts, Literacy Progress Units, ICT  programmes such as Clicker and Wordshark, Group Programmes drawn from Teaching Resource websites such as Enchanted Learning and TAP and commercial Structured Reading Schemes such as Read, Write Inc.2

For work with Individual Key Pupils specifically designed programmes are tailored to individual need based on detailed assessment. Interventions include:
A Multi-sensory Approach, for example Magnetic Phonics, Teaching Literacy through Text e.g. poetry, the use of Catch Up Recording Sheets to focus on Miscues when hearing pupils read, Using the Pause, Prompt Praise technique to allow pupils to monitor their own reading and check for meaning, SWUR sheets to record new words, Word Recognition as in The Portsmouth Reading Strategy, Learning High Frequency Words, Structured Phonics Programmes e.g. Jolly Phonics, PAT, Learning Spelling Patterns, use of ICT as in structuring writing using Kids/Inspiration and Phoneme Tracker, as well as teacher designed activities such as cards or worksheets to develop the use of connectives etc. Braille and touch typing are also taught on an individual basis by a V.I. trained Teaching Assistant specialising in this provision.

Literacy, Language and Learning are also developed through Extra-Curricular Activities such as Special Interest Clubs, Homework Help and a Reading Mentors Programme.

Numeracy Groups

Some SEN pupils work in small, short-term numeracy groups.  These take place on a weekly basis and focus on the same maths curriculum topics that are followed in mainstream lessons.  The pupils benefit from being able to work at a different pace, with individual support and greater use of hands-on, numeracy resources.  Much use is made of oral work to familiarise the pupils with mathematical vocabulary.  They are also encouraged to verbalize their thinking as they work, in order to reinforce the concepts used.  These skills are then transferred back into the mainstream maths lessons.

Social Skills Groups for SEN pupils are run on a weekly basis.  The pupils are referred by their key SEN teachers, learning mentors or YLC because of difficulties with peer or teacher relationships affecting their learning.

The pupils follow a structured programme of activities including discussion work, role-play and homework tasks.  The focus is on building self esteem through active practice of strategies and rehearsing these behaviours in a small, safe setting.  The group itself becomes a support structure for the pupils outside the sessions, in some cases monitoring and prompting each other, in different settings.

KS4 Introduction

KS4 Courses
There are 3 different options run by the SEN Department at KS4 for SEN pupils.

Learning Skills is focused on numeracy skills, literacy and ICT using the Excel ALAN assessment framework at Entry Level and Level1. It is designed for pupils with learning difficulties who need extra support with literacy and numeracy skills.  The course is devised in such a way that all pupils feel they are achieving their targets and learning skills that are transferable across the curriculum.

Personal Effectiveness is an ASDAN accredited course.  It includes three short courses: Understanding Business Enterprise, Expressive Arts Projects, Personal Relationships and Foundation for Work.  The course is devised for pupils who need additional support with self esteem and confidence building.

Key Skills is an additional Entry Level ASDAN Bronze/Silver Award course.  Pupils following this third option are likely to have a statement of SEN and an entitlement to additional, teaching assistant support.  The course is focused on life skills which will equip the pupils for functioning capably when they leave school.  Areas covered include ‘personal hygiene’ and ‘opening a bank account’ for example.

Examination Support

The SEN Department organises support for pupils taking public and school examinations at KS4 and KS5, to ensure that pupils with SEN do their best in tests and do not experience a sense of failure. Pupils who have received help to follow the curriculum are assessed to check if they are eligible for support such as Extra Time or the use of a Reader or Scribe.

Special Features

The Discovery Group (The Disco Group)
The group is comprised of 4 to 8 pupils working on the P Levels (below NC Level 1) with severe and complex special needs.  A significant number of their lessons take place in this room.  The pupils belong to a form group and attend some mainstream lessons (Technology, Expressive Arts and PE for example).  They also have some withdrawal group lessons in SL12 and in Food Technology and Art rooms.  

All SEN teachers at Mulberry teach the Disco group at least once a week.  In many of the lessons other Key Stage Three SEN pupils are also included. This gives the Discovery Group opportunities to mix with other pupils within their age bracket.

The Discovery Group is given priority to use the Learning Laboratory.

The Learning Laboratory

The Learning Laboratory is a sensory room where events can be created which stimulate the senses; touch, sight, sound, smell and taste.  One of the greatest barriers to learning is anxiety and this room can reduce stress levels, help pupils feel safe and provide them with a sense of well being.  All of the above can be achieved through tactile experiences, use of aromas, vibration, special sound and visual effects – in different combinations and variations.  Pupils can feel in control of their environment.  It facilitates people with a range of disabilities to change and influence their environment in a positive way.

The room is a place that all pupils will have access to as part of their learning experience at Mulberry.