Learning Support

Learning Support


Learning Support

A Guidance Handbook

For Staff



Section 1

  • Introduction
  • The new ‘SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) Code of Practice: 0 – 25 Years’
  • Transition to secondary school
  • Identification of pupils with SEND
  • Support at St. Joseph’s RC High School
  • Ways That Learning Support Can Help
  • Book List
  • Outside Agencies

Section 2

  • Information Sheets


  1. Learning Support Staff at St. Joseph’s School
  2. Job Descriptions:

Role of Teaching Assistants: Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA), Senior Teaching Assistant (STA) and Teaching Assistant (TA)


The purpose of this staff handbook is:

  • to clarify procedures/referrals within school
  • to introduce key aspects of the new ‘SEND Code of Practice: 0 to 25 Years’ and how it affects teaching staff
  • to share information and support effective teaching and learning

The New SEND Code of Practice


From 1st September 2014 a new Code of Practice for children with SEND came into effect, replacing the 2001 version.

Some reasons for reform

  • The SEN system was unnecessarily complicated.
  • There was a lack of early identification and a focus on inputs rather than outcomes
  • Parents had difficulty navigating a system that was supposed to help them. They struggled to find services and found the system adversarial.
  • SEN is not always differentiated from pupils who are simply falling behind.
  • The ‘Achievement for All’ approach has demonstrated that all children, including those with SEN can achieve.
  • A huge amount of money was spent on SEN provision and outcomes for those with special needs were often poor.

The Main Changes

  • Putting children and young people (CYP) and their families at the centre
  • The SEND age range increased to 0-25 years of age
  • Local Authorities (LAs) to publish a ‘Local Offer’ of services available to CYP with SEND and their families
  • LAs, health and Social Care to commission services jointly for SEND
  • A more streamlined assessment process co-ordinated across education, health and social care
  • Education, Health and Care Plans (EHC Plans) to replace Statements
  • A new duty in health commissioners to deliver the agreed health elements of the EHC Plan
  • Families whose CYP have an EHC Plan have the option of a personal budget
  • New statutory protections for YP aged 16-25 in further education

What is SEN?

The 4 broad areas of need give an overview of the range of needs.

Broad areas of need (new SEND Code of Practice)

Communication and interaction

  • Children and young people with speech, language and communication needs

have difficulty in communicating with others.

  • Children and young people with autism, including Asperger’s Syndrome,

are likely to have particular difficulties with social interaction.

Cognition and learning

  • Support for learning difficulties may be required when children and young people learn at a slower pace than their peers, even with appropriate differentiation. Learning difficulties cover a wide range of needs, including moderate learning difficulties (MLD), severe learning difficulties (SLD), where children are likely to need support in all areas of the curriculum and associated difficulties with mobility and communication, through to profound and multiple learning difficulties.
  • Specific learning difficulties (SpLD), affect one or more specific aspects of learning. This encompasses a range of conditions such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia.

Social, emotional and mental health difficulties

  • Children and young people may experience a wide range of social and emotional difficulties which manifest themselves in many ways. These may include becoming withdrawn or isolated, as well as displaying challenging, disruptive or disturbing behaviour. These behaviours may reflect underlying mental health difficulties such as anxiety or depression, self-harming, substance misuse, eating disorders or physical symptoms that are medically unexplained.
  • Other children and young people may have disorders such as attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder or attachment disorder.

Sensory and/or physical needs

  • Some children and young people require special educational provision because they have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of the educational facilities generally provided. Many children and young people with vision impairment (VI), hearing impairment (HI) or a multi-sensory impairment (MSI) will require specialist support and/or equipment to access their learning, or rehabilitation support.
  • Some children and young people with a physical disability (PD) require additional ongoing support and equipment to access all the opportunities available to their peers.

Some Key Messages

“Slow progress and low attainment do not necessarily mean that a child has SEN and should not automatically lead to a pupil being recorded as having SEN.”

“Persistent disruptive or withdrawn behaviours do not necessarily mean that a child or young person has SEN.”

“Where a child is identified as having SEN, schools should take action to remove barriers to learning and put effective special educational provision in place. This SEN support should take the form of a four-part cycle…This is known as the graduated approach.”

The four-part cycle is:

SEN Transition: Timeline

Identification of Pupils With S.E.N.

In most cases pupils who have been identified as having special educational needs or who require additional support will already be on the SEN list when they transfer to St. Joseph’s. However, for a variety of reasons some pupils are not on the SEN Code of Practice register when they arrive at St. Joseph’s, but they may be experiencing difficulties and require additional support. These pupils may be identified in different ways using:

  • teacher observation
  • parental concerns
  • literacy and numeracy screening scores

If, as a classroom teacher, you have a concern about a pupil’s progress you might ask for advice from your Head of Department, the pupil’s form tutor or P.P.C.

If, in spite of strategies used, you still feel that the pupil is not making progress you could refer him/her to the Learning Support department by using the form SENR1 (see page 9).

Outside Agencies

When there is a concern about a pupil’s progress Learning Support may refer pupils to an outside agency for support and advice. School must show evidence that strategies have been implemented and documented to support the pupil before it is appropriate for an outside agency to be involved.

Parental consent is required before pupils can be referred. The 2 most common sources of outside support are the County Psychological Service (C.P.S.) and Specialist Advisory Teaching Services (S.A.T.S.). We can also arrange for pupils to have their hearing checked. This also requires parental consent. Medical services are not normally accessed directly by school.

When there is a concern about the behaviour of a pupil which internal behavioural has not been able to resolve/improve we are able to access the support of the Inclusion Team (Inclusion Support Officer) for advice.

SEN Referral (SENR 1)

Pupil’s name / Department
Form group / Teacher

Support at St. Joseph’s

Our aim is to provide intervention for all pupils who have additional needs in school. We receive statutory funding for pupils with Statements/Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP) and support for other pupils comes from the school budget.

There are a number of ways that staff support pupils in school including:

  • in-class with set 6 in KS3
  • in-class for pupils with a Statement/EHCP (KS3 & KS4) or specific needs such as medical, motor skills difficulties
  • 1:1 daily dyslexia programme - Phonological Awareness Training (PAT) – before school
  • 1:1 Speech and Language/communication support (pupils with speech and language Statement or autism)
  • Homework support (after school Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday)
  • Modified curriculum – supervised study for pupils with medical difficulties
  • Timetabled small group literacy support (set 6)

Use of In-class Support

It is helpful to introduce your support to the class. Please negotiate with support where and who you would like them to work in the classroom and what responsibilities you would like to share (e.g. toilet passes, seating plans). Please involve support in lesson planning/schemes of work.

  • work with class teacher to prepare materials (please note that teaching assistants have no time allocated to plan/prepare work so if materials are to be created it would need to be done during support time)
  • facilitate discussion in small group work
  • model answers/activity as demonstration to class
  • work with a small group inside or outside the classroom (work provided by the class teacher)
  • help pupils organise their work (check equipment, books, record homework in planner/check it is written down)
  • read tests to pupils with identified literacy difficulties
  • support behaviour strategies of class teacher
  • provide/share information about individual pupils
  • provide specialist equipment (handwriting pens, pen grips, electronic spellcheckers)
  • mark pupils’ work within the lesson
  • help with catch-up work/revision
  • support class teacher in developing differentiated tasks/modifying tests
  • scribe for teacher on board
  • encourage reticent pupils
  • use observation checklists (e.g. behaviour, participation)
  • encourage independent learning ( e.g. use timer, pause/prompt strategy)
  • help pupils to transfer knowledge/skills learnt in other lessons or withdrawal work

Ways That Learning Support Can Help

  • In-class support
  • Withdrawal of small group to practise reading, reinforce learning,

revise for tests etc

  • Individual structured programmes (usually during registration) for

literacy support, handwriting

  • Check readability of tests, worksheets, textbooks etc
  • Read tests for pupils with reading or attention/concentration


  • Help to differentiate resources and tests, create word banks, flashcards etc
  • Support whole school spelling strategies through monitoring key word

spelling books, sheets, word banks etc

 Assessment of spelling, reading skills, handwriting, maths skills etc

 Provide additional information/knowledge of pupils through key worker

 Supply specialist support equipment e.g. laptop, handwriting pens, pencil grips, sticky rulers, colour overlays for reading, key word dictionaries, electronic spellcheckers

Book List

The following resources are available in the department and may be borrowed by staff.


General Information Books

‘Autism and Asperger Syndrome – The Facts’ - Simon Baron-Cohen

‘Why Does Chris Do That?’ - Tony Attwood

‘Autism-A Very Short Introduction’ - Uta Frith

‘Communication Issues in Autism and Asperger Syndrome’ - Olga Bogdashina

‘Autism: Understanding and Managing Anger’ - Andrew Powell

‘What’s so Special About Autism?’ - Lorna Wing

Autobiographical Books

‘Autism: An Inside-Out Approach’ - Donna Williams

‘Understanding and Working with the Spectrum of Autism’ - Wendy Lawson

‘Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome’ - Luke Jackson

‘Martian in the Playground’ - Clare Sainsbury

‘Multi-Coloured Mayhem’ - Jacqui Jackson

‘Thinking in Pictures’ - Temple Grandin

Books for Teachers

‘Inclusion in the secondary school - Support Materials for Children with ASD’ - Joy Beaney

‘Autism Spectrum Disorders’ - Northumberland County Council

‘Asperger Syndrome - A Practical Guide for Teachers’ - Val Cumine

‘Understanding Behaviour’ - Fiona May

‘Tools for Teachers-Practical Resources for Classroom Success’ - Victoria Erbes

‘Autism Spectrum Disorders - A resource Pack for School Staff’ - The National Autistic Society

‘Transition Toolkit - Helping you support a child through change’ - Autism Education Trust

‘Bullying and Autism Spectrum Disorders - a guide for school staff’ - The National Autistic Society

‘Make School Make Sense-ASD Resource Pack for Teachers - The National Autistic Society’

‘Teaching Children with Autism to Mind-Read’ - Patricia Howlin


‘Behaviour Matters’—50 tips for classroom practice

‘Cracking the Code with Behaviour’ - Dorothy Constable

‘Children with Attention Difficulties’ - A Guide for Teachers - Jack Crompton

‘Tricks of the Trade’ - Helen Earl (Cumbria EBD Support Team)


‘Identifying and Supporting the Dyslexic Child’ - Carol Mellers

‘Make Your Classroom Dyslexia Friendly’ - Kate Moore

‘Visual Dyslexia’ - A Guide for Parents and Teachers - Ian Jordan

‘Visual Dyslexia’ - Signs, Symptoms and Assessment - Ian Jordan

‘Developmental Dyspraxia’ – Madeleine Portwood

General Books on SEN

Spotlight on Spelling (33 Strategies for Teaching Spelling) - Hugh O’Connell

‘Multisensory Teaching’ - Hugh O’Connell

‘Supporting More Able Pupils’ - Hugh O’Connell

‘Reading Routes’ - Hugh O’Connell (Approaches for Supporting Children with Reading Difficulties)

‘Special Needs and the Classroom Teacher’ - Dorothy Constable

‘The Effective Use of Special Needs Support’ - The Ousedale School Special Needs Team

‘Mind Maps for Kids’ - Tony Buzan

Attachment Disorder

‘Inside I’m Hurting’ - Louise Bomber

‘Settling to Learn’ - Louise Bomber and Daniel Hughes

Fragile X Syndrome

‘Supporting Children with Fragile X Syndrome’ - Hull Learning Services

Section 2

Information Sheets

This section contains information on the common difficulties that pupils at St Joseph’s have in accessing the curriculum and offers some strategies to help teaching staff to support them.

The information in this section is deliberately brief. We have more detailed articles/books and information if you would like to follow up anything in more depth. Books and leaflets are available in Learning Support. Articles and training materials are also available in Staff Shared Area in a folder called Learning Support.

The following pages provide some information on:

 Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD)

 Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD)

 Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

 Dyspraxia (also known as Pervasive Development Disorder [PDD])

 Fragile X

 Visual Perception (Visual Dyslexia)

 Autism (ASC)

 Attachment Disorder

Characteristics of Pupils With Learning Difficulties

 May have poor memories (they tend not to group things together when trying to memorise them, and seem to make less use of

strategies such as rehearsal)

 Tend to be slow, not only in doing large scale tasks such as solving maths problems, but also in performing simple mental processes (e.g. searching their memory for a simple piece of information)

 Can easily be distracted by novel or irrelevant information in a problem

 Tend not to generalise from one situation to another

 In problem solving, are poor at identifying exactly what the problem is

 Tend not to generate problem solving strategies of their own

Pupils With Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD)

Common difficulties

  • poor attention to relevant aspects of a problem
  • fail to recall previous experiences
  • do poorly on tasks involving planning a strategy
  • do not transfer learning from one task to another
  • verbalising answers/describing objects
  • poor social skills/eye contact
  • questioning on a topic
  • articulating/remembering words
  • have poor study habits e.g. revising
  • seeing cause and effect
  • predicting outcomes
  • new knowledge will often replace previous knowledge
  • often self-esteem is low
  • low level of ‘on task’ behaviour
  • very little incidental learning will take place


  • modification of curriculum/differentiation (including tests)
  • reinforcement tasks (pupils with MLD need lots of practice and
  • review activities)
  • use of buddy particularly for activities using literacy skills
  • use frameworks/scaffolding for written tasks
  • allow extra time or limit expectations
  • praise efforts
  • avoid moving pupil on to other activities when skills have not been sufficiently mastered to cope
  • use practice cards/games (pelmanism/dominoes) for activities (pictures/symbols are useful) to practise skills/key ideas
  • offer options/choices when doing prediction exercises

Pupils With Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD)


  • help to organise materials and work
  • give less homework or extend deadlines
  • ensure there is plenty of time to take down homework
  • say as well as write instructions and give verbal instructions in small doses. Provide visual backup where possible
  • structure tasks clearly into step by step activities
  • credit oral responses if possible
  • give plenty of time if copying from board. Dyslexic pupils find it easier to copy from a piece of paper by their side
  • use visual aids, pictures, flow charts, mind maps
  • emphasise key words by saying them as well as writing them clearly on cards/board
  • encourage and praise
  • use a dot rather than a cross next to errors
  • colour coding is a useful strategy/memory jogger for pupils


  • ask the pupil to read out loud in class
  • correct all mistakes in written work
  • give long lists of spellings to learn
  • make the pupil re-write work that is badly presented


  • these pupils often have to try harder and concentrate more—they get tired easily
  • reading may be accurate but they might make no sense of it
  • figures may present a problem/including sequencing
  • they may find it difficult to listen and write at the same time
  • they may have difficulties with anything involving the use of symbols
  • they may find it difficult to find their place when reading text
  • work rate may be slow
  • some pupils may show signs of ‘learned helplessness’ and may be frustrated or poorly motivated
  • they find it difficult to catch new words


(Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder. It is one of a range of neurodevelopmental disorders including autism (ASC), Specific Language Impairment (SLI), attachment disorder and Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD).

What Do They Have in Common?

  • A biological basis that is not fully understood
  • Symptoms that overlap
  • A tendency to co-exist
  • Appear to be on the increase

Children with ADHD can also have dyspraxia, dyslexia or language difficulties. Increasingly ADHD and autism are being diagnosed.