Types of Support in Schools
Every child is different and will respond to support in a different way, so the support your child gets will be dependant on their individual needs.
There is a variety of support that’s available in school – from simple things like leaving class five minutes before the end of a lesson to avoid crowds and noise, through to movement breaks and social skills groups, and even to more specialised support such as use of IT equipment and speech and language therapy.
Support may start at a quite simple level, to see what works well and what doesn’t. Depending on how your child responds to the support will help decide the next step. If it works well, it will stay in place and carry on. If it works a bit or not at all, then more or different support may be added or tried. It’s often a trial and error process to get the right fit for your child.
This whole process of assessing, planning, doing and then reviewing support is called the graduated approach and it should happen in an ongoing way in every school.
Many schools are flexible and very creative about the support they give individual children. Often SEN support works well when relationships are good – those between a child or young person and the staff and those between staff and parents. In fact, relationships are often the key, whoever they’re with. The right words, at the right times or the right approach when things go wrong can make a huge difference to a child.
Sometimes it’s all about mindset. Seeing a child positively, knowing them well and being prepared to be flexible all help. It’s worth remembering that lots of support for children with SEND costs little or nothing – such as making sure they sit in the place where they are most comfortable in class or giving them small tasks to do to build their self-esteem. These changes to the way that staff and schools do things are sometimes called reasonable adjustments.
You can find out more about what services and support are available in Southend, and what you can expect schools to be doing, on the Local Offer website.
You can read more about the different levels of support below.
This is support that is given in all schools, in every classroom, by every teacher and for all children – those with and without SEN. The funding and the expertise for universal support come from the school’s resources and is part of quality first teaching.
Universal support is focused around differentiated learning. The level at which your child, and others, are learning may be different to that of other children in their class. So, the teacher will change the work to meet their needs within class. This is differentiation and teachers do this routinely for every lesson.
Universal support also includes things that all children can expect to get, such as:
- a buddy system for breaks and lunchtimes
- visual support and timetables
- breaking down work into small chunks
- extra time to finish tasks that need long periods of reading or listening
- good preparation for change
- the teaching of social understanding
- using alternative ways of recording work
This is support that can be given in all schools, in every classroom and by every teacher, and is for some children.
It’s extra to, or different from, universal provision. There is funding and expertise available in schools for most of the children who need targeted support.
A child will have a school-based plan which sets out this kind of support. The staff at school may also need to get professional advice for some areas of support.
Targeted support includes things like:
- use of IT resources to support reading and writing, including touch typing
- social skills groups
- forest school sessions
- study skills support
- access to a quiet time out or a distraction free area
This is support that’s available in all schools and some classrooms, but for a few children. The funding and expertise for these children may need to come from outside the school’s resources.
If your child needs specialist provision, school staff will usually need to get specialist advice. This kind of support is usually given to children and young people with long term complex needs and/or disabilities, often with an Education Health and care (EHC) Plan. It’s the type of support often given in special schools, though it’s also given in mainstream schools.
Specialist support includes things like:
- using a picture exchange system for communication
- individual mentoring
- an identified key adult and personalised curriculum
- one to one support for children with multi-sensory impairment
- individual speech or language therapy
- reduced time spent on difficult activities and increased time spent on your young person’s strengths in the curriculum
- changes to the social environment to avoid triggers and reduce stress
- school-based counselling
Support is also focused around specific aspects of each area of SEN.
So, for example there are lots of different types of need within the SEN area of communication and interaction – including social communication difficulties, speech difficulties and developmental language disorder. And within this, support could be given to improve social and interpersonal skills, focus and attention, speech and language skills or sensory difficulties.
Your child may find one or more areas within communication and language (or any of the other areas of SEN) challenging, so their support will focus on their specific needs. The kind of support your child will get will not only vary depending on their needs and abilities, but also their age and which key stage they are in.
You can find out more about the specific support that’s available in Southend on the Local Offer website. There is also much more detailed information about the different areas of support on the Babcock website, in the section about the Graduated response.
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