The SEN Code of Practice (2014) requires schools to publish an SEN Information Report (paragraph 6.79) which outlines their provision for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). The report must be published on the school’s website, should be easily accessible to parent/carers and pupils and should be set out in clear, straightforward language. It should be updated each year.
As an independent school Gesher School is not required by law to produce this document, however it provides a simple way to explain to parents/cares, pupils and local authorities what is offered at Gesher School. It should help parents/carers and their children and young people understand the school.
Introduction to Gesher School
Gesher School is a unique independent school for children and young people aged 4 to 16 years. Gesher School provides a specialist, meaningful and functional learning environment for children and young people with special educational needs, which include language, communication and social pragmatic difficulties. It has a specialism in autism spectrum challenges although children and young people with a range of difficulties also attend the school and are welcome to apply. Children and young people are at the heart of Gesher School where a sense of belonging and community are fostered. Gesher School is a safe, friendly and stimulating environment in which children and young people are supported to learn, interact and have fun.
Gesher children and young people are unique, individual and learn in their own way. They may benefit from being educated differently in regard to communication and social interactions; tailoring and adapting their environment to their own learning style. Gesher children and young people are likely to have mild-moderate learning needs and/or autism, although a diagnosis of autism is not needed to attend Gesher. Gesher School is not a school for children and young people whose primary need is emotional and behavioural difficulties or severe learning difficulties. Children and young people that attend Gesher School will come from a family that understands and respects the values and ethos of the school and the Jewish way of life.
Gesher ensures that every child and young persons needs are met through a whole and multi-therapeutic team approach. Gesher gives children and young people the confidence and resilience to maximise their potential and where appropriate access opportunities for inclusion; the school works closely with families and Local Authorities to support this process.
At Gesher we provide:
- opportunities that enable children and young people to thrive, we want our children and young people to be ambitious about achieving their full potential.
- a collaborative learning team around every child to support each child’s learning needs and maximise meaningful learning opportunities.
- a therapeutic team that will work together with families to nurture and support a child’s emotional, social and academic development.
- a partnership with families to improve the lives and life chances of children and young people with SEN by ensuring that they are healthy, stay safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution and experience the wider community.
Gesher has a multi-dimensional and personalised curriculum that puts the needs of the individual at the heart of learning. At Gesher we believe the child’s emotional wellbeing and happiness are of the highest importance.
At Gesher we are committed towards a holistic approach which includes classroom learning, therapies and home life. Therapists work alongside teachers to help lower anxiety, improve wellbeing, and support readiness to learn. The on-site therapists include a Speech and Language Therapist, an Occupational Therapist, a Dramatherapist and an Art Therapist, as well as an Educational Psychologist. These professionals form part of the multi-disciplinary team to provide universal, targeted and specialist approaches to each child’s development. Therefore, as necessary, some children and young people will access direct 1:1 or small group therapy work. All children and young people benefit from therapists working within the classroom, offering on-going advice and providing training and workshops for staff and parents.
Our curriculum is adapted from the National Curriculum and further personalised depending on each individual child’s needs. This tailored approach gives children the opportunity to be taught in line with their individual learning styles, giving them further opportunities to be successful, thus promoting self-esteem and self-confidence.
Lessons are differentiated with the focus on the individual child. Teachers use motivating, forward-thinking and creative ways to give children real life opportunities to encourage them to become active learners. Children are given various opportunities to implement skills that they learn through a variety of cross-curricular activities, enabling them to put into practise what they have learnt as a part of their daily routine.
At Gesher School, we use a Maths Mastery approach to teaching Mathematics, which places an emphasis on the use of resources and images to support understanding. It also focuses on small steps to learning with an emphasis on depth of knowledge.
In Reading, we use the Read, Write Inc. Programme, which makes connections between Reading, Writing and Comprehension from the early stages of letter recognition to more higher order reading and understanding n in the older year groups. Alongside this, we also use elements of Pie Corbett’s Talk for Writing to support creative writing in the older classes.
Like everything at Gesher, these programmes and approaches have been adapted to the needs of our pupils.
The curriculum places a strong emphasis on self-confidence, intrinsic motivation and ensuring that our children are continuously encouraged and supported to develop their independence; in turn this helps to foster self-help skills in all areas of development. Staff use a scaffolded approach, demonstrating or modelling an activity before stepping back for children to be successful leaners.
We also believe that all children need time to play and time to be themselves; the Creative Arts, particularly drama, music and art, allow for children’s creative and imaginative expression to take place. Every child deserves a childhood and we aim to ensure that Gesher is a school that balances these core aspects alongside a strong academic foundation. All classes are small, up to eight children and young people in the primary phase and up to 10 young people in the secondary phase, with a higher level of adult support from our team of Teaching Assistants than mainstream schools. Our classes may contain children and young people from more than one academic year group as they are grouped according to learning needs. Our Teaching Assistants provide graduated support with a focus on developing independency. They are actively engaged in lessons and provide ongoing monitoring of the children and young people’s engagement and wellbeing.
Our days are highly structured with short sessions to help maintain engagement and motivation. We provide whole class, small group and individual learning opportunities throughout the day. Targeted interventions are implemented, reviewed and revised for all children and young people. Examples of interventions used include those based on principles of Attention Autism and Intensive Interaction.
The environment is designed to provide a low arousal experience for children and young people. This includes the use of individual workstations and physical adaptations to support sensory and emotional regulation. All children and young people have access to a visual timetable.
Teachers and Teaching Assistants monitor children and young people’s ongoing emotional wellbeing; they are supported to build relationships and engage with their peers during Circle Time, assemblies, through the PSHE curriculum and our British values. Social and emotional skills are developed during both structured and unstructured times (e.g. break and lunch times). Protected Characteristics are also taught and supported in the day-to-day running of the school.
As well as encouraging children and young people to use their speech, alternative communication systems are used throughout the school, including Makaton and PECS systems.
Gesher uses positive behaviour management strategies with Behaviour Support Plans, rewards and sanctions as required. Some children and young people will also have personalised Sensory Profiles which will identify specific equipment/activities that they will use at particular times of day to regulate their sensory needs. All children and young people have access to our Sensory Room and our Soft Play room (which contains swings, climbing and specialist OT equipment); their use of these spaces is assessed and monitored by our OT.
Gesher School works closely with families to help understand the children and young people’s strengths and needs. Parents/carers are involved in setting targets, monitoring progress and reviewing successes.
Gesher School will seek additional advice and support from outside agencies as required; including liaison with Local Authorities as necessary.
- Highly differentiated multi-sensory National Curriculum
- A small class supported by a class teacher and a ratio of one TA for every four children. TAs provide graduated support with a focus on developing independence and monitoring engagement and wellbeing.
- Highly structured days with short sessions that involve whole class, small group and individual learning experiences. Seated activities are alternated with movement breaks as required.
- Individual visual timetable, quiet workstations for independent work and access to a variety of chairs, wobble cushions, variety of writing implements and other equipment to support physical needs and sensory/emotional regulation.
- Changes in routine are prepared for and clearly communicated with the support of visuals as required.
- Use of alternative and augmented communication systems based on visual supports (e.g. gesture, pictures, verbal prompts, symbols, visual timetable, visual story strips, physical prompts, objects of reference)
- Positive behaviour management strategies and rewards systems to maintain motivation and boost self-esteem. Behaviour Support Plans as required.
- Encouragement and immediate, meaningful positive praise for effort and/or completion of tasks or accepting instructions presented by an adult.
- Opportunities to overlearn through daily repetition of key skills and targets, with additional waiting time to process information.
- Motivating concrete resources and manipulatives across the curriculum, before moving on to pictorial and abstract representations of concepts.
- ICT and interactive games to support learning across the curriculum.
- Access to universal and targeted Speech & Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Dramatherapy, with additional individual therapy arranged as necessary. Therapy sessions are observed by a TA and/or class teacher and feedback given (as appropriate) following the session to allow for this work to be continued daily in class.
- Daily opportunities to turn-take, share and cooperate with peers in structured and unstructured situations. This includes shared TA support at break and lunchtimes to facilitate play and social relationships, as well as PSHEE lessons.
- Modelling of appropriate language and strategies for emotional regulation including visual supports and choices, drawing on Zones of Regulation materials.
- Access to the Sensory Room which provides a quiet space at school for children to self-regulate and relax as required.
- Access to the morning sensory and motor circuit (during breakfast club) to provide sensory input and activities to appropriately extend motor abilities.
- Access to the OT soft play room, with climbing equipment and swings (rotational and linear) as required.
- Access to the playground with space to run and play games with peers as well as outdoor swinging and equipment that promotes motor skills and sensory input.
- Strong links between home and school to ensure consistency and continuity of support. This includes the use of Seesaw for parents to log-in and receive daily updates, weekly newsletters and half termly parent evenings. Parents are also invited to workshops termly on a range of topics delivered by the Therapy Team.
Staff induction includes mandatory training on safeguarding, behaviour, autism awareness, Jewish ethos, introduction to therapies and protocols and procedures.
Gesher staff have an ongoing programme of training and CPD, including termly sessions delivered by the Gesher Therapy Team on a variety of SEND topics and relevant skills. Weekly staff meetings will also include continual training on safeguarding, behaviour, curriculum, Jewish ethos and other key areas within the school.
Teaching staff are encouraged to take a proactive approach towards CPD and identify areas in which they would like to develop knowledge and expertise.
Assessment at Gesher School provides valuable information to help children and young people, teachers, parents and school leaders to acknowledge, analyse and review achievements and progress in learning against expected national curriculum standards and/or Pre-key stage standards.
Teachers carry out day to day assessments and checks on pupils’ understanding and progress as part of their daily teaching. PIVAT levels are used to assess core subjects in order for teachers to track small steps of progress for children and young people. Teachers also assess progress across foundation subjects through tracking achievements and setting targets on a termly basis. Progress in all subjects is reported to parents on a termly basis.
Children and young people’s therapy targets will be reviewed termly by therapists including monitoring the development of their social communication and emotional regulation skills. Progress against therapy targets will also be reported to parents on a termly basis.
Children and young people are always encouraged to communicate with adults about their thoughts and feelings in relation to school. They will be supported to express their views using a variety of communication tools, including speech, Makaton, symbols and creative arts. Their views about school will specifically be sought at least annually, in most cases this will be to contribute towards their EHCP annual review.
We will always contact parents/carers if we are concerned about any aspect of a child’s welfare, progress or behaviour as a matter of course throughout the school year.
Parents/carers are welcome to request an appointment with the class teacher at any time they would like to discuss their child.
Parents can follow their children and young people’s progress through the online platform SeeSaw, which that provides each child with an online learning journal. Seesaw offers opportunities for teachers and parents to engage in a meaningful way to support children and young people’s learning.
During your child’s first half term an appointment will be arranged for the class teacher and one of the therapy team to visit you at home. Thereafter, parents are offered termly appointments with the class teacher to discuss their child. Reports and targets will be shared with parents at these meetings.
Each child has a Personal Learning Plan (PLP), which is shared with parents and is reviewed and updated termly. The PLP outlines targets and strategies for school and home under the four areas outlined in the SEND code of practice: cognition and learning, communication and interaction, sensory and physical and social, emotional and mental health. The PLP is written in collaboration between the teaching staff and the therapy team, with parents invited to input too.
If your child has an EHCP then you will have yearly annual review meetings at school (bi-annually if under age 5) with the class teacher and relevant Therapy Team members as necessary.
At times parents/carers may request or be offered meetings with the Therapy Team
The Gesher Team are happy to support families with difficulties their children and young people may have at home or in the community. Some examples include:
- regular communication with families through home visits, parent-teacher appointments and meetings with the Therapy Team to discuss concerns and share ideas
- workshops/training opportunities for parents/carers delivered by the Therapy Team and relevant Senior Leaders throughout the year
- social stories for key events, including Jewish Festivals, shared with families to prepare children and young people
- behaviour support programs shared
- opportunities to engage in whole school events including Jewish Festivals and PTA organised events
Please get in touch with the relevant staff member, as suggested below:
- Head Teacher / Deputy Head – responsible for the day-to-day running of the school, arrangements for all children and young people with SEN and reporting to the Governing Body
- SEND Co-ordinator – responsible for oversight of SEND provision and statutory processes relating to Education, Health and Care Plans.
- Class teacher – responsible for planning the curriculum, differentiation, ongoing assessment of your child and day-to-day wellbeing.
- Therapy Team – responsible for therapy provision and specialist assessments
- SEN Governor – ensuring that appropriate SEND support is available to all children and young people at the school
Once a place at Gesher School has been confirmed in writing with a start date then a new starter pack will be sent to the family. This will include a social story to support your child starting at Gesher School. We will ensure a handover is arranged between your child’s previous educational setting and Gesher staff as appropriate.
When children and young people move into the secondary phase of Gesher school, there is a transition programme in place to support this move. As a through school, there will be many opportunities for the two phases to work together and to ensure a seamless transition.
For those children and young people leaving Gesher School, we will liaise with the families and their new school to plan any appropriate transition support. This may include visiting the new school and creating social stories/pupil passports to support the process.
We welcome an open dialogue with parents/carers and hope we can resolve any concerns as quickly as possible. If you have any concerns or are not happy with an aspect of school, then please request an informal meeting with a member of school staff and/or the Head Teacher. If this does not resolve the concern, then please see our Complaints Procedure which will explain how parents/carers can lodge a complaint. The Complaints Procedure is available from the school office or on our website.