The SEN Code of Practice (2014) requires schools to publish an SEN Information Report (paragraph 6.79) which outlines their provision for children 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 understand the school.
Introduction to Gesher School
Gesher School is an independent all-through Jewish special school for children and young people aged 4 to 16 years. It received an Ofsted Outstanding in its first ever inspection. Gesher School provides a specialist, meaningful and functional learning environment for children and young people with special educational needs, that include language, communication and social pragmatic difficulties. Children 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 are supported to learn, interact and have fun.
Gesher children are unique, individual and learn in their own special way. They may benefit from being educated differently in regards to communication and social interactions; tailoring and adapting their environment to their own learning style. Gesher children are likely to have mild-moderate learning needs and/or autism. Many children have sensory processing difficulties and poor attention skills. Gesher School is not a school for children whose primary need is emotional and behavioural difficulties or severe learning difficulties. Children 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; subsequently, Jewish Studies is an integral part of the weekly curriculum that all children have access to.
Gesher ensures that each child’s needs are met through a whole and multi-therapeutic team approach. Gesher gives children the confidence and resilience to maximise their potential and where appropriate access opportunities for integration; the school works closely with families and Local Authorities to support this process.
At Gesher we provide:
- opportunities that enable children to thrive; we want our children 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 specialist therapeutic team that will work together with families to nurture and support a child’s emotional, social, physical and academic development.
- a partnership with families to improve the lives and life chances of children with SEN by ensuring that they are healthy, stay safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution and experience the wider community.
Gesher School follows the National Curriculum which is differentiated to meet the needs of the cohort and the individual children within that. 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. Teachers use motivating, forward-thinking and creative ways to give children real life opportunities to encourage them to become active learners. All children have regularly reviewed individual educational and therapy targets with specific goals and outcomes. Where relevant and appropriate, children will have opportunities for integration with mainstream peers. Extra-curricular activities are also available across the school (e.g. breakfast club and drama club).
All children work extensively on Communication Skills covering receptive and expressive language to enable them to interact and engage with the wider school environment; social skills and peer interactions form a prominent part of the school experience. 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 in each) with a higher level of adult support from our team of Teaching Assistants (TAs) than mainstream schools. Our classes may contain children from more than one academic year group as they are grouped according to learning needs and appropriate peer groups. They are actively engaged in lessons and provide ongoing monitoring of the children’s engagement and wellbeing. The school ethos 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.
Our days are highly structured with short sessions to help maintain engagement and motivation. We provide whole class, small group and individual learning opportunities every day. Targeted interventions are implemented, reviewed and revised for all children. Examples of approaches and interventions that can be used include: Attention Autism, Zones of Regulation, TEACCH, Lego Therapy, Social Thinking Methodology, Social Stories and Colourful Semantics.
The environment is designed to provide a low arousal experience for children. This includes the use of individual workstations and physical adaptations to support sensory and emotional regulation (e.g. choice of seating). All children have access to a visual timetable, designed according to their learning needs. Therapeutic input and lessons are scheduled at times when the children will be able to access them most effectively and be of greatest benefit to them.
Teachers and TAs monitor children’s ongoing emotional wellbeing; they are supported to build relationships and engage with their peers during whole class activities, assemblies and through the Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHEE) curriculum. Social and emotional skills are developed during both structured and unstructured times (e.g. dramatherapy vs. break/lunch times). All children have Social Communication and Emotional Regulation targets informed by the Zones of Regulation framework and Therapy Team observations.
As well as encouraging children to use spoken language, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems are used throughout the school. These include, but are not limited to: gesture, pictures, symbols, visual timetables/schedules, visual story strips, objects of reference, choice boards, Now & Next approaches, Makaton, core vocabulary boards and aided language stimulation using both low-tech and high-tech communication systems e.g. Proloquo2Go.
All children have access to support and advice from the Therapy Team, which consists of Speech and Language Therapy (SLT), Occupational Therapy (OT), Dramatherapy (DT) and Educational Psychology (EP). From September 2019 the SLT, DT and OT will be on site 5 days per week, and the EP will be on site 1-2 day per week.
The Therapy Team use a three-tiered model of support: universal (for all), targeted (for some/groups) and specialist (for few/individual). All children benefit from the Therapy Team working within the classroom, offering ongoing advice and providing training and workshops for staff and parents. As necessary, some children access direct 1:1 or small group therapy. Speech and Language Therapy and Occupational Therapy will be tailored to each child’s needs in accordance with the hours requested on the EHCP document. Provision is included within our annual fees.
Gesher uses positive behaviour management strategies with Behaviour Support Plans, rewards and sanctions as required. Some children will 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 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’s strengths and needs; home visits are offered to all incoming pupils as a foundation to develop the home-school relationship. Parents/carers are involved in setting targets, monitoring progress and reviewing successes. They can request meetings with the Therapy Team or Class Teachers as required, with a minimum of termly parent evenings.
The provision available at Gesher is highly specialised and is tailored to the specific needs of the cohort of children. Examples of how this may be represented within the school environment include:
- Small classes (maximum of 8 pupils) supported by a class teacher and high level of TAs. TAs provide graduated support with a focus on developing independence and monitoring engagement and wellbeing.
- Highly structured days with short sessions that involved whole class, small group and individual learning experiences. Literacy and numeracy lessons use rotation to allow the teacher to work with small groups of 2 or 3 pupils.
- Principles from Attention Autism are used to support engagement, communication and shared interactions; in the Early Years classroom, Attention Autism sessions are accessed weekly as an early support strategy to develop these skills.
- 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 AAC to support both receptive and expressive language (e.g. gesture, pictures, symbols, visual timetables, visual story strips, 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 reinforce important learning through daily repetition of key skills and targets, additional waiting time to process information, observing a finished model example of work and reduced written work.
- 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; use of ICT programmes such as Clicker6 as required.
- Access to universal and targeted Speech & Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Dramatherapy, Art Therapy 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 in class.
- Daily opportunities to turn-take, share and cooperate with peers in structured and unstructured situations. This includes a high ratio of adult 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.
- 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, bi-weekly newsletters and half-termly parent evenings.
With regards to Staff Training, Gesher ensure education staff are:
- able to adapt the curriculum in order to meet each child’s needs.
- trained and/or skilled in the use of visual cues, including a varied range of visual supports.
- experienced/trained in working with children who have communication needs, including autism spectrum conditions.
- familiar with TEACCH principles and are able to implement visual timetables on a consistent and on-going basis.
- able to carry out individualised therapy programmes as directed by the Therapy Team and incorporate and apply strategies into each child’s daily routine.
There is a continuous programme of CPD for all education staff, including TAs, which includes termly INSETS delivered by the SLT, OT, DT and EP.
All 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, teachers, parents and school leaders to acknowledge, analyse and review achievements and progress in learning against expected national curriculum standards and/or P Levels.
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. 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’s therapy targets will be reviewed termly by therapists to monitor the development of the specific areas of need that have been identified. Progress against therapy targets will also be shared with parents on a termly basis.
Children 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/Statement of SEN 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. A home-school diary is accessed daily by the class teacher and teaching assistants to communicate relevant information, with an online app also being available to support with sharing important communication. Parents/carers are welcome to add notes for the class teacher in the home-school diary or via the online app.
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.
If your child has an EHCP/Statement of SEN 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 may have at home or in the community. Some examples include:
- regular communication with families through home-school diaries, 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 throughout the year
- social stories for key events, including Jewish Festivals, shared with families to prepare children
- grandparent afternoons involving additional support for extended family members and opportunities to relationship-build
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 with SEN and reporting to the Governing Body
- SEN Co-ordinator – responsible for oversight of SEN provision and statutory processes relating to SEN 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 SEN support is available to all children at the school
Once a place at Gesher School has been confirmed in writing with a start date and funding, 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 leave Gesher School we will liaise with their new school to plan any appropriate transition support. This may include visiting the new school and creating new 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.