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The Hills Academy

The Hills Academy is a vibrant and diverse school with strong values as central to our happy and safe environment. We have been recognised as 'Outstanding', by Ofsted, since 1997 and we pride ourselves in combining high attainment with excellent extra-curricular opportunities for all our pupils. Dedicated and committed staff, governors, volunteers, parent groups and student forums continue to drive forward the success and growth of the school.

As an inclusive environment we are focused on meeting the individual needs of our whole school community. Learning is personalised for each pupil and our children have the independence to determine much of this; evaluating their own achievements and setting themselves challenging targets for the future.

Who to contact

Contact Name
Mrs M Whitehead
Contact Position
Headteacher
Telephone
E-mail
headteacher@thehillsacademy.co.uk
Website
https://www.thehillsacademy.co.uk/

Where to go

Name
The Hills Academy
Address
Stancliffe Road
Bedford
Bedfordshire
Postcode
MK41 9AT
Get directions

Other Details

Age Bands
11-14 years old
5-10 years old

Schools Extended Local Offer Response

How does the setting/school/college know if children/young people need extra help and what should I do if I think my child/young person may have special educational needs?

The Hills Academy puts working with parents/carers and pupils at the centre of its work. Pupils are regularly involved with reviewing their progress and encouraged to express their needs and concerns with relevant staff.

If class teachers have a significant concern, beyond that which can be accommodated by excellent quality first teaching and differentiation, they will begin to track their assess-plan-do-review provision adjustments on an Initial Concern Form (ICF). Parents are involved at this stage to see if early amendments to provision can address some of the identified barriers to learning. The ICF is reviewed with parents on a six weekly basis with SENDCo support where necessary. This strengthened approach may be short-term or continue for a longer period.

Class teachers may use focus group time from the teaching assistant team depending on need as a result of pupil progress meeting outcomes (with the Head and SENDCo).  

Pupils with SEN are encouraged to express any concerns they may have to the SENDCO, Learning Support Assistants, their class teacher, or any other member of staff with whom they feel comfortable to talk about their concerns.

Parents and Carers are fully involved in decisions about support for their child, including decisions to investigate a potential diagnosis, referral to external agencies, planning and evaluating support. They are encouraged to contact any member of staff at school if they have any concerns about their child; we have an open-door policy. The SENDCO is always pleased to discuss any concerns involving SEN with parents and carers.

How will early years setting/school/college staff support my child/young person?

Despite high quality teaching, some pupils are unable to make expected progress and this could be for a variety of reasons, one of which is a special educational need. We use spelling, reading, maths and handwriting assessments together with regular class assessments to support the identification of pupils who may benefit from a strengthened graduated approach. Class teachers regularly track pupil progress using all available data and knowledge of pupils to identify pupils with additional needs and if they have a concern that there might be an undiagnosed special educational need, any concern are discussed on a six weekly basis at pupil progress meetings with the Headteacher and SENDCO.

The SENDCO will then investigate further by liaising with parents, gaining the views of the pupil, gathering more information about the pupil from other staff who teach or support them, carrying out testing as appropriate. If it is appropriate, the SENDCo will refer the pupil for additional specialist assessments with outside professionals such as Educational Psychologists, Speech and language Therapists, Autism Advisory Teachers to provide programmes of support for a child. Once this information has been gathered, if a special educational need is suspected or diagnosed, a meeting will be arranged, including parents, to discuss the pupil’s needs and distil subsequent actions into an individual education plan (IEP). Support may take the form of individual, paired or small group support depending on the most appropriate provision. All support is reviewed and amended. Pupils with SEN will be placed on the school’s SEN register, which is accessible to all staff in school.

The definition of a special educational need is ‘where their learning difficulty or disability calls for special educational provision, namely provision different from or additional to that normally available to pupils of the same age. Making higher quality teaching normally available to the whole class is likely to mean that fewer pupils will require such support.’ (Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice: 0 to 25 years).

There is a designated school Governor with responsibility for special educational needs who meets with the SENDCo to ensure that the SEND policy is strategic and thoroughly implemented.

How will the curriculum be matched to my child's/young person's needs?

The Hills Academy staff strive to provide well-differentiated high quality teaching to all of our pupils. Teachers prepare lessons which support the learning and progress of all pupils through a variety of methods. Such in-class differentiation may involve many adaptations, modifications, additional resourcing and strategies, dependent upon the needs of the pupil.

Pupils are given developmental feedback about WWW (what went well) and EBI (even better if). Some children may benefit from additional resources such as a sloped desks or cushions, pencil grips, colour reading rulers. We provide additional adult support if it is appropriate for the child. We also use specialist resources such as PECS (picture exchange system) as advised by outside agencies.

Teachers and teaching assistants have access to regular training opportunities to improve their knowledge and skills, including regular CPD (Continuing Professional Development) sessions on a wide variety of educational concerns, including SEN issues. Examples of recent support staff CPD content included staff training sessions or externally-sourced courses on Speech and Language (4 day ELKLAN training attended by Mrs Souter and Mrs Thomson), maths, Safeguarding, marking guidelines and policies, medical conditions, Educational Psychology advice and reports, EHCP (Education Health and Care Plans), GSP (Grammar spelling and punctuation), Guided Reading and Phonics. CPD already planned for 2018/19 includes sessions on Safeguarding, My Concern policies, EAL provision, BLANKs, KS1 Lift off to language and cascaded CHUMs training.

How will both you and I know how my child/young person is doing and how will you help me to support my child's/young person's learning?

Where a pupil is diagnosed with a special education need, support will be put in place to help them make progress. Such support might involve: further differentiation in class by teachers, advice to teachers on a pupil’s need and strategies to be implemented. Additionally, there may be one-to-one or small group targeted intervention sessions with a Learning Mentor, a specialist Teaching Assistant, the SENDCO or in-class Teaching Assistant support. Referrals may be made to outside agencies.

Interventions may involve bespoke packages or a programme developed specifically for that pupil or group of pupils. Currently we use evidence-based interventions to support spelling, reading, maths, writing and handwriting /co-ordination skills. We also utilise individual mentoring, social skills groups; we support Speech and Language advice with one-to-one TA support.

Interventions follow a monitoring cycle involving: assess–plan-do-review. Where an intervention with a pupil is not found to be effective, the school will endeavour to find out why and put in place a more effective programme. Interventions are regularly reviewed and discussed with pupils and parents/carers through the Individual Education Plan and updating of targets using our online Target Tracker system. This ensures that interventions are effective and that the school is continually striving to improve their programme of intervention.

Carers and parents of pupils with SEN will have regular meetings with school staff to discuss their child’s progress, support needs and any concerns they may have. We hold parent consultation sessions in the autumn and spring terms. Parents/carers will receive a school report each term. Class teachers are always available to speak to at the end of the day. Termly dates, curriculum outlines and homework activities are sent home each term. Pupils may have a home school diary to enhance support. Wherever possible the SENDCo attends consultation sessions with the class teacher. She is also available on consultation afternoons/ evenings for an individual appointment.

The school also has a parent support worker who holds weekly coffee mornings for informal parent support. Parents/carers are welcome to request a meeting or discussion with school staff or the Headteacher if they have a concern. The school has a formal complaints procedure detailed in school policies.

What support will there be for my child's/young person's overall well being?

Our PSHE and wider curriculum is focused on developing resilience, mental health and well-being. All teachers provide additional club before or after school clubs. Children can also take advantage of structured indoor and outdoor activities and the library at lunchtimes. The school has staff in each key stage who are trained in first aid. Staff will administer medicines in line with our Medicine Policy, available on our website. Should personal care be needed we have a medical room which supports pupil dignity, independence and is in line with our safeguarding policy.

 We promote key values and celebrate those children who demonstrate them in assemblies and through our reward systems in school. We have a behaviour policy, which is reviewed regularly with staff and which is available on our website. Each key stage has consistent age-appropriate reward systems which recognise positive examples of our values, work and behaviour.

All support, including support for social, emotional and mental health, follows a monitoring cycle involving: assess–plan-do-review. Where support for a pupil is not found to be effective, the school will endeavour to find out why and put in place a more effective programme. Interventions are regularly reviewed and discussed with pupils and parents/carers through the Individual Education Plan and updating of the pupil’s one page profile which is a co-produced document (pupil, parent and teacher voice) short introduction to a pupil, which captures key information on a single page, giving anyone involved with them an understanding of their interests, needs and how best to support them. The school is continually striving to improve their programme of intervention.

What specialist services and expertise are avaliable at or accessed by the setting/school/college?

Where a pupil with SEN is not making progress and The Hills Academy feel that they need advice and support from external professionals, we will discuss such a need with parents. If it is felt appropriate, we will then refer a pupil to an external agency and/or professionals for diagnosis, support or advice. Subsequent to such a referral, we will work with the external agency to support such pupils, using their support and advice. For example, from Advisory Support Teachers and Educational Psychologists. The SENDCo may also support parents/carers in completing an EHA (Early Help Assessment); Early Help may signpost additional support from support services and health care professionals. The Hills Academy also works with other external agencies such as:

The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

Speech and Language Therapy

Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy Services

CHUMS – counseling and bereavement

The vision clinic at Union Street

The Advisory Teacher for Autism

The School Nurses (0-19 Team)

 Teaching Assistants deliver programmes written by external professionals for example, individual speech and language sessions and occupational therapy motor skills work.

What training have the staff supporting children and young people with SEND had? Are any being trained currently?

We value the continuous professional development of all staff and performance management and the school’s main thrusts from the school development plan help to match training opportunities to the needs of the staff and pupils. Class teachers are qualified to at least degree level and are qualified teach up to Year 6. Staff have ongoing training to update and hone their knowledge of Special Needs. Many staff also have specific or specialist training personalised to cohorts or pupils they support. The SENDCo holds the National Award for SEN Coordination (NASENCO).

How will my child/young person be included in activities outside this classroom including school trips?

Adaptations and provisions are made for SEN and disabled pupils to enable them to participate in all school trips and other out of class activities. For example, pupils may need an individual risk assessment, modification for the trip or additional staffing needs. For more information, refer to our Accessibility Plan and Equality statement in the Policies section of our website.

Pupils with SEN are actively encouraged, supported and given opportunities to become involved with extra-curricular activities. For example, current pupils with SEN have been involved with the following clubs: lunchtime and breakfast clubs, after school clubs such as choir.  Additionally, there is a termly outdoor learning group in school–Dragonflies. There is also the opportunity available for all pupils to attend the school residential trips.

SEN pupils fully participate in the school council, school productions, all school trips and the wider life of the school.

We may prepare pupils with additional resources such as a photographs, maps or a visual schedule. We may provide additional adult support. All visits are preceded by staff making a preliminary visit to the site before completing class or individual risk assessments.

How accessible is the setting/school/college enviroment?

We use our best endeavours to ensure that all pupils with SEN and disabilities are able to fully participate in the life of the school, both in their learning and in the wider provision. Young people who have SEN will have their needs carefully assessed to identify specific support needed to ensure that they are effectively included.

Our site and provision is under continual review, including our anticipatory duty to pre-plan for accessibility needs in order to:

  1. Increase the extent to which pupils with disabilities can participate in the school curriculum. #
  2. Improve the environment at The Hills Academy to increase the extent to which pupils with disabilities can take advantage of education, benefits, facilities and associated services provided.
  3. Improve the availability of accessible information, which is readily available to other pupils, to pupils with disabilities.

Adaptations and provisions are made for SEN and disabled pupils to enable them to participate in all school trips and other out of class activities. For example, pupils may need an individual risk assessment, modification for the trip or additional staffing needs.

Our school is wheelchair accessible and there are disabled toilet facilities in both buildings. Specific physical requirements will be assessed individually and equipment will be provided to meet these needs with the help of Local Authority SEND services

How will the setting/school/college prepare and support my child/young person to join the setting/school/college or the next stage of education and life?

The Hills Academy understands that transition between schools and other establishments is sometimes an anxious time for parents/carers and pupils, especially for pupils with SEN. Tours of the school are warmly welcomed and can be arranged through the school office office@thehillsacademy.co.uk

Children with SEN who are coming to The Hills Academy from Nursery schools and other providers are visited in their current setting and a transition and, if appropriate, a planning meeting convened with parents/carers and other professionals. Necessary adjustments and modifications can then be made to support the individual.

Pupils remain at the Hills Academy until the end of Year 6. At the point of transition, Secondary school staff will visit and meet with Year 6 teachers and pupils in the summer term, to gain as much information as possible about pupils, including SEN information. There will be a secondary school transition day. For pupils with SEN, the SENDCO and Assistant SENDCO at The Hills Academy will liaise with SENDCOs from our secondary schools and all relevant information, including SEN files will be transferred. SEN pupils can request additional visits to schools to further inform transition.

Parents/Carers of pupils with SEN at The Hills Academy are also invited in to a weekly coffee morning to get to know how other parents and our parent support leader, Mrs Marcia Harcombe.

The Hills Academy creates its class groups with great care. The Leadership Team and class teachers work together to ensure smooth transition based on pupils’ individual needs. Transition to new year groups or classes is carefully planned for individual pupils with SEN. Prior visits, photographs, discussions and schedules for new activities are put in place if needed. Workstations are set up as needed in classrooms. Daily transition may also be supported through visual schedules, based on PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System).

For pupils with Education Health and Care Plans, the SENDCO will organize the annual review meetings to ensure that we are fully informed and able to maximize individual progress. 

How are the setting's/school's/college's resources allocated and matched to children's/young people's special educational needs?

Decisions about the support your child receives follow statutory guidelines. Our SEND budget is allocated each financial year to provide additional support and resources, in response to individual need, ensuring that all children are supported efficiently. This is regularly reviewed to ensure effectiveness of provision and future planning.  

Where a pupil with SEN is failing to make progress, despite high quality teaching and support through their SEN support, an application to the Local Authority for an Education, Health and Care Plan may be considered. Parents/carers, the pupil, the Local Authority and outside agencies will be fully involved in such decisions and meetings will be organised to consider and plan such a referral. More information on the application process and criteria for Education, Health and Care Plans is available on the Local Authority website.

Pupils with SEN who have Education, Health and Care Plans will receive a higher level of support than other pupils and such support is co-ordinated by the SENDCO. Their Education, Health and Care Plan will be reviewed regularly, at least once per year, with the parent/carer, pupil, the Local Authority and appropriate outside agencies.

How is the decision made about what type and how much support my child/young person will receive?

Parents and carers are at the centre of supporting their children. They are fully involved in decisions about support for their child, including decisions to investigate a potential diagnosis, referral to external agencies, planning and evaluating support. They are encouraged to contact any member of staff at school if they have any concerns about their child. The SENDCO is always pleased to discuss any concerns involving SEN with parents and carers. Targets and next steps for all of our pupils are regularly shared with pupils and with parents at consultation sessions. Carers and parents of pupils with SEN will have regular meetings with school staff to discuss their child’s progress, support needs and any concerns they may have. Pupils may have a home school diary to enhance support through improved communication. Parents/carers are welcome to request a meeting or discussion with school staff or the Head Teacher if they have a concern. The school has a formal complaints procedure detailed in school policies.

Pupils with SEN are encouraged to express any concerns they may have to the SENDCO, Learning Support Assistants, their class teacher, or any other member of staff with whom they feel comfortable to talk about their concerns. For pupils with Education Health and Care Plans, the SENDCO will organize the annual review meetings to ensure that all adults involved with a pupil are fully informed and able to maximize the pupil’s individual progress.

How are parents involved in the setting/school/college? How can I be involved?

We have an open door policy we value and respect the knowledge you share with us about your child. Parents and Carers are at the centre of supporting their children. They are fully involved in decisions about support for their child, including decisions to investigate a potential diagnosis, referral to external agencies, planning and evaluating support. They are encouraged to contact any member of staff at school if they have any concerns about their child. The SENDCO is always pleased to discuss any concerns involving SEN with parents and carers. Targets and next steps for all of our pupils will be readily available and accessible in the pupil’s books and at parental consultation evenings. Carers and Parents of pupils with SEN will have regular meetings with school staff to discuss their child’s progress, support needs and any concerns they may have.

Parents/Carers of pupils with SEN at The Hills Academy are also invited in to a weekly coffee morning to get to know how other parents and our parent support leader, Mrs Marcia Harcombe. We also welcome parents/carers to accompany us on school trips and to help with the Parent Teacher and Friends Association meetings and events.