Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND)
As with all schools, The River School must pay heed to relevant national legislation, such as the Children and Families Act (2014), and associated regulations, such as The Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations (2014). However, The River School is an independent school and, as such, is not locally- or centrally-funded and does not have access to most parts of local provision, although parents/carers and children still have access to universal services and may still have access to specialist services through other means, such as GP referral. The school is therefore not bound by large parts of the system that is followed in state-funded schools, although it is good practice to adopt those aspects which may reasonably be applied to an independent setting.
The Early Years and Foundation Stage, which is externally-funded, is bound by the new provision and has a separate policy and procedures. The school must still have regard to legislation that is designed to prevent discrimination, such as the Equality Act, 2010, which requires that ‘reasonable adjustments’ must be made in order to accommodate pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities.
At The River School, we are concerned with the development of the whole child, not just academic achievement. We believe that God has a plan for everyone’s life and it is particularly important that pupils with educational, health or social care needs realise that they are loved and valued for who they are.
In mainstream schools, ‘Ordinarily Available’ is a framework that describes the universal teaching and learning approaches that all pupils are entitled to, including those with specific difficulties. The educational services that are ‘ordinarily available’ at The River School are those which are paid for by the basic fees. The fees cover classroom teaching and resources that are available to all pupils. It is expected that the needs of most pupils should be met through resources that are ‘ordinarily available’. A good example of a support strategy that is available to all pupils, but which will only be used by a small number, is the use of a laptop in GCSE examinations for pupils with identified writing difficulties.
Pupils whose needs cannot be met within what is ‘ordinarily available’ may still be able to have their needs met within school resources. Pupils with these needs will be placed on the Special Educational Needs and Disability Register and will be provided with a provision map that outlines how their needs will be met. For example, primary aged pupils who are struggling to progress with early literacy skills may be given one-to-one sessions with a teaching assistant and/or the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator. The school can also support parents in seeking appropriate outside professional input, e.g. assessment by a Speech and Language Therapist (SaLT).
Meeting the needs of pupils with more complex needs will be considered on a case by case basis. Where support would require considerable additional resources on top of what is ‘ordinarily available’, consideration would need to be given to where that funding would be sourced. We do have a small number of pupils with Education and Health Care Plans (EHCPs), where The River School is the named school. If a potential new pupil already has an EHCP then the Local Authority may consider making The River School the named school, if they are satisfied that the pupil’s needs can be met and that it is good value for money. Given the current system in state schools, it is now highly unlikely that a pupil who is already placed in an independent school would be given an EHCP so parents/carers who think that their child requires one would be advised to seek this while their child is still placed in a state school.
Any parent or carer who is considering whether The River School might be able to meet their child’s needs is welcome to contact the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator, Julie Chester, to arrange an informal consultation. This can be done by telephoning the school on 01905-457047, or emailing directly to email@example.com.