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  • SEND Support at British Boarding Schools | Dickinson School Consulting

SEND Support at British Boarding Schools

Finding the right school for a child is always complex – weighing up their academic strengths and weaknesses, outside interests and talents, and their emotional requirements – and any Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND) can further complicate matters. Fortunately, Gina’s years of experience, and her knowledge of the hundreds of boarding schools in England, Scotland and Wales, mean that she can advise on any child’s education.

Over the years it has become apparent that the UK is ahead of many of its European counterparts in terms of SEND provision, and the independent education sector is particularly well placed to accommodate all manner of learning differences and additional pastoral support due to its higher staff to pupil ratios. While this is the case in all the schools we recommend, there are some which have particularly strong SEND departments and/or specialise in the education of young people with particular needs. Here are just a few examples.

Felsted School produces consistently strong academic results and offers the choice of A Levels or the IB Diploma in Sixth Form. SEND students fall under the care of the Support for Learning (SfL) Department so they can be suitably challenged and fulfil their potential in a safe environment. Where appropriate, in-class support is provided. Otherwise, children are taught in small groups of 3 or 4: Year 9 having 4 lessons a fortnight instead of studying a second Modern Foreign Language; Year 10/11 opt for SfL and take one less GCSE (6 lessons a fortnight), while Sixth Form students have 4 individual lessons a fortnight with a specialist teacher. The department writes Individual Education Plans (IEPs), liaises regularly with parents and teachers, and outside agencies where necessary.

Kingsley School is fully inclusive and non-selective. Offering A Levels and BTECs in the Sixth Form, students are also required to do an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) which is valued by universities as 50% of a full A level. Kingsley is a CReSTeD accredited school, deploying Quality First Teaching strategies to ensure that every class is fully inclusive, accommodating the diverse range of learning styles, difficulties and needs. This includes differentiated learning, strategies to support SEND students’ learning in class, and ongoing assessment. A formal diagnosis is not always necessary as these teaching strategies support the needs of most students. If required, however, the school has designated centres for students requiring enhanced support for mild to moderate needs or moderate to severe needs, including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Clayesmore is a mainstream school also accredited by CReSTeD. Like Kingsley, this means all its teachers are experienced with, and supportive of, dyslexic students and are dyslexic-friendly in the way they teach, where necessary encouraging the use of assistive technology, such as dictation software. In addition, there is a Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC), which guides both pupils and subject teachers in the most effective way to learn, also providing specialist 1:1 and small group teaching to underpin the work that is done in class. As well as dyslexic support, the TLC supports some students with the development of speech and language skills, social skills, fine and gross motor skills. It also works with pupils to ensure they are being supported with their personal and social development too.

Another CReSTeD accredited school, Bredon has a wide-ranging academic and vocational offer, and understands the importance of celebrating and nurturing the gift of dyslexia, rather than seeing it as a barrier to a child’s educational journey. Providing learning support for pupils across a range of formats, from targeted small group and 1:1 sessions to in-class assistance, Bredon believes that all pupils should engage in a full curriculum. However, pupils with specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia may withdraw from non-core subjects, enabling them to focus on identified areas of difficulty such as reading, writing and maths. In addition to Specific Learning Sessions (SLS), Bredon School can also provide expertise from a fully qualified Speech and Language team and Occupational Therapy.

Aside from, or alongside, recognised learning differences, recently some of Gina’s conversations with families have revealed a need for particularly good pastoral care and emotional support, as it seems an increasing number of young people are sadly suffering from anxiety, perhaps caused by the isolation they felt during the pandemic. Fortunately, this is an area in which British boarding schools excel, providing a home from home, with added friends on tap, as well as professional and caring staff.

If your child could benefit from support with learning, or simply needs a nurturing environment in which to find their confidence and fall in love with education, please contact us to start the conversation.