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Special Educational Needs

Special Educational Needs (SEN)

In St Mary’s we promote high aspirations for all our pupils and understand the uniqueness of each individual pupil. High quality teaching and learning, assessment, monitoring and tracking of pupil progress are at the heart of our curriculum and we are committed to supporting our learners to achieve their full potential.

The Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo), has responsibility for ensuring the operation of the Special Needs Policy within the school and is responsible for the identification and assessment of and provision for students with special educational needs, i.e. learning, physical, emotional and behavioural needs. This is achieved through securing strong partnerships and effective communication with parents, feeder primary schools, external agencies and professionals within the Education Authority.

Some students may arrive to St Mary’s with diagnosed difficulties, while others may be identified during their time at school though a process of screening, careful monitoring and data tracking. The SENCo will liaise with staff to agree, monitor and evaluate provision for SEN pupils.

The SENCo leads a team of experienced classroom assistants who provide in-class support for pupils identified as having special educational needs. In addition, for those pupils on the SEN Code of Practice, the SENCo is responsible for the production of a Personalised Learning Plan (PLP) which will outline reasonable adjustments required across the curriculum, identify effective classroom strategies to manage the identified need and indicate individual targets for the pupil. These are reviewed twice annually and are discussed at the Annual Review Meeting with parents. Transition Plans are produced for SEN pupils from Years 10 to 14 and the SENCo will work with parents, Transition Officers from the Education Authority and specialist advisors from Careers Service NI to devise and review these plans on an annual basis. Parents of pupils with Statements of Special Educational Needs are invited to attend our annual coffee morning at the beginning of each academic year, an event which the SEN Team thoroughly enjoy and one which helps to grow and foster partnerships.

St Mary’s pupils benefit from access to specialist Learning Support Tutors for literacy and numeracy. Teachers will refer students for additional support and the Learning Support Tutor will liaise with the English or Maths teacher to devise a suitable programme which complements and consolidates classroom learning. Learning Support classes can take place on a one-to-one or small group arrangement. Pupils’ progress is closely monitored and communicated to parents.

Supported by FamilyWorks, a counselling facility operates in the school and the counsellor is available every Wednesday morning. Requests for counselling are made through the SENCo, who is the key contact and referrals can be made by any member of staff, by parents or by pupils themselves. A drop-in slot is always available each Wednesday for urgent needs.

On staff we also have a qualified Drama Therapist who offers support to pupils who are experiencing a range of issues or difficulties.

An ER Lunch Club operates every day for those pupils who benefit from a quieter indoor space and this is supervised by staff from the SEN Department.

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