From September 2014 the law for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities changed. The new law (the Children and Families Act 2014) alters the way you and your child receive support from your local council, health and social care services and your child’s nursery, school or college. It brings a greater focus on personal goals, increased family involvement and improves rights and protections for young people in further education and training. The changes will be gradually introduced over the next few years.

As part of the Act (Clause 65) all local authorities have to provide a ‘local offer’ for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities and their families; Birmingham’s offer can be found on the My Care in Birmingham website

Click on the questions below to find out what you can expect at Topcliffe Primary School if your child has special educational needs and disabilities.
Local Offer

Q1: Who are the best people to talk to in this school about my child?

Many parents worry about their children’s learning and progress at school.

Start by talking to your child’s class teacher about your child. The class teacher may suggest that you talk to the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (often called the SENCo).

Miss Taylor is Assistant Head and SENCo at Topcliffe Primary School. Mr Garland and Miss Wilkes are also SENCOs within the school . They lead a team of people who support children who have all kinds of difficulties. All SENCos will speak to you confidentially about your child.

As well as supporting children with special needs in mainstream we have our own specialist provision for children with statements for specific Speech and language impairment and for children with ASD.

You can contact all our SENCo’s by going to the school office to ask for a meeting or by telephone, 0121 675 6296.

Q2: How does the school identify children with SEND and how will I find out about my child?

The benefits of early identification of Special Educational Need are widely recognised – identifying need at the earliest opportunity allows us to make effective provision to improve long term outcomes for your child.

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice (2014) states that “A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she:

  • has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or
  • has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions” (Department of Health and Department of Education, page 4)

The four areas of special educational needs are:

  • Communication and interaction
  • Cognition and learning
  • Social, mental and emotional health
  • Sensory and/or physical

School will assess every child’s skills and levels of attainment on entry and build upon information from previous settings where appropriate. We will look at any evidence that a child may have a disability under the Equality Act 2010 and if so, what reasonable adjustments need to be made for them.

Class teachers make regular assessments of progress and well-being for all of their pupils. Where pupils are falling behind they will be given extra support. The class teacher or SENCo will involve you in any decisions about your child’s education.

If a pupil continues to make poor progress, despite high-quality teaching in their areas of weakness, the class teacher with the SENCo will assess whether the child has a significant learning difficulty. While evidence is being collected we will continue to provide extra support where required.

Once a potential special educational need is identified, a graduated approach called SEN Support will be put in place.
For some children SEN can be identified at an early age, for others difficulties only become evident as they develop. We will listen if you have a concern about your child’s development. We will also listen if any concerns are raised by your child.

Q3: How will the teaching be adapted and what are the different types of support available for my child with SEND?

Pupils supported by the pupil premium receive well-managed help which enables them to achieve as well as other pupils. The focus on individual needs also ensures that disabled pupils, those with special educational needs and those from minority ethnic groups are supported effectively and progress well.’ OFSTED 2013

All teachers are trained to provide high quality, inclusive teaching within their classrooms. Teachers are skilled at planning activities to develop learning.

Where appropriate additional support is provided through high quality small group teaching delivered inside or outside the classroom. Teachers expect that these learners will be back on track to meet expectations by the end of the year.

In addition to this Topcliffe Primary School also provides high quality one-to-one teaching for children where needed. These very structured programmes run over a set period of time and aim to accelerate and maximise progress.

The school has a range of SEN Interventions in place. These include:

  • Phonic reading schemes – Dandelion, Words First, Rapid Readers, Wellington Square
  • Toe by Toe
  • Numicon
  • Precision Teaching (reading / writing / maths)
  • Speech & Language Support Assistant who can deliver the individualised programmes according to the SALT direction
  • Pre and post tutoring
  • Access and liaison with the OT (Occupational Therapist)
  • Access and liaison with the Physiotherapist
  • Access and advice with Sensory Support
  • Sensory room
  • Access and liaison with the educational psychologist/pupil and school support/ behaviour support/ communication and autism team.
  • Outdoor education to support children’s learning and boost confidence
  • Consistent use of visual aids to support all areas of the curriculum eg. communication in print
  • Social interaction groups

Each term we will look at your child’s progress to identify strengths and weaknesses. This tells us the support your child will need over the next term.

Every year the SEN team evaluates the effectiveness of our school’s SEN provision. This helps us to make sure we have the right support available for your child the following year.

Q4: How will the school assess and measure the progress of my child?

Teachers are responsible for the progress and development of all of the pupils in their class.

Once a child has been identified as needing SEN support we will look closely at their needs. This will include examiming information from all the adults, including outside professionals, who work with your child about their progress, their attainment and their behaviour. This assessment will be reviewed regularly to make sure the support and interventions provided for your child are matched to their needs.

Q5: How will you ensure that my child is fully included in the life of the school?

To ensure your child has the opportunity to participate and achieve across all areas of school life:
We provide a balanced curriculum for all pupils both in and outside of the classroom, including play and interaction at mealtimes and playtimes, Outdoor Education and extending to extracurricular activities (clubs) and school day trips and residential visits.

We practice teaching methods that will suit the needs of your child.
We promote an inclusive ethos throughout school and encourage all children to develop social responsibility and understanding.

If your child requires any medical support, adaptations to the environment and/or a differentiated curriculum this information is shared with appropriate staff. The SEN team have a responsibility to ensure that these reasonable adjustments are made.

The school has a range of specialist SEN facilities in place. These include:

  • Spacious Personal Care room including shower, adjustable changing bed, grab rail, and alarm cord
  • Lift to access PE, dinner and assembly halls and a lift to access playground
  • Specialist PE equipment
  • ‘Help Hands’ in every room
  • High-visibility markings around the site for children with visual impairment
  • Sound-field systems in some classrooms
  • Building is wheelchair accessible
  • Sensory room
  • Low arousal classrooms for children with ASD

Q6: How will I be involved in supporting my child?

A member of the SEN team will have regular meetings with you to set clear outcomes for your child and review the progress they make towards them. Staff will talk about the activities and support that will help your child. These meetings will allow you to share any concerns you may have about your child.

Q7: How will my child have a say in their education and school life?

The school encourages feedback from staff, parents and pupils throughout the year. The SEN team will talk to your child regularly to review progress, set new targets and talk about the support they will receive. Staff will listen to your child’s views and use this information to help plan future support. A record of these conversations will be kept.

Q8: My child currently has a Statement of Educational Needs. Will this change?

If your child already has a Statement of Educational Needs the Education Authority has 3 and a half years to convert this into an Education, Health and Care Plan. Birmingham Education Authority will let you know when this change will occur and there will be support available to make the transfer as simple as possible.

Q9: How do I know if my child is entitled to a personal budget?

The new legislation introduces personal budgets to accompany Education, Health and Care Plan to give families more control over the support you and your child receive. The amount you would be given, and how it can be spent needs to be agreed with Birmingham Education Authority. How this will be organised has yet to be decided.

Q10: How are staff in school trained to work with children with SEND?

The Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCos) in school are responsible for co-ordinating specific provision that needs to be made to support children with SEN. This includes arranging appropriate training for staff supporting children with:

  • Communication and interaction
  • Cognition and Learning
  • Social, mental and emotional health
  • Sensory/physical

What do these areas mean?

Communication and interaction needs:
Children may have a delay or disorder in one or more of the following areas:
Attention / interaction skills: May have difficulties ignoring distractions. Need reminders to keep attention. May need regular prompts to stay on task. May need individualised motivation in order to complete tasks. Difficulty attending in whole class. Interaction will not always be appropriate. May have peer relationship difficulties. May not be able to initiate or maintain a conversation.

Understanding / Receptive language: May need visual support to understand or process spoken language. May need augmented communication systems. Frequent misunderstandings. Repetition of language and some basic language needs to be used to aid their understanding.

Speech / Expressive Language: May use simplified language and limited vocabulary. Ideas / conversations may be difficult to follow, with the need to request frequent clarification. Some immaturities in the speech sound system. Grammar / phonological awareness still fairly poor and therefore their literacy can be affected.

Cognition and Learning:

May have difficulties with the skills needed for effective learning such as use of:

  • Language, memory and reasoning skills
  • Sequencing and organisational skills
  • An understanding of number
  • Problem solving and concept development
  • Fine and gross motor skills
  • Independent learning skills
  • Exercising choice
  • Decision making
  • Information processing

Children may have a specific learning disability such as dyslexia or dyscalculia.

Social, mental and emotional health.

May have difficulties with social and emotional developments which may stem from:

  • Social isolation
  • Behaviour difficulties
  • Attention difficulties (ADHD)
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Attachment disorders
  • Low self esteem
  • Information processing

Sensory or Physical

These pupils may have a medical or genetic condition that could lead to difficulties with:

  • Specific medical conditions
  • Gross / fine motor skills
  • Visual / hearing impairment
  • Accessing the curriculum without adaption
  • Physically accessing the building(s) or equipment
  • Over sensitivity to noise / smells / light / touch / taste
  • Toileting / self-care

We consult parents regularly to ensure staff training is appropriate to meet the needs of your child.

Q11: Who are the other people providing services to children with SEND?

Parents will always be involved in any decision to involve outside agencies. School will involve specialists to advise us on early identification of SEN and effective support and interventions. Recommendations raised will be shared with you and teaching staff supporting your child.

Specialist services used at Topcliffe include:

  • Access to Education:
    • Educational Psychology
    • Pupil and School Support
    • Sensory Support
    • Behaviour Support
    • Communication and Autism Team
    • Wilson Stuart Outreach
  • Speech and Language Therapy Service
  • Health Services:
    • School Nurse
    • Health Visitors
    • Physiotherapists
    • Occupational Therapists
    • Birmingham Children’s Hospital
  • Social Services
Q12: What support will I get as a parent of a child with SEND?

Your views are very important. It is essential that you are involved in discussions and decisions that are made about your child’s individual support. We will support you in contributing your views.

If you felt your child’s needs were not being met or if you had other concerns about your child please contact the school office. The office staff will pass on the message and a member of the SEN team will get back to you as soon as possible. You can also contact a school governor to raise any concerns by leaving a message with the school office.

For further information, please read: SEND – A Guide for Parents/Carers (pdf) from the DfE.

Q13: How will you support my child when they are progressing through the school or moving on to a new school?

To support transition we will share information at the end of each year making sure that all new teachers are aware of your child’s needs. If your child is moving to another school a member of the SEN team will talk to you about the information that needs to be passed on to the receiving school to ensure a smooth transition.

We welcome your involvement in this process.

Q14: Profile of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities at Topcliffe Primary School

September 2014

  • Statutory Provision – 63
  • Provision Plan – 0
  • School Action Plus – 18
  • School Action – 20
  • TOTAL = 101

The new legislation replaces statements of special educational needs and Learning Difficulty Assessments with a single Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan for children and young children people with complex needs.

For children with less complex needs who still require help the new legislation introduces a new system called Special Educational Needs Support which replaces School Action and School Action Plus (and the equivalent in the Early Years Setting).

Q15: Topcliffe Primary School’s Speech and Language and ASD Resource Bases.

A Resource base is a specialist provision within a mainstream school.

Topcliffe Primary School’s Resource Bases are a celebration of successful inclusive practises for children diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and children with Specific Language Impairment. The Resource Bases reflect our school’s ethos and ensure all children are fully included in all aspects of school life.

Topcliffe Speech and Language Resource Base
The current Speech and Language Resource Bases support 24 children with statements for specific language impairments. Their needs are met in the following ways:

Each Resource base is supported by 1 teacher and 1 teaching assistant.
Staff address children’s needs through individually tailored programmes. Pupils within the Resource base have regular access to Speech and Language therapy provision. Speech therapists work collaboratively alongside teaching staff to promote and consolidate children’s specific speech and language needs. Some children, where appropriate access some mainstream lessons within their weekly timetable. Work is fully adapted to ensure the children’s successful access to the National Curriculum.

Topcliffe Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Resource Base

Our ASD Resource bases support 36 children with a Statement stating ASD as being the Primary need.

Each Resource base class is supported by 1 teacher and 1 teaching assistant. Our Topcliffe centre has a higher ratio of staff in each class at present, to support the varying needs of the children.

Topcliffe Primary School’s main building has two ASD resource bases, accommodating eight pupils in each class. There is also a transition class, which has four children working towards integration into mainstream classes.

Our Key stage one Resource base children attend Topcliffe Centre, which has space for 16 children. This is not located on the School grounds and is a short walk from the main building.

At Topcliffe we recognise that some children with ASD can find the world confusing and often misleading. Each child is an individual and it is our aim to equip them with specific strategies and support to promote their inclusion and reduce potential anxieties.
Teaching approaches that are used within the resource bases are tailored to the individual and incorporate thinking from a wide range of sources, including TEACCH and structured teaching, social stories and visual support. The curriculum is weighted to address the social, communication and sensory needs of the pupils. All bases provide an ‘ASD’ friendly environment to ensure all pupils reach their full potential.

Places in our Resource Base are offered after referrals from SENAR and a visit to the child in their current setting by members of our Resource base team. During this time any communication must be directed through SENAR and not with the School.