The Learning Support Department at Friern Barnet School aims to consistently put the needs of every child at the forefront of learning. It is the responsibility of every member of staff to be familiar with the school’s Special Needs Policy and procedures. The Special Educational Needs Coordinator Support Team Manager and team of Teaching Assistants provide students, parents, carers, teachers and the wider community with specialist support. This support offers access to external agencies, procedures and strategies so all learners have every opportunity to make progress and to achieve independence and fulfil their learning potential.
The team of talented and enthusiastic Teaching Assistants has a rich diversity of backgrounds, education, and experience. All Teaching Assistants are level 2 and above. Each Teaching Assistant holds varying roles and levels of responsibility within the department and around the school. There are four tiers of types of support that every Teaching Assistant offers:
A Teaching Assistant’s primary focus at Friern Barnet School is to facilitate statemented/EHCP students’ access to the curriculum. The role includes promoting the development of students’ learning via effective support, provision of care and management of students’ emotional well-being. The link Teaching Assistant manages the overall care and support for the target student(s). This additional level of personalised support provides students with particular attention on their individual needs. The faculty links champion the SEN perspective within specific subject areas. This facilitates a collaborative relationship between Learning Support and every faculty around the school. Involvement in the wider school community is always promoted and encouraged within the team.
The team includes a number of Higher Level Teaching Assistants. There is extensive experience in providing support for specific learning difficulties such as Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Downs’ Syndrome, Autistic Spectrum Conditions, and a range of Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs (SEMH). There are experts in the delivery of additional interventions for other areas of need such as Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCNs), Literacy, Numeracy, and Social Communication Skills development. The Learning Support Department regularly hosts and delivers training within the department and within the school on their areas of expertise. This sharing of good practice aims to promote consistency and is an effective way of ensuring inclusion for all learners.
The Learning Support Department offers a myriad of groups that evolve and change depending on the needs of the student cohort. The groups include Social Skills, Communication Skills, Literacy, and Numeracy. The groups are led by individual members of the team. The curriculum for each group is designed and structured to cater to the specific needs within the group. Students are selected via testing, attainment levels, and on the advice and guidance of staff who know the student well. The small groups are a fantastic opportunity for those who attend to gain special attention in these areas.
The Learning Support Department offers a daily supervised Homework Club. Students have the opportunity to complete homework with the support of the Teaching Assistants who work with them in lessons. This support can alleviate some of the anxiety that home learning sometimes presents. This and the Learning Support Department as a whole, offers a structured, safe environment for every student to make the most of their time at Friern Barnet School.
The Learning Support Department works closely with a number of outside agencies. These include; Educational Psychologists, Speech and Language Therapists, Physiotherapists, Occupational Health Therapists, Independent Therapists, Art Therapists, BYCAS, CAMHS from the London Borough of Barnet and from other local authorities
At the end of Key Stage 3, students are tested for Access Arrangements. This testing assesses whether a student might benefit from various provisions during their exams, which can include the use of a scribe, a reader, a word processor, extra time, alternative rooming and so on. These Access Arrangements are provided in order to remove any disadvantage for candidates and where there is evidence of need and the reasonable adjustments fall within the candidate’s normal ways of working.