Believe. Inspire, Succeed
‘Believe. Inspire, Succeed’
– David Quick, Headteacher of Slindon College
Here at Slindon College we provide specialist learning support for approximately 100 boys with SEND. The boys are aged between 11 and 18 and include both day pupils and boarders. With a staff-pupil ratio of one to five we provide a carefully structured and tailored education for boys who cannot thrive in a mainstream environment. Pupils require learning support in a variety of areas including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia and dyspraxia but by far the majority of our pupils are diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). However, we do not take severely autistic children or those officially designated as having emotional and behavioural difficulties (EBD).
Our approach is specific to each pupil and includes regular individual education plans (IEPs) and continual assessments in both academic and social contexts. The aim is to provide the pupil with strategies to compensate for the constraints that their condition imposes on them, promoting their positive abilities in a lifeskills context at the same time as maximising their academic potential. In line with this individual approach, the academic pathway is not set in stone but is tailored to the needs and potential achievement of each boy. Hence our school motto: ‘Believe. Inspire, Succeed’.
ASD can present with a wide range of symptoms, which are often grouped into two main categories:
● problems with social interaction and communication – including problems understanding and being aware of other people's emotions and feelings; it can also include delayed language development and an inability to start conversations or take part in them properly.
● restricted and repetitive patterns of thought, interests and physical behaviours – including making repetitive physical movements, such as hand tapping, and becoming upset if these set routines are disrupted.
The symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be categorised into two sets of behavioural problems:
● hyperactivity and impulsiveness.
Most pupils with ADHD have problems that fall into both these categories, but this is not always the case. For example, some pupils with the condition may have problems with inattentiveness, but not with hyperactivity or impulsiveness. This form of ADHD is also known as attention deficit disorder (ADD), and it can sometimes go unnoticed because the symptoms may be less obvious.
Dyslexia is a common learning difficulty that mainly affects the way pupils read and spell words. Dyslexia is a spectrum disorder, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Pupils with dyslexia have particular difficulty with:
● phonological awareness
● verbal memory
● rapid serial naming
● verbal processing speed.
Pupils with dyspraxia may have problems with movement and co-ordination including difficulties:
● with playground activities such as hopping, jumping, running, and catching or kicking a ball – they often avoid joining in because of their lack of co-ordination and may find PE (physical education) difficult
● walking up and down stairs
● writing, drawing and using scissors – their handwriting and drawings may appear scribbled and more childish than other children their age
● getting dressed, doing up buttons and tying shoelaces
● keeping still – they may swing or move their arms and legs a lot and find it hard to sit still.
Individual programmes of support
Pupils with SEND need individual programmes of support provided by a multidisciplinary team. These programmes enable pupils to thrive and have a positive learning experience. At Slindon, programmes include the following.
The Social Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) programme at Slindon College provides vital support to enable pupils to develop social and emotional skills within a safe, structured and progressive framework curriculum. The aim is to help them in the following areas:
● managing their feelings
● social skills.
The programme builds self-esteem, confidence and motivation, all vital if barriers to learning are to be removed. This work may be on a one-to-one basis or in small groups.
Speech and language therapy
Speech and language therapists work with pupils with a range of communication difficulties. Children are assessed both formally and informally. These assessments include attention and listening skills, social interaction, understanding receptive language skills, expressive language skills, speech sounds, fluency and voice. Once these assessments have been undertaken, the results are analysed and a therapy programme is established. Therapy is carried out during one-to-one sessions, paired sessions, small group work and at a functional level by supporting the pupil in class to monitor generalisation of skills.
Wave 3 literacy and numeracy
Staff work with children with specific learning difficulties to assess, plan and deliver appropriate programmes to support pupils on a one-to-one basis. This may include phonological training, alphabet work, reading, writing, spelling and numeracy, and using the teaching reading through spelling (TRTS) strategy. A multisensory and holistic approach is used across the curriculum. Pupils are supported in developing metacognitive executive function skills, poor memory functioning skills, organisational skills and concentration.
Occupational therapy (OT)
Occupational therapists take a holistic approach, working with pupils who have co-ordination, sensory, organisational and behavioural issues. Assessments establish how their needs can be best met and intervention usually takes the form of one-to-one sessions in our new well-equipped sensory/OT room. For example, purposeful activities challenge the boys to:
● strengthen their core muscles to gain better balance for PE
● practise fluent movements with their hands to have legible handwriting for examinations
● create a ‘sensory diet’ of activities that help them to stay focused in class.
David Quick started his career in finance but then went on to qualify as a teacher in 1990 from Swansea University. He has worked in a number of secondary schools both in the UK and overseas. His last two posts were Assistant Headteacher at Windsor School (an MOD Boarding School in Germany) and Vice Principal (Student Support) across the federated schools of St John’s and King Richard School in Cyprus. He has been a member of the BECTa Science working group and an Assistant Examiner in GCSE Physics and A level Chemistry for OCR. He has set up and run the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and has also been a rugby coach. He enjoys cooking, orienteering, skiing and travelling. David is married to Michaela and they have three children.