Special Educational Needs

SEN at Oakbank School: What you need to know

Oakbank School is a secondary free school that opened in September 2012 on the site of a former local authority secondary school. The school is sponsored by the CfBT Education Trust.

There are currently 497 students on roll in Years 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11.

The majority of the students are White British. The number of students from minority ethnic groups is below the national average, as is the number of students who speak English as an additional language. 

The proportion of students who have disabilities or special educational needs and are supported at school support level is around the national average.  Oakbank has an excellent reputation for supporting children with Special Educational Needs and have an experienced team of learning support professionals to support students with a range of additional needs.

The proportion of students who receive additional funding through the pupil premium because they are known to be eligible for free school meals is close to the national average for secondary schools.

The school does use alternative provision. 

The School was judged “requires improvement” by Ofsted in the 2020 inspection, however, the SEND department was judged “good”


How do we identify Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)?

  • Discussions with primary schools and parents on transition
  • CAT testing on admission to Year 7
  • Assessment of reading age and levels upon entry
  • Assessment for any specific learning needs upon parental request
  • In house cognitive and attainment testing allowing for the tailored provision of support
  • Provision profiles for the continued support of students with additional needs
  • Close monitoring of both academic and emotional capacity
  • Parental/carer Request
  • Notification from outside agency


What should I do if I think my child has SEND?

Make an appointment with the SENCO at Oakbank as quickly as possible to explain your concerns.

Please contact SEN@oakbank.education to discuss your concerns. We can work together to make a plan of action. The SENCO is Mrs Sarah-Jayne Smith and you can reach her on the email address sen@oakbank.anthemtrust.uk


Support for children with Special Educational Needs

If my child is identified as having SEND, who will oversee and plan their education programme?

  • The SENCO will have overall responsibility for the progress of your child.
  • Progress will be monitored regularly by subject teachers, tutor Head of Year and Learning Support Assistants.
  • Your child may have a Keyworker who will support your child; this is usually a member of the SEND department

How will I be informed / consulted about the ways in which my child is being supported?

  • A letter will be sent out if your child has been identified for targeted support.
  • You will receive a phone call if we are concerned about your child’s progress.
  • We sometimes have a home/school liaison book if we want to let you know how school is going.
  • You can make an appointment to come in and see us at any time.


 How will the school balance my child’s need for support with developing their independence?

  • We have skilled TAs and Teaching staff who are very aware of the fact that we need to support children with SEND whilst at the same time challenging them and building independence. We discuss this at annual reviews and meetings so that we can support what you are doing at home to build independence.
    • Children with provision profiles will have their action plan and progress monitored once a term and adjustments made accordingly


 How will the school match / differentiate the curriculum for my child’s needs?

  • Some students have a strategy sheet given to all staff so that we can consistently use the most suitable teaching methods and content to meet your child’s needs.
  • All staff are aware of the type and requirements of your child’s SEND and so can match differentiation to individuals.
  • Some students will receive in class and pull out support to meet their individual needs.
  • Training is given to all staff for most commonly found SEND on a regular basis.


What teaching strategies does the school use for children with learning difficulties, including autistic spectrum disorder, hearing impairment, visual impairment, speech and language difficulties?

 All children will have a provision profile written for them. A sample is provided here

 What additional staffing does the school provide from its own budget for children with SEND?

  • SENCO leading and managing SEN provision managing assessments, provision and intervention. 
  • Assistant SENCO to implement the provision for students with additional needs.
  • 4 highly trained Tas. 
  • In addition:-

Specialist intervention staff who support literacy & numeracy skills

  • We buy in Speech and Language staff from the LEA.
  • We use ASD mentors for ASD students.
  • We provide inhouse cognitive testing to assist with tailored support in literacy and numeracy lessons, which can lead to access arrangements in formal exams and assessments.


What specific intervention programmes does the school offer to children with SEND and are these delivered on a one to one basis or in small groups?

We tailor make our support strategies to meet the needs of our students; these can include small group support session, 1 to 1 and the Oak Class provision.

 What resources and equipment does the school provide for children with SEND?

 A fully resourced and large SEND area.

  • Intervention rooms.
  • Lunch club for SEND and vulnerable children. 
  • ICT suite.
  • Dyslexia overlays and specialist exercise books.
  • Laptops for those SEND students who need them to use in class.
  • Additional Transition Afternoons for SEND and vulnerable children transferring from primary school to Oakbank.

Resources for physical disabilities including a Physiotherapy Unit

The school is fully accessible.


What special arrangements can be made for my child when taking examinations?

 Where appropriate, students with SEND will be tested for special arrangements for exams. These arrangements can include extra time, scribes, readers, prompters and enlarged papers.  A quiet exam room can be organised for students who experience anxiety.


My child’s progress

 How will the school monitor my child’s progress and how will I be involved in this?

 Your child will be assessed in every subject termly. You will then receive a progress report termly and a full report once a year. 


When my child’s progress is being reviewed, how will new targets be set and how will I be involved?

 Targets will be based on all students Key Stage 2 data that predicts GCSE results at the end of Key Stage 4 .  The progress of SEND students will be reviewed termly by the SENCO.  If there is an issue with academic progress your child may be targeted for intervention to support them and you will be notified if this is the case.  Feel free to contact the SENCO at any time if you are concerned about progress in any subject.

 ln addition to the school’s normal reporting arrangements, what opportunities will there be for me to discuss my child’s progress with school staff? 

 There will be two parent’s evenings for Year 11 and the rest of the school will be part of 1 parent’s evening throughout the year.  Please feel free to make an appointment with the SENCO at any time should you wish to discuss progress. We have an ‘Open door’ policy. Please contact SEN@Oakbank.anthemtrust.uk

What arrangements does the school have for regular home to school contact? 

Staff are happy to receive emails or phone calls from parents and encourage as much contact with home as possible.  Please feel free to make an appointment with the SENCO should you wish to discuss any matter relating to SEND or additional needs. Please contact SEN@Oakbank.education

 How can I help support my child’s learning?

  • Ensure regular reading sessions at home.  Reading regularly is one of the key features of a successful student. We recommend 30 minutes per evening with the use of guided reading questions at the end of each reading session.
  • Ensure students have a quiet place to do homework.  Make sure homework is done.
  • Check your child’s class charts and if you feel they are not completing their homework then let us know.
  • Ensure your child attends every day.  Do not let them stay at home for minor reasons.  Seek help from us if you feel your child is avoiding school for some reason.
  • Support the school with our decisions.  We must show a unified front.
  • Stay in regular contact with tutors, subject teachers and the SENCO where appropriate.

Does the school offer any help for parents / carers to enable them to support their child’s learning, e.g. training or learning events?

 We will run parental workshops to help you with issues such as CAT data, and behaviour management techniques. 

 How will my child’s views be sought about the help they are getting and the progress they are making?

 We regularly audit student views about school.  Regular feedback in subject areas, that they are required to respond to, will ensure they know where they are and what they need to do to move forward. We ask that, where appropriate, if you meet with staff in school, students also attend, so that they can be involved in any conversations about progress. For students with an EHCP, views are sought in advance of the annual review and students and parents are now at the centre of the planning for progress process.

 What accredited and non-accredited courses do you offer for young people with SEND?

We have a wide range of additional clubs and programmes:

  • Duke of Edinburgh
  • Break and Lunch time clubs in the library
  • Eco club 

 How does the school assess the overall effectiveness of its SEND provision and how can parents / carers and young people take part in this evaluation?

Oakbank is subject to OFSTED and Department of Education inspections.  The overall effectiveness of SEND provision is reported on by these bodies.  A SEND Self-evaluation is done by the SENCO and reported to the Principal. This then feeds into a development plan which is regularly used to constantly improve services to students.  Parents can comment on their experience to the Principal at any time and these can be used as a tool for self-improvement. Parents can also comment on the OFSTED Parent View website as to the overall effectiveness of the school.

What support is available to promote the emotional and social development of children with SEND?

  • We run additional transition afternoons for students with SEND and anxiety about transition before the main transition day in July. 
    • We also run various groups for students to promote emotional and social development. These Social Skills groups, Self-Management programmes as well as one to one sessions for students where emotional and social difficulties are a barrier to learning. Tutors and Heads of Year also lead strong pastoral care for students to promote social and emotional well-being.  There are PHSE lessons every week along with Religious Education that are differentiated for students with SEND. 
    • We encourage students with SEND to apply for positions of responsibility such as student leadership positions. 
    • SEND students are encouraged to attend school residential and trips to build confidence.


 What support does the school put in place for children who find it difficult to conform to normal​ behavioural expectations and how do you support children to avoid exclusion?

 At Oakbank, we have the same expectations for behaviour for students with SEND as those students who do not have SEND.  However, we do understand that sometimes students with SEND will need a more individual approach to “getting it right”.  Student behaviour is monitored closely.  If staff or parents are concerned that behaviour has become a barrier to learning then we have numerous small group and one to one programmes available to tackle these issues.  In some cases, we find that low literacy levels can sometimes affect behaviour.  We tackle the root causes of behaviour challenges as well as the behaviour itself.  If an SEND child is at risk of exclusion we will call an emergency annual review or start a supportive pastoral programme to ensure we avoid exclusion at all costs.  

What medical support is available in the school for children with SEND? 

We will discuss any medical issues on a case by case basis and ensure that we have the expertise and training to support that child.  There is a first aid room should a child fall ill in the day and, if we feel it appropriate, we will call parents to advise them of any concerns.   

How does the school manage the administration of medicines?  

  • Students are allowed to keep a small quantity of basic pain relief medicine with them with parental permission. However, if parents would prefer the office to keep the student’s medication safe then the following process is followed:
  • The parent/carer will complete a form titled: Record of medication administered to child. This is available from the school office.
  • This form is kept with the medication, in the student’s file, in a locked filing cabinet in the office.
  • The student will then come to Reception to take their medicine and sign the form to confirm the quantity and type taken.
  • Office staff will then copy the signed form for the student to take home as proof of intake. 

 How does the school provide help with personal care where this is needed, e.g. help with toileting, eating etc.?

 The help required for personal care is assessed on a case-by-case basis after discussion with the student, their family and other professionals as necessary and support put in place where it is needed. 

Specialist services and expertise available at or accessed by the school

What SEND support services does the school use, e.g. Specialist support teachers, educational psychologists, teachers for hearing impairment and visual impairment, ASD advisory teachers, behaviour support teachers etc ?

For the academic year of 2020/21 we have employed an in-house specialist who is able to provide educational testing and guide the process of identifying and supporting students with additional needs. This means that there is always access to a qualified educational tester on site. We envisage that this will greatly improve specialist information, reduce waiting times to access support before we approach specialist support from the following bodies.  

 We buy in the following expertise from the three local authorities our students come from:-

  • Educational Psychologist
  • Speech and Language Team 
  • ASD Mentors and advisory service
  • Education Welfare Officer
  • Occupational Therapy Team 
  • Visual Impairment Team 
  • Lexia Team (Dyslexia) 

 What should I do if I think my child needs support from one of these services?

Please feel free to contact the SENCO if you feel your child needs support from one of these services.  The SENCO is always happy to discuss support packages for students with SEND. Please contact SEN@oakbank.anthemtrust.uk 

How are speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy services provided?

 If these services are required by students, we have to buy in this support as part of a package for the child.  This is usually linked to the requirements of the child’s Statement of Educational Needs (now EHCP).  These professionals are sometimes involved in the diagnosis of special educational needs.  These professionals are not permanent members of staff at Oakbank and we have to book appointments and agree times for visits well in advance.

 What should I do if I think my child needs to be seen by a speech and language therapist, occupational therapist or physiotherapist?

 Please do feel free to discuss this with the SENCO at Oakbank. Please contact SEN@oakbank.anthemtrust.uk

What arrangements does the school have for liaison with Children’s Social Care services?

Our Designated Safeguarding People(DSP),  are lead by Mr R. Bertrand and Mrs W Grobler. They can be reached at DSP@oakbank.anthemtrust.uk

Training of school staff in SEND

 What SEND training is provided for teachers in your school?

  • There are regular twilight training sessions for staff on SEND.  This training ranges from training on the individual needs of our students, to differentiation in the classroom, to the effective use of TAs in the classroom. 
  • We also have weekly staff briefings to train staff on strategies to help support students in the classroom. 
  • We have utilised the lockdown period to enhance or learning support team’s knowledge of using CAT data to identify and support students proactively


What SEND training is provided for teaching assistants and other staff in your school?

Teaching Assistants are invited to all whole staff trainings and regularly help to run them.  Training is a standing item agenda on SEND team meetings. We meet as a SEND team fortnightly to ensure staff are up to date with the latest strategies and information to support SEND in the classroom

Do teachers have any specific qualifications in SEND?

The SENCO has achieved the specialist SENCO award qualification as required by law. She is a highly qualified teacher with knowledge and expertise in supporting pupils with SEND.

Our SENCo has the Post Graduate Certificate in Special Education Co-ordination awarded by Middlesex University; The Certificate in Competence in Education Testing from the British Psychology Society and the Access Arrangement Certification from Middlesex University. She is currently undertaking the Practice Assessors Award in Dyslexia from Dyslexia Action.


Activities outside the classroom including school trips

 How do you ensure children with SEND can be included in out of school activities and trips?

 Our equality of opportunity policy ensures that all students have access to out of school activities and trips. In most cases, we will call parents if we feel that a slip has not been returned or if particular SEND students or their parents/carers are not aware that the trip is running.

 How do you involve parents / carers in planning the support required for their child to access activities and trips?

We ensure we run information evening for residential trips, inviting parents to attend.

Where closer planning is required, please do feel free to make an appointment with the SENCO 

Accessibility of the school environment

 How accessible is the building for children with mobility difficulties / wheelchair users? 

Oakbank School is fully accessible to children with mobility difficulties/wheelchair users.

 Have adaptations / improvements been made to the auditory and visual environment? 

We make full adaptations to teaching and learning resources for students with visual impairments. 


Are there accessible changing and toilet facilities?

There are accessible changing and toilet facilities.

How do you ensure that all the school’s facilities can be accessed by children with SEND?

We rely on parents/carers to advise us of student requirements in advance.  We ensure we strive to meet these requirements before the students start with us.

 How does the school communicate with parents / carers who have a disability?

This will be decided based upon the individual needs of our parents/carers.  It can range from email telephone, face to face meetings or letters.

 How does the school communicate with parents / carers whose first language is not English?

We can provide communication in some languages and differentiate the curriculum for new learners to English. 

Preparing my child to join the school or to transfer to a new school or the next stage of education and life

 What preparation will there be for both the school and my child before he or she joins the school?

In the academic year of 2020 we faced significant challenges to supporting students with additional needs in their transition to Oakbank.

  • The SENCo contacted all students who had been identified by primary schools as needing support. The SENCo introduced the student’s key worker.
  • The Keyworkers have made contact with parents. 
  • The Keyworker will write an initial provision profile and shared with the parent.

The lead transition teacher also prepared virtual tours of the school and set up ‘Class Dojo’ to ensure that students felt part of the Oakbank community prior to joining the school. Various videos and forms were sent to out new parents and students.

 How will my child be prepared to move on to the next stage within school, e.g. class or key stage? 

 We do a range of small group and whole class sessions on the transition process.  These sessions cover a range of topics from “Worries” to “Organisation” as well as celebrating the process of “moving on” We understand this is a big step for children and realise that there are different responses to this from excitement to anxiety.  Please feel free to discuss any concerns with a member of staff or with the SENCO.

 How will my child be prepared to move on to his or her next school?

Through the use of our knowledge of your child, it is quite possible that the transition to the next school will have started in Year 9 when students are choosing their option subjects. We aim to support students in making good choices, based on their academic strengths and onward career/educational goals. Planning for students with additional needs is crucial to achieving success.

If your child has an EHCP, a provision profile or access arrangements we will have sent this information to your upcoming institution. We have been clear to specifically outline what support is needed for your child to be successful. This could be making contact with the key worker for your child before they leave Oakbank, outline what will work best for you child and consulting with you and your child to see what other accommodations might be needed. Again, planning is crucial to achieving success!

 How will you support a new school to prepare for my child?

  • Personalised transition programs will be put in place for students transferring to college or another school.
  • Make contact with the learning support department before applying to see if they can accommodate your child’s needs. Better to be honest and ask for support before, than being surprised when the institution cannot or will not put provisions in place.
  • Go and visit the institution and get a feel for the place. If your child does not like the look of it, no matter how wonderful it may be, you will face an uphill battle 
  • Go with a list of things that you need to be put in place and get it in writing that they can support your child. Ask for more and be prepared to compromise on things that are not that important.

 What information will be provided to my child’s new school?

The information provided to a new school will include full details of a child’s SEND.

 How will the school prepare my child for the transition to further education or employment?

  • Personalised transition and preparation programs will be put in place to prepare a child for transition to further education of employment.
  • Work experience.
  • Careers Programme across all year groups. 
  • Assemblies/Tutor programme/PHSE programme.

Who would be my first point of contact if I want to discuss something about my child or if I am worried?  

 Please contact the following members of staff to discuss any matter:-

  • Form Tutor
  • Head of Year
  • SENCO: Mrs SJ Smith
  • Assistant SENCO: Mrs S Thompson
  • Head of Inclusion: Mrs W Grobler


Does the school offer any specific support for parents / carers and families (such as Family Support Workers?)

Specific support is provided where this is highlighted as a need. The school currently works with Family Support Workers involved in a small number of families. 

What arrangements does the school have for signposting parents / carers to external agencies which can offer support, such as voluntary agencies?

 The SENCO can signpost external agencies where appropriate.

What arrangements does the school have for feedback from parents, including compliments and complaints?

The school has an open door policy and parents are encouraged to communicate any concerns, to the form tutor in the first instance. Please contact the following members of staff to discuss any matter:-

  • Form Tutor
  • Head of Year
  • SENCO: SJ Smith
  • Head of Inclusion: Mrs W Grobler


Page Downloads Date  
Special Educational Needs Policy 28th May 2020 Download