All Different, All Equal: Kenton School's Exceptional Send Support

Issue 100

Kenton School, a secondary and sixth form school within Northern Leaders Trust, upholds an inclusive ethos encapsulated by its motto of 'All Different, All Equal'. Providing exceptional Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) support, the department is committed to ensuring that every student receives the highest quality education possible.

With 13% of Kenton School’s population identified as SEND students, personalised support is provided. This includes Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP) – a specialised support strategy for those with significant and long-term special educational needs.

The SEND Department provides their support through four broad areas of need:

Communication and Interaction – includes students on the ASD spectrum – commonly Asperger’s syndrome and autism – who are likely to have difficulties with social interaction.

Cognition and Learning Social – includes students with dyslexia, dyscalculia and/or dyspraxia.

Social, Emotional or Mental Health – includes students who have mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, PTSD etc.

Sensory/Physical – includes students with sensory issues and/or physical disabilities.

The majority of SEND students require support for cognition and learning. For instance, Lily, a Year 10 student with dyslexia, initially found it difficult to read from the board, due to the PowerPoint background colour. Additionally, handouts provided in lessons had small, closetogether text, which Lily found hard to read. Tailored strategies were implemented through her EHCP, including the provision of pink backgrounds on PowerPoint presentations, larger font sizes and increased spacing between text on handouts. Lily praised the strategies, saying that ‘I became more confident in lessons, because I could easily read presentations and handouts.’

Students requiring support with communication and interaction often face challenges with language, communication and imagination, which can affect their interpersonal relationships.

Kenton School’s SEND department specialises in effectively integrating students into mainstream education. This was highlighted by Ofsted in the school’s recent report, which states: ‘Staff are adept at meeting the needs of pupils with SEND. Leaders provide valuable information about what works for individual pupils, and what does not. Teachers use this to help pupils with SEND to achieve well. Pupils who attend the specially resourced provisions benefit from the support that they receive.’ (Ofsted Report, 2022.)

Additionally, the unwavering commitment of the SEND department staff has been recognised nationally through the Pearson National Teaching Awards in 2021, when manager of the school’s Communication Disorder Additionally Resourced Centre, Rachel Elliott-Downing, won the silver award for Excellence in Special Needs Education.

Rachel led Kenton School’s involvement with the Young Enterprise Development Programme, which has broadened the horizons of many Kenton students by exposing them to situations that develop their social skills, teamwork and self-confidence. Kenton School has received regional acclaim for this programme and prepares SEND students for life in and after school, having been named ‘best stall’, ‘best company’ and ‘best financial model’ in recent years.

Kenton School is the largest school in Newcastle, which can pose a challenge for students that require social, emotional or mental health support. EHCP plans are tailored to accommodate a students’ challenges – for example, Year 11 student Chloe’s EHCP informs the teachers of where to sit her in lessons, asks teachers not to ‘cold call’ her during lessons and enrolled her in intervention sessions called Talkabout, which has equipped her with the skills to interact with her peers and communicate her needs

Similarly, ML, a Year 8 student with a hearing impairment has an EHCP with strategies such as requests for teachers to look at him when they talk and sit him where he can hear them. Additionally, the SEND support team keeps spare batteries for when his hearing aid runs out of charge.

Victoria Bywater, the school’s Head of Learning Support and SEN coordinator, is “particularly proud of the dedicated staff in our department, and the collective synergy of their individual skills that contribute to supporting our most vulnerable pupils. Our team is a close-knit, cohesive unit and each member brings a unique set of skills which collectively enhance the support we offer.

From specialised knowledge in speech and language therapy to expertise in communication and interaction, our staff members collaborate seamlessly to address the diverse needs of our students.”

Kenton School’s high-quality SEND support ensures that every student’s needs are met. With dedicated staff and tailored strategies, students can flourish academically and socially, preparing them for life beyond school.

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