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Banff Academy’s ASL department is a busy place, offering support to about 300 young people who have an identified additional support need.
ASNs present a barrier to learning to it’s our job to be aware of difference and diversity and develop teaching strategies to support and enable.
Happily, the ASL department is not in this alone – support is the responsibility of all teachers. This kind of support is called universal support and it depends on a caring and inclusive environment which takes account of individual needs. In ASL, we gather information about the learning needs of individual children and pass this on to subject specialists in various ways:
· Pupil Profiles (55 in last year’s S1) (strengths, needs, strategies which work)
· Case conferences (where staff meet and share strategies or teaching approaches which are helpful)
· IEPs, for those pupils whose curriculum is individualised in some way
· Pupil Support Review Meetings – information from parents, Guidance,
· Advice gleaned for other specialists – vision support, health professionals, educational psychologists etc
The second tier of support is called targeted support and this is delivered to the pupils whose ASNs might include specific learning difficulties (like dyslexia, for instance, or ADHD), disability, or the pupils who are HAPs - the highly able pupils – or pupils who have English as an additional language or Looked After Children. Targeted support is tailored to individual circumstances and might involve ASL teachers and specialists from out with Banff Academy and might also be co-ordinated by Guidance colleagues through multi-agency meetings
Banff Academy has a third tier of support called Enhanced Provision where pupils with complex needs are taught. In Banff Academy’s Enhanced Provision, we have about 25 pupils but most of these youngsters have a blended curriculum and participate in as many mainstream experiences as possible. This inclusive approach has lots of benefits:
· It is the best way to reduce stigma,
· encourages tolerance and awareness of diversity,
· enhances life skills, relationship skills, community awareness
· increases confidence, increases expectations, increases adaptability,
· allows us to share resources
As long as the pupils need support, our role is to assess what’s needed and how we can provide it. In fact, from S1 onwards, we are preparing the pupils for their national qualifications because if they need Additional Arrangements in their exams, it is ASL’s job to co-ordinate this. We do this by gathering assessment evidence from mainstream colleagues who trial various supports to establish what additional arrangements are going to allow the young people to show their true ability in exams. For those with specific learning difficulties, this might be extra time, ICT support or separate accommodation.
Of course, the most important group of people that we work with are the parents who are our key partners in ensuring the success of our boys and girls; and the more closely we work together –parents, the school, partner agencies like SW and Health – the more effective we can be in supporting the young people and their future chances.