How can schools best support students with SEND?

We asked the experts how any school can best support students with special educational needs and disabilities

“At Bredon School we know that a pupil’s learning journey is just as important as the destination. Exam results and academic success are just one part of a child’s journey and we look at what each child is good at in order to grow their self-esteem and confidence. This means we find ways to celebrate individual successes in whatever form they may take. Once this solid, positive foundation has been established, our quality-first teaching means academic successes will follow.”

Nick Oldham, headmaster, Bredon School


“When offering provision to support students with SEND, consider whole school adaptations and approaches. Integrating strategies, as common practice, that are used to support students with challenges such as processing speed, working memory, executive functioning, social communication and anxiety, will not negatively impact on neurotypical students’ progress, and in many cases will provide them with additional beneficial skills. While this won’t negate the need for additional individualised interventions, a whole-school SEND-friendly approach to teaching will support staff in further developing their knowledge and skills and instill a truly inclusive approach to education for all.”

Tanya Moran, headteacher, Abingdon House School


“Get to know the student and understand his or her strengths, preferences and interests – this is key to building positive, trusting relationships and will enable the support and learning environment to be tailored to meet their personal, academic and pastoral needs. Place the child at the centre of all support plans. Consistency, continuity and stability are crucial so make sure the support teams – staff, therapists, parents and carers – share a common approach and communicate effectively. Use positive reinforcement. Bespoke reward schemes and reminders of good behaviour can work well whilst negative behaviours can be managed using meaningful consequences.”

Ciaran Walsh, executive headteacher, Hillingdon Manor School


“It is important that each child with SEND is seen as an individual with their own unique abilities and needs. Accurate identification of needs is essential so appropriate support can be provided. However, many children in care will also have ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) and experienced trauma and attachment issues, which impact the developing brain. They may behave quite differently from their peers showing difficulties with self-regulation, flipping into survival mode when they feel threatened and needing much adult reassurance. Relationships with adults are vital for their recovery and independent schools are well placed to meet these relational needs.”

Sheila Mulvenney, director, Attuned Education
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