It is very important that we have a copy of any diagnostic report about a student’s learning difficulties on file at school. Individually tailored strategies will be recommended to assist an individual student and ensure Inclusive learning can take place. The SENCO, Mrs Collier, liaises with subject teachers to ensure they are aware of students in their classes who have been diagnosed with Specific Learning Disorders.
Students with Learning Disorders can also bring along their own digital device to use in the classroom. This often eases learning difficulties and enables the learning to be more individualised. Loan devices are available for those who experience a sudden, short-term injury/illness, for whom technology would be assistive.
In junior classes with lower literacy skills, the class sizes are kept small and a Teacher Aide is placed in several of their subject classes, to enable extra one-to-one assistance. These classes receive extra English tuition each week to try to remediate their language weaknesses. A further remediation programme of weekly one-to-one literacy tuition or Working Memory Training, with the assistance of trained Teacher Aides is offered via the Literacy Department, for those with the greatest need.
For students with behavioural learning difficulties, extra support may include regular monitoring, weekly or daily reports, more frequent learning breaks, mentors, medication supervision, counselling or support from the Resource Teachers of Learning and Behaviour (RTLB). The SENCO will work closely with the student’s Dean to provide a network of support, and may also make a referral to the RTLB service. For students with a physical, hearing or sight difference, awareness by the teacher is crucial and extra support may be in the form of technology/tools (eg hearing aids, microphones, wheelchairs, glasses), or in the form of targeted classroom assistance (a ‘signing’ Teacher Aide, a Care Assistant). For students suffering anxiety or depressive illnesses, or a long term chronic illness that has required absence, support may include rest breaks, mentors, and/or counselling (either with the school Counsellor or an outside agency).
For senior students participating in NCEA assessments, an application for Special Assessment Conditions (SAC) will occur if the student meets the criteria. If the application is successful, these students may be able to use a Reader and/or Writer or Computer to assist with assessments (internal and external examinations), or they may be granted rest breaks or a separate room to alleviate any anxieties/focus difficulties. SAC are entirely dependent on the strict conditions set by NZQA once they have assessed the evidence presented. The work is entirely the student’s own work if using a Writer as all responses are dictated word for word by the student, but it can enable them to produce work which better reflects their reasoning ability.
Sometimes a student may have an undiagnosed learning condition, and this may be queried by either caregivers or teachers, or other professionals working with students. In this case, a referral to an outside agency may need to be done, depending on the difficulties being presented (eg Developmental Coordination Disorder, Depression, Autism Spectrum Disorder, ODD, ADHD all require referrals to professionals such as an Occupational Therapist or Psychologist. The SENCO will make these referrals and involve whanau in this process. For difficulties which present solely as a learning disorder (eg Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Working Memory Deficit) we may be able to carry out the necessary diagnostic screening and assessment at school, following which we will communicate the results to whanau. This gathered evidence can be used for a subsequent SAC application, if the testing shows it would help the student.