At Hanford we believe that having a learning difference should not be a barrier to achievement. We aim to offer girls timely, appropriate and specialist support, whilst also ensuring that their needs are catered for within the mainstream classroom. Our approach is sensitive, inclusive and relies upon active communication with all staff members.
The Learning Support department is staffed by specialist teachers who are qualified in the assessment and teaching of specific learning difficulties. Tailored support may take the form of a teacher working alongside a girl within her lesson to help organise her work, monitor understanding and provide instant feedback. Alternatively, girls may receive individualised or small group support following spelling, reading and maths catch-up programmes. We promote enjoyable ‘over-learning’ through games, puzzles and computer activities and seek multi-sensory ways to make learning active and memorable. If a child is struggling in a particular area, we teach her to use her strengths to help herself – such as using a strong visual memory to interpret written notes into visually memorable mind maps, pictures and timelines. Other girls might pre-learn scientific Key Words to give them the vocabulary needed to participate in class discussions. As girls progress through the school, many are supported with their study skills, memory and organisational techniques.
Hanford is a small, cohesive community and the regular sharing of information is key to our success. A girl with dyspraxic tendencies will not only undertake exercises within the learning support department but will be carefully monitored by the PE, Music, Artwork and Riding departments in the development of her coordination skills.
In September each year, the whole school takes standardised tests in English and Maths as well as cognitive assessments later in the year. The results from these tests are used alongside teacher feedback to measure attainment, progress and potential. Girls identified as needing additional support may require further specialist assessment in order to gain a complete understanding of their profile, or may simply require a short series of booster lessons. Any girls who are placed on our Special Educational Needs Register will have an Individual Education Plan drawn up, which gives details of their needs, guidance for teaching staff, together with details of their learning targets.
The department also works closely with other professionals with expertise in the area of specific learning difficulties. We have a speech and language therapist who works in school on a weekly basis and we regularly take advice from educational psychologists and optometrists who have conducted assessments on the girls.