Director of Pupil Progress: Mrs Charlotte Jones
The Learning Skills (LS) Department is an integral part of Downe House that focuses on individual progress. Its aim is to enable each girl to learn in a way that suits her unique profile, and to promote those skills for learning that will underpin consistent progress across the subject range for the wider school community.
There is no one “right” way of thinking, learning, and behaving, and differences at Downe are embraced and supported. Ensuring all neurodiverse pupils with SpLD’s such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, ASD, ADHD and often other co-occurring challenges are supported as an integral part of life at Downe. The team is always looking for new ways to adapt and support and further their training to better support the girls.
The department have dedicated, specialist teachers and assessors. Additionally, there is an accomplished and successful multilingual learner’s department supporting English as an Additional Language. One-to-one or small group support is offered which is added to the girls bespoke timetable. Lessons are meaningful, purposeful, and positive learning occurs through multi-sensory means, including utilising assistive technology to support all the learners executive function skills.
The Academic Staff liaise closely with the LS and EAL department and through observations, marking and feedback and specialist testing, pupils’ specific needs are identified and fully supported in their academic lives, as well as looking beyond school to ensure they feel equipped with strategies to support them in the future and afar.
The LS and EAL department contribute greatly to the pastoral side of the pupils’ lives with lessons often being a safe place for pupils to open up and talk about mental health. Their wellbeing is paramount and thus there is a fantastic safeguarding team and professionals to support the pupil’s needs and offer wrap around care.
The department are privileged to holistically support so many neurodiverse young women in an environment where they have opportunities to find out who they are and the incredible things they are capable of.
A pupil with ongoing support will be taught an individual lesson tailored to her specific needs, once or twice a week; this will be timetabled during the school day, since, except in exceptional circumstances, it is departmental policy not to remove pupils from lessons. All pupils are taught in a multi-sensory, structured and cumulative way and, if appropriate, assistive technology and appropriate adjustments for examinations may be arranged. The LS Department adheres to the principles of Quality First Teaching, building in high expectations for all pupils and embracing a graduated approach of assess, plan, do and review.
All programmes have an agreed set of termly targets which are reviewed regularly, often as part of an individual educational plan to ensure pupil progress. Some pupils on the database who are not deemed to need regular one-to-one support can have ‘open door’ access to a LS teacher, on a less regular basis. Others on the database need little contact with the Department, but the fact that their SpLD is noted on the database means that their progress is regularly monitored by the Department and subject staff. The Head of LS is an assessor of students with SpLDs and has strong collaborative links with external SEN professionals, such as Educational Psychologists and Speech and Language therapists. All the LS teachers aim to respond flexibly and in co-operation with the wishes of the pupils and their parents.
For more information, please contact Mrs Charlotte Jones.
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