SEN Information Report 2023
School Name: Birch Wood School
Policy owner: Rosalind Hopkins
Review Date: September 2023
Next Review Date: September 2024
The aim of this information report is to explain how we implement our SEN policy. We want to show you how SEND support works in our school.
If you want to know more about our arrangements for SEND, read our SEN policy which you can find on our website here – SEN Policy
If there are any terms we’ve used in this information report that you’re unsure of, you can look them up in the Glossary at the end of the report.
Birch Wood School’s SEN Information Report will be updated annually and monitored continually to reflect changes and plans within the school. The report states the current provision within the school, which includes the sites of Grange Drive, Birch Wood Vale, Ashton House and Birch Wood Post 16 College.
1. What is the provision for students at Birch Wood School and how is it evaluated?
Our provision is based on a strong vision that:
An education at Birch Wood School ENABLES!
- E– Empowering students for independent lives.
- N– Nurture
- A– Aspire and Achieve
- B– Belonging
- L– Love of learning grows
- E– Engage and Interact
- S– Safe and happy
We aim to:
- Promote success by emphasising abilities, not disabilities.
- Create a caring, stimulating, challenging environment, free from inhibiting pressures and restrictions, where students can grow in confidence and self-esteem.
- Value the contribution of parents, governors, the community and other agencies by involving them whenever possible in the life and work of the school.
- Provide joined up services under one roof.
- Ensure that every pupil reaches their potential in all aspects of education.
- Promote an atmosphere of openness, personal dignity and worth, tolerance and respect for others, regardless of disability, race, colour, creed, gender or age, promoting British values.
- Encourage positive behaviour and attitudes.
- Provide a broad, balanced, well-resourced curriculum.
- Provide a wide range of relevant and motivating experiences.
- Recognise achievements throughout the school, by the use of appropriate rewards.
- Support the professional development of all staff.
- Develop and work within clear policies and guidelines.
- Encourage independence and involve students in making informed choices.
- Equip students to use their leisure time effectively.
- Integrate students with their peers and the local community including learning in a variety of situations and inclusion with mainstream schools.
- To be committed to collaboration and partnership working to improve teaching and learning by working with colleagues in Leicestershire and beyond.
We have a strong commitment to:
- Ensuring that e-safeguarding is paramount in keeping all members of the school community safe
- Provide all staff with training and development opportunities to enable effective practice
Our key purpose is the construction, delivery and constant improvement of quality learning experiences appropriate to the needs of all our students.
Further details of all areas of our school curriculum and assessment processes can be seen on our website. School staff details are on the website, as are the school contact details.
Staffing levels are enhanced so that students are usually taught in small class sizes with a teacher and at least one senior teaching assistant at Grange Drive and an appropriate number of additional learning support assistants to meet the needs of the class group. Classes may also have a personal care assistant or midday supervisor, where appropriate. Within the Autism provision, there is a high staffing ratio to support the needs of the class group.
The school receives advice from a range of health professionals in order to meet the needs of the students as assessed by the appropriate professionals. We also work closely with our health and social care colleagues to implement the SEN Code of Practice.
We have a school improvement plan and evaluate this throughout the year. There are link governors for all aspects of the plan and this supports the evaluation of our progress towards any aims. We also have a school validation each year to highlight progress and achievements.
2. Which categories of SEN does the school provide for?
Birch Wood School is a maintained day special school for children aged 4-19 years. Children will be provided with an appropriately paced and differentiated curriculum.
Within each site of Birch Wood School – the pupil’s identified needs will be complex and significant in the areas of Cognition and Learning, Communication and Interaction (autism/or speech and language difficulties), Physical and/or Sensory and Social, Emotional and Mental Health as described in the SEN Code of Practice. Birch Wood School’s Autism provision is integrated throughout Birch Wood School and provides personalised provision designed to support students in reaching their full potential in a safe and nurturing setting.
More detail on our commitment to high quality educational provision for all our children is detailed in our Quality of Education Handbook.
3. Which staff will support my child, and what training have they had?
Birch Wood School is highly committed to the ongoing development of staff. The Senior Leadership Team (SLT) track all staff development ensuring it is up to date and statutory duties are met.
All staff have clear job descriptions which detail the required qualifications for each post in school. All staff have a core training programme related to their work. Training is specifically related to the needs of children in our school and also as required by statutory guidance.
Other staff continue to gain a range of certificates to mark their commitment to courses such as Senior Teaching Assistant, Paediatric First Aid and Makaton.
We continue to commit to having qualified trainers in school for courses such as Makaton and Moving and Handling. We have a skilled team who work collaboratively to lead Behaviour and Safety. Safeguarding and PREVENT training are provided by our Designated Safeguarding Lead, and our SLT, all of whom area Deputy Designated Safeguarding Leads.
We always look for opportunities to bring highly regarded professionals in to the school and network with other special schools. Birch Wood School works closely with the 6 Leicestershire special schools. The Executive Head Teacher meets half termly with the Leicestershire Special School Heads.
All of our teachers have undertaken specialist further professional development. This includes autism specific training, Makaton, AAC device training, Training in Hearing and Visual Impairments, and training in First Aid.
Our Learning Support Assistants have a range of expertise – including the areas of Physiotherapy, Sensory diet, Manual handling, Tube Feeding, Makaton, and Autism. This is not an exhaustive list and ongoing professional development is key to ensuring staff of all grades remain updated and skilled. Training is highly individualised and made specific to the child’s needs, particularly if a child has an additional need e.g. respiratory care or an alternative feeding method.
Since 2022/23, our staff have completed a suite of qualifications including two who have completed the National Professional Qualification for Headship and one senior leader who is currently completing the National Professional Qualification for Executive Headship. Two senior leaders have completed the National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership, and five staff are currently completing it. One member of the senior leadership team has completed the Leading Teaching, with one teacher also completing it. Two teachers have completed the National Professional Qualification for Leading Teacher Development, and one teacher is currently completing it. One teacher is completing the National Professional Qualification for Early Years Leadership. This will further develop inclusive teaching approaches and ensure provision is well coordinated for young people with SEN and/or disabilities at Birch Wood School. It shows Birch Wood School’s passion to develop and empower staff. Key information on staff can be found on the website by visiting https://birchwoodschool.co.uk/key-people.
4. What are the school’s policies for the identification and assessment of students attending the school?
All students attending Birch Wood School will have an EHC Plan. There may be agreement with a Local Authority that a young person is placed pending the outcome of an assessment for an EHC Plan. Further information can be found within our Admissions Policy.
5. What are the arrangements for assessing and reviewing the progress of students at Birch Wood School?
There is an annual review for all young people with an EHCP where the progress towards outcomes are reviewed and new outcomes are set, focusing on the young person’s education, health and social care requirements. Birch Wood School has three curriculum pathways which are designed to meet the needs of a wide range of learners with an EHCP and ensures we have ‘ambition without limits’. Each curriculum pathway is assessed rigorously which is continually communicated with parents. We provide a bespoke approach to our student’s very individual needs and so movement between pathways is fluid. Aspects such as Mental Health and Wellbeing, Community Inclusion and Communication & Interaction are woven into the fabric of each pathway.
More specific information regarding our curriculum pathways can be found:
6. How is progress communicated at Birch Wood School?
There are parents evenings each term to hold a structured conversation to discuss targets for your child, progress within school and any general discussions that are needed between school and home. Progress is discussed at multiagency Annual Review meetings once a year. Home school communication takes place via email and progress is also shared via Kinteract. An Annual Review report will detail progress each year, as well as a progress report.
7. How will I be involved in decisions made about my child’s education?
We know that you’re the expert when it comes to your child’s needs and aspirations. So we want to make sure you have a full understanding of how we’re trying to meet your child’s needs, so that you can provide insight into what you think would work best for your child.
We also want to hear from you as much as possible so that we can build a better picture of how the SEN support we are providing is impacting your child outside of school. At Birch Wood School – parents are fully included in the process of working with their children/young adults.
- Initial visits to school
- Introductory meetings
- Communication via email for information exchanges and key messages
- Assessments and observations shared via Kinteract
- Parent/Carer and teacher meetings including update from professionals
- Annual Review meeting and report
- Coffee mornings
- Parental Representation on Governing Body
- Parent involvement in changes in school through informal and formal consultations
8. How will my child be involved in decisions made about their education?
All children and young people in our school are treated with dignity and respect. There is full personalisation for the curriculum for each student so that they can access and experience success through-out their school life.
There is a Student Voice team at both Grange Drive and at Birch Wood Vale. Our Student Voice involves students to contribute and decide on aspects of school life relating to their needs. Students will also complete student surveys throughout the year to assess how they are feeling about their provision, so that Birch Wood School can adapt its practices.
The assessment and annual review process of EHC Plans includes the choices and views of students and families, and where appropriate, the young person will be encouraged to attend their annual review.
The curriculum is adapted so that is relevant and broad and helps children to become as functionally literate, numerate, communicative and as independent as possible in an environment that promotes positive learning experiences.
9. What is Birch Wood School’s approach to teaching students with Special Educational Needs?
Our Accessibility Plan details how our young people access Birch Wood School’s provision. The students are offered a curriculum that is varied and purposeful. It is personalised to meet the needs of the students across the school from EYFS to Post 16. The curriculum follows three pathways which focus on the student’s needs, as well as their knowledge and understanding of concepts. A total communication environment is implemented across the school, within which all young people are able to fully develop their communication potential; Teachers and support staff have access to continuous programmes of training and work closely with together professional agencies to ensure that they are aware of the very latest educational practices
We aim to encourage young people to be as independent as possible, to prepare young people for life beyond school. Teachers are responsible for the progress and development of all the pupils in their class. High-quality teaching is our first step in responding to your child’s needs. We will make sure that your child has access to a broad and balanced curriculum in every year they are at our school. Young people work towards appropriate and relevant qualifications and accreditations, this can include working in partnership with our mainstream colleagues. Young people could have a personalised timetables to meet their highly individual needs as required. All teachers use assessment for learning to ensure challenge for all young people is at an appropriate level. The school uses high staffing ratio, individualised learning plans and personalised learning opportunities. We embrace a Total Communication Environment which allows our young people to develop their communication using the strategies that are most appropriate to them. To see our schools, please book a school tour by calling the office or by seeing the virtual tours, by clicking below:
10. How will equipment and facilities be provided to support students at Birch Wood?
Grange Drive is a purpose built building and is fully accessible for wheelchair users being on one level. At Grange Drive, we have:
- Immersion room
- Therapy room
- Hydrotherapy Pool
- Dark Room
- Soft Play
Birch Wood Vale School is a modern, well-resourced building on 2 floors with a wheelchair accessible lift. Birch Wood Vale School has also had outside development which includes an outdoor gym area, a sensory garden and a gardening area.
Ashton House is fully accessible and has enclosed play areas with gardening facilities. It has age appropriate play equipment and playgrounds. It has small class sizes with low arousal classrooms, including individual study booths.
Where appropriate, students can access the facilities from each site.
Our SEN policy details the wide range of provision for our children including the range of equipment and facilities for children with different needs. This policy can be found on our website and is reviewed annually.
All parents and families are welcome to visit the school prior to their child or young person attending the school by liaising with our Family School Link Worker.
11. How does the governing body involve others – including health, social services, local authority services and voluntary organisations, in meeting the needs of students at Birch Wood and in supporting their families?
The governing body are aware of the wide range of staff working together within the school to support the children, young people and their families. Some staff are employed directly by the school, others have different lines of management as can be seen below. There is a consistent monitoring of practice to ensure that children and family’s needs are met through meetings and reports.
Classroom staff are employed directly by the school. This includes teachers, senior teaching assistants, learning support assistants, personal care assistants and lunchtime supervisors. Administrative staff are also school employees. The school employs its own Health and Wellbeing Officers and Family School Link Worker
Other professionals work for a range of agencies – some are based within the school, others have office bases elsewhere and work in school on particular days or as necessary. Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, CAMHS LD team and Physiotherapists are employees of Leicestershire Community Health Trust. All these professionals work within school training staff, advising staff, working with children and young people who are on their caseload.
We work closely with external professionals and experts, where appropriate, to support your child. This may include working closely with GPs or paediatricians, Social services and other LA-provided support services. Transport to school is organised by the Local Authority, not by the school. Transport staff are employed by the transport companies. If families have a query relating to these areas it is best to contact the professionals directly. This ensures that any message/queries/concerns from families are dealt with in the most efficient way.
12. How will children be included in activities outside the school curriculum including class trips?
At Birch Wood School every child will have the opportunity to access trips and visits. Provision is again highly differentiated and if for example an activity is not deemed appropriate an alternative activity will be organised. Birch Wood School takes great pride in its educational trips and visits offer, including residentials and each child will be provided with an opportunity to attend a residential visit during their time at Birch Wood School.
No child is ever excluded from activities at Birch Wood.
13. What support is there for my child’s overall well-being?
We have a robust Safeguarding policy and protocol in place. Pupil’s health and well-being is paramount. Intimate care is conducted discreetly and with dignity; fostering independence whenever possible. Birch Wood School will provide close communication with parents and carers to monitor student’s overall wellbeing and provide additional support. Within classrooms, students will have opportunities to share their wellbeing and emotions, leading to skilled staff supporting the young person. Students are also able to share their overall wellbeing via our student surveys.
We work closely with medical practitioners if your child has a health need and will discuss with you a Health Care Plan and administration of prescribed medication. We also work closely with the Children’s Services Disabilities Team.
Within school we have staff trained in Emotional Literacy Support, Music Therapy and we have Health and Wellbeing Officers who will provide additional support and intervention. Birch Wood School is supported by an Educational Psychologist, Speech and Language Therapist and an Occupational Therapist who liaise with the Senior Leadership Team and teachers to best support our young people.
We also work closely with Children & Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) if a child needs that level of support.
14. What support will be available for my child as they transition between classes or settings or in preparing for adulthood?
All transitions are well planned for throughout school as students move from class to class and phase to phase. Parents/carers always have the opportunity to meet the new teacher and class staff.
Students are increasingly supported in planning for their transition from school to adult life. We work with the pupil to help them achieve their ambitions, which can include goals in higher education, employment, independent living and participation in society. Staff from Prospects and the Transition Team work with students in school to get to know them and to advise both students and parents/ carers on what is available after leaving Birch Wood.
We continue to have strong links with local provisions including the Homefield College, Brooksby Melton College and Sense College. Opportunities to visit the college campus are available for parents and students from Key Stage 4 onwards at Birch Wood.
15. What support is in place for looked-after and previously looked-after children with SEN?
Birch Wood School’s Designated Teacher, Claire Wood, will work with teachers to make sure that they understand how a looked-after or previously looked-after child’s circumstances and their SEN may interact, and what the implications are for teaching and learning.
Children who are looked-after or previously looked-after will be supported much in the same way as any other child who has SEND. However, looked-after pupils will also have a personal education plan (PEP). We will make sure that the PEP and any SEN support plans or EHC plans are consistent and complement one another.
16. What are the arrangements made by the governing body for dealing with complaints from parents/carers of students in relation to the provision made at Birch Wood?
The process for all complaints is available on the school website via our Complaints Policy.
17. What support is available for me and my family?
If you have questions about SEND, or are struggling to cope, please get in touch to let us know. We want to support you, your child and your family.
There is further detail on our website on our own school offer and this links to the Local Offer for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities and their families, which is found on the local authority website:
Our local special educational needs and disabilities information advice and support services (SENDIASS) organisations are found here:
National charities that offer information and support to families of children with SEND are:
Access arrangements – special arrangements to allow pupils with SEND to access assessments or exams
Annual review – an annual meeting to review the provision in a pupil’s EHC plan
Area of need – the 4 areas of need describe different types of needs a pupil with SEND can have. The 4 areas are communication and interaction; cognition and learning; physical and/or sensory; and social, emotional and mental health needs.
CAMHS – child and adolescent mental health services
EHC plan – an education, health and care plan is a legally-binding document that sets out a child’s needs and the provision that will be put in place to meet their needs.
Local offer – information provided by the local authority which explains what services and support are on offer for pupils with SEN in the local area
Outcome – target for improvement for pupils with SEND. These targets don’t necessarily have to be related to academic attainment
SEN – special educational needs
SEND – special educational needs and disabilities
SEND Code of Practice – the statutory guidance that schools must follow to support children with SEND
SEN information report – a report that schools must publish on their website, that explains how the school supports pupils with SEN
SEN support – special educational provision which meets the needs of pupils with SEN
Transition – when a pupil moves between years, phases, schools or institutions or life stages