Within our Learning Support Department, we place the children we work with at the centre of everything we do, focusing on both their individual needs and strengths in order to provide them with as much support as we can.

We aim to foster an environment of compassion and resilience and endeavour to encourage pupils’ independence as much as we can, while providing the stepping stones along the way to achieve this.

Our team is the largest in the school and encompasses a wide range of roles. Our SENCO and Assistant SENCO are responsible for ensuring we have the right support in place for every child, liaising with educational psychologists and specialist teachers, as well as collaborating with a range of local charities and initiatives in order to provide support both at school and at home.  We have one full-time teacher and two part-time teachers, as well as two HLTAs who provide both spelling and reading interventions in smaller settings. Support is provided in lessons throughout the school by our 14 Teaching Assistants, who also act as key workers to provide bespoke interventions on a 1-1 level to support individual pupils in their development.

The majority of our Learning Support staff have been at Nelson Thomlinson for many years, with a combined 273 years of experience between us! Our variety of backgrounds and areas of knowledge means that there is always someone able to assist with anything that may arise and our staff frequently undergo training in order to stay up to date with the latest research and techniques, not only in terms of learning and SEND, but also mental health and wellbeing.

As well as the timetabled spelling and reading interventions carried out by our HLTAs, our department has successfully run a paired reading scheme for many years, and is now initiating a handwriting intervention. We also have a designated Emotional Literacy Support Assistant who carries out 1-1 sessions with students who may be finding their time at school particularly challenging.

For pupils that find that the traditional route of just GCSEs is not right for them, we provide alternatives in the form a Certificate of Personal Effectiveness, a nationally recognised qualification run by ASDAN, as well as the Unit Award Scheme with AQA for a range of subjects where appropriate.

While the support we provide takes place throughout the school, our department includes two classrooms, with access to both cooking facilities and computers, as well as a central shared area where pupils can have a supervised, quiet area to spend their breaks and lunch. As these unstructured times of the day can provide some pupils with difficulty, our staff run a wide variety of extra-curricular clubs every day, including games, crafts and boccia. Additionally, breakfast club runs every morning for students who may need extra support first thing, and homework club runs every lunch time, providing support for any child that may struggle with a particular piece or may just find the structured time in school helpful.

Our department works with so many wonderful pupils at Nelson Thomlinson and nothing makes us more proud than seeing how they actively support and encourage each other. We hope that any child that joins us finds a warm, compassionate and dynamic department waiting for them.