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Special Education Needs & Disabilities

Who are we?

We are an Education Support Centre (ESC) for students in school years 7 – 11 at risk of or permanent exclusion from school – all of the students educated here arrived with some barriers to learning.  We also provide an Outreach service to both Primary and Secondary Schools.  Students are referred to us through mainstream provisions or through Hertfordshire County Council.

Links Academy work towards raising the achievement of all our students and ensure equality of opportunity for all regardless of gender, race, SEND, background and sexual orientation.  Our aim is to provide all students with strategies for dealing with their needs in a supportive environment and to give them meaningful access to learning regardless of their special educational needs/disability.

The team

We have a diverse team, including Senior Leadership, administration, teaching staff, Pastoral Leaders and support assistants who are here to help support students in achieving their own personal best. To further help families and students we also employ a psychiatric nurse to support our care of emotional and mental health welfare.

Our SEND leader is Gemma Nash.  Our SEND Trustee is Silvia Hundal.

The staff team have experience in a range of settings and undergo frequent training to enable the best possible support for the students.

Assessment

Home schools and families provide us with background information and key data.  On entry all students undertake a range of initial assessments.  Baseline data including academic data allow us to plan teaching and support strategies that are reviewed frequently so that appropriate interventions are in place for each young person.  As part of the Centre’s admission arrangements there is a meeting with parents and teachers from home schools and the young person to discuss any specific needs and news.

Parental involvement

The parents, carers and students are invited in for an Induction meeting with a member of the Senior Leadership Team to provide them with a clear idea of what to expect at school.  This is also an opportunity to sign paperwork and ask any questions that parents/carers/students may have.

The Links encourages contact with parents or carers.  Three times a year we formally invite parents/carers to meet with form tutors, which provides an opportunity for parents/carers to explore progress, celebrate success and to discuss any concerns or issues.  Every student has their own profile and is set specific challenge targets matched to the child’s needs.  Strategies and interventions are identified and referrals made where appropriate to outside agencies.

Progress is reported half termly with a full detailed school report generated every term.  We have a Team of Pastoral Leaders that are in touch with parents frequently and can be contacted by parents/carers for support by phone or email.  The Pastoral Leaders alongside tutors provide support for the students.

We actively encourage parents and carers to become involved in school life, working closely with us.

Meeting students’ needs

As we are an interim education provision we plan for the next educational placement for our students.  If appropriate we will support an application for an Education Health and Care Place (EHC) and support the transition in to the next school.  Parents/carers are included in all areas of discussion about key developments.

Each student has specific targets that focus on learning and behaviour.  These are reviewed every half term and strategies are put in place for each individual.  These can range from visual aids in the classroom to working in isolation.

Students have the benefit of very small class groups.  Each student is taught by subject staff and may also be supported by a teaching assistant.  Support staff are used flexibly to meet students’ needs.

The school work closely with external agencies to provide extra support for students if required.  These are listed below:

  • Emotional Wellbeing Practitioner
  • Educational Psychologist
  • Targeted Youth Support Team
  • Education Support Team for Medical Absence
  • Thriving Families
  • CAMHS

Students are guided by Youth Connexions in preparation for next steps.  Where appropriate work experience is arranged.

Herts Local Offer