Each child’s education needs are different. It is estimated that at least one in ten UK children have dyslexia; approximately 6% of children are dyspraxic and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) is becoming a more common diagnosis. All of these pose the risk of a child appearing slower to learn, less well behaved and less ‘intelligent’. However, given the right support, they can go on to be twice as successful as their peers later on in life. All young students are equally capable and it is our responsibility as teachers to ensure that every child is given the same opportunities to learn and achieve their full potential.

What is learning support?

Learning support is the provision of supplementary teaching to pupils who require additional help so that they have the best chance in school.

Why is learning support important?

The earlier that children are given support, the better the outcome for the child’s academic progress as well as their self-esteem. Cranmore places a strong emphasis on literacy and it is a bonus that we are able to support children with reading and comprehension in a small group from an early age. Often a little help, early on, is all that is needed to boost confidence in reading and spelling ensuring that children are able to work to the best of their ability.

What does a learning support teacher do?

Learning support teachers are responsible for the supplementary teaching of pupils who require additional help. They are closely linked with and share some duties with special educational needs teachers. By working with pupils in groups or one-to-one, either in the classroom or in a learning support room, they can aid students in their learning. Their work involves planning and implementing effective teaching strategies, liaising with parents, staff and other relevant professionals.

How do learning support teachers help children to reach their potential?

A learning support teacher will:

  • work alongside the wider teaching team and liaise with other relevant individuals such as educational psychologists and parents
  • adapt the school curriculum and conventional teaching methods to meet individual needs
  • help pupils to cope with and overcome problems that arise because of learning difficulties
  • develop and foster the appropriate skills, social abilities and confidence to enable the optimum development of their pupils

For example, specialist dyslexia teachers can support pupils in a variety of ways according to each child’s individual needs. They will implement a highly personalised programme of support which can include working on phonological, decoding and segmentation skills to improve reading and spelling. Once these areas start to become more secure, activities will then often focus more on comprehension skills, planning, writing and proof-reading, as well as study skills. In all year groups, multi-sensory learning plays a key role in provision of learning support. And in the younger year groups, a lot of learning occurs in the form of games.

Learning support teachers often use audio-visual materials and computers to stimulate interest and learning. An important part of their job is careful planning and delivery of lessons, setting and marking of assignments as well as the assessing and recording their pupil’s progress.

Learning support at Cranmore

The Progress Department team at Cranmore is able to provide small group or individual support to identified pupils from Year 1 right through to Year 9. We are able to provide for a variety of needs, with the majority of those receiving support having a weekly literacy session with one of our specialist dyslexia teachers. Our specialists are also able to provide Maths support, Language support with a Speech & Language therapist and some pupils needing motor coordination support  have weekly sessions under the guidance of our occupational therapist.

We place a high emphasis on the early identification of pupils who may have difficulties of a dyslexic/dyspraxic (DCD) type nature, or may have a difficulty with speech and/or language. Pupils referred to the department can have a full in-school specialist teacher assessment and we provide parents with detailed verbal feedback of that assessment. We use a variety of tests that give us an indication of a child’s ability and attainments, as well as looking at strengths and weaknesses in areas that may affect the acquisition of literacy skills. We are also able to advise as to whether further assessment by an Educational Psychologist would be beneficial.

Some children need support for a few terms, while others benefit from support for a longer period of time. Many pupils never need extra teaching support again at Cranmore, but we do still monitor their progress throughout their time at school.

In the Junior Department, pupils are taught in small groups or individually according to their need. In the Senior Department pupils are taught individually and come out of lessons on a rotational timetable during non-core subjects or occasionally at a fixed time before/after school or at a lunchtime.

Special thanks to Mrs Alison Freakes, our Head of Progress, for her help in writing this article. Cranmore’s Progress Department is a strong team of specialist trained teachers who are conversant in the latest thinking and best practice in learning support.