…a child has “special educational needs” if s/he has a learning difficulty which calls for special educational provision to be made… (The Education (NI) Order 1996)
As Learning Support Coordinator in St. Columba's College, my primary aim is to support and encourage learning for pupils who have difficulties, ensuring that they have access to a full range of curricular experiences.
I view my role as one that seeks to develop effective ways of overcoming barriers to learning and sustaining effective teaching through the analysis and assessment of children’s needs, by monitoring the quality of teaching and standards of pupils' achievements and by setting targets for improvement. I collaborate with the Head of Pastoral Care, Key Stage Coordinators and Curriculum Coordinators so that learning for all children is given equal priority and available resources are used to maximum effect.
The school promotes a philosophy of inclusion, offering equality of opportunity, with due regard to the Code of Practice on the identification and assessment of children with Special Needs. The partnership with parents is a valued, integral part of the Special Needs Education in St. Columba's. There is full integration into mainstream classes for all pupils with Special Needs and the school avails of the full range of support services for those pupils experiencing difficulty. We liaise with external agencies, including services provided by SEELB, such as educational psychology services, health and social services and voluntary bodies. Our students with more Specific Learning Difficulties have access to Mrs. Caroline Porter, a dyslexia specialist from Cottown Reading Unit.
Learning Support Assistants
We currently have nine Learning Support Assistants in the College who are assigned to individual pupils or small groups of individuals, who are in need of additional help. This support may be necessary because a pupil is physically disabled, hearing or visually impaired and needs additional support accessing the curriculum. Or it may be because they have learning difficulties and need additional support to understand and complete tasks. Our Teaching assistants offer invaluable support to these pupils, helping them to keep up to speed with their peers and can often mean the difference between pupils accessing a mainstream curriculum or attending a special school.
Following a set of Screening Tests in English and Maths, pupils who experience challenges with learning are identified and a special learning programme and Individual Education Plan (IEP) is drawn up.
The progress of all pupils is continuously monitored through our Pupil Performance Tracking process. This is to ensure that prompt action can be taken should any difficulties arise. Our newly appointed Additional Support Teacher, Miss Helen Connolly, works with those students that have been identified as requiring Additional Teaching Support in Literacy and Numeracy. Miss Connolly liaises closely with parents and myself, as Learning Support Co-ordinator. Our aim is to give all pupils the opportunity to succeed and enhance their learning opportunities at St Columba’s College.
If you have any concerns or queries in relation to Learning Support please feel free to contact me through the school email and I will endeavor to provide you with the support and guidance you require.