Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

At Ebbsfleet Academy we have a large team of highly qualified teaching and support staff who are committed to ensuring lessons are engaging and challenging. Our exciting, academic curriculum is broad and balanced. It includes a focus on mastery of the basics, with a strong emphasis on literacy and numeracy. Our class sizes are small, rarely more than 22 in KS3 and the majority are of that size in KS4. Creative banding and setting arrangements in all years ensure that the most able children are stretched and challenged and students needing intensive support can receive it.

To view our SEND, Accessibility and Equality Policies, please visit our Policies page.

Key websites for support and information

  • SENCo: Ms A Tunnard
  • AP, SEND/Inclusion Lead: Ms A Plaster
  • Working Hours: Full time

Worried about a child?

Class Teacher or Head of Key Stage if the concern is pastoral.  SENCo can be contacted via email admin@ebbsfleetacademy.org.uk or telephone 01322 242252

As part of the transition process primary colleagues inform us of any students who are currently on the SEND register.  They detail the need and the interventions currently in place so that we can plan what intervention may be required in September.  For students in receipt of an EHCP (Educational Health Care Plan) a meeting will be arranged in the first couple of weeks to explain how the outcomes and targets translate in a secondary setting.

For some children with additional learning needs transition can appear a frightening and challenging process, it is really important that we do all we can to reassure children and their families before they start in September so please don’t hesitate to contact the academy to discuss any concerns you may have.

Frequently asked questions

Who do I talk to about SEND?

Initially please speak to your child’s form tutor. If you would like to speak to our SEND department, please contact via our contact details in the ‘worried about a child’ section above.

How do I know if my child has dyslexia?

We can only screen for dyslexia, and this will provide an overview of your child’s strengths and areas for development. Screening reports are then shared with teachers so they are aware of how to support your child through Quality First Teaching in the classroom.

How long does the referral process take?

This depends on the referral – please speak to the pastoral team for further information regarding your child’s referral.

Can you refer my child for a diagnosis?

Yes the school can refer your child for a diagnosis of ADHD, ASD or other referrals needed such as Speech and language. These referrals are completed by the SENCO with support of the pastoral team/teachers. You may prefer to discuss this with your GP as they can facilitate a referral too.

I think my child needs an EHCP

This is an Educational Healthcare Plan. This used to be called a Statement of SEN.  About 1% of children in mainstream schools have an EHCP. Most children with an EHCP require specialist provision (special school) and an EHCP allows a parent this choice.

An EHCP is a legal document owned by the Local Authority. It sets out a child’s needs, the provision needed to meet those needs, and the school placement.  The criteria for an EHCP is stringent.

A parent can apply for an EHCP for their child by emailing the dept at SENWest@kent.gov.uk

It is so important the parent knows the school’s view, because school provides a significant proportion of the evidence to the Local Authority. School and parent should be in agreement that specialist approaches are needed to enable the child to make progress. It is not about lots of diagnoses necessarily although any diagnosis is supportive.

KELSI contains documentation about the ‘pathway’ and timelines, but the whole process, from request to ‘decision to issue’ the plan is 20 weeks. Sometimes, if there is a lack of evidence, the process stops at 6 weeks.  If a parent is unhappy about a decision, they can appeal to the Local Authority.

A school can also make a request for an EHCP but need to be sure that they have sufficient plan/do/review (3 rounds of provision plans) and evidence of what has been in place (high levels of provision) not working. Schools also need to take an EHCP request to their local LIFT meeting so that specialists can determine if anything more can be done, before an EHCP is requested.  That is why a parent request, supported by the school, can be quicker.

It is worth noting that quite a few outside agencies are giving the wrong message to parents about EHCPs. E.g. your child has an ASD diagnosis – have you considered an EHCP? IASK keep giving this info to parents, without recourse to the severity of need that an EHCP justifies.

Can my child have an EHCP?

This will be dependent on the level of SEND that your child presents with and support needed at home and at school. The process will require your child to have a personalised plan, if appropriate, that is reviewed at least 3 times and with some specialist involvement. They might be in receipt of Higher Needs Funding – which you would have been informed about via the SENDCo. If you would like to discuss this further please contact the SEND department.

My child is in receipt of Higher Needs Funding - why don't they have a 1:1?

Higher Needs Funding (HNF) levels are dependent on need. The money school receives can be used in a variety of ways to support their needs.

I think my child has autism. What can we do?

Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition. Therefore, any diagnosis of autism is a life-long health diagnosis and is not educational. There is no ‘test’ for autism. Instead, a paediatrician will collate evidence about a child’s social communication skills, repetitive or restrictive interests and sensory differences so that a judgement against particular Health criteria can be made.

Why does the parent think this? What behaviour do they see at home? Does the class teacher see the same traits?

This is a school-based referral, where the school agrees that there are social/play/sensory differences that should be explored. Perhaps interventions have taken place to help the child with their social skills.

Once a referral by school is sent to the local Community Paediatrics team, parents can expect to wait 2-3 years before being notified about a paediatric appointment. ASD is not diagnosed at this appointment. Instead the paediatrician will observe the child and discuss the information given already with parents, before making a judgement about whether the child should move onto the ASD pathway.

The pathway lasts up to 3 years. In this time, the paediatrician will collect more evidence from parents and school. The child is invited to a longer ‘joint communication clinic’ where a highly specialised speech and language therapist and a paediatrician work together to make a diagnosis, or not.

Once a child is on the pathway, the school will be advised to implement ASD strategies if they are not doing so already.

I think my child has ADHD. What can we do?

As above, this is a Health diagnosis. This is a behavioural disorder.
Same principles apply – school based referral to a Community Paediatrician. We need to see inattentive or hyperactive/ impulsive behaviour that is significantly different from the majority of the peer group and across different environments, to refer. Children cannot be referred until they are 6.
No test for ADHD. Instead information is collated from home/school and a certain ‘threshold’ must be met when comparing parent and school scores – and the child is observed in clinic. A Connors questionnaire is common.
Medication is a possibility depending on the severity of the ADHD and parent views.
Some children have a diagnoses of ‘ADHD–inattentive type’, which is the old ADD (no hyperactivity).

I think my child is dyslexic. What can we do?

The British Dyslexia Association says:

Dyslexia is a neurological difference and can have a significant impact during education, in the workplace and in everyday life. As each person is unique, so is everyone’s experience of dyslexia. It can range from mild to severe, and it can co-occur with other learning differences. It usually runs in families and is a life-long condition. It is a specific learning difficulty.

We are bound by the Kent (local authority) definition for Dyslexia which can be found in their policy at:

Therefore, if your child has a significant weakness in single word spelling and/or reading (and has had good educational opportunities, teaching and interventions) then they may meet the Kent criteria for dyslexia.

For us to gain a better understanding of your child’s literacy skills (this is where weaknesses are most evident) we can run a ‘strengths and weaknesses’ screener. This identifies a possible dyslexic profile or dyslexic tendencies. It helps us identify weaker ‘cognitive’ skills such a phonological processing (being able to identify and manipulate the sounds in words) which can signify dyslexic tendencies.

We would then want to gather information from you and the class teacher, and look at a child’s work. A screener is a limited snapshot of a child’s ability – it is important we gather a full picture and look at interventions over time too.

Therefore, we can screen your child for a possible dyslexic profile and to help us identify possible interventions, but this is not the same as a dyslexia diagnosis. We cannot diagnose dyslexia in our school. This would need to be an independent certified assessor. It is an educational diagnosis that is life-long and results from high levels of psychometric testing that staff in primary schools are not qualified to use. A diagnosis is recognised under the Disability Discrimination Act (2010), permits an older child to have access arrangements at secondary school and adaptations in the workplace. This is private and comes at a cost. Assessors look for a discrepancy between a child’s general ability (like their IQ) and a child’s literacy skills.

Our teachers have dyslexia awareness training and can make adaptations to their teaching so that your child can access the curriculum like their peers. Very often, good strategies for dyslexic children are good for all children. Our focus is always on good teaching and good interventions, rather than the label.

I think my child has dyscalculia. What can we do?

Dyscalculia is a specific maths difficulty. It is inherent rather than just being ‘weaker’ at maths. A child will display intrinsic difficulties with their quantitative understanding of number at a basic level – i.e. show them 3 counters, then 6, and they could not quantify that one set was larger than the other, nor could they give sensible estimates for each quantity.

This would be a child with very poor conversion of number. We have very few children where this has been identified. We cannot diagnose dyscalculia. This would fall to an Educational Psychologist or a certified assessor, and would likely be a private educational diagnosis.

Dyscalculia is specific – so a child is likely to be average in many aspects of schooling, apart from maths. It probably could not be considered if a child has general learning difficulties, a bit like dyslexia.

The important thing is to understand a child’s mathematical gaps and work with them through intervention and class-based support.

I think my child is dyspraxic. What can we do?

This is also called Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD).
This affects a child’s gross and fine motor skill development and sometimes their sensory profile.
It can arise with other specific conditions – dyslexia, ASD, ADHD etc.

Does the teacher see functional difficulties with a child’s self-care skills? E.g. changing for PE, gross motor coordination in PE, fine motor skills – scissor and pen skills, knife and fork skills, handwriting? Does the child appear clumsy and less able to coordinate their movements than peers? Struggles to throw and catch in PE? We need to evidence 3 different functional areas that the child struggles with.

If we see the above, then the child probably has had/needs intervention anyway.

A DCD diagnosis is a Health diagnosis and requires a referral to an Occupational Therapist. The OT service needs to see that the school have put in appropriate interventions such as BEAM or Clever Fingers for up to 50 sessions, before a referral can be made. Therefore gathering what is needed for an OT referral can take some time.

Once the referral is made, the wait can be 3-4 months before parent and child is invited to clinic (if the referral criteria is met). The OT can then identify strengths and weaknesses and help parents and school develop a programme or strategies that will help the child compensate for their motor weaknesses.

I think my child has some speech and language difficulties. What can we do?

We can run a speech link or languagelink screener. This identifies the speech sounds that the child might be muddling/substituting, or which areas of language (e.g. instructional, vocabulary, concepts, pronouns etc) they are weaker with. It helps us determine how severe a problem there may be, but it is a computer-based snapshot and it is important to talk to you as a parent and glean information from the teacher.

It can also help us identify additional interventions your child may need, which will also provide evidence to help us make a referral to the NHS speech and language therapy team, if intervention does not have impact.

Some children experience a speech or language delay – the difficulty is likely to resolve itself or ‘catch up’ or could be a disorder, which is where more specialist intervention may be needed.

We know that children with speech and language difficulties may go on to have difficulties with learning, particularly literacy, though this is not always the case.

I think my child needs 1:1

Very few of our children need 1:1 support to make good progress.

The vast majority of children learn when teaching is responsive to their needs and work is well differentiated. Class TAs are used to help scaffold children’s learning if they find things more tricky.

Sometimes, 1:1 support can also lead to dependency on an adult (I can only learn when an adult sits next to me) and we all want your child to be an independent learner.

In some situations, we may need to apply for funding to provide a child with some key person/1:1 support. This is called High Needs Funding, and is for children that require bespoke approaches. Applications for this high level of support are stringent and require lots of plan/do/review, evidence and proof of what is spent already on a child’s support.

Please note that an EHCP does not ‘come with’ funding attached or a certain number of hours of 1:1 TA support. This happened in the old system of ‘statements of SEN’, but is not the case now.

Parent guidance for HNF available on the Kelsi website.

I think my child should be on the SEN register. Will this give them more support?

We would encourage you to read the Inclusion policy on our website.
The school is bound by a definition of Special Educational Needs as set out by the legal framework, the SEN Code of Practice (2014).

A child or young person has SEN if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her.
A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she:
has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or
has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions
For children aged two or more, special educational provision is educational or training provision that is additional to or different from that made generally for other children or young people of the same age

Being SEN or being placed on a school’s SEN register is not because a child receives a diagnosis of a condition – it must be because educational provision is consistently different for them to enable them to make progress in their areas of difficulty. Parents must remember that if their child has a Health condition or diagnosis, that this probably falls under the 2010 Equality Act and means that any school or educational provider must make reasonable adjustments for them, whether they are SEN or not.

We support children as their needs arise and teachers adapt work and their teaching delivery as necessary, maintaining interventions for those children that need something additional. Being SEN or not SEN does not change this.

If your child moves onto the SEN register they will be classed as ‘SEN support’ and their teacher will identify long term Outcomes for them to work towards.