Welcome to our regular feature, ‘Behind the Scenes’.
Parents and visitors to the school regularly meet with teaching staff but may be unaware of some of the teams of support staff who are invaluable to the smooth running of the school and to the welfare of our students. This time we meet our SEN department.
The main role of the SEN Department (the majority of the department appear in the photo above) is to provide academic and caring support to students to ensure that they make excellent progress and ultimately become independent learners. Our role is varied – we also give advice to teachers, liaise closely with parents and external professionals and deliver training. Recent national studies have highlighted the fact that many students across the country become very dependent on TA support and don’t make as much progress as similar students without such support. I am pleased to say this is not an issue at JTHS.
In 2014 OFSTED were full of praise for the SEN team. They said:
TAs are an integral part of the academy and make a major contribution to the excellent achievement of students. Inspectors noted their expertise in enabling learning for the students they supported because they knew and understood their needs well.
The SEN Department at JTHS is mainly based in Room U15. We also have U26 (numeracy base), a physiotherapy room, the SENCO Office and the SEN Office based in the new Data Hub.
The team is led by me as SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator) and I am a fully-qualified, experienced teacher with further qualifications in assessing students for additional support. There are 19 support staff in the team; a mixture of full-time and part-time. This includes two recently appointed deputies to the SENCO, known as SEN Student Support Officers (SENSSOs), who take a strategic lead on aspects of SEN. Within our team, we support in class; support students who have various physical/medical issues; support small group or 1:1 tuition in literacy/numeracy. We currently host two CSWs (Communication Support Workers) who work with Hearing Impaired students but are directly employed by Staffordshire County Council. We also have an SEN Administrator to ensure accurate record-keeping, communication and organisation.