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Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) at Smith’s Wood Academy

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The SEND Information Report is the one place on the Academy’s website where you will find all information you need in regard to special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). We have organised this into a list of questions that are most frequently asked, with some added extras that may pop up from time to time. You will find each question is answered in text, but where appropriate there are different forms of media (videos, sound clips and images to help answer these questions).

A pupil has special educational needs and/or disabilities if they have needs that are ‘additional to and/or different from’ their peers. Having SEND will require a pupil to have special educational provision to meet their needs. Pupils may have additional needs in a range of different areas, including; understanding language; socially; emotionally; physically; processing information; expressing themselves; or understanding social norms of interacting with others. Below you will find more information about the different needs we support.

A pupil can be identified as having special educational needs and/or disabilities without having a diagnosis.

A pupil may have a diagnosis and not require educational provision that is ‘additional to and/or different from’ their peers.

Every pupil on the SEND register has been allocated a Key Worker, each Key Worker regularly shares updated information regarding each pupil to ensure teaching and support staff across the school are able to support pupils effectively.

Most recently there has been additional training for members of the SEND team in delivering focused interventions in reading and speech, language and communication. Training for members of the SEND team around zones of regulation is coming later in the Autumn term.

Smith’s Wood Academy is an inclusive secondary Academy, dedicated to improving outcomes for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities. SEND is categorised into four areas of need, pupils may fall into more than one area of need. These are:

  • Communication and Interaction
  • Cognition and Learning
  • Social, Emotional and Mental Health
  • Physical and/or Sensory

Each pupil will have support that is tailored to their specific needs.

Communication and Interaction

Pupils with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) will have a difficulty in communicating with others. This may be because they find it difficult to say what they want to; have difficulty in understanding what is being communicated to them; or they struggle to understand the social rules or cues of communication. Each pupil with SLCN has slightly different needs and this need can and will change over time.

Pupils with a diagnosis of autism are likely to have some difficulties with social interaction, which will present differently in each pupil. They could have specific difficulties with language, communication or imagination which can impact on how they relate to and communicate with others.


Cognition and Learning

Pupils may need support with learning difficulties when they are learning at a slower rate than their peers, even with teachers using specific strategies to support individuals (quality first teaching). Pupils with cognition and learning needs will often need support with learning in different areas of the curriculum; this will in most cases be supported through quality first teaching, evidence-based interventions, and additional classroom support.

Cognition and learning needs come with a range of needs including moderate learning difficulties (MLD), severe learning difficulties (SLD) and specific learning difficulties (SpLD). Specific learning difficulties includes recognised diagnosed needs of dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia.


Social, Emotional and Mental Health

Pupils with social and emotional difficulties will often manifest these needs in many ways. This could include becoming very withdrawn or isolated, as well as demonstrating challenging or disruptive behaviour. These behaviours can be an indicator of underlying mental health difficulties such as anxiety, depression, self-harm and/or eating disorders, to name a few. Pupils could also have traits of recognised disorders attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) or attachment.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase of pupils with social, emotional and mental health needs. This is a pattern that has been seen both nationally and locally.


Physical and/or Sensory

Pupils requiring specialist educational provision because they have a difficulty that hinders them in using the educational facilities that are generally provided in Academy. These difficulties can change over time and pupils physically change, particularly in their teenage years.

Pupils with visual impairments (VI), hearing impairments (HI), a multi-sensory impairment (MSI) or physical disability (PD) could require specialist support or equipment to access their learning. Each LA (both Birmingham and Solihull) provide support from trained specialists for pupils with each needs in this area.

The Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities policy can be found here

Pupils across the academy are regularly assessed in line with the Academy’s assessment procedures.

Every pupil will be assessed on entry to the academy in terms of their current skills and levels of attainment on entry. Across the academic year, students will each complete a range of assessments to support understanding their specific strengths and weaknesses to ensure support can be tailored to their needs. Assessments include:

  1. Reading assessments (whole school)
  2. Subject assessments (whole school)
  3. Examinations, including mock examinations (year 10/11)
  4. Standardised assessments (year 7)

Each teacher will regularly assess pupils progress and identify pupils whose progress:

  • Is significantly slower than that of their peers starting from the same baseline
  • Fails to match or better the child’s previous rate of progress
  • Fails to close the attainment gap between the child and their peers
  • Widens the attainment gap

Pupils with slow progress or low attainment, do not necessarily have SEND. A pupil with has SEND when their needs are additional to and/or different from their peers. Where pupils do have low attainment or slow progress, they may receive additional support to accelerate progress.

Where a child’s progress is inadequate despite quality first teaching and targeted support to address identified weaknesses, the academy may, with consultation with parents/carers, require further assessment to understand the child’s needs in further detail.

Following this if concern continues, we may, in consultation with parents/carers, commission external professionals and agencies to conduct further specialist assessment.

Throughout this academic year, 2022-23, there is a focus on reviewing how the curriculum meets the needs of our pupils. Currently there has been work on academy-wide strategies to support all students in the classroom.

When reviewing provision for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities, most frequently we would look at adaptations in the classroom. When adaptations in the classroom are still not demonstrating enough progress, we would look to interventions outside of the classroom.

We are currently building the available additional provision outside of the academy, currently in place is:

  • Drawing for Talking
  • Wellbeing interventions through the wellbeing team
  • Talkabout for Teenagers

Smith’s Wood Academy hosts a wide range of activities throughout the school day to support pupils across the academy. This includes students with or without special educational needs and/or disabilities. This includes:

  • Music Club
  • Board Game Club
  • Art Club
  • Drama Club
  • Instrumental Club
  • Eco Club
  • Singing Club
  • World Cup Sticker Swap Club
  • Sports Clubs, including Basketball (boys and girls, Football (boys and girls), Netball, Fitness, Badminton, Table Tennis
  • Student Leadership

Pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities are encouraged to get involved with all areas of academy life with their peers.  

Pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities are encouraged to get involved with all areas of academy life with their peers.  

A key area of the academy is the development of emotional resilience and social skills, both through direct teaching and indirect communication every day across the academy. Assemblies, Form Time and PSHE lessons enable all students to access lessons developed to build their emotional, mental and social development.

At times, pupils may need to access additional support, which will be bespoke to each individual. This could include:

  • Passes to access key adults
  • Mentoring with an identified adult or external professionals
  • Access to wellbeing support through the wellbeing team
  • Referral to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (known as SOLAR in Solihull or Forward Thinking Birmingham in Birmingham)
  • Daily check-ins with their Key Worker

Across the school there is weekly SEND focused briefings, these focus on specific areas of SEND and developing understanding and practice in supporting specific pupils. In addition to this, across the Academy we are working through the year, 2022-23, on improving quality first teaching for all pupils.

Every pupil on the SEND register has been allocated a Key Worker, each Key Worker regularly shares updated information regarding each pupil to ensure teaching and support staff across the school are able to support pupils effectively.

Most recently there has been additional training for members of the SEND team in delivering focused interventions in reading and speech, language and communication. Training for members of the SEND team around zones of regulation is coming later in the Autumn term.

Within the SEND team, there is a wealth of experience including working across specialist schools, mainstream and primary schools. Each of the teaching assistants are focused within a key area of need to develop provision and ensure pupils access support delivered by specialists in each area.

Smith’s Wood have bought in a range of support through the local authority to provide additional tailored support to individual pupils. Professionals are involved with students across all year groups, based on need when the academy has exhausted all other internal school-based strategies that can be put into place. The use of the graduated approach prior to involving external professionals and agencies is a core focus across the school.

By being part of a Multi-Academy Trust, we are able to access support through the SEND Trust Lead to provide additional support and capacity in school.

This academic year we have bought in a new way of working to ensure that parents/carers are involved in both the progress and decisions made around educational provision for their child. This is focused around the role of the ‘Key Worker’.

The Key Worker is an allocated member of the SEND team who will:

  1. Contact parents/carers at least once per half term to update them on the progress of their child
  2. Parents/carers will be involved in the review and setting of targets for the following term, ensuring they are specific to the needs of their child
  3. Parents/carers will have direct access to their child’s termly targets through an online portal
  4. Parents/carers will receive a Parent Voice questionnaire with their child’s termly targets to complete
  5. Parents/carers will have direct access to the SENDCo (Mrs A Heath) through the online portal
  6. Parents/carers will be invited to attend regular parent/carer events to learn more about their child’s needs and how to support them at home

By bringing in the role of the Key Worker to improve the educational provision in place for students with SEND, we can ensure that students are more involved in giving their views and decisions around their education.

Students will:

  1. Check in with their Key Worker bi-weekly
  2. Meet with their Key Worker to set and review their targets
  3. Meet with their Key Worker to develop a One Page Profile/Passport that will enable all staff to see the child’s viewpoint

In the first instance, you should always liaise with the school SENDCO, Mrs A Heath.

Following this, if you do not feel the outcomes have been reached from your conversations, you should follow the schools Complaints Procedure. 

When a student is referred (following parental consent) to an external professional/agency they will work closely with the Academy. Generally, this could look like:

  1. Information sharing between SENDCo/Academy staff and the external professional/agency
  2. External professional/agency meets with the child, observes the child or meets with the parents/carers
  3. Recommendations given by the external professional/agency
  4. Academy put in place recommendations, where appropriate
  5. External professional/agency review the changes to educational provision with the SENDCo at a later date
  6. Return to point 2, and continue the cycle again

In lines with statutory guidance we use the graduated approach to ensure that we have are providing appropriate educational provision and assessing progress at each stage. At each stage parents/carers will be notified of their child’s progress. It is important to note that strategies will often be in place for at least half a term to enable impact to be seen.

This means that prior to referring a pupil to an external professional/agency the Academy will:

  1. Try a range of different strategies over a period of time and assess their impact
  2. Consult with parents/carers frequently, and request consent prior to involving an external professional/agency

Following the graduated approach, we would ensure that we have tried a range of targeted and specialist support options internally (within the Academy) before commissioning support from external professionals and agencies. However, this is done on a case-by-case basis.

There is an extensive range of pastoral support within the Academy from a range of departments, including Behaviour, Attendance, Pastoral, Safeguarding and SEND.

The Academy works with students from both the Birmingham and Solihull local authorities, which is determined by the post code of the student.

Below is a list of the most frequent external professionals/agencies that the Academy work with to support your child:

  • Local Authority SEND Services (Birmingham and Solihull)
  • Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service – CAHMS (Known as SOLAR in Solihull and Forward Thinking Birmingham in Birmingham)
  • Community Paediatricians (Child specific)
  • NHS Consultant (Child specific)
  • SISS (Solihull Inclusion Support Service) – Broken down into
    • CLD – Communication and Learning Difficulties
    • ASC Team – Autism
    • SEMH Team – Social, Emotional and Mental Health
    • HI – Qualified Teacher of the Deaf
    • VI – Qualified Teacher of the Visually Impaired
    • PD – Physical Disabilities
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Speech and Language Therapists
  • LACES – Looked After Children Education Service

Parents and Carers will be consulted with prior to any external professional/agencies becoming involved with their child.

Transitioning to secondary school can be an anxious time for both pupils and parents/carers. At Smith’s Wood Academy we have an extensive transition programme that is led by our Year 7 pastoral team, especially Ms Butcher. As part of transition, all students will:

  • Be invited to 2 transition days in the summer term
  • Be invited to transition evening with their parents/carers to get thorough information

In addition to the transition package above, students with SEND will:

  • Receive SENDCo contact with their current setting
  • Be allocated a Key Worker in the summer term of year 6, based on information from their primary school
  • Be invited to additional transition events with the SEND team
  • Receive an invite for their parents/carers to a ‘Meet the SENDCo event’ in the summer term of year 6

Smith’s Wood Academy is not a post-16 provider, all pupils must be in employment, education or training until they are 18 years old. We have an extensive offer for careers, including:

  • Careers fair held each year (Year 9-11)
  • Personal Guidance –  Careers interviews  1:1’s  and group sessions 
  • Application support for  Sixth Form, Colleges and Apprenticeships
  • Careers Planning Platform  START
  • Encounters with workplace providers
  • Work Experience
  • Guest speakers
  • Careers information leaflets
  • Sixth Form and college assemblies
  • Careers advisor available at parents evening


In addition to the package above, pupils with SEND will also receive the below support:

  • Year 10 Careers Interviews (Summer Term)
  • Support from their Key Worker with applications

Each local authority must share the support that is available locally, this is called their ‘local offer’. Please find details below to access to local offers from the local authorities.

Birmingham Local Offer:

Solihull Local Offer:

Please click the links below to view our policies: