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Academy Life

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

Special Educational Needs – no-one left behind

Smith’s Wood Academy is a large mainstream secondary school.

All mainstream Solihull schools have a similar approach to meeting the needs of those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). Students with Special Educational Need and Disabilities (SEND) are supported by the Local Authority to ensure that all students, regardless of their specific needs, make the best possible progress in school.

All schools are supported to be as inclusive as possible, with the needs of students with a Special Educational Need/s being met in a mainstream setting wherever possible.

Smith’s Wood Academy has a wide variety of strategies used in school to support those with SEND. Where needed we also draw upon the support of the Local Authority and relevant external agencies.

The Solihull Local Offer website has information about the services that are available. Click Here  here to access the Solihull Local Offer. 

HOME LEARNING: Read our guide on how to have computer text read aloud.

Read our SEND COVID-19 arrangements.

The early identification of students with a learning need is key. In Year 7, we work closely with partner primary schools to identify students who will be on the SEND Register. This ensures that we can ensure a smooth transition to secondary school and meet the students’ needs as soon as they start with us in September. Where there are concerns, we use a variety of data to help build a picture of a child. This includes Key Stage 2 progress data and assessment data from teaching staff. This data is then used to identify those that may need further testing. Additionally, we test numeracy, reading comprehension and spelling to identify if there are any additional areas of need. We work closely with our teachers to ensure they have a wide range of knowledge and understanding of the difficulties children with SEND can sometimes face. Through this consultation and staff training we identify the typical signs and characteristics of various special educational needs and support staff in meeting these needs. If a teacher has any concerns about a student, they will seek advice from the Inclusion and Access Department. We than have a SEN referral process, whereby staff can highlight students who they believe have additional needs. Depending on the nature of the need identified, we will begin investigating the concerns. Where needed, we can draw on the advice of external agencies that we work with.

No. Although a formal diagnosis will provide us with greater knowledge about your child’s difficulties and may grant access to some services; no formal diagnosis is needed in order to access support. Working with the Inclusion and Access department will help form part of our investigations into the needs of the child. However, access to support from the SEN team must be based on the evidence presented.

We are an inclusive school, which offers a variety of support to students with additional needs. The curriculum is differentiated (adapted) to meet the learning needs of students with SEND. Any materials provided to students are presented in an appropriate form in order for them to access the content. This includes providing a multi-sensory learning environment, which caters to a variety of learning styles. Staff are supported to help SEND children access the curriculum through an Individual Pupil Profile (IPP). This document details the nature of the child’s needs and the ways in which teachers can support the students in lessons. ALL staff at Smith’s Wood Academy are teachers of SEND.

All teachers are teachers of SEND (SEN Code of Practice 2014).  Therefore we are committed to ensuring that all staff have the right skills and strategies needed to support students with a variety of special educational needs and disability.

Staff are provided with individual Pupil Profiles (IPP’s) for students with additional needs.  These highlight the child’s strengths and difficulties, as well as provide strategies for teachers to use within the classroom.

Some students will have extra support in lessons from teaching assistants. These colleagues will support your child in accessing learning, and encourage their independence.

There are a wide range of interventions available for students who require further, targeted support. Examples of these include; small group or individual sessions focused on reading and spelling, using Lego to build communication skills, numeracy intervention, teaching breathing and distraction techniques to address emotional needs, and meet and greet sessions on arrival at school.

A small number of students may have changes to their timetable in order to address their special educational needs. There are three pathways in Years 7 and 8.

  • A nurturing pathway for 5 lessons per week for students with attachment or identity difficulties.
  • An SEMH pathway for 5 lessons per week students with anxiety and other emotional needs.

A communication pathway for some pupils with an ASD diagnosis for 5 lessons per week.

Starting Smith’s Wood: Smith’s Wood link up with the feeder primary schools in order to gain an understanding of the cohort of students we will be receiving in Year 7. It is the primary schools responsibility to ensure that your child’s SEND file is sent to the school to ensure that Smith’s Wood have a comprehensive understanding of your child’s needs. The SEND team will visit primary SENDos to discuss high profile students so that we have an awareness before they start and can therefore plan to meet their needs. All children will participate in the Academy’s transition days in July. In addition your child may be invited to attend additional days throughout the year alongside their primary peers to have a taster of secondary school life. If your child is on the SEND register and identified as very vulnerable then they may also be invited to an additional transition morning where we invite parents to come in with their children for a breakfast morning, meet the SEND team and the House teams, talk to us, meet other parents, see the school, meet other SEN children in the school and get further information about what we do. We also encourage the students with some ‘getting to know you activities’ as well as meeting the Head of Academy.


Some students will also participate in a transition programme over 2 days. The focus will be on students who may be coming to Smith’s Wood and require support to develop their social skills or who will be attending as sole students from their primary school. Students will also meet current vulnerable students from Smith’s Wood and have the opportunity to do team building activities. As soon as your child’s SEND file is received, we will begin to create their IPP. Where the file is delayed, we will await the file and use the first half term to develop our understanding of them. The Teaching and Learning Assistants will work with you to create an accurate profile. Key Stage 4 and Post 16: All students will have access to support from our internal Careers Advisor, Ms O’Donnell. She will work with them to understand their aspirations and what is available Post 16. This process starts in Year 9 in order to help determine which options may be appropriate. Vulnerable students are prioritised. Where possible Ms O’Donnell will provide extra- curricular opportunities for students in areas of interest. For those with a statement of SEND or an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), Ms O’Donnell will meet with your child and feed into the Annual Review where actions are determined. The school will help support any child with SEND in visiting colleges/employers etc prior to making an application.

All of our students have regular assessments and are tracked through a whole school assessment process. Staff collect data on students regularly. This allows us to closely monitor rates of progress. Parents will receive a termly update of their child’s academic performance, as well as a summary of their attendance, and behaviour.


We can also interpret if your child is making progress by talking with parents, teachers, and the child themselves. These ongoing conversations, and formal meetings, are crucial in knowing how your child is getting on.


There are a range of assessments we use at school to assess needs, and judge the extent of progress over time. For example all pupils in Year 7-9 complete GL assessments annually, which provide information about literacy, numeracy, and attitudes to school and self-esteem. Further specialist tools are used (such as the Boxall profile, Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, and exam access arrangements) where necessary.

Smith’s Wood Academy has a wide variety of expertise in house. Alongside the Inclusion and Access team who have extensive experience of a variety of needs, there is also the Behaviour Support Team who work with those struggling to access the curriculum due to the behaviours they display. This team offers a wide variety of programmes to support the needs of students including 1:1 work, observations and small group work in a setting away from the mainstream. Furthermore, we have a safeguarding team in school and Child and Family Support Workers.

Where a child’s needs go beyond in-school support, the school works closely with the Local Authority (Solihull and Birmingham) to help support them. Who we work with depends on the nature of the child’s needs. Below is a list of the most common agencies we work with:

  • Solihull and Birmingham Local Authority
  • CAMHS (Solihull SOLAR, Birmingham Blakesley Centre)
  • SISS – Solihull Inclusion Support Service. We currently buy into the services from the Communication and Learning Difficulties (SISS CLD), ASD Team (SISS ASD), Physical Impairment (SISS PI), Hearing Impairment (SISS HI), Social and Emotional Mental Health (SISS SEMH). Please click here for further details.
  • LACES – Looked After Children’s Education, Birmingham and Solihull
  • Meadows Centre
  • NHS – Paediatricians and Consultants
  • Educational Psychology – When students are undergoing assessment for an EHC
  • Speech and Language Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Engage
  • Social Care

Our building is fully accessible to students with physical disabilities. We have excellent access to our main building reception, we have automatic front doors, a large circulation space in reception and an easily accessible area to the front doors. We have meeting rooms and toilets within easy reach of the reception area and we can easily accommodate wheelchairs and visitors with reduced mobility around the school. Additional facilities include:

  • Disabled toilets throughout the school.
  • Internal lift to all floors.
  • An Evac chair on both sides of the building in case of an emergency evacuation.
  • Ramps to external onsite buildings, dining hall, theatre and sports facilities for easy access.
  • Audio Induction loop to assist individuals with hearing difficulties.
  • Please see our Accessibility Policy for more informationEvery student who has Physical Disabilities will have a support/care plan developed by our staff. Risks will be assessed and reasonable adjustments will be made where possible.

Absolutely! We are an inclusive school. We offer a wide variety of lunchtime and after school clubs and SEND students are welcome at all extra-curricular clubs. SEND students are able to attend school trips and reasonable adjustments are always made to accommodate their needs. Trip organisers are required to complete risk assessments to ensure that students are safe and that their needs are adequately met. Examples of some of the extra-curricular activities our SEND pupils have participated in include outdoor education – rock climbing, overnight residentials to the school cottage in Wales, sports day, school sports teams, bespoke swimming lessons, music, link up work with our campus schools Forest Oak and Merstone and induction activities with Year 7.

All teachers are teachers of SEND (SEN Code of Practice 2015). Therefore, we are committed to ensuring that all staff have the right skills and strategies needed to support students with a variety of special educational needs and disabilities. Staff members are provided with Individual Pupil Profiles (IPP’s) for students with additional needs. These highlight the child’s strengths and weaknesses, and provide strategies for teachers to use within the classroom. This process helps us to achieve ‘Quality First Teaching’.


There is an on-going programme of professional development for teachers and the SENDCo works collaboratively with teachers and other senior leaders to identify areas of training need for staff. For example, recently all staff have benefitted from training about ‘relational approaches’ delivered by our Educational Psychologist, and from training about understanding the needs of those with ASD delivered by the Autism Education Trust. Our Teaching and Learning Assistants also have the opportunity to continue their professional development. For example, recently they have benefitted from training about supporting reading, and Maths, delivered by our Specialist Advisory Teacher for learning, and from training about emotional difficulties delivered by our Educational Psychologist.

  • Our SEND students are at the heart of any provisions made. Where appropriate, they take an active part in the review process. The Inclusion and Access team are available before and after school, and also at break and lunch times if a student needs to talk. Furthermore, students also have a strong pastoral link through their House Team who also regularly offer support. This consists of a Head of House, Mentors and Child and Family Support Workers. Each child on the SEND Register has a Teaching and Learning Assistant allocated to them. The students will be able to ‘touch base’ and talk to them about any concerns. Our SEND students are also asked to complete feedback and monitoring forms entitled ‘My views’. This allows students to give their opinion on matters such as:

    • How they are getting on at school
    • How effective is the support they are given
    • What they enjoy
    • What they don’t enjoy or find difficult
    • What they would like more help with

    We feel it is extremely important to maintain regular interactions with the students we support. This in turn helps us improve our working practice.

Accessibility