Most of us will be able to recall a time in our school career when something challenged us and, more than likely, frustrated us. We might have wrestled with a particularly difficult essay; navigated our way through exam courses whilst coping with a learning difficulty such as dyslexia or had to learn a new language in order to access education in the country in which we found ourselves living.
At any given time up to 15% of school-aged learners have an identified learning difficulty (UK Statistical First Release, 2017). For some, that may be a diagnosed, long-term challenge such as a sensory impairment or dyslexia. Others may experience a ‘difficulty learning’ at a specific point in their educational journey – they may need help with a Science topic they didn’t understand, a little extra support to review a Maths topic they missed when they moved schools mid-year or need language support to help them gain full understanding of a novel in English.
For a student with a learning difficulty or who is acquiring English, Senior school can, at first, appear as daunting an expedition as climbing Everest. Choosing which piece of home learning to attack first, making sense of the learning that took place in a lesson or deciding which IB or GCSE subjects to choose may seem like major challenges but all can be addressed through additional support.
The Learning Support Department works together with students and their families to make Senior school an accessible and enjoyable experience. Our main aim is to remove barriers to successful learning by promoting an understanding of learning differences and of inclusive approaches to learning and teaching. Specifically, the department supports students and families by:
- Helping learners identify and understand their strengths and what challenges them.
- Providing support for subjects, through in-class support, individual and small group work.
- Collaborating with teachers, year leaders, counsellors and, when necessary, with professionals outside BSM to ensure provision is appropriate and consistent across all aspects of school life.
- Working with students to develop the self-advocacy skills they need to navigate their journey through school and life beyond BSM.
- Offering guidance to students and their families on next steps, whether that is a decision on subject choices, a move to a new school or the transition to university.
- Organising more formal accommodations in the classroom, on trips and during tests and examinations.
Our team of Learning Support Assistants (LSAs) have specialisms across the curriculum and are highly experienced across the senior age range. As well as providing subject-specific support, the team offers advice on academic skills including study techniques, revision and examination strategies. The foundation of all support is an in-depth understanding of individual student needs. Support strategies are based on current good practice drawn from education systems around the world. The LSA team comprises Ms Donna, Ms Lian and Ms Jen who work with students in English and Humanities; Ms Mary who is our English as well as an additional language specialist; Mr Alvin, Ms Mariela and Ms May who work in Science and Ms Anabelle and Ms Edelyn who support students in Mathematics. We are fortunate to have Ms Marie Henderson, our Speech and Language Therapist, on the team. She supports students who experience challenges with speech and communication.
If you have any questions regarding Learning Support, please do not hesitate to drop in to the Learning Resource Centre. We are located on the ground floor and will always be happy to chat. – Written by Joanne Cuthbert, Learning Support Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Next week is Week B.