Abacus is a one-form entry Free School opened in September 2013 in partnership with Anthem Schools Trust. The school is currently at a temporary site near Kings’ Cross Station.
As a primary school we admit children in the 4-11 age range, we reached our full capacity in 2019. We currently offer year groups Reception through to Year 6
Our mission is to foster a positive, creative and multi-sensory learning environment that inspires each child to maximise their individual talents, curiosity and ability to think creatively. In our teaching, we use visual support, concrete, real life objects and movement to make the learning experience even more memorable.
Outdoor learning is a key feature in our curriculum and we take every opportunity to take the learning beyond the classroom walls. We also have a unique Foreign Language provision: we teach Mandarin from Reception and children love the interactive and fun lessons.
We offer the same opportunities for all children, regardless of their needs. We do everything possible to us to make adaptations so that every child can fully participate in all aspects of school life.
Special Education Needs Contact Details
This document summarises the ways in which we currently support pupils with SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) and their parents and carers. We continue to develop our provision to meet the changing requirements for individual children.
Below is some key information about communicating with the school regarding SEND.
If you are concerned about your child’s progress in school?
- If you have concerns about your child’s progress you should speak with your child’s class teacher.
- If the class teacher is not able to resolve your concerns, you should then speak with our teacher in charge of SEND, who is known as the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO). Our SENCO is Tom Owens. He can be contacted by telephone on 0207 387 8018 or by email at Towens@abacus.anthemtrust.uk. He is in office Thursdays and Fridays.
If the school have any concerns about your child’s learning in school
- Our process for identifying children with SEND is described in the Identification section of this document. If your child is not making sufficient progress, we will contact you to arrange a meeting.
At the meeting, we will:
- Listen to any concerns you may have regarding your child’s development
- Plan any individual support your child might receive
- Discuss with you any referrals to professionals who can support your child’s learning
Identification of Special Education Needs
At Abacus we believe that early identification of a special educational need is crucial to effectively support a child’s learning.
Teachers and Teaching Assistants monitor children’s progress daily through informal assessments. Half-termly Pupil Progress Review Meetings also take place between teachers, the SENCO and Senior Leadership Team.
Please see a detailed outline of the Additional Support in Appendix 1.
Staff can flag up their concerns at any point with the SENCO, who then observes the child and looks at the work if necessary. After a short monitoring period of no more than two weeks, we contact the parents/carers and meet with them to discuss any concerns and plans for additional support to be put in place.
At this point, we may include your child’s name on our Additional Support Register, sometimes referred to as the SEND Register. This is a confidential list, only used by professionals in school. Detailed information about the Register is in Appendix 1.
We invite parents to attend the meetings with specialist services.
Sometimes specialist services can help us better identify the need and help us plan support.
The Services involved in supporting children and staff at Abacus are:
Examples of what they do
Camden Educational Psychology Service
Claudia Noel-Michael, Educational Psychologist
Observation and assessment of children with possible learning difficulties.
Advice on social, emotional or communication concerns.
Advice to staff, parents and children on strategies to support learning.
Support for statutory assessment and Annual Reviews.
Camden Speech and Language Therapy Service
Speech and Language Therapist
Observation and assessment of children.
Advice to staff, parents and children.
Assessments and interventions.
Training for teaching assistants in the classroom.
Information sessions for parents, carers
NHS Occupational Therapy Service
Advice and support for independent self care: feeding, dressing and toileting issues.
Assessment and therapy sessions to develop motor skills.
Advice for children with sensory processing difficulties.
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service
Advises and helps pupils demonstrating social, emotional and mental health difficulties (assessment and intervention).
Follows up recommendations of Child Protection orders. Works with pupils and families (parenting skills, counselling, therapy and psychiatric advice).
CAMHS does not see children in school but supports individual children or their families through a clinic based service.
Camden Primary Learning Support Service
Provides support for pupils who are at risk of exclusion or social, emotional and mental health difficulties.
Provides an outreach service to schools.
BDA Approved Dyslexia Teacher
Individual specialist tuition
Information sessions for parents, carers
Counselling / play therapy
A private practitioner that supports children with anxiety, low self esteem and other emotional difficulties.
Basic health checks
Medical Care Plans for Individual Children
Integrated Service for disabled children.
This service provides assessment, therapy and family support, including short breaks. This service offers multi-agency assessment, diagnosis and support for disabled children and their families from 0-18.
We also have access to other services such as Camden’s Sensory Impairment Unit and Autism Support Service should the need for these services arise.
The Types of SEND the School Can Offer Provision For
The Government’s SEN Code of Practice groups special educational needs into the the following four categories:
- Speech, language and communication difficulties: this includes attention, listening and understanding difficulties, delayed or atypical development of speech sounds and atypical language patterns. It also includes social interaction and communication difficulties. Asperger’s , Autism, ADHD fall into this category, however these are also correlated with other groups such as Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties. For example, children work with TAs trained especially by the Speech and Language Therapist on pronunciation of speech sounds. We also use Talk Boost Programme and the Communication Cookbook to develop communication skills early on in children’s school life. www.talkingpoint.org.uk/resources/communication-cookbook
- Cognition and learning difficulties: this includes moderate learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia as well as severe learning difficulties. These kind of difficulties affect a child’s ability to process and remember information and apply knowledge in different situations. For example, we use the Fisher Family Trust Wave 3 Intervention, and we also work with Dyslexia Action who deliver classroom support and tuition. Whole class teaching is also supportive to the learning of children with Learning Difficulties, for example the school uses lots of visual support and kinaesthetic learning.
- Social, emotional and mental health difficulties: this includes children presenting with atypical behaviours, difficulties regulating emotions, low confidence, anxiety, relationships and other social-emotional issues. We offer emotional support groups (eg ELSA Support- Emotional Literacy Support Assistant) and we have an art/play therapist working with the children who need emotional support. Teachers also teach lessons regularly about Emotional Literacy.
- Sensory and physical difficulties: this category includes physical disabilities that affect a child’s mobility as well as sensory impairment (visual, hearing problems). The school is fully wheelchair accessible. We have followed specialist advice to equip a visually impaired child with the necessary visual aid (special glasses, large print resources).
The school plans carefully for individual children with SEND and makes adaptations to the curriculum and, wherever possible, to the environment, to support each child’s needs as and when they arise.
The School's Approach to Supporting Children with SEND
We are an inclusive school: we welcome and celebrate diversity.
The class teacher has overall responsibility for the pastoral and social welfare of every child in his or her class.
If further support is required the class teacher will contact the SENCO for advice and additional resources. For example, the SENCO may arrange for outside agencies such as Health and Social Care, and/or specialist educational services to work with your child.
Your child will receive support targeting his/her particular area of need. We facilitate, where possible, for the child to remain in the classroom and participate in the same activities as the children without SEND.
We ask parents/carers to provide information or any concerns about their children (e.g. if they have a disability, special need or medical need) before they start school, during the Reception home visit and by filling in a form. This helps us plan how we will support their child once he/she starts school.
If a child has attended a nursery we will also use the information they provide to plan the programme of support. In addition we assess all children in the first half term of joining Reception or other year groups. We use a combination of careful observation, one-to-one and small group activities and a review of progress to ensure we have a complete picture of your child’s learning strengths and needs.
We continue to monitor and assess throughout the year, ensuring we identify and support children whose additional needs may arise at a later point in their school life.
We also listen to children to find out how they are settling in to school, what they enjoy most, building on their strengths and interests to plan personalised support.
Each child on the SEN Register has an Individual Plan devised within school to work on specific targets that are different from and additional to the main classroom targets. Based on these targets the teacher, supported by the SENCO, plans the provision to help the child meet these targets.
The additional support provision may include:
- In class support by the Class Teacher or Teaching Assistant: either individually or in small target groups.
- Small group or individual interventions: delivered by a specially trained member of staff and closely supervised by the class teacher.
- Specialist services support: usually one-to-one sessions with one of the specialist listed above.
We always inform parents about the additional support at the start, share the targets and strategies to use at home, as well as some support about how to help your child at home. Parents/ carers will receive information about the additional provision with details about the frequency of the support as well as the name of the person delivering it.
Reviewing our provision is one of the most important aspects: we may continue, adapt or change the provision depending on the views from the child, the family and the progress the child has made as a result of the additional support.
We make available social emotional support and confidence building for every child, regardless of the type of SEND, through pastoral support, counselling and play therapy, and ensuing that he/she has someone to play with during playtime. Adults working with the children build positive, strong relationships which in turn helps children feel safe and become confident learners.
For a detailed outline of the levels of Additional Support in Abacus Belsize Primary School please see Appendix 1 at the end of this document.
Adapting the Curriculum and the Environment
Class teachers plan lessons according to the specific needs of all children in their classes, and will ensure that your child’s particular needs are met.
Support staff and class teachers will adapt or modify the teachers’ planning to support the needs of your child or to scaffold the learning where necessary. For example, for a child with dyslexia, staff might not change the content of a lesson. However, they might make the lesson multi-sensory, e.g. involving touching, smell or taste or might make the lesson involve movement.
Staff may use specific resources and strategies to support your child individually and in groups, responding to individual interests and learning styles. For example, a child with cognition and learning needs might use Numicon blocks to understand sets of numbers.
Planning and teaching will be adapted if needed to meet your child’s learning needs. Staff may differentiate your child’s learning by giving your child tasks or activities that differ from those given to pupils without SEND. Staff may also aim for your child to achieve a different outcome from a given lesson, or provide a different type or amount of support from that provided to other children.
Some children with an EHCP (Education and Healthcare Plan) may receive additional support from an SEND teaching assistant, monitored by the SENCO. The SEND teaching assistants support individuals and groups of children in class by adapting resources and planning in collaboration with the class teacher.
If classroom adaptations are needed, we seek support from the relevant specialist to help us make the necessary adaptations. For example, special texts for the visually impaired are purchased and specialist PE equipment is provided for the children with physical disabilities.
Developing the School's Staff SEN Knowledge Base
It is the SENCO’s responsibility to support class teachers in planning for children with SEND.
Training is responsive to the needs as they arise. For example, after a sad case of family bereavement is school, the SENCO arranged training for members of staff so that they felt confident in how to support children experiencing the loss of a family member. The school also audits the skills, experience and training of teachers and teaching assistants. Questionnaires are sent out regularly to find out the training needs of staff. For example, the responses from the latest questionnaire resulted in the school arranging further, more in-depth dyslexia training for classroom teachers, as per their request. We also bring in specialists to support teachers and teaching assistants with particular needs. For example, staff received support from a behaviour specialist to enable them to best support particular children.
Members of staff, prior to running interventions, also receive specific training, for example before running Talkboost, Wave 3 Literacy and Maths Interventions. We research carefully the available interventions and only use ones with a strong evidence base for effectiveness.
Specialist Support Services such as the Educational Psychologist or the Speech and Language therapist also provide staff with expert advice and training to help support children with additional needs in the classroom.
Abacus staff, in collaboration with the Anthem Schools Trust, undertake visits and welcome visitors from other schools to share good practice.
The school’s SENCO has the relevant qualifications to Coordinate Special Educational Needs provision, having completed the Postgraduate National Award for SEN Coordination Award.
Measuring Progress and Evaluating Our Provision
All children’s progress is continually monitored against age-related expectations (ARE) by his or her class teacher. The progress of the children on the SEN register is reviewed formally by the class teacher and the SENCO every half term.
At the end of Year 1, all children are assessed in phonics and the results are compared against those of other children nationwide. At the end of Key Stage 1 (at the end of Year 2) all children are assessed by their class teachers. The results are used to measure individual pupil progress and are compared against the progress of other pupils nationally.
Children with a Statement of SEND or an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan will have an individual support plan. This will be reviewed by the child’s class teacher and the SENCO every term so it can continually be modified to meet the child’s needs. We will invite parents to be part of this process. The progress of children with a statement of SEND or an EHC Plan is formally reviewed once per year by the child’s class teacher, the SENCO and any outside providers of services to your child.
The SENCO will also monitor that your child is making good progress on any individual and group work in which your child takes part. The progress in individual targets is closely monitored and reviewed half-termly. Once per academic year during the summer term, the SENCO prepares a report for the Headteacher describing the progress of all children with SEND within the school. This is included in the child’s school report.
The SENCO also prepares termly updates for the Governing Body in an anonymised format.
We constantly monitor and evaluate important evidence for success and we take action where we are not successful.
The things we look at to make sure we are meeting the needs of children with SEND include:
- Academic standards and good progress
- Age related expectations in all areas
- Behaviour and emotional wellbeing
- Involvement in activities, visits and clubs
- Involvement in the full life of the school
- Smooth transitions
- Parental Feedback
- Parental Complaints
- Pupil Voice– behaviour and wellbeing, confidence and resilience as learners
Transitions: Supporting Children Joining our School
All children entering Reception class receive a home or a nursery visit from a member of staff.
For children already identified with SEND, the SENCO will take part in this initial visit.
We collect information and records from previous nursery provision and attend appropriate transition meetings with nursery staff. Where relevant a transition support plan is compiled by the SENCO in collaboration with parents and nursery staff and circulated to all staff and parents/carers. Transition arrangements can be tailored to support the individual but we always plan carefully to ensure children are supported to settle and feel safe. We offer drop in mornings and staggered entry to support the transition to full time school. We organise a transition day in the Summer term when children can become familiar with the setting and meet the staff.
When transitioning between year groups we organise hand-over meetings, where teachers and support staff liaise to ensure a clear understanding of the needs of all children with SEND. Where relevant, class staff create transition books for individual children, using social stories or photos to support the transition and change. Parents of children with SEND will have an opportunity to meet the new class teacher and to visit the new classroom before the start of the school year. Children will have a number of opportunities to work with their new class teacher and visit their new classroom.
We will also meet with the parents/carers of children joining our school later in the school year to plan transition and request the SEND file form the previous school.
Contact Information and Complaints Procedure
If you have any queries or complaints, the initial point of contact should be your child’s class teacher. The class teacher will seek advice where necessary from the Senior Leadership Team.
The class teacher is responsible for:
- Monitoring the progress of your child and identifying, planning and delivering any additional help your child may need (this could be things like targeted work or additional support)
- Liaising with the SENCO know as necessary.
- Writing Individual Plans and Support Plans, with support from the SENCO and sharing and reviewing these with parents once each term and planning for the next term.
- Ensuring that all staff working with your child in school are helped to deliver the planned work/programme for your child, so they can achieve the best possible progress. This may involve the assistance of additional adults, outside specialist help and specially planned work and resources. This is overseen by the SENCO.
All members of staff can be contacted by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The SENCO is the person to talk to any SEND issues or concerns. He is responsible for:
- Coordinating all the support for children with SEND and developing the school’s SEND Policy to make sure all children get a consistent, high quality response to meeting their needs in school.
- Ensuring that you as a parent/carer are:
- Involved in supporting your child’s learning
- Kept informed about the support your child is getting
- Involved in reviewing how he/she is doing through termly review meetings between you and the staff working with your child.
- Liaising with all the specialists coming into school to help support your child’s learning e.g. Speech and Language Therapist, Educational Psychologist etc
- Compiling and updating the school’s provision map – a record of all the different ways that we provide extra support (for example support for reading etc.) for children with SEND
- Providing specialist support for teachers and support staff in the school so they can help children with SEND
Contact: Mr Thomas Owens , Towens@abacus.anthemtrust.uk
The Headteacher provides leadership on high achievement and inclusion for all. She is responsible for:
- The day to day management of all aspects of the school, this includes the support for children with SEND.
- She will give responsibility to the SENCO and class teachers but is still responsible for ensuring that your child’s needs are met.
- She must make sure that the Governing Body is kept up to date about any issues in the school relating to SEND.
Contact: Mrs Vicki Briody, Vbriody@abacus.anthemtrust.uk
The SEN Governor is responsible for:
- Ensuring that the necessary support is provided for any child who has SEND, through termly meetings with the SENCO and termly reports from the Headteacher.
- Monitoring and supporting the school on SEN matters on the governing body
Some other resources to assist you in making a complaint are:
- The school’s complaints policy, which is published on our website;
- The disagreement resolution service (for disagreements between parents/pupil and the LA or parents/pupil and the educational provider);
- Complaints to OFSTED (about whole school SEND provision rather than in relation to individual children and where the complaints procedure has not resolved the complaint);
- An appeal to the SEND First-Tier Tribunal about EHC assessments/plans and/or disability discrimination. This must follow mediation, unless it is a complaint over the naming of a school placement.
- A complaint to the LA Ombudsman (for complaints against LAs if not resolved through the LA complaints procedure).
- Complaint to the Secretary of State (against schools or LAs).
Camden Council's Local Offer
Camden Local Authority’S Local offer is available via this link:
The local Offer is information about the support that is available for children and young people from birth to 25 years who have Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND). It sets out a range of information about specialist services, voluntary organisations, schools and colleges that can provide support and information for families of children and young people with SEND. It explains the procedures for requesting an assessment for an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). The LA website also provides information about where to go for advice and guidance on SEN and Disability matters, leisure activities for children with SEND and arrangements for resolving disagreements and mediation.
As a Camden school, Abacus makes full use of the Local Authority’s Local Offer when appropriate and we have strong links with the LA’s Services.
Alternatively, if the parent of a child with SEND lives in a Borough other than Camden, the school will provide the link to access the relevant Local Authority’s Local Offer.
Please see below for our annual SEND report