The Learning Support Department

A broad team of dedicated and hardworking Learning Support Assistants (LSAs), Specialist Staff, Teachers, Administrators & SENCO make up a team of over 20. By far the most extensive department in SJB it supports over 230 children with additional learning needs and disabilities.

Our primary focus is what goes on in the classroom. Throughout SJB, you will find a high number of students being closely supported via LSAs in class, fully included within a mainstream curriculum. The Learning Support department is currently supporting over 450 mainstream lessons per week!

LSAs have regular and continuous coaching to guarantee that the best possible methods are being used to support students. In addition, LSAs will overtly or discretely support a lesson with a range of tactics and methods, ensuring inclusion is paramount. Part of this inclusion is that students will build and learn resilience and independence as they develop up the school, no matter the severity of need.

The school’s Catholic ethos is integral to what we do and no doubt part of the school’s wider success of supporting all students. However, as a department, we go further and pride ourselves on the following values:

  • Patience
  • Understanding
  • Sense of Humour
  • Kindness
  • Support
  • Sensitivity
  • Willingness
  • Adaptability
  • Versatility
  • Diplomacy

SEND Provision

SJB is a mainstream secondary school providing students with a curriculum that culminates in GCSEs at the end of Year 11 and GCE A Levels at the end of Year 13.

We are committed to providing for students with a range of Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) including those without an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). We are also committed to supporting colleagues in school to provide the initial wave of support in the classroom, Quality first teaching (QFT).

SEND Population (Students on the Learning Support Register) 2021/22

EHCP (E)37
SEN Support (K)87
Quality First Teaching (QT)126
Learning Support Register250

The school currently meets the needs of students with and without an EHCP with the following kinds of special educational need:

  • Autistic Spectrum Conditions
  • Social, Emotional and Mental Health Needs including ADHD and Anxiety
  • Speech and Language Needs
  • Specific Learning Difficulties relating to literacy or numeracy
  • Visual/Hearing Impairments
  • Sensory and Physical Needs

SJB has a huge wealth of experience working and providing for students with SEND. We run interventions to meet the need of the students proactively.

Below are some of the key provisions we currently offer. Many of these provisions are available to both students with and without an EHCP.

Before School Club

8.00am – 8.50am Learning Support Department opens first thing for students to have a good calm start to the day. Monitored by a small team of LSAs, students can study and complete homework. This is a great time for many of the students to organise themselves and prepare for the day ahead.

Breaktime Support

10.55am- 11.15am Learning Support offers a safe and calm environment for those who find the playground and canteen overwhelming. At break time students can interact inside, have a snack, play games and chat. As we want students to engage with each other openly during this time, we ask students not to use their iPad over the break.

Lunchtime Support

KS3 12.05pm – 12.55pm and KS4 12.55pm – 1.45pm Learning Support offers a safe calm and supported environment for students who find the canteen overwhelming. At lunchtime, they can eat their packed lunch in Learning Support if they wish. As we want students to engage with each other during this time, we ask them not to use their iPad over lunchtime. Learning Support Assistants are on hand to offer support socially to help set up games, activities as well as having a good chat with anyone who needs it.

Homework Club

15.25pm – 16:30pm Homework club runs every day in The Hub. Supported by a large group of LSAs, it is an environment where students can feel supported in making a good start with their Homework.

SEND Mentoring System

Every student with an EHCP (E) or on the Learning Support register as SEN Support (K) will have a Learning Mentor or Key LSA. The Learning Mentor / Key LSA is the students “go-to person”, they will also hold the administrative and communication responsibilities to gather and pass on feedback to relevant people. Effective mentoring can really be the glue that holds all the support together. Overseeing the students’ progress for a minimum of a year some mentors could oversee a student for up to 3 years. The mentor will create the ‘Student Passport’ and ‘SEND Learning Plan’.

Transition Programme (Year 7)

Transition is available to all year 7s SEND and non-SEND. It operates a much smaller class size of around 15 – 18 students. These are students who are most in need of support. They are provided with a calm, constant and nurturing environment on their transition to secondary school. Core subjects – Maths, English, RE, Geography, History and Computing are taught by a primary trained teacher in the same classroom. Science, Drama, Music and Art are taught by subject specialist teachers in specialist rooms. For Design Technology, Food and Physical Education the students are taught amongst the rest of Year 7.

Removing the anxiety of multiple teachers, rooms and environments significantly aids the learning and settling in process. It also provides to opportunity for additional literacy and numeracy support where needed. Specific SEND support can also be deployed in the same environment making it more effective.

The students become quickly familiar with the expectations of the school, whilst being able to receive the best possible support from their teachers and the Learning Support department, whilst accessing the full curriculum in an inclusive environment. Overall having a better transition into mainstream secondary education. The school determines who will be placed in the transition programme each year based on the needs of the cohort; placement is not based solely on SEND needs.

Emotional Literacy Support Sessions (ELSA)

Carried out by trained and skilled Emotional Literacy Support Assistants (ELSAs). These sessions are considered early intervention for emotional thinking and understanding. There is a variety of reasons why a student is referred to this support such as family issues, sickness or separation as well as school-related anxieties and concerns, however it is not always obvious.

We run a variety of different programmes to suit the varying needs of our students. The sessions all run once a week for 4-6 weeks and are either small group or one-to-one depending on the programme and the needs of the individuals. These include:

  • Social Skills – The sessions focus on age-appropriate aspects of social skills regarding the thinking and understanding of how we communicate and interact with each other, both verbally and non-verbally, through gestures, body language and our personal appearance. For many students especially those on the Autistic Spectrum, it is not automatic, and we need to provide a long-term understanding of our ability to understand why effective communication is so important.
  • Friendships and Relationships Skills – In this small group programme the students gain a better understanding of healthy friendships and relationships and explore different challenges that they may face. It also provides opportunity to for the students to build friendships within the group.
  • Building Self-esteem – These sessions will deliver an opportunity to reflect and build on the students’ self-esteem with a variety of practical activities.
  • Dealing with Low Level Anxiety – These sessions teach the students what anxiety is and provide them with the tools to work through it.

The impact of these programmes is reviewed by the ELSAs at 4-6 weeks and may be extended.

BEAT Sessions

Overseen and created by an Educational Psychologist, this 6-week workshop is delivered by an ELSA to a small group of Year 11, 12 and 13 students who might become anxious about exams. Students who access the group will have greater understanding and will be able to use strategies to help reduce anxieties with exams.

Lexia Power Up Literacy Programme

Lexia PowerUp Literacy is a computer-based programme that adapts instruction to the specific needs of adolescent learners. The activities in PowerUp support and build on English language focusing on developing reading skills in three areas: word study, grammar, and comprehension.

PowerUp uses a structured and systematic approach to filling in skill gaps for adolescent learners. The programme is broken up into three main skill areas since students may have different needs in each:

  • Word Study – Students develop reading accuracy and fluency by focusing on sound and syllable patterns in words.
  • Grammar – Students learn how written language works in order to improve their writing and reading comprehension. They learn how parts of speech function in sentences and how sentence parts convey meaning.
  • Comprehension – Students learn skills & strategies to become independent and strategic readers. Passages include original and authentic texts of multiple genres including informational texts, narratives, drama, and poetry.

Handwriting Group

Led by one of our experienced and trained Support Staff, this intervention delivers routine exercises in a quiet and calm space in school. It offers daily practice with fine motor & gross motor skills using a variety of every day and specific items. Students often find this time relaxing as well as an opportunity to have a chat before school. It can be delivered as a group or one-to-one.

Pathway 2

Pathway 2 is an invite-only alternative curriculum at KS4. Considerable time and care is invested into identifying those students who might benefit from this pathway prior to the Year 9 options process. Identified students and their parents are invited into school for a Pathway 2 meeting before the Year 9 options process begins and are given the choice as to which pathway model they would prefer to follow.

This provision provides greater flexibility in the school week by reducing the total number of GCSEs/BTECs taken by the student from ten to nine or eight. This allows us to create additional support lessons on their timetable. These lessons, run by teachers, will focus on Maths/numeracy, English/literacy and Science.

This combination of additional support lessons and study outside the classroom compared to the main pathway, allows students greater time to focus on those subjects that they are following GCSE/BTEC examination courses in. The end result of this is that Pathway 2 typically leads to better academic outcomes at the end of KS4 and to a wider range of options and courses Post-16 for those students following it.

Functional Skills English (Level 1 and 2)

Each year a very small number of students are disapplied from GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature and instead work towards the Functional Skills English qualification. Those who achieve a pass at Level 1 in Year 10 go on to study for Level 2 in Year 11.

English & Maths Boosters

Bespoke individual packages of English and/or Maths intervention delivered by a subject teachers or subject specific LSAs help students who find it hard to access the content of the GCSE curriculum. The support on offer will cater to the learning needs of the student, pre-teach and gap-fill in all areas of the subject.

Work Skills

Students will be given the opportunity to have some lessons from SJB Career Advisor, then to follow a plan to ensure they are prepared for life after education giving them the opportunity to complete CV writing, work related life skills, communications and finance.

Paired Reading

Peer-led reading intervention for students in Years 7 and 8 allows students to practice their reading skills with trained tutors from Years 10 & 12. This would take place periodically, usually over a single term.

Speech & Language Therapy

Our in-house Speech and Language Therapist provides treatment, support and care for children who have difficulties with communication. Provision is in small groups or one-to-one depending on need.

Learning Support Assistant

The Learning Support Assistant (LSA) works with students with SEND in and out of the classroom. Supporting academically, physically and mentally; the students wellbeing, social development and focus within the classroom are all supported. This could be in the form of gentle and occasional prompts within the lesson to correct focus to being seated next to a student to physically support them access the curriculum and work set by the teacher.

LSAs are much more nomadic than other support staff and will often support a range of students throughout the school, working across multiple classes and years over the week. LSAs at SJB are broadly linked to year groups and to subjects and will work in all types of lessons. It is rare that LSAs work one-to-one with individuals.

Joining SJB with SEND

SJB understands the journey all parents have when deciding their child’s next school. With so many factors and pressures on parents, it is understandable that the process and pathways can become overwhelming particularly at points of transition. However, we want to reassure all parents from the outset that we are here to help. We will guide parents and provide concise and easy to understand information that will help them to make the best and most informed decisions for their child.

If a child currently has an EHCP and is in Year 4 or 5, we recommend that parents book a SEND Tour to see all about the provision at SJB. The tour, lasting for about an hour will consist of all the significant parts of the school and the Learning Support Department. At the end of the tour, parents will get the opportunity to ask any questions relating to what the school does to support all students. Our SEND Tours start at 10.15am and 11.15am – please email if you would like to book onto one.

Whilst much of our work supports those students with an Educational Health & Care Plan (EHCP), we continue to provide support and expertise to those students with any additional needs throughout the school. More information about what we provide for non-EHCP students is on our Learning Support page.

Starting at SJB does not always mean day one of Year 7. Once a child’s place is confirmed, The SJB SEND team will be in touch to arrange the first visit whilst they are in Year 6. All students who need a supported transition will be offered a range of opportunities to get to know us before they start.

Yr 6 into 7 SEND Transition Morning (June)

The first morning will take place largely within the Learning Support Department a week or two before the main Year 6 into 7 Induction Day (see below). After a few introductions we will unpick the schools’ expectations on them as students. The students will then be split into a few groups and then, supported by our team of LSAs, embark on a tour of the school, several fun lesson-based activities and enjoy lunch together. This is an excellent opportunity for the children to get to know key members of the Learning Support Department and some of the other students joining SJB in September.

Yr 6 into 7 SEND Transition Afternoon (June)

The second visit will be to build on their experiences so far with the aim of increasing their independence. It is timed to fall after the main Year 6 into 7 Induction Day. They will spend the afternoon with the team, getting to know each other and the school a little better. This afternoon provides the students with an opportunity to ask questions and discuss concerns that they have in a safe and supportive environment. They will also do several fun activities to check their knowledge and understanding of some of the key information they have been given so far. The afternoon will culminate with a short and informal talk for parents about life at SJB. This also provides an important opportunity for parents to ask any questions regarding what to expect from the school.

Induction Day (July)

Open to all new starters to the school; their first whole day at SJB. The opportunity to start making lifelong friends and getting to know many of their new teachers and support staff who will be working with them for the next few years. This is a fun-packed day anchored around time spent getting to know each other in form groups.

Learning Support Summer Camp – (August)

This opportunity enables new students to ease into their new life at SJB before the school term begins. For 2 – 4 days, support staff and teaching staff will lead on several practical activities in many of our specialist facilities on-site. Previously, we have offered activities in Food, Art, Drama and Physical Education as well as a range of other core curriculum areas.

The advantage to running these taster days at this time is that new students can begin to get comfortable with the school surroundings without the added anxiety of moving around a busy school full of students, as will be the case the following week in the first week of term. The camp will also be offered to a select number of students in Years 8 and 9, who remember the tough transfer to secondary very well, but will also offer their help and support as a buddy.


SJB firmly believes that each student should be given equality of opportunity to achieve their full potential – spiritually, academically and socially – by recognising the uniqueness of each individual and providing a rich and varied learning experience for all. Each student, regardless of their ability, is entitled to a broad and balanced curriculum which is relevant to his educational needs. SJB is committed to providing, for all students, the best possible environment for learning and to offer a curriculum that gives all pupils a sense of achievement and thereby helps them to develop confidence and self-esteem.

SJB will have due regard for the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice (CoP) when carrying out our duties towards all students with SEND and ensure that parents are notified when SEND provision is being made for their child.

If you are a current or prospective parent and you would like to find out more about our learning support provision, please contact the SENCO and Head of Learning Support (Mrs L Kenny) .

SEND Information ReportSEND Provision Map (Oct 2022)