SCHOOLS STRUGGLE TO CATER FOR SPECIAL NEEDS SAYS ISLE OF WIGHT HEADTEACHER

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A headteacher has spoken of the struggle of catering for the special education needs and disabilities (SEND) of children in mainstream schools.

Executive headteacher of Oakfield CE Primary School, Colin Haley, spoke following the school’s latest Ofsted inspection.

He said SEND provision across the Island, not just Oakfield, is a ‘challenge’ after inspectors found the school’s curriculum was ‘not consistently well-planned’ for SEND pupils and the ‘pupils did not do as well as they could’.

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Inspectors also said ‘leaders had not ensured staff have the expertise they need’ and recommended staff be given suitable training.

Mr Haley said:

“Our mainstream Island schools are having to cope with pupils who, in many instances, would benefit from specialist provision or additional support within their education setting.

“The inspectors witnessed us working with a number of high needs pupils and they saw that the mainstream setting, and the associated training levels of staff, does not provide as well as a specialist setting would for these individuals.

“Oakfield is a very caring, nurturing school rising to that challenge and doing amazingly well with a number of children with very complex needs.

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“We are not the only school having to cope with that scenario on the Island and under the circumstances Oakfield is very much a success story.

“Can we do better? Yes we can, and the Oakfield staff are hugely enthusiastic, determined and professionally focused to do so.”

The Ryde school, part of the Arreton and Oakfield Federation, was rated ‘requires improvement’ again after its January inspection but was found the school is ‘caring … where staff go out of their way to nurture pupils’.

The primary school was rated good for behaviour and attitude of pupils, personal development and early years provision but requires improvement in the quality of education provided and leadership and management.

Mr Haley said the inspection ‘highlighted the very clear progress the school had made’. He said:

“Staff and pupils have worked extremely hard and the inspectors recognised the strengths in the school, particularly our Christian ethos, wide community links and strong pupil progress in early years.”

Reading programmes had also not been working well enough to help the weakest readers become fluent or enough support was not given to pupils who find reading difficult.

Pupils weaknesses in ‘basic grammar and punctuation’ remained because they have not been properly secured at an earlier stage.

However, inspectors did note new curriculum plans are helping pupils to catch up and the level of learning standards has been increased.

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Our mainstream Island schools are having to cope with pupils who, in many instances, would benefit from specialist provision or additional support within their education setting. … Well said Mr Haley – perhaps these do gooders that think it is a great idea to throw all kids in together, regardless of the consequences to the educational development of all kids and the ability of the school to provide, will re-think their poorly though out strategy. The previous generations had specialist schools for children with SEN and they didn’t go to mainstream for that reason – they were SEN and mainstream… Read more »

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