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The Downs (Federated) School

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The Downs School is a comprehensive secondary consisting of approximately 1,200 students, with 180 students in each of Years Seven to Eleven. The philosophy of the school is ‘Learning Together, Learning for Life,’ which encapsulates our belief that effective student learning is only possible if all members of the school community, including staff, parents and students, work together. 

At the end of August 2012 The Downs formed a federation with Compton Primary School which strengthened the already strong link with all our feeder schools ensuring a smooth transition between Primary and Secondary education. This also allows our teachers to exchange ideas and good practice which benefits learning at all stages. A new governing body was established, including members of the two previous governing bodies. The Head teacher of the secondary school became the executive Head teacher of both schools. In the summer term of 2016 The Downs formed a further federation with Beedon Primary School.

Mission Statement: Striving for excellence through resilience, respect and responsibility. We aim to see - everyone engaging in learning; striving for excellence and responding positively to challenges - an atmosphere of mutual respect and fairness We aim to see - a workplace where people feel valued - staff who are proactive about their development; reflective about their work - feedback which is effective, encourages excellence and enables development We aim to see - a community which values differences in beliefs, cultures and backgrounds - young people who understand the skills needed in our global society We aim to see - staff, students, parents, governors and people who understand the aims and priorities of the school - a shared sense of purpose in achieving the school aims - excellent leadership at all levels throughout the school community We aim to see - a safe place to be - a school environment which has a positive impact on the learning, motivation and behaviour of all

- a school which is positively committed to the environment, in its teaching and in its actions

Who to contact

Telephone
01635 270000
E-mail
contact@thedownsschool.org
Website
The Downs (Federated) School

Where to go

Address
Compton
Newbury
Berkshire
Postcode
RG20 6NU

Time / Date Details

When is it on
Term Time
Time of day
Afternoon
Morning
Lunchtime

Other Details

Availability

Age Ranges
11-16
16-18

Local Offer

Description

The Downs School is a comprehensive secondary consisting of approximately 1,200 students, with 180 students in each of Years Seven to Eleven. The philosophy of the school is ‘Learning Together, Learning for Life,’ which encapsulates our belief that effective student learning is only possible if all members of the school community, including staff, parents and students, work together. 

At the end of August 2012 The Downs formed a federation with Compton Primary School which strengthened the already strong link with all our feeder schools ensuring a smooth transition between Primary and Secondary education. This also allows our teachers to exchange ideas and good practice which benefits learning at all stages. A new governing body was established, including members of the two previous governing bodies. The Head teacher of the secondary school became the executive Head teacher of both schools. In the summer term of 2016 The Downs formed a further federation with Beedon Primary School.

Mission Statement: Striving for excellence through resilience, respect and responsibility. We aim to see - everyone engaging in learning; striving for excellence and responding positively to challenges - an atmosphere of mutual respect and fairness We aim to see - a workplace where people feel valued - staff who are proactive about their development; reflective about their work - feedback which is effective, encourages excellence and enables development We aim to see - a community which values differences in beliefs, cultures and backgrounds - young people who understand the skills needed in our global society We aim to see - staff, students, parents, governors and people who understand the aims and priorities of the school - a shared sense of purpose in achieving the school aims - excellent leadership at all levels throughout the school community We aim to see - a safe place to be - a school environment which has a positive impact on the learning, motivation and behaviour of all

- a school which is positively committed to the environment, in its teaching and in its actions

Local Offer Age Bands
12 to 14
15 to 16
16 to 18

Mainstream

1. Identification of SEND
1.1: How does the school identify children/young people with special educational needs and disabilities?

Students who have an identified Special Education Need (SEN) have a significant learning difficulty. The Code of Practice (2015) identifies 4 broad areas of need these are: Communication and Interaction, Cognition and Learning, Social, Emotional and Mental Health and Sensory and or Physical Need. Students with an identified learning difficulty will have specialist educational provision to support their learning. To aid in identification of those with a significant learning difficulty all young people complete the CAT (Cognitive Ability Test) upon entry to The Downs. This gives us an indication of general ability to access different areas of the curriculum. In addition, we undertake baseline literacy testing (spelling age and reading comprehension age) of all students. Students identified as scoring significantly below the average expected for their peer group will be assessed further and offered support as appropriate. All teachers are expected to refer students making less than expected progress (relative to their baseline assessment and in comparison to their peer group) for timely further assessment by the SEND department, where referrals to other professionals (e.g. Educational Psychologist) will be made if considered appropriate. Where further assessment is required, parents and carers will be consulted prior to the assessment being conducted and contacted following the assessment to discuss the outcomes and subsequent plan of support for their child.

1.2: What should I do if I think my child has SEND?

If you think your child has SEND, please contact the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo). We are always happy to discuss your concerns and the SENCo will work closely with your child’s Head of Year to ensure that appropriate support and monitoring is put in place. To contact the SENCo or Head of Year please use the following email: contact@thedownsschool.org

2. Support for children with special educational needs
2.1: If my child is identified as having SEND, who will oversee and plan their education programme?

The SENCo and Head of Year will work closely to oversee and plan provision for students with SEND. The progress of SEND students and the effectiveness of provisions are reviewed on a termly basis with the Deputy Head teacher with responsibility for the Key Stage. Students and parents will be involved in decision making where interventions / alternative provisions are being developed.

2.2: How will I be informed / consulted about the ways in which my child is being supported?

Parents and carers are welcome to contact the school SENCo or Head of Year at any time to discuss any concerns about their child’s progress and wellbeing. If the school identify that additional support is necessary for an individual student, parents and carers may be invited to contribute to a ‘Challenge and Support Plan’. This details an individual’s strengths and needs and identifies personalised strategies for teachers to use in the classroom to support that student and any additional provision required

2.3: How will the school balance my child's need for support with developing their independence?

There is a focus on developing independence for all students with SEND, and this is incorporated into Challenge and Support Plans where appropriate. Teaching Assistants (TA’s) are deployed through curriculum faculties so that they develop a deeper understanding of teaching and learning in that curriculum area. This enables TA’s to better support students with SEND to make progress, as teachers can work more closely with their faculty TA to develop strategies to differentiate and personalise the curriculum for students with additional needs. There is a clear focus on learning and on encouraging students with SEND to take responsibility for their own progress. TA’s and teachers are expected to give high quality descriptive feedback to enable students with SEND to recognise where progress has been made and what needs to happen to ensure that this continues. Where students require intensive TA support to be able to access the curriculum, this is planned carefully with parents, carers and other professionals to incorporate the need to develop independence.

2.4: How will the school match / differentiate the curriculum for my child's needs?

All teachers are made aware of the needs of students with SEND, and suggested strategies to support these students, through the school’s confidential ‘alert booklet’. Some students, including all those with an EHC Plan, will have a Challenge and Support Plan outlining their strengths and needs, with strategies that teachers are expected to use in the classroom. Regular monitoring of differentiation, including observation of staff, is undertaken by Heads of Faculty and the Senior Leadership Team - good practice identified and shared and areas for development identified and addressed through training and individual professional development.

2.5: What teaching strategies does the school use for children with learning difficulties, including autistic spectrum disorder, hearing impairment, visual impairment, speech and language difficulties?

A wide range of teaching strategies are used across the school to support students with a variety of SEND. Advice is taken from other professionals (e.g. Educational Psychologist, Speech and Language Therapist, Autism Adviser, Sensory Consortium) regarding the most effective strategies to employ for individual students.

2.6: What additional staffing does the school provide from its own budget for children with SEND?

The school provides a team of TAs who support students in lessons and small group teaching. Literacy teachers provide targeted interventions for students with literacy difficulties. Math’s tutoring is provided for students with difficulties in this area.

2.7: What specific intervention programmes does the school offer to children with SEND and are these delivered on a one to one basis or in small groups?
Type / TitleIntervention Type
Literacy intervention with specialist teacher One to one
Literacy intervention with specialist TA One to one
Spelling Group Small group
Paired reading One to one
ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support) One to one
ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support) Small group
Mentoring One to one
Additional testing (Level 7 Specialist) One to one
2.8: What resources and equipment does the school provide for children with SEND?

We have a soundfield system installed in 4 classrooms for the benefit of hearing impaired students. These are portable according to requirements. We are able to provide laptops for some students to use in school; these are allocated according to priority. We have a wide range of resources for use in literacy and social skills interventions. Individual requirements for resources and equipment will be considered in discussion with parents/carers and other professionals.

2.9: What special arrangements can be made for my child when taking examinations?

Students with additional needs who may be eligible for examination concessions will be assessed by our specialist literacy teacher (Level 7). We will accept referrals from teachers, parents/carers and students themselves. There are very strict eligibility criteria and evidence requirements which will be discussed on an individual basis.

3. My child's progress
3.1: How will the school monitor my child's progress and how will I be involved in this?

Academic progress for all students is monitored by the Head of Year and Deputy Head (KS3/4/5) on a termly basis. The SENCo provides additional monitoring for students with SEND. Students making less than expected progress are brought up in termly key stage progress meetings with the senior leadership team. Parents receive three progress reports each year and have one parents’ evening each year, when there are opportunities to meet their child’s teachers.

3.2: When my child's progress is being reviewed, how will new targets be set and how will I be involved?

Your child will have a progress section in their planner, where they will record their termly assessment levels and targets after consultation with their class teacher for each subject. Please contact the class teacher through reception or by using contact@thedownsschool.org email, to discuss further, if you wish. Students with an EHC plan will have a comprehensive progress review at their annual review, and their Challenge and Support Plan should be reviewed with parents on at least 2 other occasions throughout the year.

3.3: ln addition to the school's normal reporting arrangements, what opportunities will there be for me to discuss my child's progress with school staff?

We are happy to meet with parents and carers at any point outside of the normal reporting arrangements if there are any concerns about progress. There will also be ongoing informal contact with the SEN department for students receiving intervention.

3.4: What arrangements does the school have for regular home to school contact?

Parents and carers can contact the school at any time if they have concerns or information to pass on. The tutor or head of year is the first point of contact day to day. Some students may have a home-school book where this is deemed appropriate after discussion with parents/carers and the head of year.

3.5: How can I help support my child's learning?

The main thing that you can do to support your child’s learning is to pass on any concerns or relevant information to the school as soon as they arise so that we can address these in partnership. Supporting with good organisation, and supporting your child with homework, is essential. Reading regularly with your child at home and talking about what you are reading is vital in improving literacy and comprehension skills. Questioning about what has been read will demonstrate any gaps in comprehension. Students with SEND often benefit from ‘over-learning’ so practising keywords and going over key concepts that they have learned is also really beneficial. 

3.6: Does the school offer any help for parents / carers to enable them to support their child's learning, eg. training or learning events?

For those with Literacy support useful information is shared via a letter and leaflet. There is regular contact between support teachers and parents to ensure parents have a clear understanding of how to support their son / daughter.

3.7: How will my child's views be sought about the help they are getting and the progress they are making?

All students have the opportunity to complete an annual student survey, and the results of this are reflected in action planning. Students with an EHCP always have the opportunity to contribute to annual review meetings and Challenge and Support Plan reviews and are supported by an adult to do this as appropriate. Students complete termly progress documents in their planner and, in discussion with subject teachers and their tutor, identify key successes and areas for improvement. Students have mentoring days with tutors where they have the opportunity to feedback to teachers about support, this is then shared with the SEN department. Students are actively encouraged to share their thoughts on their progress and other areas of the school.

3.8: What accredited and non accredited courses do you offer for young people with SEND?

The school offers a range of courses leading to examination at both level two and three. These include GCSE, A level and BTEC. Following discussion, students with SEND may have the opportunity to vary their programme to include additional English and mathematics, functional courses, work related activities and small group support. The extent of this programme will vary each year according to student needs and the resourcing available within the school.

3.9: How does the school assess the overall effectiveness of its SEN provision and how can parents / carers and young people take part in this evaluation?

The SEN department complete a termly self-evaluation and the SEND policy is evaluated annually. The impact of literacy interventions is evaluated every term. Parent / carer contributions from annual reviews are included in these evaluations. 

4. Support for my childs overall well being
4.1: What support is available to promote the emotional and social development of children with SEND?

Social and emotional needs are included in Challenge and Support Plans so that they are addressed in everyday lesson planning. We have two qualified ELSA (emotional literacy support assistants) who offer group and individual work. All students have access to homework club which runs every lunchtime. All students have access to the Student Support Centre, and the support provided will be planned on an individual basis with the Student Managers. In addition there is a friendship club running every lunchtime for students to interact socially with other students from a variety of year groups. Older students as well as Teaching Assistants mentor students on a weekly basis, these sessions provide students with a key adult / mentor who can support the student emotionally. The students and parents are given the opportunity to complete an Equalities Questionnaire annually which helps to identify any further areas of need.

4.2: What support does the school put in place for children who find it difficult to conform to normal behavioural expectations and how do you support children to avoid exclusion?

Strategies to support students who find it difficult to conform to normal behavioural expectations are included in Challenge and Support Plans to ensure that teachers are equipped to meet student needs in the classroom. We have KS3 and KS4 student managers who can provide more intensive support and guidance to students and their families. The school has an inclusion room to provide support to students who are at risk of exclusion who may not, for various reasons, be able to attend lessons on a full time timetable.

4.3: What medical support is available in the school for children with SEND?

All medical needs and procedures are communicated to all staff in the school through the Alert Booklet, which is updated termly. The school have a number of trained first aiders and additional support and training (e.g. EpiPen training) from the Community School Nurse or other specialist practitioners is sought as appropriate.

4.4: How does the school manage the administration of medicines?

Parents and carers would provide medicines in a named container to the school office, with instructions for their use. Students with a need to have regular medication will have an Individual Health Care Plan agreed with a key member of staff at the school. All staff are EpiPen trained every September. 

4.5: How does the school provide help with personal care where this is needed, eg. help with toileting, eating etc?

This would be planned according to the needs of individual students upon admission to the school. Parents and carers are welcome to contact the SENCo to discuss their child’s needs prior to an application for a place being made.

5. Specialist services available / accessed by the school
5.1: What SEN support services does the school use, eg. specialist support teachers, educational psychologists, teachers for hearing impairment and visual impairment, ASD advisory teachers, behaviour support teachers etc?

We are in regular contact with our link Educational Psychologist and have a weekly opportunity for brief consultation where advice can be given. A request for further involvement from the Educational Psychologist may be considered appropriate following an initial consultation, and time is allocated by the Educational Psychologist according to priorities. We can refer to the ASD advisory teacher for support at any time. Students with a hearing or visual impairment are allocated support by the Sensory Consortium service and we work closely with staff from this service to support students. 

5.2: What should I do if I think my child needs support from one of these services?

Parents and carers should contact the SENCo to discuss further in the first instance.

5.3: How are speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy services provided?

We can refer to speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy at any time after consultation with parents and carers. Students requiring this form of support often start at secondary school having had previous involvement – we will arrange a meeting with therapists or request up to date advice as necessary, and ensure that this is shared with all relevant staff. Regular speech and language intervention is provided by a specialist TA. 

5.4: What should I do if I think my child needs to be seen by a speech and language therapist, occupational therapist or physiotherapist?

Parents and carers should contact the SENCo to discuss further in the first instance.

5.5: What arrangements does the school have for liaison with Children's Social Care services?

We have four Designated Persons for safeguarding in school who deal with safeguarding concerns and referrals to Children’s Social Care. Further information, including our safeguarding policy, is available from the school.

We liaise regularly with named social workers where a Child Protection or Child in Need plan is in place and ensure that a key member of staff is available to attend all meetings.

For Looked After Children, we liaise regularly with social workers and participate in regular PEP (Personal Education Plan) meetings. 

6. Training of school staff in SEND
6.1: What SEND training is provided for teachers in your school?

There are regular internal whole staff briefings and INSET sessions regarding SEND issues, mainly with a focus on practical strategies for supporting a particular student. External training is arranged as required. Staff training in the last two years has included ASD awareness, Hearing Impairment training for a named child, Speech Language and Communication Difficulties training.

6.2: What SEND training is provided for teaching assistants and other staff in your school?

Teaching assistants and associate staff are able to access the same training as teaching staff. In addition, teaching assistants have completed the ‘TA toolkit’ training provided by the local authority – with emphasis on supporting literacy in the classroom, understanding behaviour and developing independence. 

6.3: Do teachers have any specific qualifications in SEND?

We have two specialist literacy teachers trained to Level 5 and one trained to Level 7 in Specific Learning Difficulties. The SENCO has all relevant qualifications (Masters Accreditation from Reading University). 

6.4: Do teaching assistants have any specific qualifications in SEND?

We have three specialist literacy TA’s trained to Level 5 in supporting students with specific literacy difficulties. One TA has the ELKLAN qualification in supporting Speech and Language and one TA has the ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support Assistant) qualification. 

7. Activities outside the classroom including school trips
7.1: How do you ensure children with SEND can be included in out of school activities and trips?

Additional adult support will be deployed to a trip to support students with SEND to be included where necessary. A comprehensive accessibility and risk assessment will be completed as required for individual trips. Students who require input before the trip (e.g. social stories for students with ASD) will be identified by the SEN department.

 

7.2: How do you involve parents / carers in planning the support required for their child to access activities and trips?

Parents and carers will be invited to contribute to the risk assessment process and, where necessary, will be invited to attend a meeting with trip staff to plan support for their child. 

8. Accessibility of the school environment
8.1: How accessible is the building for children with mobility difficulties / wheelchair users?

All buildings and rooms are accessible on the ground floor. Some buildings have a lift, making all rooms accessible. All buildings have ramp access. Accessibility will be taken in to account when timetabling for students with mobility difficulties / wheelchair users.

8.2: Have adaptations / improvements been made to the auditory and visual environment?

We have soundfield systems in 4 classrooms which enable hearing impaired students to better participate in the lesson.

8.3: Are there accessible changing and toilet facilities?

Yes, there are several accessible changing and toilet facilities in the school.

8.4: How do you ensure that all the school's facilities can be accessed by children with SEND?

We invite parents and other agencies to visit the school to meet the SENCo and discuss any mobility or other accessibility issues prior to a student joining us. This gives us time to make any reasonable adjustments. 

8.5: How does the school communicate with parents / carers who have a disability?

Parents/carers who have a disability should inform the school of their support needs so that we can ensure that appropriate adjustments are made to ensure good communication. 

8.6: How does the school communicate with parents / carers whose first language is not English?

We would seek to provide an interpreter for meetings where a parent/carer is unable to arrange this support themselves and arrange for written documentation to be translated as much as possible.

9. Preparing my child to join a new school / next stage of education
9.1: What preparation will there be for both the school and my child before he or she joins the school?

Parents and carers are welcome to arrange a visit and meeting with the SENCo at any time. All Year 6 pupils are invited to attend two induction days at the start of July. For those students not coming from feeder schools, an extra visit is arranged prior to these induction days. The Head of Year 7 visits the primary schools in the summer term to talk to pupils and answer any questions that they may have. The SENCo liaises with all primary SENCos to share information about pupils on the SEN register, and a meeting with parents/carers will be arranged to plan support where this is considered necessary by the school, or at the request of parents. All students with a statement of SEN or EHC plan will be invited to a meeting at The Downs, with their parents/carers, to write a ‘Challenge and Support Plan’ in the summer term, which will be shared with staff at The Downs. We understand that children with partciular needs greatly benefit from extra visits and are happy to arrange these with primary schools and parents/carers for each child. These are agreed between the primary school and The Downs. We encourage parents/carers to provide us with a ‘transition passport’ which they can write with their child to inform us of strengths, needs and worries.

9.2: How will my child be prepared to move on to the next stage within school, e.g. class or key stage?

All students are supported by their Head of Year and the student managers to manage the transition into The Downs and between KS3 – KS4 – KS5. Extra support from the SEN department with choosing options will be offered to students with SEND. Key stage transitions are carefully planned at annual reviews for students with an EHC Plan.

9.3: How will my child be prepared to move on to his or her next school?

We are happy to support visits to a new provision for students with SEND. The SEN department will contact the new provision to discuss support needs for students moving on and will of course pass on all relevant documentation in the student’s file.

9.4: How will you support a new school to prepare for my child?

We are happy to attend transition meetings to discuss support and strategies for individual students. We will support visits to a new provision where this is part of a transition plan. 

9.5: What information will be provided to my child's new school?

All progress and assessment data will be provided, as well as details of any interventions received at The Downs and recommendations for support in the new provision. Challenge and Support plans will be shared. 

9.6: How will the school prepare my child for the transition to further education or employment?

All progress and assessment data will be provided, as well as details of any interventions received at The Downs and recommendations for support in the new provision. Challenge and Support plans will be shared. 

 

10. Who can I contact to discuss my child?
10.1: Who would be my first point of contact if I want to discuss something about my child or if I am worried?

Please contact the tutor or head of year in the first instance and they will liaise with other school staff as appropriate. 

 

10.2: Does the school offer any specific support for parents / carers and families (such as Family Support Workers?)

The KS3 and KS4 student managers provide parenting support where required and can access courses and training provided by the Local Authority for parents and carers. They also have a number of resources available for parents and carers to use. We can refer for additional support from the Family Resource Service and other organisations (such as parenting support for parents/carers of a child with ASD) where appropriate. 

10.3: What arrangements does the school have for signposting parents / carers to external agencies which can offer support, such as voluntary agencies?

The SEN department and pastoral teams have access to a wide range of information and resources for both local and national agencies. When recommendations are made to us by other professionals (e.g. Educational Psychologist) we will pass this information to parents and carers. 

10.4: What arrangements does the school have for feedback from parents, including compliments and complaints?

Specific opportunities are available at annual reviews, transition evenings, open evenings / days, parents’ evenings and when reports are issued, but we encourage parents and carers to make contact at any time to discuss concerns or share feedback.

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