The Local Offer – Parents / Carers

How does the college know if young people need extra help? What should I do if I think my young person may have special educational needs?

At Richard Taunton we identify students with special educational needs in a variety of ways. Students are screened on their entry to college using a range of activities such as reading, writing and spelling. We use the diagnostic assessments for literacy difficulties and dyslexia. This means that any additional support needs can be catered for in a specific way for the student.

If you are concerned about your young person’s needs (either because they are not currently identified, or because you feel it would be beneficial to discuss their transition from school to college with us) please get in touch with the Learning Support department.

How will college staff support my young person?

Richard Taunton has a team of experienced professionals who can plan and deliver support for students with special education needs. Our Learning Support manager and administrator plan and oversee all of the support that each student with special needs requires. They will contact you when necessary to liaise and ensure appropriate decisions have been made. All parents/carers are welcome to talk to our Learning Support manager about their young person and their support plan.

We also have a fully qualified dyslexia specialist in the Learning Support department, who can assess, plan and deliver teaching for learners with dyslexia.

Our team of Support Assistants are experienced in working with students with a variety of specific learning difficulties and educational needs. They can provide support and additional tuition for students, to enable them to excel.

How will the curriculum be matched to my young person’s needs?

Differentiation is at the centre of every lesson at RTSFC. We ensure that every student is challenged and supported in a way that is appropriate for their needs and ability. We also differentiate lessons for specific learning difficulties where necessary – for example, students with dyslexia will have their learning needs accommodated for using dyslexia friendly teaching techniques and resources.

If your young person is entitled to exam access arrangements (such as extra time) they will be given the same help for controlled assessment coursework. We also accommodate their needs in the classroom too – for instance, a scribe or reader can be in class to help as they work. Teachers will also be aware of students who require additional time to complete work, or the assistance of a scribe / reader. We want such provision to become their normal way of working.

Teachers may also be able to change how they ask your young person to complete their coursework. This is dependent on the course and the criteria of the work, but where appropriate a teacher will ensure they change to meet the student’s needs and fully identify their ability.

How will I know how my young person is doing, and how will you help me to support my young person’s learning?

We consider progress monitoring and assessment as fundamental to our learners’ education. Teachers conduct formal and informal assessments during the course of a term (both verbal and written) and these are used to inform current progress grades and also predicted final outcome grades. In addition, observation and student discussions are used to record a more holistic, pastoral approach to progress monitoring. Students are set regular homework to help them practice what they have learned and allow their teacher to track their progress and provide written feedback. Regular feedback on classwork means that students can see how well they are progressing. Target setting and monitoring is also a helpful tool. Students are encouraged to do this to help them monitor their own progress and keep on top of their work.

Regular contact between parents/carers and teachers/tutors is maintained throughout the year. Tutors will contact home to update on performance or express concerns should they arise. You are welcome to initiate contact with staff who work with your young person and if necessary, meetings can be arranged to discuss matters face to face.

Parents/carers can also access Moodle (our online learning environment) to find out information about your young person’s progress and attainment.

Feedback about your young person’s progress will take place regularly during their time at RTSFC. Review Days happen once a term, allowing students to talk to their tutor and reflect on comments about their progress. This provides a chance to review current targets, set new targets and identify what help is needed to achieve them. Regular parent’s/carer’s evenings are scheduled throughout the academic year, enabling you to meet with each teacher and review progress.

Students may be referred to Upgrade if a teacher thinks some study guidance maybe useful, or if you are concerned that extra help is needed. This gives the student a chance to get personalised tuition for study skills or literacy, allowing them to fulfil their potential. All Upgrade support is planned with the student’s input, so it is personalised and relevant to them.

Some students may be invited to write an Individual Education Plan, known as a ‘Student Passport’. This is an opportunity for the student to work with teaching and support staff to set targets and identify support strategies.

What support will there be for my young person’s overall wellbeing?

Students may find they have some difficulties that are not directly related to their studies. If they are not dealt with, these things can become an increasing concern so we will always encourage students to seek help. We advise students to speak to their tutor in the first instance, as they will have a good relationship. Depending on the worry, it may be referred to a teacher or Learning Area Manager for further support to enable the student to remain focused and achieve. Depending on the difficulty, we may refer a student onto a college counselling service, or suggest that they speak to an external counselling service. We can also refer students for support in drug misuse. In any case, we encourage students to express their feelings and take an active role (where appropriate) in the planning of any help they may need.

All applications will be assessed on an individual basis and every effort is made to accommodate the needs of applicants. If personal care is necessary for your young person, we will discuss the type of support package that we can offer.

Students who take regular medication are responsible for this themselves. If they need to store something in a fridge we can help with this, but otherwise students are asked to look after and administer their own medication.

What specialist services and expertise are available at or accessed by the college?

We have a BDA accredited, qualified dyslexia specialist with a current PATOSS Practising Certificate, who is able to conduct full diagnostic assessments and deliver specialised tuition for students with dyslexia.

College staff regularly access the expertise of external professionals. If we feel a student would benefit from seeing a counsellor, doctor, psychiatrist or social care services, we will ensure that we access the right support for the student.

What training are the staff supporting young people with SEND had (or are having)?

All of the Learning Support team are trained in the delivery of literacy intervention and tuition for students with dyslexia. Some of Learning Support team are very experienced in working with students on the autistic spectrum.

All members of the Learning Support team regularly take part in training on a range of special education needs. We aim to make this relevant for learners that we have in college at the time and as a result, we are forward thinking in terms of what skills we need to develop for new students.

How will my young person be included in activities outside the classroom, including trips?

Teachers will be aware of the individual needs of each student, and participation in trips / activities is always encouraged. Teachers are proactive in putting the correct arrangements in place to enable a student to take part, whether that involves talking to the student or seeking the assistance of the Learning Support team to accompany the student on a trip.

Students can always approach their tutor or teacher if they have any concerns about a possible barrier to them taking part in college activities. If parents/carers would like to have input into planning for an activity or trip, you are welcome to discuss the arrangements with the Learning Support team and help us develop the correct approach.

How accessible is the college environment?

Our building is fully wheelchair accessible, with ramps, automatic doors and lifts for access to the second floor. We also have disabled changing and toilet facilities.

It’s very important to us to enable good communication with homes who do not have English as a first language. In some instances, we have staff members who are able to translate and support successful communication with parents/carers. Where translation is not possible, we will endeavour to communicate in the most appropriate way, usually in a face-to-face meeting as opposed to telephone.

How will the college prepare and support my young person in joining the college, transferring to a new setting/college or starting the next stage of education and life?

We believe it’s important to give students a chance to become familiar with RTSFC before they start here. We want them to feel settled as quickly as possible, and we want to get to know them too. All students are invited to a Taster Day so they can try out some of their courses and see what a college day is like. These take place just before the summer holidays and offer a great opportunity to prepare for the transition to college. It also allows the Learning Support team to get to know certain students before their first proper day.

Students may want to look around without lots of other students being in college too. This can be a good chance to meet the Learning Support team and talk about any worries / needs you think we should know about. We can arrange to do this on a day and time that suits you.

Preparation for university is one of the main aims of the sixth form experience. The teaching and learning input of the classroom is key in developing knowledge, passion and an understanding of academia. We help students to prepare for university by ensuring they develop the right study skills during their time at college. Upgrade offers students the chance to develop skills such as essay writing and research for advanced level study. We also offer full diagnostic assessments for the purposes of Disabled Student Allowance applications due to dyslexia.

We offer a range of courses that have work skills and work experience built into the curriculum. These courses are often career focused and enable students to prepare for the workplace. We also help students to prepare for work in general terms by encouraging the development of responsibility, independent learning and teamwork. A lot of the study skills tuition we offer is transferable to the workplace and will enable students to move into the workplace with confidence.

We recognise that there are times when a student will want to transfer to another college. This may be for many reasons, but is usually because the initial general education at RTSFC has created a platform to explore further qualifications at other colleges. When students identify that they wish to move on to another college, we work hard to provide students with the necessary information, allowing them to make an informed choice. The first step is to meet with our Careers Advisor as well as visiting other colleges to see what’s on offer and discuss course options. Following a decision to move, we will work with the new college to ensure a smooth transfer.

How are the college’s resources allocated and matched to the young person’s special educational needs?

We offer additional learning support to all students in the form of the Upgrade provision. Any student who feels they will benefit from one-to-one input on study skills (e.g. literacy support or essay planning) is welcome to engage with the services we offer. Our provision is not limited to any needs or entry requirements, and we find students of all levels and abilities coming to Upgrade for study skills development.

Students with higher dependency needs will receive higher funding levels to reflect their needs, which is then allocated for the support requirements of that student. For example, a student may need one-to-one supervision throughout the day as well as some personal care. The cost of that provision can be high but is covered by the proportionate allocation of funds.

How is the decision made about what type, and what amount, of support my young person will receive?

Decisions regarding the type and amount of support a student receives are based on a number of channels of information. One way we identify students with special educational needs is by screening students on their entry to college using a range of activities such as reading, writing and spelling. We use the screening activities to work out who may need extra diagnostic assessments. All of the above information is used to decide if a student has additional support needs (which we can accommodate both inside and outside the classroom).

Before the start of term, we request information about a students needs and any support strategies used at their previous school. This helps us to plan for a student’s needs and continue the good practice that has already taken place in their school.

The student and their parents/carers are integral to the decision about learning support provision. We will discuss what support is appropriate with you if this is something your young person has had in the past, or if you have concerns or points you’d like to make.

The support provided will be regularly reviewed in order to ensure it is effective and still required. There are occasions where a student may want to scale back their support once they feel more settled, whereas some students may find they need much more support than they initially thought. We are always adaptive to the students needs.

Any one-to-one support that is offered will be measured for its effectiveness, in the form of continued assessment for progress or observation of behaviour and attainment. We always want to make sure that what we are doing is having a positive impact on the student.

How are parents involved in the college? How can I be involved?

We welcome input from parents/carers at every stage in the academic year. Parents / carers are able to contact any of their young person’s teachers to arrange meetings where necessary, in order to discuss and input on support strategies for the student.

We strive for close working relationships with parents/carers for students with special educational needs and disabilities. It is crucial to develop an on-going dialogue with parents/carers in order to build an appropriate support plan for students with specific needs, to enable the student to progress in their education and reach targets for future career / educational destinations.

Who can I contact for further information?

The first point of contact for any concerns about your young person will be their tutor. The tutor will have the best overview of how your young person is doing across their subject, and will be most familiar with their pastoral needs. It is also possible to contact subject specific teachers and learning area managers where necessary. All of the staff involved in your young person’s education (teaching, management and learning support staff) will be available for discussion if you have any concerns or want to raise a particular point.

If you’d like to talk to someone about a specific topic related to learning support, there are a few options available: