Our Learning Skills Department aims to enable pupils to reach their full potential through an understanding of their individual needs and the provision of specific support which matches those needs.
The Learning Skills Centre is a dedicated department where pupils throughout the school can receive the support they require, gain confidence in their abilities and develop strategies to enable them to become independent learners. All school staff are encouraged to become involved in this process and to recognise their responsibility for the education of pupils with specific difficulties. The Head of Learning Skills keeps staff up-to-date on students’ needs through the Learning Skills Register.
Each pupil is valued for his or her individual contribution and therefore it is important that parents inform us of any specific educational needs at an early stage.
Pupils may be referred by staff, or indeed refer themselves, at any stage of their Hereford Cathedral School career. Diagnostic testing, which may occur, as necessary, at any time during a pupil’s school career, will help Study Support Staff to decide on the level and type of support needed. An Education Support Plan (ESP) is sent to parents of pupils on the highest level of support. Those pupils with specific learning needs, in accordance with the JCQ guidelines for Access Arrangements, will have an ESP available, to which all teaching staff members have access in order to inform their teaching strategies.
Classes of up to 12 pupils can be accommodated in the Study Support Centre but most groups are smaller. Years 7 is an opportunity to get to know individuals through support in their Modern Languages classes, a few may be withdrawn from one language, currently French, for extra support. In Year 8 the emphasis for the small groups is on reading and spelling as well as general support across all curriculum areas. Difficulties with personal organisation, handwriting, thinking and memory skills may also be addressed. A weekly Spelling Club and help at any time for those with occasional needs are available to all.
By Year 9 study skills, literature and comprehension skills and subject-specific support are offered so that in Years 10, 11 and in the Sixth Form pupils are encouraged to come with their own agenda and to use Study Support staff as facilitators, thus promoting independent learning.
The Study Support Centre is equipped with computers and a wide range of resources including IT software and games to promote spelling, memory skills and essay planning as well as improving processing speed and memory. The Department has an open door policy so that any pupil throughout the school is welcome to make use of the facilities and the advice of staff.
Where appropriate, concessions are available for internal end-of-year exams. These concessions might most commonly include extra time, rest breaks, the use of a laptop or the use of electronic readers. The purpose of these concessions is to provide a level playing field for pupils with specific difficulties without giving them an unfair advantage, in accordance with the regulations as set out, and reviewed annually, by the JCQ.
These concessions, which may be put in place at any stage from Year 7 onwards, allow the staff to assess whether and to what extent a pupil may be entitled to Access Arrangements for GCSE or A Levels and to establish and accumulate a history of need. Diagnostic Assessment testing takes place in Year 9, at the earliest, in order to determine which Access Arrangements will be appropriate and permissible under the regulations for public exams. Provision is closely monitored by the JCQ and examination boards.