The aims of the Educational Support Department are in line with those of the School: we aim to develop independent learning and stimulate intellectual curiosity. In every case, our goal is to produce in a pupil the ability and confidence to take responsibility for his or her own learning. Achieving this goal is, of course, a prerequisite for success later at university.
The Educational Support Department is currently staffed by the School's Head of Educational Support (SENCo) and an additional SEN teacher, both of whom have specialist experience and qualifications.
The Equality Act places an obligation on all schools not to discriminate against pupils or prospective pupils on grounds of disability. Where a disability is identified the School will make reasonable adjustments to avoid discrimination. These may include ways of helping a disabled pupil to access the teaching curriculum in class, in activities outside class, and during the production of individual work, as well as via examination access arrangements.
For any pupil coming to the School with a history of Special Educational Need (SEN), we ask the parents to facilitate communication with the pupil’s existing school’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator. We are required to reassess all pupils on entry to the School.
Parents should be aware that in making their decisions about access arrangements, prep schools are not directly governed by the strict regulations that control the awarding of access arrangements in public examinations for (I)GCSE, A Level and IB Diploma Programme. The Common Entrance board (Independent Schools Examination Board - ISEB) does encourage prep schools to apply these regulations and we will generally accept a prep school’s decision, as they know their pupils best.
Pupils entering their first year at Charterhouse in the Fourth Form (National Curriculum Year 9) will be allowed to continue with the concessions they received at Common Entrance in internal exams, unless regulatory updates prevent us from doing so from the outset. During this time, we will collate feedback from teachers, screening results, and additional evidence from the November and June examinations, in order to build up a picture of need. This will inform a fresh decision based on our experience of a pupil, in time for the start of their (I)GCSE courses. We are therefore unable to guarantee that a pupil will be awarded the same concessions awarded at prep school as he enters his (I)GCSE programme.
Educational Psychologist reports undertaken in National Curriculum Years 7 or 8 are no longer valid as evidence for examination concessions at secondary level, but form a necessary part of a pupil’s history of need and provision.
For pupils who join the School in the Sixth Form, the transfer of information relating to access arrangements is critical. As a new educational setting, the School is required to revisit the need for any examination concessions granted at (I)GCSE level, or equivalent, and gather new evidence of its own. The concessions cannot simply roll over from a pupil’s previous school and the process with which we must engage prioritises feedback from a pupil’s teachers. Understandably, it takes time for teachers to get to know their pupil and to be able to provide meaningful information that the School can use as evidence. It is therefore usual procedure to confirm concessions during Long Quarter, in time for public examinations in their first year. It is particularly important that the original signed Form 8, which usually accompanies an assessment report where extra time has been recommended, is sent to the Head of Educational Support here at Charterhouse.
All of our pupils are screened on entry to the School using a very wide range of tests. The results provide the information necessary to form a full picture of a pupil's needs, both independently and relatively to other pupils, on which we can confidently base decisions about intervention, support and allowances at Charterhouse.
In making these decisions, our first priority is always our own teachers' experiences of the pupil. Charterhouse teaching staff are all trained in SEN support and the School takes very seriously the requirement in the legislative SEN code of practice that “all teachers are responsible and accountable for the progress and development of [all] pupils in their class” including those with SEN and that “high quality teaching, differentiated for individual pupils, is the first step to responding to pupils who have or may have SEN” . Teachers’ experience, with support from screening results and further in-house testing, will inform the majority of our decisions.
External assessments may also feature in this process, and although we review them, we are not obliged to prioritise their findings but are required to make our own judgements based on our own experience of a pupil. External assessments must be performed with input from the School, otherwise they can have little validity in making decisions about access arrangements and support.
The key responsibilities of schools and examination boards in making decisions about access arrangements (such as extra time) in public examinations are to ensure that no child is unnecessarily disadvantaged in an examination by a disability or learning difficulty, but also to ensure that unfair advantage is not given by the award of a concession. Schools must consider the individual needs of pupils, but also their responsibilities as examining centres in maintaining fairness.
External assessments undertaken by parents whilst a pupil is at Charterhouse, without consultation with the Head of Educational Support and the School, can no longer be used as stand-alone evidence for examination concessions. Granting examination concessions is a process that should be managed by the School at every stage. If you have a concern regarding such concessions, the first step should always be to contact the Educational Support Department. The easiest way of doing this is to email the following departmental email: [email protected].
Final decisions about examination concessions for internal and public examinations rest with the School, in its capacity as an examination centre. Parents can help the process by providing information, but the School obviously has to avoid situations in which parents’ actions might be interpreted as being in pursuit of unfair advantage for their children in public examinations. Thus, whilst we welcome information and will request whatever we need from you in order to make a fair decision, the access arrangement decision itself cannot be made in discussion with parents. The School will communicate to you the detail of decisions.
Where concerns are raised after a pupil’s entry, we will endeavour to put the necessary support in place as quickly as possible, but we will still be required to gather evidence before making a decision. If, to do this, we are required to monitor performance under examination conditions, more than a Quarter may elapse before the School is able to communicate the final outcome.
The department offers support and guidance to pupils with identified special needs, provides guidance to those who raise concerns about pupils, and offers one-off targeted study skill sessions to any pupil. In exceptional circumstances, on-going one-to-one special needs support may be provided, but in most cases this is not appropriate because we subscribe to the idea enshrined in current legislation that all teachers' must be teachers of Special Educational Needs and the best person to support a pupil’s needs in a subject is the subject teacher.
All our teachers are well supported in meeting pupils’ individual needs and any information we hold on pupils is disseminated in summarised form, with guidance, to all teachers via the pupil database.
All pupils in the School are tracked using attainment and effort grades. The Educational Support Department, in liaison with the Masters of the Under School and Specialists, as well as the Head of English, uses this system to identify any SEN pupils who are not making good progress and determine appropriate support.
Study Skills are provided to all year groups via the tutorial system. Each year group receives a number of sessions during the academic year, targeted at skills required at key moments in the School calendar eg: revision techniques before exams.