Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

At Cherry Orchard Primary Academy we recognise that every child is unique and special.

Within our rich and varied PYP curriculum, every child is given opportunities and support, in a safe, caring and stimulating environment, which should facilitate each child’s chance to reach the highest possible standards. All staff are committed to meeting the needs of all our children and strive to break down any barriers that are preventing children from making the progress they are capable of. We aim to quickly identify pupils, who are making limited progress and provide targeted interventions and support to meet their needs. As a school, we recognise the importance of not only supporting children’s academic progress but also developing their emotional and social skills to enable them to become confident, independent learners.

All staff are aware of SEND within the school and receive high quality information and training.  We ensure that parents are fully aware of the SEND process and informed of their child’s learning at regular points throughout the year. We are a fully inclusive school and work alongside the Local Authority, Health Professionals and community organisations to find the most appropriate and effective support for pupils within our care.

The following documents will give you more information in relation to SEND and how school and home can support children. If you have any concerns or wish to discuss SEND at our school, please do not hesitate to contact me and either myself or one of my SEN Team (Mrs Williams or Mrs Hughes) will get back to you.

Mrs Vicki Adams – SENCo

To view our SEND, Accessibility and Equality Policies, please visit our Policies page.

  • SENCo: Mrs Vicki Adams
  • Working Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday

Questions about your child’s progress

In the first instance contact will need to be made with the class teacher. This can be asking to speak to them at the end of the day or via the school office: office@cherryorchardprimary.org.uk or telephone 01322 242011

Our SENCo can be contacted via email senco@cherryorchardprimary.org.uk.

Key websites for support and information

Speech, Language, Communication Needs Provision

SRP Entry Requirements

Our Specialist Speech and Language Unit is a small resource based provision for up to 14 children from Year R to Year 6 who have an identified speech and/or language impairment identified as their primary area of need on their Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) – please see our entry arrangements.  They might have speech that is hard to understand, struggle to form words or sentences, not understand words they hear or have difficulties in using language to talk to others in a conversation.

Our aims are to:

  • promote the development of spoken language
  • support understanding of spoken language
  • support and develop communication to the best of individual children’s abilities
  • enable all children to develop functional communication skills for life
  • give each child the opportunity to develop to his/her full potential academically, socially and emotionally
  • provide opportunities for the inclusion of all children in mainstream classes and school events
  • promote good home/school relationships
  • monitor and review pupil progress regularly through Personalised Provision Plans and Speech & Language Plans and Reports

The children spend part of their day in the provision, working with our specialist teacher, our specialist teaching assistants, or with an NHS speech and language therapist. The children join their mainstream class for some lessons each day and are with their friends at break  and lunch times, so that they benefit from the independent learning and social opportunities that these activities bring.

If you would like your child to be considered for a place in our unit, we recommend that you familiarise yourself with our entry arrangements and speak to your child’s SEN Assessment and Placement Officer within the KCC SEN department. We recognise the importance of parents being able to make informed decisions about their child’s education, and therefore we invite parents to visit our school to see what we are able to offer. Please contact the school office to make an appointment.


Pupils are included in their mainstream classes and will come to the SRP for specific interventions, such as: Targeted Maths and Phonics support, Word Aware, Language for Thinking, Social Skills, Colourful Semantics, Clever Fingers, Sensory Circuits, Listening Skills and Memory Skills. 

We aim to improve the range, quality and number of learning opportunities:

  • By differentiating the curriculum to make it appropriate to the needs of all the pupils
  • Through planning and assessing for learning opportunities, for example, at lunchtimes and on educational visits off-site
  • Through healthy living
  • Through communication
  • Through reflection on learning, for example, using WALT and WILF
  • By sharing information with parents/carers, for example, in the home/school contact book.

EHCP Entry Arrangements

Children who are subject to an Education, Health and Care Plan assessment may be identified as suitable for the provision. In this case the relevant Kent SEN officer will send the child’s paperwork for consideration by the Academy.

Children with an existing Education Health and Care Plan may be identified as appropriate for a place in the SRP through their Annual Review. In this case the school should make the relevant Kent SEN officer aware of the request for a change in provision/placement and if appropriate he/she will send the child’s paperwork for consideration by the Academy.

Designated staff from our school will visit the child to observe them in their current setting and liaise with staff to gain further insight into their needs and to support the decision making process.

The decision to offer the provision will be taken by the relevant SEN Manager.

Exit Arrangements

Each pupil’s progress will be closely monitored and reviewed by the specialist staff in collaboration with mainstream school staff and parents/carers including the pupil as appropriate.  Other professionals may be involved.

The EHCP In Year review and Annual Review meetings will regularly consider the outcomes of support to determine whether the needs of the pupil continue to require this level of provision.  If significant changes in the pupil’s profile occur, therapy input and alternative provision may be considered. Transition from the provision to a mainstream setting will be considered at the point where a child has made progress and no longer needs the provision. This could be where:

  1. Resultant or additional learning needs can be met within the mainstream setting
  2. The child is at the end of Year 6 and transferring to secondary school.
  3. Alternative provision will also be considered where a child needs a higher level of specialist support or an alternative type of support because their presenting needs have changed. This will be through in year reviews and the Annual Review process.

When a child is ready to leave the provision, effective transition will be planned and supported to enable success in the new setting.

These are some of the interventions that may be used at COPA.

At Cherry Orchard our SLCN unit has access to a qualified NHS Speech and Language Therapist 2.5 days a week, who oversees the speech and language plans, sets and reviews individual targets and works with our EHCP children within the classroom and in 1:1 direct therapy.  Resources are provided to support learning as well as being sent to parents to augment learning at home.

Colourful semantics is an approach that was created by Alison Bryan. It focuses on the meaning of words by breaking down and colour coding various parts of a sentence. Colourful semantics are designed to help children develop their knowledge by joining the structure of a sentence and its meaning. Once each part of a sentence is colour coded, it becomes very easy to see how a sentence is built.

Language for Thinking provides a clear structure to help children’s language develop from the ‘here and now’ to the ‘how and why’. It enables children to apply their language skills to reading comprehension.

Language for thinking has been specifically created to teach and develop children’s language from the abstract to the concrete.

The skills which a child can gain include:

  • Improved verbal reasoning skills
  • Improved thinking skills
  • Develop language skills
  • Improved Spoken & Written language

Lego therapy is a play based piece of intervention which focuses on developing collaborative play skills. It is predominately used with children who have Autism or social interaction difficulties. However, it can be used with all children.

Lego therapy works on key areas of social interaction, such as turn taking, listening, initiation, eye contact, problem solving and sharing. In addition to this it works on language concepts such as size, prepositions and colours.

Within a therapy group an adult will set the ‘ground rules’ with children and facilitate if necessary. Each child is given a role. These are a builder, supplier and engineer. In addition to this there may be a director role too. Each role contributes towards the success of the Lego model being made.

All children in the SRP – as well as some identified children – take part in a regular programme of specifically designed physical activities called a Sensory Circuit.  This daily programme helps to focus concentration – in readiness for the day’s learning.

To give some background information to the scheme, a senior Occupational Therapist has made the following observations:

‘Children who have difficulty organising and making sense of sensation may have difficulty learning in school.  This child may need to work harder to achieve the same outcomes as other children within their class.  They may feel tired, anxious and helpless most of the time.  They may have difficulty in getting changed for PE on time, writing legibly, remembering sets of instructions or paying attention in a busy room full of people.  Equally they may be fidgety, jumpy and easy to anger – acting out rather than withdrawing from a situation.’

Sensory Circuits is a programme developed by an experienced senior Occupational Therapist, who specialises in sensory integration and sensory processing difficulties and is delivered by experienced members of staff, who have been trained by the Paediatric Occupational Therapy Team from Kent Community Health NHS Trust.

The Sensory Circuits structure is simple and runs in three sections;

  • The Alerting Section – which aims to provide stimulation in a controlled environment, to prepare the brain for learning and the demands of the school environment.
  • An Organising Section – which includes activities that require multi-sensory processing and balance. Activities such as climbing, hopping, balancing, looking and throwing into a target hone skills that may increase a child’s focus, attention span and performance within the classroom setting.
  • The Calming Section – which ensure the children leave the circuit and return to the classroom calmly and as ready for the day as possible.

Possible benefits of a sensory circuit may be improvements in self-esteem, quiet, unresponsive children are more ready to engage, improvement in focus and attention, quicker more efficient dressing skills, improved communication skills – as well as development of physical skills.

We deliver this programme, without it impacting on valuable class learning time, as the circuit takes place before registration each morning for no longer than 10 – 15 minutes to allow the children to return to class promptly by 8:45 am.

Social skills programme provides the children the opportunity to experience and to be taught how to cope in social situations.

We aim to improve:

  • Children’s interaction with each other
  • Receptive and expressive language
  • Reasoning skills
  • Listening skills
  • Problem solving
  • Ability to turn-taking
  • Improve self-esteem.

SIGNALONG is a sign supporting system that has been  developed to help children acquire language skills and to aid where there are communication difficulties. SIGNALONG is designed to support and encourage spoken language and every sign should very accompanied by the spoken word.

Communicate InPrint aids the creation of resources to support children’s understanding of vocabulary through adding pictures to words

Word Aware is a structured approach to promote the vocabulary development of all children.

Children need twelve meaningful encounters of a word before they really know it. Word Aware promotes a method called STAR, which stands for Select, Teach, Activate and Review. This process ensures the children encounter the new words many times and many different ways.

Frequently asked questions

We can only screen for dyslexia, and this will provide an overview of your child’s strengths and areas for development. Screening reports are then shared with teachers so they are aware of how to support your child through Quality First Teaching in the classroom.

This depends on the referral – please speak to the pastoral team for further information regarding your child’s referral.

Yes the school can refer your child for a diagnosis of ADHD, ASD or other referrals needed such as Speech and language. These referrals are completed by the SENCO with support of the pastoral team/teachers. You may prefer to discuss this with your GP as they can facilitate a referral too. The GP will require information from the school to proceed with this.

This is an Educational Healthcare Plan. This used to be called a Statement of SEN.  About 1% of children in mainstream schools have an EHCP. Most children with an EHCP require specialist provision (special school) and an EHCP allows a parent this choice.

An EHCP is a legal document owned by the Local Authority. It sets out a child’s needs, the provision needed to meet those needs, and the school placement.  The criteria for an EHCP is stringent.

A parent can apply for an EHCP for their child by emailing the dept at SENNorth@kent.gov.uk

It is so important the parent knows the school’s view, because school provides a significant proportion of the evidence to the Local Authority. School and parent should be in agreement that specialist approaches are needed to enable the child to make progress. It is not about lots of diagnoses necessarily although any diagnosis is supportive.

KELSI contains documentation about the ‘pathway’ and timelines, but the whole process, from request to ‘decision to issue’ the plan is 20 weeks. Sometimes, if there is a lack of evidence, the process stops at 6 weeks.  If a parent is unhappy about a decision, they can appeal to the Local Authority.

A school can also make a request for an EHCP but need to be sure that they have sufficient plan/do/review (3 rounds of provision plans) and evidence of what has been in place (high levels of provision) not working. Schools also need to take an EHCP request to their local LIFT meeting so that specialists can determine if anything more can be done, before an EHCP is requested.  That is why a parent request, supported by the school, can be quicker.

It is worth noting that quite a few outside agencies are giving the wrong message to parents about EHCPs. E.g. your child has an ASD diagnosis – have you considered an EHCP? This advice is often given without recourse to the severity of need that an EHCP justifies.

This will be dependent on the level of SEND that your child presents with and support needed at home and at school. The process will require your child to have a personalised plan, if appropriate, that is reviewed at least 3 times and with some specialist involvement. They might be in receipt of Higher Needs Funding – which you would have been informed about via the SENDCo. If you would like to discuss this further please contact the SEND department.

Higher Needs Funding (HNF) levels are dependent on need. The money school receives can be used in a variety of ways to support their needs.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition. Therefore, any diagnosis of autism is a life-long health diagnosis and is not educational. There is no ‘test’ for autism. Instead, a paediatrician will collate evidence about a child’s social communication skills, repetitive or restrictive interests and sensory differences so that a judgement against particular Health criteria can be made.

Why does the parent think this? What behaviour do they see at home? Does the class teacher see the same traits?

This is a school-based referral, where the school agrees that there are social/play/sensory differences that should be explored. Perhaps interventions have taken place to help the child with their social skills.

Once a referral by school is sent to the local Community Paediatrics team, parents can expect to wait 2-3 years before being notified about a paediatric appointment. ASD is not diagnosed at this appointment. Instead the paediatrician will observe the child and discuss the information given already with parents, before making a judgement about whether the child should move onto the ASD pathway.

The pathway lasts up to 3 years. In this time, the paediatrician will collect more evidence from parents and school. The child is invited to a longer ‘joint communication clinic’ where a highly specialised speech and language therapist and a paediatrician work together to make a diagnosis, or not.

Once a child is on the pathway, the school will be advised to implement ASD strategies if they are not doing so already.

As above, this is a Health diagnosis. This is a behavioural disorder.
Same principles apply – school based referral to a Community Paediatrician. We need to see inattentive or hyperactive/ impulsive behaviour that is significantly different from the majority of the peer group and across different environments, to refer. Children cannot be referred until they are 6.
No test for ADHD. Instead information is collated from home/school and a certain ‘threshold’ must be met when comparing parent and school scores – and the child is observed in clinic. A Connors questionnaire is common.
Medication is a possibility depending on the severity of the ADHD and parent views.
Some children have a diagnoses of ‘ADHD–inattentive type’, which is the old ADD (no hyperactivity).

The British Dyslexia Association says:

Dyslexia is a neurological difference and can have a significant impact during education, in the workplace and in everyday life. As each person is unique, so is everyone’s experience of dyslexia. It can range from mild to severe, and it can co-occur with other learning differences. It usually runs in families and is a life-long condition. It is a specific learning difficulty.

We are bound by the Kent (local authority) definition for Dyslexia which can be found in their policy at:

Therefore, if your child has a significant weakness in single word spelling and/or reading (and has had good educational opportunities, teaching and interventions) then they may meet the Kent criteria for dyslexia.

For us to gain a better understanding of your child’s literacy skills (this is where weaknesses are most evident) we can run a ‘strengths and weaknesses’ screener. This identifies a possible dyslexic profile or dyslexic tendencies. It helps us identify weaker ‘cognitive’ skills such a phonological processing (being able to identify and manipulate the sounds in words) which can signify dyslexic tendencies.

We would then want to gather information from you and the class teacher, and look at a child’s work. A screener is a limited snapshot of a child’s ability – it is important we gather a full picture and look at interventions over time too.

Therefore, we can screen your child for a possible dyslexic profile and to help us identify possible interventions, but this is not the same as a dyslexia diagnosis. We cannot diagnose dyslexia in our school. This would need to be an independent certified assessor. It is an educational diagnosis that is life-long and results from high levels of psychometric testing that staff in primary schools are not qualified to use. A diagnosis is recognised under the Disability Discrimination Act (2010), permits an older child to have access arrangements at secondary school and adaptations in the workplace. This is private and comes at a cost. Assessors look for a discrepancy between a child’s general ability (like their IQ) and a child’s literacy skills.

Our teachers have dyslexia awareness training and can make adaptations to their teaching so that your child can access the curriculum like their peers. Very often, good strategies for dyslexic children are good for all children. Our focus is always on good teaching and good interventions, rather than the label.

Dyscalculia is a specific maths difficulty. It is inherent rather than just being ‘weaker’ at maths. A child will display intrinsic difficulties with their quantitative understanding of number at a basic level – i.e. show them 3 counters, then 6, and they could not quantify that one set was larger than the other, nor could they give sensible estimates for each quantity.

This would be a child with very poor conversion of number. We have very few children where this has been identified. We cannot diagnose dyscalculia. This would fall to an Educational Psychologist or a certified assessor, and would likely be a private educational diagnosis.

Dyscalculia is specific – so a child is likely to be average in many aspects of schooling, apart from maths. It probably could not be considered if a child has general learning difficulties, a bit like dyslexia.

The important thing is to understand a child’s mathematical gaps and work with them through intervention and class-based support.

This is also called Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD).
This affects a child’s gross and fine motor skill development and sometimes their sensory profile.
It can arise with other specific conditions – dyslexia, ASD, ADHD etc.

Does the teacher see functional difficulties with a child’s self-care skills? E.g. changing for PE, gross motor coordination in PE, fine motor skills – scissor and pen skills, knife and fork skills, handwriting? Does the child appear clumsy and less able to coordinate their movements than peers? Struggles to throw and catch in PE? We need to evidence 3 different functional areas that the child struggles with.

If we see the above, then the child probably has had/needs intervention anyway.

A DCD diagnosis is a Health diagnosis and requires a referral to an Occupational Therapist. The OT service needs to see that the school have put in appropriate interventions such as BEAM or Clever Fingers for up to 50 sessions, before a referral can be made. Therefore gathering what is needed for an OT referral can take some time.

Once the referral is made, the wait can be 3-4 months before parent and child is invited to clinic (if the referral criteria is met). The OT can then identify strengths and weaknesses and help parents and school develop a programme or strategies that will help the child compensate for their motor weaknesses.

We can run a speech link or languagelink screener. This identifies the speech sounds that the child might be muddling/substituting, or which areas of language (e.g. instructional, vocabulary, concepts, pronouns etc) they are weaker with. It helps us determine how severe a problem there may be, but it is a computer-based snapshot and it is important to talk to you as a parent and glean information from the teacher.

It can also help us identify additional interventions your child may need, which will also provide evidence to help us make a referral to the NHS speech and language therapy team, if intervention does not have impact.

Some children experience a speech or language delay – the difficulty is likely to resolve itself or ‘catch up’ or could be a disorder, which is where more specialist intervention may be needed.

We know that children with speech and language difficulties may go on to have difficulties with learning, particularly literacy, though this is not always the case.

Very few of our children need 1:1 support to make good progress.

The vast majority of children learn when teaching is responsive to their needs and work is well differentiated. Class TAs are used to help scaffold children’s learning if they find things more tricky.

Sometimes, 1:1 support can also lead to dependency on an adult (I can only learn when an adult sits next to me) and we all want your child to be an independent learner.

In some situations, we may need to apply for funding to provide a child with some key person/1:1 support. This is called High Needs Funding, and is for children that require bespoke approaches. Applications for this high level of support are stringent and require lots of plan/do/review, evidence and proof of what is spent already on a child’s support.

Please note that an EHCP does not ‘come with’ funding attached or a certain number of hours of 1:1 TA support. This happened in the old system of ‘statements of SEN’, but is not the case now.

Parent guidance for HNF available on the Kelsi website.

We would encourage you to read the Inclusion policy on our website.
The school is bound by a definition of Special Educational Needs as set out by the legal framework, the SEN Code of Practice (2014).

A child or young person has SEN if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her.
A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she:
has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or
has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions
For children aged two or more, special educational provision is educational or training provision that is additional to or different from that made generally for other children or young people of the same age

Being SEN or being placed on a school’s SEN register is not because a child receives a diagnosis of a condition – it must be because educational provision is consistently different for them to enable them to make progress in their areas of difficulty. Parents must remember that if their child has a Health condition or diagnosis, that this probably falls under the 2010 Equality Act and means that any school or educational provider must make reasonable adjustments for them, whether they are SEN or not.

We support children as their needs arise and teachers adapt work and their teaching delivery as necessary, maintaining interventions for those children that need something additional. Being SEN or not SEN does not change this.

If your child moves onto the SEN register they will be classed as ‘SEN support’ and their teacher will identify long term Outcomes for them to work towards.