At Dartford Primary Academy, as a mainstream provision, we support and value the abilities of all our students. We strongly believe that it is our duty to provide equal opportunities for every young person in our care and a safe and fully equipped learning environment, which caters to the needs of every student as an individual. We are committed to inclusion within the Academy curriculum and participation in all aspects of Academy life.
Dartford Primary Academy, as a mainstream provision, adopts a ‘holistic approach’ to special educational needs. All staff work to ensure inclusion of all students. We are committed to ensuring that students with special educational needs can fulfill their potential and achieve optimal educational outcomes.
Our school SENCos (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators) are Mr Declan Filsell (Inclusion Assistant Principal) and Mrs Jenni Haywood (Inclusion Vice Principal). Between them, they oversee and coordinate support for those children who may need an extra bit of help in overcoming barriers to their learning. They are assisted by Anna Reid (FLO) and Helen Day (FLO) who support our families and children on a daily basis.
The Inclusion Team meets with class teachers at Pupil Progress Meetings (PPM) and SEN Surgeries to discuss individual needs and support for any children who are struggling emotionally or academically. Together with the class teacher, classroom strategies and/or individual or small group support will be planned and shared with parents and pupils, to ensure the best outcome for everyone concerned.
- SENCo: Mr Declan Filsell
- SENCo: Mrs Jenni Haywood
- Working Hours: 8.15am – 4.30pm
Questions about your child’s progress
In the first instance contact will need to be made via the class teacher. This can be asking to speak them at the end of the day or via the school office: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01322 224453
Our SENCos can be contacted via email: email@example.com
Should you have any concerns about the progress or development of your child please contact your child’s class teacher in the first instance. If your concerns continue, please feel free to contact the inclusion team using the details provided.
From the 1st September 2014, under Section 65 (3) (a) of the Special Educational Needs (Information) Regulations, all schools are required to publish an SEN Information Report on their school websites. This report must contain SEN information as is set out in the Schedule, as well as utilising the Local Authority (LA) Local Offer. Consequently, the report should meet the needs of SEN pupils as determined by school policy and the provision that the school is able to determine.
Mr Declan Filsell – SENCo – Inclusion Assistant Principal
Mrs Jenni Haywood – SENCo – Inclusion Vice Principal
To view our SEND, Accessibility and Equality Policies, please visit our Policies page.
To view our Parent SEND Guide, please click the image above to open the document in a new tab
We hold SEND Coffee Mornings for parents and carers, please click the image above to open the document in a new tab
Key websites for support and information
- Kent SEND Information Hub (Local Offer)
Information about support and services within Kent.
- Information Advice and Support Kent
Give free, impartial and confidential information, advice and support about special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) for children, young people up to age 25, parents and carers.
- Kent PACT – Parents and Carers Together
Work to make sure that services provided by education, health and care in Kent meet the needs of children who have special educational needs and disabilities, and their families.
- We are Beams
Local support for children and their families.
- National Autistic Society – NAS
- British Dyslexia Association – BDA
- Kent Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services
Also known as CAHMS or CYPMHS
- The Pod – Children’s Therapies
Information, resources and support for speech and language, occupational and physio therapies.
Frequently asked questions
Initially please speak to your child’s class teacher. If you would like to speak to our SEND and Inclusion team, please contact via our contact details.
Yes, we can refer your child for a diagnosis of ADHD (from age 6), ASD or other referrals needed such as Speech and Language or Occupational Therapy. These referrals are completed by the SENCO with support of the Inclusion Team and teachers. You may prefer to discuss this with your GP as they can facilitate a referral for some services too.
This depends on the referral – please speak to the Inclusion team for further information regarding your child’s referral. Currently, the initial wait time for an ADHD/ ASD appointment is 52 weeks, with a full ASD diagnosis taking 3 years.
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 SENCo. If you would like to discuss this further please contact the Mr Filsell (SENCo).
As a school we have a Wellbeing curriculum that supports students with a variety of emotional difficulties. We use breathing strategies, worry boxes and key times in the day to discuss worries. Please speak to your child’s class teacher or inclusion team for further information or if you have any worries about your child’s emotional literacy. The Inclusion team can support families in accessing parent support groups and resources or webinars from services such as the Emotional Wellbeing Team.
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 and does not necessarily result in a 1:1.
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. If dyslexic tendencies are identified, you will receive a copy of the report and information on how to support at home.
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. More information can be found on the Kent County Council website here.
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.
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 at least 52 weeks 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.
The 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.
There is 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).
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 6 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.
Very few of our children need 1:1 support to make good progress.
The vast majority of children learn when teaching is responsive and adapted to their needs and work is differentiated, if appropriate. 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 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.
More information about HNF available here (scroll down the page to find the parent guidance).
This is an Educational Health Care 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. Find out more information about the assessment process here.
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.
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.
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 and short term targets for them to work towards. Parents are invied to three SEN Parent reviews per year in order to discuss provision and review targets.
Please contact Mr Filsell (SENCo) and the Inclusion team if you feel your child requires educational provision that is consistently different, or if you have any concerns with your child’s educational, social or emotional progress.