Families First Portal
What is the Families First Portal?
This is our directory of organisations, services and groups in Hertfordshire that can help you with problems you or your family may be facing, before things might get worse. This is known as 'Early Help'
You may not want or need to ask for help from a professional and there's lots of support you can find yourself by looking on the portal.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for, email us.
What is Early Help?
We all experience problems at some time and we want to help you find the early help, information support you may need before a situation becomes a crisis.
By providing early help to families, overcoming problems before they get worse we can :
- enable children to live and thrive in a family environment
- contribute actively to finding solutions to the issues they face
- give families choices to find the right kind of support for their needs in the local area
- recognise and build on the strengths of the family and improve their situation with our support
We aim to ensure all key partner agencies take a joined up approach and together, make the best use of their resources to help children, young people and families
You may not know where to look for early help, and it is difficult to know what services are available and how to use them. Families First can help.
SEN Report (Local Offer)
How does the school know if children/young people need extra help and what should I do if I think my child may have special educational needs?
Through quality first teaching the children’s class teachers continually assess pupils’ progress using their knowledge of the children, daily observations, marking and feedback. Achievements are tracked using a variety of tools that enable teachers to check that pupils are making progress in line with the expectations for their age. Each half term, teachers make a formal judgement of pupils’ achievements and the progress of all pupils is then discussed with Clare Cockburn, the Head Teacher and Sarah Fitzgerald our Assistant Head for Inclusion at pupil progress meetings. Between these discussions, staff may bring any concerns to Clare or Sarah. Any children making less-than-expected progress are noted on the class’s provision map, and provisions are adjusted accordingly. Over time, or where concerns are immediately significant, children will receive special educational provision, which will be discussed with parents.
Parents have many opportunities to speak to staff if they are concerned about the progress of their children. Class teachers are available for discussions at the end of every day and parents can also make appointment to see Sarah Fitzgerald by speaking to the school office. Prior to joining our school in either Nursery or Reception, pupils receive a home visit from members of the Early Years team. This is a very good opportunity for parents to raise any concerns before their child even starts school.
How will school staff support my child?
Teachers are responsible for the learning and progress of all children in their class. The school strongly expects the provision of high-quality whole-class teaching and we therefore prioritise the training and professional development of our teaching teams. Teachers are able to draw on support and advice from Sarah Fitzgerald as well as external specialists such as the Speech and Language Therapist, Educational Psychologist and other advisory teachers.
The role of SENCo (Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator) is covered by the Assistant Head for Inclusion, Sarah Fitzgerald. She works closely with children, parents and teachers to identify additional needs and ensure appropriate provision is in place. Additional provision can be provided both inside and outside of the classroom with either a teacher (for example following the Numbers Count program) or Learning Assistant. This may entail one to one or small group work. We also offer Wellbeing/Nurture provision for two afternoons a week.
Some children will require an adult to support them with their learning throughout the school day and this would be offered by a designated Learning Assistant. The class teacher and Assistant Head for Inclusion are responsible for monitoring the quality and impact of the provision provided. The progress of children receiving special educational provision is also monitored by the governing body. The governors receive termly progress information from Clare Cockburn and there is a governor specifically assigned to monitor Inclusion. Sarah Fitzgerald is also available to meet with governors on governors open mornings.
How will I know how my child is doing?
Formal opportunities are available for parents to talk to their child’s class teacher each term during Parent Consultations. A written report is sent home in the Summer term, and there are a number of occasions through the year when parents are invited into school to see their child’s work. There are also informal opportunities to talk to class teachers daily as all staff are available at the end of the school day. Parents are welcome to make appointments to meet with Clare Cockburn or Sarah Fitzgerald at any time to discuss their child and any concerns they may have. Parents of children receiving special educational provision are invited to meet with the school-based professionals working with their child every term, to review and plan provision and agree future targets and next steps.
How will the learning and development provision be matched to my child’s needs?
Each class teacher is expected to know the children in their class inside out in order to be able to match their planned learning to the needs of all of the individuals in their class. On a daily lesson by lesson basis teachers assess the learning of all pupils and adjust their subsequent teaching accordingly. Children’s needs are met by careful differentiation; for example teachers may adjust the structure of the lesson, the resources provided or the pitch of activities in order to challenge every individual. The children are encouraged to be aware of themselves as learners and are encouraged to choose their own level of challenge from a selection. The children in our school are very aware of the need to ‘challenge themselves’! The class teachers keep a close eye on the level of challenge the children choose in order to support them in this process.
For a child who has been assessed as in need of SEN support, we follow a cycle of ‘assess, plan, do, review’. Parents will be invited into school for termly planning meetings to discuss their child with the class teacher and Sarah Fitzgerald. At these meetings we will review the child’s progress over the preceding term and plan provision for the term ahead. Targets and next steps will be agreed as well as discussing the extra support available. These meetings enable us to work together to support your child and meet their individual needs.
What support will there be for my child’s overall well-being?
The children’s overall wellbeing is central to our school’s vision and we work very hard to develop confident, happy, and independent children. The children’s PSHE (Personal Social Health and Emotional) learning underpins every other area of learning and it is therefore a high priority for our teachers. We value our children’s ideas and opinions so therefore use every opportunity to listen to them. This can be through formal routes such as our school council, sustainable ambassadors and pupil questionnaires as well as by valuing every conversation we have with each individual child.
Where children have additional social and emotional needs we work closely with parents to identify their needs and the most appropriate form of support. We have a wellbeing/nurture group called ‘The Treehouse’ which runs on two afternoons a week and provides both short and long term emotional and social support. We also have access to a play therapist who works with children with identified emotional needs with the agreement of their parents. We can access advice and support from a number of professionals in school for example educational psychologists as well as signposting parents to the appropriate professionals outside of school for example paediatricians, CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) and support from our local children’s centre or family support worker.
We believe strongly that behaviour is a form of communication and where children are struggling with their behaviour we need to try to understand why they are having difficulties. In the event that our day to day behaviour management is not working we will work with the parents to draw up and implement an Individual Behaviour Plan (IBP) in order to support the child at school. At lunchtime we have play mentors who are available to support all of the children with their social interactions and also to provide support for identified children
We have a number of qualified paediatric first-aiders on our staff, with named staff on call at all times to deal with first aid matters. Prescribed medication can be given to the office and administered by a named member of staff in close consultation with parents. Where there are long term medical issues individual care plans are written with parents following advice from medical professionals and staff are given relevant training to be able to administer the plan.
What training have the staff, supporting children and young people with SEND, had or are having?
Sarah Fitzgerald has the National Award for SEN Coordination. Wheatfields Infants' and Nursery School is an accredited SENCO School.
All teaching and learning staff in the school support children with special educational needs. We have a wide and varied CPD program for all staff to ensure our team are well trained and have expertise in many areas. As well as sending staff members on external training courses we regularly invite experts into our school to deliver training to all members of staff, this year this will include a series of speech and language sessions, phonics and phonological awareness. Alongside this training best practice locally is shared through networks such as the Head Teachers’ Consortium, Deputy Head Teachers’ Network and local SENCo meetings.
What specialist services and expertise are available at or accessed by the school?
Sarah Fitzgerald co-ordinates access to a wide variety of external professionals for example:
The Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD) Base at Windermere Outreach Service,
Karen Clarke our link Speech and Language Therapist,
LINKs behaviour support
Anne Pocock from the Communication Disorders Team,
Chris Engstrom our Family Support Worker at St Albans Plus
Rachael Andrews our link Educational Psychologist
We will always include parents in any decisions to access advice externally and keep parents informed of any advice given. Parents can also access some of these services outside of school for example by making an appointment to speak to the Educational Psychologist. Opportunities for this are advertised via the school newsletter.
How will you help me to support my child’s learning?
We strongly believe that parents are key to a child’s successful education and because of this we make lots of opportunities to involve all parents in their child’s education. Each class teacher sends a weekly email home to parents with details of the learning that is taking place and ways to support at home. This may be by carrying out some home research, finding out a fact about something to share with the class or simply by playing a quick game. For Key stage 1 parents we run maths and literacy workshops twice a year, these explain how we teach certain areas for example how we teach addition and subtraction and how you can support at home, we also have a large amount of resources for parents to access on our website. The children receive individual targets for maths, literacy and phonics which are shared with parents and children at regular target sharing meetings. These are kept in the children’s reading response books so you are always aware of their next step in learning. The class teachers are always available after school to discuss any specific issues and give more ideas of how to help at home.
If your child is receiving any learning interventions then the teacher or LSA delivering the intervention will stay in close contact with you either via regular meetings or a home/school diary. You will be kept well informed on the progress they are making and ways to help at home. We also invite parents in to take part in these intervention sessions so you can see how they are delivered and pick up some tips to use at home.
How will I be involved in discussions about and planning for my child’s education?
We aim to work very closely with parents of children with SEND, Class teachers and Learning Support Assistants are available for informal discussions at the end of the day and we will often use a home/school diary or good news book to keep parents informed on a day to day basis. We also have regular planning meetings for children receiving special educational provision. These involve the parents, Sarah Fitzgerald, class teachers, and any external professionals involved with the child as appropriate. At these meetings, we will look at the child’s progress towards their targets, celebrate any successes and discuss any problems or barriers to reaching their targets. We will also set new targets and discuss ideas of how to support the children to achieve them.
How will my child be included in activities outside the classroom including school trips?
All school trips are planned to include all children in the year group. If your child has a special educational need that may make their participation in a trip more challenging then we look at how to make the trip safe and accessible to them. We conduct individual risk assessments for these children and will work with the parents to discuss and remove any barriers to their participation. For example, we might allocate additional adults to support your child or invite you to join us as a parent helper on our trip. Ratios for school trips are always at or above the standards set by Hertfordshire County Council. All children across the school take part in Forest school. Each class teacher conducts a risk assessment before each session taking account of the site, the weather, tools and the support needs of individual children. As with trips off site we may allocate an additional adult or invite a parent to join in the session to ensure the activity is safe and accessible for all children.
How accessible is the school environment?
We endeavour to make our school as accessible as possible for all children and parents. Where English is an additional language the teaching teams make use of visual cues and prompts in teaching and can use translation software. We have a fluent Spanish speaker on our staff team and also a member of staff that can use British Sign Language. We can also make use of translation and interpreter services if required. Our school building was built in 1964 and as such wasn’t built with full accessibility for wheelchairs however we have worked to make the building as accessible as possible. We have two disabled toilets and changing facilities.
Who can I contact for further information?
The school office is always open throughout the day, and office staff can direct enquiries to the most appropriate member of staff. Appointments can be made to see Clare Cockburn or Sarah Fitzgerald and they will always endeavour to be available to address urgent concerns immediately. The team are also contactable by telephone and email.
Telephone Number; 01727 859978
Assistant Head for Inclusion, Sarah Fitzgerald
How will the school prepare and support my child to join the school, transfer to a new school or the next stage of education and life?
Parents and carers considering choosing Wheatfields Infants and Nursery School for their child are encouraged to visit the school for a tour with one of the senior leadership team. If your child has special educational needs we would encourage you to make an appointment to meet with Sarah Fitzgerald prior to your child joining the school to discuss their needs and ensure the appropriate support can be put in place. We visit all children entering our nursery and children who are new to our Reception either at home or in their current nursery setting. This visit enables our staff team to get to know the children a little, find out about their likes, dislikes and any support needed. All of the children are also invited into school for a series of visits prior to starting school so they are able to feel comfortable and confident with the environment and the staff team. For children that will find the transition more challenging we provide ‘My New School’ booklets with photographs of key staff and key places in school as well as extra visits. Children joining our school in the middle of the year are also invited to visit their class before attending full time.
At the end of year 2 most children transition to Wheatfields Junior School (a separate school on the same site). The schools work together to provide a transition programme for all children that involves visiting the new school, engaging in joint activities with children in year 5 and staying for lunch. The class teachers from year 2 and year 3 also work together through the year to moderate learning and to discuss the children’s needs. Where a child has additional needs Sarah Fitzgerald work closely with Laura Jablowski, the SENCo at the Junior School. Additional visits, activities and support are also provided for individual children where necessary. When an SEND child leaves our school mid-year or to attend a different junior school we will liaise closely with their receiving school, inviting them to a SEN review or attending a handover meeting at their school.
How are the school’s resources allocated and matched to children’s special educational needs?
The school has an amount identified within their overall budget, called the notional SEN budget. This is not a ring-fenced amount and as a school we aim to provide high quality appropriate education for all children using the whole of our budget. The needs of all the children are central to our decision making when allocating resources. Our knowledge of each child as an individual is key to managing this and as such resources are changed and re-allocated regularly to adapt to the children’s changing needs. The senior leadership team report to governors regularly on the allocation of resources and the impact that these resources have had on the progress of the children.
How is the decision made about how much support my child will receive ?
The extra support your child will receive will be carefully matched to their needs, In order to identify the support needed we will work closely with parents and use all of the information available about your child for example careful assessments, their progress so far, observations of the child and advice from external professionals. Reviewing the level of support your child receives will be a key part of the regular planning meetings. It is our aim to develop the independence of all pupils and no child will receive full-time support from the same adult.
How can I find information about the local authority’s Local Offer of services and provision for children and young people with special educational needs and disability?
Click below to see the Local Authority Offer.