SEND and Learning Support

OSCA’s Learning Support Team have one belief which is that every child has the ability to succeed and the right to experience success. Our team of well-established, experienced and skilled Learning Support Practitioners (LSP’s) work with a wide variety of students all of whom have a Special Educational Need. We provide in-class support to those students with the highest needs, alongside offering intervention and support programmes to help close any learning gaps identified, particularly in Literacy and Numeracy. We also offer a range of specialist group interventions to enhance and build confidence and social skills, these groups access our Inclusion Hub provision, Nurture provision, our Forest School programme and Guinea Pig Therapy.

Our ethos that students in our care will be given every opportunity to grow, develop and have aspirations is the driving force behind the work we do every day, and the strong relationships we have with both students and their parents/carers is extremely important to us all. Furthermore, it is this link that enables and encourages many of our students to continue into further and higher education, a prospect that may not have been considered through their earlier years of education.

At all times we are guided by the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice (2015) and ensure that we meet all statutory requirements and expectations alongside observing our Academy’s SEND Policy. In addition to this, we have great working relationships with our Local Authority SEN Support Services and Inclusion Support Team, who provide us with expertise in the form of Specialist Advisory Teachers and Educational Psychologists.

Working alongside our LSP’s, we have two Mentors and a school counsellor who work diligently to support the Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs of our students, whilst their Mental Health First Aid Training status allows them to provide training, assistance and advice to Teachers as required, ensuring that the whole school community are working together to establish good Mental Health. Our Mentors provide transition programmes, academic coaching and many various other programmes specific to Health and Wellbeing.

Team Learning Support are always available to welcome and support any student and family into our department and we believe passionately that it is our role is to ensure all learners are able to cope, succeed and importantly achieve their dreams in the 21st century.

OSCA’s Learning Support department has a wide range of interventions designed to support pupils progression. Forest School is one of these interventions which aims to develop pupils social/ emotional skills and mental health (SEMH). 

Forest School is an international educational approach which takes place in a variety of settings all across the world. Forest School in the UK is built upon foundations of a long history of outdoor education but it took off as Forest School as we know it in 1993. Forest School is inspired by the Scandinavian educational approach and especially their outdoor classrooms. The thing that distinguishes Forest Schools from other types of outdoor learning is that it is delivered by a fully trained Forest Schools practitioner and it abides by principles set out by the Forest Schools Association. Forest School at OSCA follows these principles which are as follows: 

  • It takes place in a woodland or natural environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world
  • It is a long-term process of regular sessions, rather than one-off or infrequent sessions
  • It is learner-centred/ led
  • It aims to encourage holistic development, meaning that it aims to develop emotional, social and mental health as well as cognitive and physical skills
  • It offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks which are vital to the learning process and to developing independence

OSCA’s Forest School is available for pupils in years 7 and 8 who are put forward by pastoral and SEN staff. There is a maximum of 8 pupils per group with two members of staff. OSCA’s qualified Forest School leader is Miss Joplin. Forest School at OSCA is for two hours per week for the duration of the academic year. 

We do lots of fun activities at OSCA’s Forest School, these activities fall into four main categories: 

  • Survival skills – making shelters, knot tying, camp fire lighting, orienteering, campfire cooking
  • Team building – games and challenges
  • Connection with nature – nature hunts, mini-beast hunts, wildlife identification games, mindfulness activities
  • Natural arts and crafts – using tools such as knives, saws, axes etc. to make things from wood, working with clay, willow crafts, pebble painting.

The aim of these activities is to develop social, emotional, cognitive and physical skills. An example of each of these skills would be:

  • Social- verbal/ non-verbal communication, working together, empathy, sharing, seeing another’s point of view
  • Emotional- recognising and naming emotions, asking for what you need, managing emotions, developing confidence/self reliance, resilience
  • Cognitive- problem solving, creative thinking
  • Physical- gross and fine motor skills
  • The pupils really enjoy Forest School while learning at the same time, the smiles on their faces throughout the session says it all.