Special Educational Needs & Disabilities at Newlands School
Newlands School is an inclusive school that caters to the diverse population of Dubai. At Newlands School, we assess children on an individual basis and identify their specific needs.
Our qualified, special education staff conduct assessments for further investigation in the following situations:
- At the admission stage if behaviour or academic flags are observed during the initial assessment.
- In cases where the parents identify potential learning difficulties.
- After teacher referrals, where students’ difficulties have emerged through classwork.
The school cooperates fully with KHDA to implement UAE and Dubai Inclusive Education Policy Framework on special needs access and support, once a child has been granted a place at the school.
Once admitted, the school supports students with a range of special needs covered by the KHDA categories: behavioural, social and emotional; communication and interaction; sensory and physical; medical conditions or health-related disability; learning difficulties; gifted and talented, and disabled. This involves addressing gaps in the basic skills of literacy and numeracy, early difficulties caused by adopting English as an additional language, mild dyslexia and dyspraxia, certain forms of autism, mobility difficulties and manageable difficulties in hearing and sight.
To support families and students with potential special educational needs, we:
- screen students as soon as possible using a range of tests
- work together with families to help them hire Individual Learning Support Assistants for students with low to moderate difficulties, with parents’ agreement
- provide intervention at a suitable level when a child is identified as having SEND
- use a variety of teaching approaches, and cater to different learning preferences, to allow children with SEND to access the curriculum and achieve their individual education goals
- design and implement Individualised Education Plans (IEPs)
- assess and keep records of the progress of children with SEND
- use data to set targets and review IEPs
- work with local and outside agencies who provide specialist support in teaching for the development and progress of children with SEND
- work in partnership with parents of children with SEND
- embrace neurodiversity and view our students with special needs in terms of ‘diversity’ rather than disability, and couple that approach with differentiation strategies that build on students’ strengths
- provide continuous training for the staff supporting children with SEND
English as an Additional Language
Students who are not proficient in English will be identified on admission and a teaching programme will be put in place and agreed with their parents – with the target of bringing them to proficiency for their age group. This will be achieved through support in the classroom, extra English classes and home extension activities. Each case will be decided on its own merits and as far as possible, in-class and curriculum modifications will be made to ensure students with weak English skills are fully included in learning activities.
There is a range of assessments that will reveal language competencies at numerous points in the students’ progress through the school, including the admissions test, external assessments, teacher assessments and ‘Checkpoints’. Language support will come from lesson differentiation and peer help, direct teacher assistance, learning assistant help and extra-curricular programmes.
Gifted and Talented at Newlands
Students with specific talents – e.g. in sports, music or particular skills – will have help in clarifying those talents so that the school can work with the student and his/her parents in finding the right long-term coaching and support. Gifted students – those performing in the top five percent of students in a particular cohort – will be identified through teacher assessment and by benchmarking students against international test results. They will receive support from a teacher with training in recognising and supported giftedness, based on the most up-to-date accounts of international best practice.
The progress of gifted students will be monitored in the school’s data-tracking system, which will highlight where specific students slow down or accelerate in their learning progress. Each department will be required to have curriculum plans that provide for the enhancement of learning in each module for gifted students. In addition, these students will have access to an annual programme that regularly includes such activities as:
- module extensions
- added challenges
- complex problem-solving
- peer teaching
- research tasks
- cross-curricular applied challenges
- transformations (i.e. opportunities to re-author work in different genres or for different audiences)
- multimedia presentations, for example in video-supported poetry
- logic challenges (e.g. in control and sensing, and in coding)
- group challenges, to foster leadership skills
- self-determined work
Where progress is shown by the tracking data (or teacher judgment) to have slowed for gifted students, individual case conferences will be organised by year leaders to discuss ways to ‘reboot’ motivation and progress for the child concerned. As with SEND, parents will be consulted and collaboration encouraged.