Special Educational Needs at Newlands School
Newlands School is an inclusive school that caters for 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 at the admission stage, in cases where the parents identify potential learning difficulties, and after teacher referrals, where students’ difficulties have emerged through normal classwork. The school cooperate fully with KHDA to implement UAE and Dubai policy on special needs access and support, once a child has been granted a place at the school.
The school support students, once admitted, with a range of special needs across the spectrum covered by 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 children with special educational needs, we:
- identify children who have SEN as soon as possible using a range of tests
- hire Learning Support Assistants for children with low to moderate difficulties, with parents’ agreement
- provide intervention at a suitable level when a child is identified as having SEN
- use a variety of teaching approaches, and cater to different learning preferences, to allow children with SEN to access the curriculum and achieve their set education goals
- design and implement Individualised Education Plans (IEPs)
- assess and keep records of the progress of children with SEN
- use data to set targets and review IEPs
- work with local and outside agencies who provide specialist support in teaching for development and progress of children with SEN
- work in partnership with parents of children with SEN
- 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 SEN
- hire a SENCO in the school to lead the SEN provision and the day to day operation of the school’s SEN policy
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 within the first term. This will be achieved through support in the classroom, the deployment of additional teaching assistants (including from volunteer parents), 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 assistant, 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 per cent 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 include 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 SEN, parents will be consulted and collaboration encouraged.