Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)

We believe in a community that nurtures unique individuals into becoming the open minded thinkers and principled adults of a diverse society. We have an ethos of high standards that provides the opportunity to aspire and achieve beyond expectations. We place importance on collaboration within the Trust and beyond, at a national and international level, to bring the best outcomes for our students. We aim to develop enquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better, more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect, recognising that other people with their differences can also be right.

Our aims are:

  • To ensure that all pupils with SEND have their needs identified in order to support academic progression, and continued good physical and mental health, and wellbeing.
  • To ensure all children can access a balanced curriculum which is differentiated where appropriate.
  • To ensure that all pupils with SEND are able to fully access the curriculum by providing extra support or additional resources where appropriate and by removing their barriers to learning.

To view our accessibility and equality policies, please visit our policies page.

  • SENCo: Mr Alastair Williams
  • Deputy SENCo: Mrs Gail Peters
  • SRP Lead (Mon, Tue, Thur, Fri): Mrs Julie Mulholland
  • SEN Administrator (Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri): Mrs Pam Hagon

Questions about your child’s progress?

Initial concerns should be raised with the class teacher/form tutor.

Our SENCO can be contacted via email: alastair.williams@longfieldacademy.org

At Longfield Academy, part of our vision statement says,  “We believe in a community that nurtures unique individuals into becoming the open minded thinkers and principled adults of a diverse society”.

This is at the heart of our SEN provision. We believe that every learner is entitled to an enriching, varied and personalised education; delivered through a broad and balanced curriculum that provides challenge, irrespective of need, starting point or background. Our commitment to maximising the potential of every child, teaching them the skills they need to be successful and nurturing a desire to be a lifelong learner, will prepare them for whichever career path they choose to follow. We are committed to inclusion within the Academy curriculum and participation in all aspects of Academy life. Longfield Academy 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 fulfil their potential and achieve optimal educational outcomes.

Longfield Academy is fortunate to have a specialist resource provision for students who have an ASD diagnosis and an EHCP.  Please read about our SRP below.

Pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), including those attending the specially resourced provision, The Spectrum Centre, are fully integrated into school life. – Ofsted 2023

ASD Provision

Longfield Academy contains a specialist provision for 40 students on the Autistic Spectrum. Within this provision, each student has an Educational Health Care Plan (EHCP) whose primary need is identified as ASD. Students are supported by specialist staff within the provision which comprises four classrooms, each with direct access to a quiet room that students can use. It also has its own kitchen area to support the development of life skills, changing rooms and a training room. Students have their own outdoor space, separate from the main Academy playground, and this area also accommodates a garden for horticulture activities.

Students are based within the provision for all tutor activities and social times, but all access the Academy for most lessons, such as English, maths  and science. The aim is to enable each student to integrate into main school lessons full time, and to also study the full range of KS3 and KS4 examination courses and enrichment activities. Each student has a carefully planned, personalised timetable which takes account of their individual needs whilst maintaining a significant level of challenge built within it. Spectrum centre students join everyone else in the mainschool in taking part in their college activities.

The Academy building and facilities have been carefully designed for students with ASD and other learning difficulties to enhance accessibility. Each college has been carefully colour-coded and rooms have specialist signage to enhance accessibility. The acoustic design of the Academy also supports all students to learn more effectively.

The Academy uses its expertise to provide local advisory support to other primary and secondary schools within the area. It also works closely with Milestone Academy to develop opportunities for students and staff across the Leigh Academies Trust and more widely.

Frequently asked questions

Please look through our frequently asked questions below. We would ask that contact is made via email or telephone if you have additional queries.

Initially, please speak to your child’s form tutor. If you would like to speak to our SEND department, please contact us via our contact details shown above.

We work closely with feeder primary schools and ensure we receive all necessary information on levels, targets, and support requirements of each pupil. The SENCo meets primary SENCos before they start at Longfield Academy which allows us to get to know the students and identify any areas of concern at an early stage. Students are monitored throughout their school career by teachers and our support staff. Any concerns are flagged up and dealt with as quickly as possible. If parents/carers have any queries or concerns, they can contact the form tutor at any time.

SEN students have a provision plan, highlighting areas of support. We provide targeted individual support which may include in class support, a differentiated curriculum, and small group intervention sessions. Students are supported by their teaching staff, pastoral staff and LSAs throughout their time at Longfield Academy.

We are ambitious that where possible, all students access the whole curriculum at Key Stage 3 and 4.

Some students have additional support in core subjects, supported by the class teacher in conjunction with learning support. While groups are mixed ability, teachers differentiate the curriculum; some students may work in smaller groups within the classroom focusing on specific areas as identified by the class teacher.

At Longfield Academy, we aim to develop close links with parents and carers. There are a number of opportunities throughout the year for parents/carers to talk to staff. Reports are sent home after each assessment data entry point. Parents and carers are welcome to phone or email staff at any time with concerns, questions or queries. Advice can be sought at any time from individual subjects and the SEN team on how to support students at home.

The SEN Department has worked hard to develop close working relationships with specialist support services available in the local community and through the LEA. The SEN Team also works closely with Longfield Academy’s pastoral support team, especially our in-house counsellor, Early Help, Social Services and Early Intervention staff.

All students are encouraged to join clubs. SEN students are monitored and special attention is paid to their level of participation. As a department, we try to ensure that all students can go on trips they would like to attend, by offering support and guidance.

The site team is vigilant in making sure the site is safe for all users including those with disabilities. We have disabled toilets and lifts for student use.

We have close connections with our feeder primary schools. Students may begin visiting Longfield Academy throughout their time at primary school as our site is used by the local community in the evenings. In this way, they become familiar with the school. More specific work with primary schools begins in year 6. Our SENCo and other team members gather information from primary schools at this time, and then meet the primary SENCos to discuss certain students in more depth. This is then followed by further events for parents/carers and students. During the last term of year 6, we hold a Transition Day where students get to know the school, teaching and support staff who will be working most closely with them. The pastoral/SEN team will also make visits to primary schools to discuss the needs of some students.

In terms of post-16 education and training, we work alongside students and their parents/carers to facilitate the move onto further education by supporting students and parents/carers with applications for our own sixth form, or to obtain places on appropriate courses at local colleges etc. A number of SEN students return to Longfield Academy for the sixth form. We are proud of the range of courses available to students in the sixth form.

We would encourage you to read the Inclusion policy on our website.

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 and carers 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 for them to work towards.

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 CYPMHs clinician 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.

This would be a school/GP based referral to a CYPMHs. In order to refer, we need to see inattentive or hyperactive/impulsive behaviour that is significantly different from the majority of the peer group and across different environments.

There is no test for ADHD. Instead, information is collated from home/school and a certain ‘threshold’ must be met when comparing parent/carer and school scores – and the child is observed in a clinic. A Connors questionnaire is common.

Medication is a possibility depending on the severity of the ADHD and the views of parents/carers.

Some children have a diagnosis of ‘ADHD–inattentive type’, which is the old ADD (no hyperactivity).

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.

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 lifelong condition. It is a specific learning difficulty.

We are bound by the Kent (local authority) definition for dyslexia which can be found in their policy at:


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 as 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 lifelong 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), and 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.

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 numbers 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 numbers. 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.

It is important 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 such as dyslexia, ASD, ADHD etc.

Does the teacher see functional difficulties with a child’s self-care skills? For example, 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? Do they struggle to throw and catch in PE? We need to evidence three 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 has 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 3-4 months before parent/carer and child are invited to a clinic (if the referral criteria is met). The OT can then identify strengths and weaknesses and help parents/carers and school develop a programme or strategies that will help the child compensate for their motor weaknesses.

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 three 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 SEND department.

This is an Educational Healthcare 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/carer 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: https://www.kent.gov.uk/education-and-children/special-educational-needs/education-health-and-care-plans/education-and-health-care-plans

Parents and carers can apply for an EHC Needs Assessment for their child by emailing the department at SENnortht@kent.gov.uk or complete the form via the KCC Website

It is so important that parents and carers know the school’s view because the school provides a significant proportion of the evidence to the Local Authority. School and parents/carers 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 six weeks.

If a parent/carer 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 (three rounds of provision plans), and evidence of what has been in place (high levels of provision) and 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. That is why a parent/carer request, supported by the school, can be quicker.

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.

As a school, we have a wellbeing service that can support students with a variety of emotional difficulties. Please speak to your child’s form tutor for further information.

Very few of our children need 1:1 support to make good progress.

The vast majority of children learn when teaching is responsive to their needs and work is well differentiated. Class teaching assistants are used to help scaffold children’s learning if they find things more challenging.

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/1:1 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.

Parent/carer guidance for HNF available if you scroll down this page: https://www.kelsi.org.uk/special-education-needs/special-educational-needs/high-needs-funding-hnf/high-needs-funding-for-schools

If you are part of the school community, please contact your child’s form tutor/student support manager initially. They will liaise with SEN if appropriate.