Bridgwater College Academy


Special Educational Needs support at Bridgwater College Academy

Bridgwater College Academy has made a sustained contribution to the education of its students since 1961. We are underpinned by our values and ethos and remain committed to our duty to ensure that every individual child is given the best possible chance of achieving their potential. 

At Bridgwater College Academy, we believe that all students have the potential to achieve something that is personal to them and that it is our responsibility to harness the talents of individuals and meet their needs in the most creative and bespoke way that we can possible. We approach SEND support using the windscreen model that the Local Authority has produced. This is a graduated approach to support and we are committed to trying every strategy we possibly can at each point on the windscreen and using strong multi agency approaches to all support. At all points we include the family in decision making and listen to the voice of the child. 


 Academy Lead for Inclusion

At Bridgwater College Academy, Miss Emily Harris is the Academy Lead for Inclusion. She joined the school in September 2020, having moved back to Somerset to live closer to her family. Emily qualified as a teacher in 2002 from the University of Gloucestershire. She has taught in 4 schools in total across Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and now Somerset. Emily enjoyed her role as Deputy Head teacher for over 10 years, before taking on the SENDCo role within her school in 2016 and completed the National SENCO Award in January 2019.

Primary SENDCo

Mrs Alison McNamara joined the academy in January 2020 as SENDCo for the primary school and nursery. She qualified as a primary teacher in 1999 and started her career teaching in a large primary school in South London. After moving to Somerset, Alison worked in an infant school where she was a Key Stage 1 teacher and SENDCo. Before coming to work at BCA, she was Key Stage Leader and Class Teacher at a Specialist School, teaching children with a range of needs across Key Stage 3. Alison led English across the school and had a particular interest in developing language and communication. She is currently completing the SENDCo award and is due to complete this course in September 2021.

 Polden Autistic Condition Centre

Miss Sarah Wharton is the Autism Condition Centre Lead (Polden Centre) at Bridgwater College Academy. Sarah began her teaching career in 2000 in Bristol, where she trained at the University of the West of England, and taught in inner city schools for 5 years. She moved back to her 'home' in Somerset and continued teaching until 2018. Sarah had a particular interest in Special Educational Needs and after gaining her NASENCO qualification, Sarah joined BCA, where she has been Polden Centre Lead for two years. 

Quality First Teaching:

At Bridgwater College Academy we want all of our children to reach their full potential. One of the ways we do this in ensuring that all our children are given Quality First Teaching. This means that our teachers employ methods and strategies to help all children to overcome any barriers to their learning. Some of the ways we do this are:

  • all our classrooms are organised and resources are well labelled
  • all lessons have a clear structure and children are made aware of their learning objective at the start of the lesson
  • all lessons are differentiated to ensure that children are learning at their appropriate ability level
  • instructions are given in small chunks and supported by visual clues
  • any new vocabulary is introduced with the aid of visuals
  • children are asked to demonstrate what they have learnt in a variety of ways, e.g. drama, mind-mapping, drawing, ICT recording
  • children work in mixed groups, pairs and individually
  • children are taught different ways to remember important information – highlighting, 5 step planning, mnemonics etc
  • children’s effort and achievement in their work is celebrated using ‘Class Dojo’ and ‘Star of the Week’ awards
  • learning is re-visited throughout the year in order to ensure that children are able to consolidate their learning
  • teachers ensure that learning is fun and that children are excited about what they are doing
  • staff are trained in all areas of SEN to ensure they are using the appropriate techniques and resources to support any children with Special Educational Needs
  • staff track each child’s progress to ensure that they are able to reach their full potential
  • staff meet regularly with parent and carers to discuss their children’s progress.

Once children have begun to settle into life at Bridgwater College Academy and have enjoyed experiencing the wealth of Quality First Teaching strategies from our teachers, we then like to gather a complete picture of the pupil’s strengths and difficulties.  The diagnostic assessment trackers guide us to create bespoke programmes so that we can offer support that is meaningful and enabling. These programmes mean that we can give pupils our best efforts to encourage and nurture their own self-belief, such that they can reach their maximum potential.

 Intervention Opportunities

To support Cognition and Learning needs, we offer programmes, such as:

Individualised Literacy Intervention (ILI) - To make double current rate of progress in reading and spelling. This follows a 10-week cycle of 3x30min sessions using familiar books as well as new books to build the pupils’ confidence as well as reading fluency. It supports children by developing new reading strategies whilst sustaining their comprehension skills and bespoke letter/sound work to encourage decoding of unfamiliar words and support spellings too.

Catch Up® Numeracy - Catch Up® Numeracy is a structured one-to-one intervention for learners who find numeracy difficult. It enables learners who struggle with numeracy to achieve more than double the progress of typically developing learners. It involves 15-minute individual sessions delivered twice a week. It is grounded in academic research and addresses 10 key components of numeracy.

Lexia – This is another reading intervention on computers. Students work independently to develop critical reading and language skills through individualized, motivating learning paths. All students, regardless of their skill level, can each work at their own pace which is overseen by a teacher or teaching assistant.

ThinkRead – A unique and powerful approach equipping schools with the ability to resolve even the most serious reading problems children are having. The students that you didn’t think could learn to read will learn to read. They will catch up rapidly and completely with their decoding and comprehension skills. The programme is rigorous, research-based and systematic. It teaches more in less time using age-appropriate books and expert teaching methods. Highly detailed assessment tracks progress in every aspect of the customised, one-to-one lesson.

Guided Reading (comprehension) – A wide variety of age appropriate books are used to develop children’s reading comprehension skills including inference, predicting, summarising, questioning, visualising as well as retrieval skills with quotations. This can be delivered in a small group or on a 1:1 basis depending on each individual case.

Working Memory - Working memory is a cognitive skill that is strongly associated with attention and language skills. There has been speculation that working memory training, embedded within typical educational activities, may improve children’s working memory skills and produce transfer effects to real-world skills such as attention and language. At BCA we use working memory games and activities across 6-weeks, it is 1:1 intervention targeting working memory, attention and language skills in 11-16 year olds.

Sounds-Write (Phonics) - Sounds-Write is a quality first phonics programme. Its purpose is to provide classroom professionals with a comprehensive system with which to teach reading, spelling and writing. Ideally it will be introduced in YR, taught in KS1 and fine-tuned throughout the rest of Key Stage 2.

 To support Social, Emotional and Well-Being needs, we offer programmes, such as:

ELSA - ELSA is an initiative developed and supported by educational psychologists. It recognises that children learn better and are happier in school if their emotional needs are also addressed. ELSA supports pupils who are experiencing temporary or longer term additional emotional needs. The majority of ELSA work is delivered on an individual basis, but sometimes small group work is more appropriate, especially in the areas of social and friendship skills.

Forest School - Forest School is a child-centred inspirational learning process, that offers opportunities for holistic growth through regular sessions. It is a long-term program that supports play, exploration and supported risk taking. It develops confidence and self-esteem through learner inspired, hands-on experiences in a natural setting.

Mentoring - Mentoring at BCA involves pairing young people with a trusted adult, who acts as a positive role model and is an empathetic listener. Our mentoring intervention aims to build confidence, develop resilience and character, raise aspirations, rather than to develop specific academic skills or knowledge directly.

 To support Communication & Interaction needs, we offer programmes, such as:

Talkabout - Talkabout is a series of social communication programmes. It is a practical resource which is aimed at improving Social Communication Skills such as: listening, conversational skills, body language, awareness and assertiveness.

Social Stories – Our social stories are individualized short stories that depict a social situation that your child affected by autism may encounter. These social stories are used to teach communal skills through the use of precise and sequential information about everyday events that your child may find difficult or confusing, thus preventing further anxiety on the part of your child.

SALT - The principal aims of our Speech and Language provision are to: complete individual speech and language assessments, as well as deliver and monitor speech and language therapy programmes advised by trained Speech and Language Therapists in/around Somerset, which may include vocabulary and theory of mind focused groups.

Word Power - The programme is aimed at increasing reading and spelling and uses the primary high frequency words. These words are grouped by selecting those that visually look different to each other. The programme approaches literacy acquisition at the word level and addresses the gaps in phonics knowledge through the application of analytic phonics.

 To support Sensory and/or Physical needs, we offer programmes, such as:

Gross motor skills - involve control of the arms, legs, head, and trunk. Our PE Coaches can help children develop gross motor skills by building in opportunities for children to run, jump, hop, throw, and catch, climb up, down, over, under and through things, pedal tricycles or other ride-on toys, push and pull, dump and fill. Specific activities that we deliver to support gross motor development include running at different speeds, jumping rope, playing hopscotch, tossing and catching balls of different sizes, pitching bean bags, climbing in many different directions, pedalling riding toys, pulling wagons or toys, pushing toy strollers or brooms, and filling and emptying buckets and other containers.

Fine Motor Skills - Fine motor skills involve the use of the smaller muscle of the hands. Our TAs help the children practice common activities like scribbling, colouring, drawing, writing to develop their pencil control; cutting for scissor use; construction skills with lego or duplo or doing up buttons and opening lunch boxes.

Handwriting support - Handwriting is a complex skill of using language by pencil grip, letter formation, and body posture. There are many skills involved in handwriting which we help develop at BCA including vision, eye-hand coordination, muscle memory, posture, body control, as well as pencil grasp and letter formation.

 Access Arrangements for exams

When our SEN pupil reach Year 10, should teachers feel the child requires Access Arrangements in readiness for their exams, then assessments are conducted to gather evidence accordingly. The Access Arrangements can include a scribe for those who find writing difficult due to a fine motor skill disability; they may qualify for 10% or 25% extra time to complete their exams or they may benefit from a reader to access the exam text effectively. Relevant support is put in place to ensure pupils are not disadvantaged in exam conditions and the right Access Arrangements are sought to support our SEN pupils.

 Assessments used at Bridgwater College Academy:

Some examples of what our assessments test for are:

  • Visual spatial memory
  • Auditory sequential memory
  • Phonic decoding skills
  • Phonological processing ability
  • Single word reading
  • Reading Comprehension speed and accuracy
  • Non-verbal intelligence
  • Typing and writing speeds and accuracy
  • Social/emotional skills
  • Numeracy ability
  • Speech, Language and Communication skills

 1:1 Classroom support

Should it emerge that a young person requires 1:1 support in class in order for him to access the curriculum in accord with his EHCP, this extra support can be made available at an additional cost. If the Local Authority is in agreement with the funding requirement, the school enlists a member of staff for that purpose. This additional provision would be subject to review.