Our Learning Development Approach
We have a dynamic approach to learning Development (LD) at St Edward’s that has evolved particularly over the last five years as we have moved away from more traditional methods, and towards systems that we feel really benefit our pupils and are in line with our own ethos. Our approach is guided by the belief that a specific learning difference doesn’t need to hold children back, we just need to equip them with the right tools and strategies to learn effectively in their own way, and like any child to keep motivation up and to help them unlock their potential.
The underlying principle of our approach is that SEND friendly strategies and tools should be embedded across all learning and pastoral environments of the School, which means that all teachers have an understanding and a certain level of skill to recognise these challenges as well as address them in the main classroom.
In a more traditional approach, children with a SpLD typically miss one timetabled lesson a week. This is usually a language class, given the challenges commonly presented, which is replaced with a one-to-one specialist support lesson. This approach sends a subconscious message that it’s acceptable to miss things if you find them challenging, and additionally that you are ‘different’. These sessions can turn into ‘prep sessions’ where difficult work is completed, perpetuating a cycle of dependence, which can come to a head around exam times.
Children with SpLD have a ‘spiky’ profile, where they excel in some areas and find other disciplines very hard. By arming them with the methods, technology and mental tools with which to manage their own challenges within the classroom setting, there is no need to take them out for individual sessions for prolonged periods of time.
The Learning Development Department at St Edward’s has an open-door policy. Children are encouraged to book in a session whenever they feel they need it – rather than being summoned weekly with little input or control for their own learning. Shweta Soni, Head of Learning Development at St Edward’s, believes that education is a process of empowerment, where students discover how best they learn, develop resilience by being allowed to make mistakes or even fail and try another approach, and grow in confidence by achieving mastery over areas that are particularly difficult.
The key to this approach is that all teachers are highly trained, enthusiastic and engaged with SpLD. The Department not only supports children, but creates resources for teachers and engages with them within the classroom, offers opportunities for SEND specific teacher training, and provides insights for learning and development within specific departments. Across the board and in all departments, says Shweta, staff are very keen to learn and get the best out of all pupils.
Remote learning has been a factor of the current pandemic, with pupils and staff using new education technologies – such as OneNote. This system simplifies the process of organising work – something that can be a big challenge for children with SpLD needs. The mainstreaming of this technology has been hugely advantageous for many children with learning needs, which helps to demonstrate the positive impact of the right use of certain tools.
Our aim is to create strong and confident learners who can take their tools with them through school, and on to university or their chosen path, with their own strategy to succeed.