Special Educational Needs

During their time in statutory education, all children will need support of one kind or another in school. This could mean anything from time spent in hospital, and support from Hospital School, to children who require physical support to access the curriculum in our school.

At St Mary's we have a specialist teacher, Mrs Hawkins, who is not based in class, but whose role is to ensure that all of our children with additional or special educational needs meet their targets and thrive. It is our policy that 'no child is left behind' and we ensure that, by the End of Key Stage 2, all children are successful learners who are prepared for the next chapter of their education at Secondary School (we call this 'secondary ready'). 

To ensure that this takes place, Mrs Hawkins works closely with the school leadership team, and with a specific governor, Father Dane, who is responsible for Special Educational Needs. We know that 'the St Mary's way' works, because our data shows that, by the end of KS2 all pupil groups are achieving at least the 'expected' standard, if not better.


SEND policy and supporting documents 2022-2023

What can we offer?

Time2Talk Counselling

If your child has a worry or concern, which is preventing them focusing upon their studies and developing the strong relationships pupils have in Primary School, Mrs Sue Clubb is available in school for counselling. She is a qualified, experienced counsellor, who will make contact with parents and work alongside children to explore and resolve their worries.

Counselling is only available with parental permission, and if you would like to access this for your child, please contact the school office for a permission form.

Speech and Language Therapy


The Balanced System

The team at St Mary's has been working on the Balanced System, a scheme for schools commissioned by KCC, which offers a whole system strategic approach to supporting children and people with speech, language and communication needs. We are very proud to report that we have now achieved our accreditation with the award of "Centre of Excellence".



We use the Speech Link and Language Link programmes as well as the Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI) to assess pupil's speech and language skills and deliver a programme of support where a child is experiencing difficulties.


There are a number of ways parents can support at home. Please see the link below to The Pod for additional information including milestones of typical language development:


After the school has delivered a block of intervention, parents and school staff may agree that it is appropriate to make an NHS referral. This will be carried out by the SENCo with support from parents and teachers.


In school, we use a number of resources to support children's language skills. 


Now and Next Boards - these are used to support children in engaging in an adult-led activity with a highly motivating activity used as a reward.

Now and Next Board


Communication Boards - these are used to support children who may not have the vocabulary to articulate their wants and needs.

Example communication board


St Mary's is currently participating in the Balanced System - a whole system approach to improving outcomes for children and young people across the range of speech, language and communication needs. See the website below for further information.


Better Reading Stamina


All Teaching Assistants have been trained in delivering the Better Reading Stamina programme, which ensures that no child falls behind in reading. This programme supports the reading Recovery programme which is delivered in KS1.

Reading Recovery

St Mary's has been delivering the Reading Recovery programme for Years 1 and 2 for ten years now, and we have a long history of success with reading and writing. Mrs Ashford is our brilliant Reading Recovery teacher, who works with 4 children every day (the same four pupils until they complete the programme) to ensure that their reading and writing progress is accelerated, and achievement is secured.

Where pupils stall in KS2, this is followed up by the Better Reading Stamina programme.

If you are interested in this programme, please contact Mrs Ashford or the school office for more information.

One-to-one and small group mathematics support

We have specialist staff on site, whose role is to ensure that every child is making accelerated progress and meeting their targets. If we se that a child needs help with, for example, fractions, then we will provide additional lessons for that child to ensure they are able to continue with confidence in the class, and do not fall behind.

LEGO Therapy

This amazing programme provides pupils with the opportunity to develop skills in directing others, following instructions and leading situations - which are skills that they will need throughout their life. These groups are run with three children, who all take a specific role, which will develop their confidence and behaviours for the classroom.


Our Family Liaison Officer Mrs Kennedy has undertaken training with Kent's Educational Psychology service to deliver blocks of therapeutic work to develop improved mental wellbeing and social interaction strategies. As an ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support Assistant) Mrs Kennedy receives ongoing supervision from the Educational Psychology Service. 

Sensory Circuits

Sensory Circuits is a motor skills programme which helps to focus children for learning behaviours. Children participate in 10-15 minutes of activities, designed to improve brain processing efficiency.

Nurture Groups and Social Skills Groups

We know that some children need guidance on how to get along with other children and manage their relationships. We have created small, games-based groups to support pupils in this transition towards a mature approach to developing their relationship skills (which we know has an impact upon their performance in the curriculum). This has the benefit of helping children develop the confidence and resilience required to support their relationships with friends, adults and with people they might meet on an irregular basis; as well as supporting them in developing life skills such as patience, sharing, tolerance, listening. It also enables them to focus and use behaviours for learning which supports our curriculum.

The National Nurturing Schools Award



At St Mary’s, we are working towards the National Nurturing Schools Award.

A nurturing approach enables school to work with parents in supporting children to develop the social and emotional skills to do well at school and with peers as well as develop their resilience and their capacity to deal more confidently with the trials and tribulations of life, for life.


The 6 Principles of Nurture

1.       Children's learning is understood developmentally

2.       The classroom offers a safe base

3.       The importance of nurture for the development of well-being

4.       Language is a vital means of communication

5.       All behaviour is communication

6.       The importance of transition in children's lives

Ref: Lucas,S., Insley,K. and Buckland,G. (2006) Nurture Group Principles and Curriculum Guidelines Helping Children to Achieve, The Nurture Group Network.


Our School Nurturing Programme     

We offer Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA) sessions, Time to Talk counselling and Nurture groups which run alongside out PSHE  (Personal, Social and Health Education) provision. 

There is much research evidence that children’s learning is most effective when they have a sense of emotional well-being, good self-esteem and a feeling of belonging to their school community. Nurturing provides children with this opportunity and so helps to develop maturity and resilience. It is important to be aware that ELSA and Nurture sessions are a time of learning, although the approach may be games-based.

In March 2023, we focused on the 6 Principles of Nurture for our Growth Day. Head over to the News and Events tab to see what projects the children completed.


Nurturing Schools Programme

The National Nurturing Schools Programme is a programme that allows staff to develop and embed a nurturing culture throughout their school. It enhances teaching and learning and promotes healthy outcomes for children and young people. The programme focuses on emotional needs and development, as well as academic learning in a whole school environment and enables schools to gain recognition for achieving a higher level of nurturing provision.

At St Mary’s, we are currently collecting evidence to enable us to receive this recognition.


Ways you can work with us to support your child

  • Keep in touch with your child’s teacher about any changes that may affect their behaviour in school.
  • Endeavour to attend school events such as plays, parental surgeries or information sessions. The children tell us they feel proud and happy when they see their parents in school.
  • Support your child with homework and encourage them to talk to you about what they have been learning. When children share with you at home it enhances their learning and gives them confidence to succeed in the classroom.
  • Encourage your child to talk about emotions and feelings with you – the more open we can be about how we are feeling the less likely we are to bottle things up and become withdrawn, angry or depressed.


Useful Links