Contact Us
Skerne Park Academy


Our Team

Leanne Wilson SENCO
Racheal Cowan EYFS SENCO

What is SEND?

SEND is the acronym for Special Educational Needs and Disability.
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 by mainstream schools, maintained nursery schools, mainstream post-16 institutions or by relevant early years providers. For a child under two years of age, special educational provision means educational provision of any kind.

What does it mean if your child is identified?

It can be a worrying time if you are concerned your child is falling behind at school. It is worth remembering that SEND is not always permanent and even when it is (especially with things such as dyslexia, autism and ADHD)  many children go onto be extremely successful irrespective of how quickly they achieve at school. With early intervention and an excellent graduated approach, great progress can be made. If your child is identified as being SEND the school will be duty bound to provide a curriculum which is dedicated to narrowing the gap between your child’s achievement and those of his or her peers. This is outlined in our local offer. It is worth remembering that every child has their own unique brain and way of being. It is up to the school to try every avenue to enable your child to experience success at to feel successful whilst at school.

One plan

A one plan is a document schools in Darlington prepare to evidence the graduated approach the school has put in place for your child evidencing that they may need further funding and support. It is in this document we evidence expenditure of the notional SEN funding the school receives as well as therapies, interventions and approaches used to narrow the gap between your child’s attainment and National Expectation. It is within this document that reports from external professionals would be taken into account also such as educational psychologists, school nurse, occupational therapy to name but a few. This document is presented to the high needs funding panel at Darlington Local authority should the school feel the child need more than the school can provide with the notional funding received. It is through this method that funding for extra equipment, one to one support or alternate provision can be sourced.

EHC plan

An EHC (Educational Health and Care Plan) has been brought in under the new SEN code of practise to replace statements. It was brought in to encourage multiagency working and to ensure the whole child and parents are considered when planning a child with SEND’s educational future. In Darlington an EHC would be granted when a one plan is submitted evidencing that the notional funding a school receives is not enough to meet the needs of the child in question. EHC’s are awarded from band 7 to band 10, each band being allocated a particular sum of money. When a child receives band 10 this typically means a child is in need of 1:1 support or that specialist provision should be considered. Very few children would be eligible for an EHC unless a significant learning difficulty was apparent.

Common types of SEND


Dyslexia is a common learning difficulty that can cause problems with reading, writing, spelling and memory.

Signs of dyslexia?

Signs of dyslexia usually become apparent when a child starts school and begins to focus more on learning how to read and write.

A person with dyslexia may:

  • Read and write very slowly
  • Confuse the order of letters in words
  • Put letters the wrong way round – such as writing “b” instead of “d”
  • Have poor or inconsistent spelling
  • Understand information when told verbally, but have difficulty with information that’s written down
  • Find it hard to carry out a sequence of directions
  • Confuse left and right
  • Be overwhelmed by lots of text
  • Struggle with planning and organisation
  • Forget names of people
  • Struggle to tie shoelaces.

However, people with dyslexia often have good skills in other areas, such as:

  • Creative thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Mental maths and calculations
  • Art
  • Music
  • Invention
  • Humour and whit
  • Empathy
  • Building rapport.

Some of the most successful entrepreneurs of the world are diagnosed dyslexics. It is worth remembering that being dyslexic isn’t a life sentence it just means that a person’s brain works differently and they need to be enabled to understand the way their brain works and utilise its potential. At Skerne Park Academy we have a team of staff who are committed to unlocking the potential of a dyslexic child to ensure they are happy, resilient and have a good understanding of how amazing their brain is.

We have a dyslexia friendly school and therefore many aspects of school life aid the dyslexic brain. This means that a child does not feel singled out or isolated just because their brain happens to function dyslexically.

Skerne Park Dyslexia therapies include:

  • Screening for likelihood of dyslexia
  • Coloured overlays
  • Laptop / iPad access for dyslexia affecting writing
  • Toe by toe – dyslexia intervention
  • Word wasp – Dyslexia intervention
  • Lexia – computer based intervention
  • Line guides
  • Varying colours of exercise books
  • Memory games
  • Dyslexia friendly classrooms (all classrooms)
  • Dyslexia friendly cursive script (starting each letter from the line)
  • Motor memory spelling practise – each word practised joined to aid in retention (all children)
  • Open discussions about being dyslexic – that it is not a stigma, that its just a different brain working in a different way.
  • Access to educational psychologist should there be concerns that the brain function is causing the child to fall behind.

A.D.H.D (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)

This is a group of behavioural symptoms that include inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

The symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be categorised into two types of symptoms.

These categories are:

  • Inattentiveness
  • Hyperactivity and impulsiveness

Most people with ADHD have indicators that fall into both these categories, this isn’t always the case. For example, some people with the condition may have inattentiveness and not hyperactivity or impulsiveness. This form of ADHD is also known as attention deficit disorder (ADD). ADD can sometimes go unnoticed because the symptoms may be less obvious.

Symptoms in children and teenagers

The symptoms of ADHD in children and teenagers are well defined, and they’re usually noticeable before the age of six. They occur in more than one situation, such as at home and at school.

The main signs of each indicator are detailed below:


The main signs of inattentiveness are:

  • Having a short attention span and being easily distracted
  • Being inaccurate in school work
  • Appearing forgetful or losing things
  • Being unable to stick at tasks especially for long periods of time
  • Appearing to find it challenging to listen to or carry out instructions
  • Constantly changing activity or task
  • Finding organising tasks a challenge.

Hyperactivity and impulsiveness

The main signs of hyperactivity and impulsiveness are:

  • Finding sitting still a challenge, especially in calm or quiet surroundings
  • Constantly fidgeting
  • Being unable to concentrate on tasks
  • Excessive physical movement
  • Excessive talking
  • Being unable to wait their turn
  • Acting without thinking things through
  • Interrupting conversations
  • Little or no sense of danger.

These symptoms in school can be detrimental to a child learning. It is therefore important that early identification is sought and that a host of therapies for the child initiated. Some of these therapies can include:

  • Fidget tools
  • Wobble boards (for feet under their desks)
  • Occupational therapy / sensory intervention to aid with regulation
  • Pupil passport with known strategies – bespoke to child
  • Exercise breaks
  • Referral to CAMHS
  • Work with educational psychologist to ascertain diagnosis
  • An understanding of each child and their needs so to ensure no child is labelled or pre-judged simply because of an SEN need.

ASD (Autism spectrum disorder)

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the name for a range of similar conditions, including Asperger syndrome, that affect a person’s social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour.

In children with ASD, the symptoms are present before three years of age, although a diagnosis can sometimes be made after the age of three.

It’s estimated that about 1 in every 100 people in the UK has ASD. More boys are diagnosed with the condition than girls.

There’s no “cure” for ASD, but speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, educational support, plus a number of other interventions are available to help children and parents.

Signs and symptoms

  • People with ASD tend to have problems with social interaction and communication.
  • In early infancy, some children with ASD don’t babble or use other vocal sounds. Older children have problems using non-verbal behaviours to interact with others – for example, they have difficulty with eye contact, facial expressions, body language and gestures. They may give no or brief eye contact and ignore familiar or unfamiliar people.
  • Children with ASD may also lack awareness of and interest in other children. They’ll often either gravitate to older or younger children, rather than interacting with children of the same age. They tend to play alone
  • They can find it hard to understand other people’s emotions and feelings, and have difficulty starting conversations or taking part in them properly. Language development may be delayed, and a child with ASD won’t compensate their lack of language or delayed language skills by using gestures (body language) or facial expressions.
  • Children with ASD will tend to repeat words or phrases spoken by others (either immediately or later) without formulating their own language, or in parallel to developing their language skills. Some children don’t demonstrate imaginative or pretend play, while others will continually repeat the same pretend play.
  • Some children with ASD like to stick to the same routine and little changes may trigger tantrums. Some children may flap their hand or twist or flick their fingers when they’re excited or upset. Others may engage in repetitive activity, such as turning light switches on and off, opening and closing doors, or lining things up.
  • Children and young people with ASD frequently experience a range of cognitive (thinking), learning, emotional and behavioural indicators.

There are many strategies which can be utilised to aid your child in mitigating the impact of ASD. It will not alter the diagnosis however it will enable your child to cope even better in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Strategies Skerne Park Academy utilises to aid in this process are:

  • Linking with CAMHS
  • Support form an Educational Psychologist
  • Link to the ASD resource bases
  • Use of pupil passports to ensure all staff who interact with the child have a clear understanding of needs and supports.
  • Visual timetables
  • Screens to enable the filtering out of triggering stimuli
  • Headphones to filter out triggering sounds / loud noises
  • Emotional Literacy
  • Traffic light cards to enable communication of emotions
  • Speech and Language therapy
  • Occupational therapy to aid in sensory regulation
  • Encouragement of children to:
    • Predict and prepare for the day’s activities, often reducing stress levels
    • Organise themselves and materials or resources, reducing the likelihood of confusion or frustration – for pupils and staff
    • Introduce and develop an understanding of the concept of time (now, next, finished)
    • Work through tasks or common routines independently
      Make choices and express opinions Identify and explore feelings
    • Reflect on personal experiences and behaviour patterns
      be more independent

This list is not exhaustive and as we work with more and more child on the ASD spectrum we continually refresh our provision to enable every child to be treated as unique and to experience success through school.

Nurture base – leap frog room

Leap frog is our very own nurture base. Within this room we meet the needs of some of our children who find the day-to-day of school life sometimes overwhelming. We have provision for 12 children from years 1 and 2 who demonstrate signs of attachment disorder where they’re not quite school ready. Depending on the needs of the child some may have an intervention place of a term up to some children accessing the base for the full 2 years. The children have access to the full curriculum and they are taught it at their own pace. The philosophy of nurture is to enable the child to be emotionally literate, resilient, confident and ready to access school. We usually find that once a child has these elements in their tool kit, the academic side of the curriculum flourishes. The base utilises lots of parental engagement where parents are encouraged to actively take part in lessons, help with coffee mornings, stay and play and generally celebrate their Childrens successes as they venture through their time in the provision. It is only open to Skerne Park Pupils so to enable them to make strong friendship links without the reality of losing them back to another school later in their academic lives.

Should you feel the need to complain about the Special Education Needs provision your child is receiving please refer to the Academy Complaints Policy.

What does the school offer

  • Emotional Literacy
  • Occupational therapy
  • School Counselling
  • Education Psychologists
  • Sensory profiling
  • Family liaison support
  • Parenting support
  • CAMHS referral
  • Speech and Language therapy
  • Drawing and talking
  • Dyslexia intervention
  • Dyscalculia intervention
  • ADHD therapy and intervention
  • ASD therapy and intervention
  • non-class based SENCO
  • SEN coffee mornings
  • Highly skilled practitioners

Sign up to our Newsletter