Additional Support Programs - Enhanced Curriculum

In an effort to secure support beyond the everyday Curriculum on offer, St Mary’s has developed a range of interventions aimed at creating a ‘Support for Learning’ culture that all pupils can access. 

Salt Small animal care 4 Small animal care 1 Lego therapy Speech and language 1 Pony time 1 (2)



SEN Policy

SEN Policy


We are a specialist SEN School, part of the Sabden Multi Academy Trust. We make provision for children and young people with social, emotional or mental health needs from Key Stage 2 to 4. All pupils at St Mary’s School will have SEN identified within their Education, Health Care Plans or statements. The school only takes children where a local authority has named the school in the child’s statement or Education, Health and Care plan.

This policy sets out our approach to supporting children and young people with special educational needs (SEN). For more information please see our SEN Local Offer and Admissions page (SEN Local Offer and Admissions - The Sabden Multi Academy Trust) which is updated annually.

Leadership and Management of SEN

All class teachers have responsibility for the day-to-day provision to meet the SEN of pupils at St Mary’s. Our SENCO provides guidance to colleagues and works closely with staff, parents and outside agencies in order to ensure that our pupils receive appropriate support and high quality teaching.

Identification and Assessment of SEN

All pupils at St Mary’s have identified Special Educational Needs.

A pupil has SEN where their learning difficulty or disability calls for special educational provision. That is provision which is different from or additional to that normally available to pupils of the same age.

Children may have one or more broad areas of special educational need:

•       Social, emotional and mental health difficulties – including difficulties with behaviour, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, an attachment disorder or anxiety.

•       Communication and interaction – including speech and language difficulties and autism.

•       Cognition and learning – including developmental delay and specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia.

•       Sensory and/or physical needs- including visual and hearing impairment, dyspraxia, cerebral palsy and other physical disabilities or medical conditions which affect a child’s learning. 

Assessing and reviewing outcomes

As all children/young people at St Mary’s have identified SEN provision to meet need is part of the high quality teaching within all classes. In order to best support the needs of our pupils they are all taught within small classes with a high adult ratio. All teachers are aware of the needs on the EHCPs/Statements and plan accordingly. In addition some pupils will need the support of interventions which is different from, or additional to, that available to the other pupils within the class.

We record evidence of pupil progress with a focus on outcomes. We record details of additional or different provision made under SEN support. We maintain an overview of the programmes and interventions used and monitor the progress and development of all pupils. This helps us to develop the use of interventions that are effective.

EHC plans are used to actively monitor children/young people’s progress towards their outcomes and longer term aspirations. These are reviewed annually. Reviews are undertaken in partnership with the child/young person, their parent/Carers and their class teacher or form tutor. Each review will consider whether the outcomes and provision specified in the EHC plan remain appropriate


Our SEN support includes planning and preparation for the transitions between phases of education, key stages and preparation for adult life.

Where it is considered appropriate for the child transition may take place back to a Mainstream Setting. This would be discussed as part of the Annual Review process and transition plans will be made with the receiving school.

We support pupils making the transition from primary to secondary phase within St Mary’s School through a programme of taster day. This is supported with the SENCO and tutor teams working cross phases.

Securing effective transition to post 16 colleges, training or work opportunity is extremely important and we plan carefully for this with each individual student according to their needs and destination route.

From Year 10 reviews will include a focus on preparing for adulthood and will include liaison with the Local Authority SEN Personal Adviser to support the development of a post 16 study programme.

Curriculum and learning environment

Teachers plan their lessons to enable all learners to make progress and to be challenged. This includes planning different tasks for pupils of differing abilities, allocating increasing amounts of support and allowing pupils to respond accordingly. Differentiation is also based on the emotional needs of the pupils. In the primary phase there is an emphasis on learning outside the classroom in order to develop the child’s understanding and social interaction.

Whilst much of the curriculum is compulsory there is an element of increasing choice as pupils move through the school, including college and vocational pathways to ensure that the curriculum offered is matched to pupil’s needs and interests.

Training and continuing professional development for staff

St Mary’s School is part of the Sabden Multi-Academy Trust alongside Cuckmere House School, New Horizons School, Workplace and College Central. Staff across the MAT share best practice and there are opportunities for all staff to develop their expertise in response to pupils’ learning and emotional needs.

All staff access regular professional development through our ‘in-house’ programme which gives staff the opportunity to keep their practice up to date. We work alongside specialists to provide additional training. All staff have regular access to training in behaviour management, emotional support, child protection and first aid.

Working with outside agencies

St Mary’s School works in partnership with a broad range of services and agencies in order to meet the needs of our students. Our SENCO (also designated teacher for LAC) and DSL co-ordinate the support of specialist services including:

•            Educational Psychology

•            Speech and language and communication needs

•            Occupational Health

•            Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service

•            School Nurse

•            Social care


Functional skills


At St Mary's we are using IDL cloud software that supports our students with developing literacy and numeracy skills.

IDL Literacy has been proven to increase pupils’ reading and spelling ages on average by around 11 months after just 26 hours of use.

A learner's performance in an initial assessment determines the point of entry on the programme.  

The programme consists of approximately 1000 graduated exercises, commencing with recognition of the alphabet and finishing with comprehension and essay writing tasks appropriate to fluent readers (reading age above 12 years, 6 months), with accurate spelling (spelling age above 12 years, 6 months).

The progression through the programme follows a standard path similar to that defined in any standard phonics-based scheme, eg: Alpha-Omega (Hornsby and Shear, 1993).  Additionally, a touch typing course is woven into the fabric of the exercises.


Small animal care

We are able to offer Small animal care intervention at St Mary's to support students in managing their emotions and behaviours by interacting with animals, socialising in small group and developing their empathy. 

Social and emotional skills

Interacting with animals helps children to work on their social skills with no pressure. After all, animals are easy to talk to! In addition, spending time with animals can help children to develop a strong sense of empathy. Of course, understanding others’ feelings is a vital skill to learn.

Increase self-esteem

The love and attention bestowed on children by animals feel pretty special. Research has shown that when children care for animals they are more likely to have high self-esteem which in turn improves a range of outcomes throughout their lives.

Learn responsibility

Animals don’t care for themselves, and children are more capable than perhaps we give them credit for. Assign different children or groups of children a task each week and rotate throughout the class. Children can learn the responsibility of caring for an animal who relies on them to be fed, given water and cleaned on a regular basis. Responsibility is a valuable skill for life.


  • Reduction in low mood and anxiety
  • Improvements in communication
  • Peer group facilitation
  • Supported emotional exploration
  • Reduction in anger and behavioural outburst

Small animal care 1 Small animal care 2 Small animal care 3 Small animal care 4

Pony time

Time with ponies can help release endorphins that provide calming effects, this can help alleviate pain, reduce stress, anxiety and improve overall psychological state.

Pony time 2 Pony time 3   Pony time

Children often find it difficult to open up and process painful emotions and experiences. Spending time with our ponies allows students of all ages, to work on

  • Assertiveness                                                             
  • Confidence
  • Developing and maintaining relationships
  • Emotional awareness
  • Empathy
  • Impulse control
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Social skills
  • Trust in others
  • Trust in self
  • Reduction of anxiety


Lego Therapy

The Speech and Language Therapy Service have trained a select few staff to deliver this aspect of universal support at St Mary’s.  Lego Therapy is an intervention aimed at improving social communication for a group of students.  The shared goal of building a specific Lego model according to the specific and ordered instructions provides the motivation for the  group to succeed.  Each group member is assigned a role (eg architect, supplier, builder, quality control etc) for the duration of a session (although roles may be swapped within a session) and stay within the role to either give or receive instructions as part of the team as the building process progresses.  Use of precise descriptive language to identify both the correct piece and how it should be laid help to improve expressive and receptive language as well as problem building skills and co-operation.


Lego therapy Lego therapy 1



Drawing and Talking Therapy

We are currently developing this intervention - staff training.

A therapeutic intervention designed to complement CAMHS and other specialist therapies. Drawing and Talking Therapy is the number one alternative to CBT and direct talking therapies that can often be confronting or limiting in the processing of pain or trauma. 

Drawing and Talking allows individuals to discover and communicate emotions through a non-directed technique, setting it apart from existing solution-focused and cognitive-based therapies and interventions. 

Play Therapy

We are currently developing this intervention - staff currently training .

Talking about problems can be hard for children. A child may not have the words to describe how they are feeling, or why they are behaving as they do. A child may not be able to recognise what they find difficult, or explain it to someone if asked. Play Therapy provides the expertise and time to do this through play. Play Therapy sessions aim to build a child’s ability to develop healthy and resilient relationships, and to work though traumatic experiences which may be preoccupying them. Pre-occupying difficult feeling can make learning at school or managing feelings impossible. Addressing difficult emotions through play provides a layer of story or metaphor to what is being shared and felt. Metaphor can provide a degree of removal from experience for the child. It can feel safer and less intense for a child to express themselves or explore their experiences through play.

What Is Play Therapy? - Play Therapy UK

For Parents - Play Therapy UK

For Children - Play Therapy UK


Our trained school counsellor offers person-centred counselling working with referred pupils on a 1:1 basis. Pupil clients are able to use this private and uninterrupted therapeutic space to talk through and explore any issues they wish, and use the time to reflect upon and explore their deeper feelings. Sometimes creative therapy is used to enable this. Six sessions are offered initially after which there is a review. Our school counsellor works under qualified external supervision and within the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) Ethical Framework. School counselling is subject to the whole school safeguarding policies and procedures.

Sensory Circuits

Following some practical ‘on the job’ training (delivered by the Occupational Therapy Service provided by Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust) some staff can now themselves deliver this intervention.  Sensory Circuits is a term used to explain how the brain needs to constantly assess and organise information being received via an individual’s sensory system; sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell, proprioception (internal feedback) and vestibular system (balance or relationship with gravity).  How the brain organises this wealth of information (ie in a calm, orderly way or in a more chaotic, random manner) obviously has an impact on one’s capacity to be ready to learn.  Physical activities to alert, organise or calm the brain are devised by staff and rehearsed by pupils in order to support this crucial aspect.

Zones of Regulation

Regulation is something everyone continually works on whether we are cognizant of it.  We all encounter trying circumstances that test our limits from time to time.  If we can recognise when we are becoming less regulated, we are able to do something about it to manage our feelings and get ourselves to a healthy place.  This comes more naturally for some, but for others it is a skill that needs more attention and practice. This is the goal of The Zones of Regulation (or Zones for short). 


See the source image

'Talk about' social and relationship skills group

Talkabout is a structured programme for teaching and measuring social skills. It uses a hierarchical method of teaching social skills which means that having assessed the child using the Talkabout assessment, teachers will choose the appropriate level or book to start work at. This means that pupils may start by developing a child’s self-awareness and self-esteem before progressing onto body language. Then they would be able to move onto conversation skills and then onto friendship skills and assertiveness.

What is TALKABOUT? – Alex Kelly Ltd

Language for behaviour and Emotions

Gaps in language and emotional skills can have a negative impact on behaviour as well as mental health and self-esteem. Language for Behaviour and Emotions provides a systematic approach to developing these skills so that young people can understand and work through social interaction difficulties.

A focus is on specific skills that are linked to behaviour, such as understanding meaning, verbal reasoning and emotional literacy skills.

Speech and Language Therapy

St Mary’s works in close partnership with the Speech and Language Therapy Service provided by Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust to deliver Universal, Targeted and Focused support for our pupils.  All staff are trained so that universal strategies can be applied as part of quality first teaching.  The SABDEN Multi Academy Trust employs an Integrated Therapy Assistant to work a day a week at St Mary’s so that pupils can access targeted support both within the classroom and, if necessary, by withdrawal – according to baseline assessment.  Finally, the school has access to a peripatetic Speech and Language Therapist who carries out a range of interventions based on the needs identified within an individual’s EHC Plan.




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