At Pipers, the work of our Individual Learning Department is integrated throughout the School to ensure that every student is supported to achieve their learning potential.
Our highly skilled team, led by a Chartered Educational Psychologist and qualified teacher, not only supports those students with specific learning needs but also leads on whole school initiatives to share knowledge and expertise amongst our teaching and parent communities.
Individual learning goes beyond the boundaries of traditional learning support; we use Growth Mindset strategies to assist with self-esteem and self-care and offer a wide programme of revision support, for those in critical examinations years to help reduce anxiety and stress.
If only all learning support departments were this good
Good Schools Guide
Our holistic approach includes:
- Commitment to providing a varied and stimulating learning environment to recognise that students learn in different ways
- Scaffolded and personalised learning techniques across the curriculum
- Pastoral Mentoring and managing the emotional needs of students and parents
- Whole school reviews with Heads of Year and Form Tutors to identify those who may benefit from short-term targeted interventions
- Continual review of Individual Provision Plans to respond to changing needs and context
- Parent Partnership talks which address matters such as child psychology, enabling them to better support their daughter through through adolescence. Previous talks include ‘The Teenage Brain’ and 'Body Image and Self-Esteem'
Students with a specific learning difficulty, such as Dyslexia, are provided with a personalised learning programme. This programme is tailored to the individual to ensure the appropriate balance of specialist support from within the Individual Learning department and general classroom-based teacher support across the curriculum. Small group or 1:1 specialist support sessions take place either within the usual classroom setting or in one of our four dedicated Individual Learning Classrooms. Our specialist teachers employ multi-sensory learning methods to reflect the variety of our students’ learning styles and create a stimulating and effective learning environment for all. We have students with a variety of needs including dyslexia, dyscalculia, ADD/ADHD, speech and language difficulties and mild Autistic Spectrum conditions.
Our Individual Learning Department is accredited by CReSTeD (The Council for the Registration of Schools teaching Dyslexic students) offering advice to students, parents and teachers alongside individual, group and class provision.
At Pipers, we are able to support neurodiverse students with mild learning difficulties. We work with students with dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia and ADHD as well as ASD and anxiety-related disorders. Students at Pipers need to be able to access our mainstream environment with independence and supportive strategies.
We are unable to reach a judgement until a student has sat an entry assessment with us. However, it is worth noting that a student will need to demonstrate that they meet our ‘good average or above’ ability profile and be able to access our curriculum independently. We are a mainstream provider and are unlikely to be able to meet the needs of a student who is working below age-related expectations or who requires 1:1 support and/or specialist support, such as speech and language or occupational therapy within their school setting.
We will consider EHCP on an individual basis. However, a student can only be enrolled with us if we are the official named school on a plan with access to all funding elements. As a mainstream independent school this is uncommon, and each case is determined by the parents’ local education authority. For your information Buckinghamshire Council have been unwilling to fund new EHCP at Pipers in recent years.
At the point of Registration, and again prior to assessment, the Admissions Team will request any relevant documentation that relate to the student’s learning need or condition (e.g. Educational Psychologist’s report or medical diagnosis) Documents should be no more than 18 months old. These are then reviewed by our Head of Individual Learning to determine eligibility for access arrangements, such as extra time, rest breaks, prompts and use of a laptop. For Senior School entry, we use the criteria of the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ).
Once admitted to the school, our Head of Individual Learning will highlight the needs already identified from the previous school and any EP or medical reports and all teaching staff are given tailored guidance for those students. Most students who join us with additional needs are well catered for through differentiation in the classroom and our use of sets and streams for many subjects.
Any student with a diagnosed need will have a SEN Student Passport which is a one-page document for teaching staff to understand the student’s profile, explains challenges and advises on strategies to employ in the classroom. Student do contribute to their own passports to ensure they are part of the process.
In Pre-Prep and Prep, we have both class Teaching Assistants (TAs) and TAs from the Individual Learning department, which allows students with learning needs to be a part of the timetable for as much as possible. This is done through differentiation of work and small group settings to ensure that all students are able to access the curriculum. We aim to offer support alongside the main timetable, to ensure that work is completed at the same time and other subjects are not affected by missed lessons. If extra support is required beyond this, individual learning sessions may be added to a student’s timetable but will not impact GCSE subjects. There may be a charge for such sessions.
In the Senior School and Sixth Form, we do not have TAs and students are expected to be able to work independently to access the curriculum in all subjects. Where students require additional learning support for English and Maths, they will have a weekly small group or 1:1 lesson/s added to their timetable to work with our specialist teachers in dyslexia and dyscalculia. There may be a charge for such sessions.
All of our students from Reception to Year 6 learn French. From Year 7, there is an expectation that all students study two languages. Those students who are receiving additional small group or 1:1 sessions in English or Maths may be allowed to continue with only one language, but this only applies to a very small number of pupils. At GCSE, all students are expected to study one language, but those students who are receiving additional small group or 1:1 sessions in English or Maths are occasionally exempted from this requirement in place of additional support. Again this is only relevant for a very small number of pupils.
All teaching staff have had training from our in-house educational psychologist on Autism in girls and Anxiety. We currently support a number of students across the school who have ASD diagnoses and associated anxieties. Our pastoral teams, which include form tutors, Heads of Year, Deputy Head and Head of Individual Learning, meet weekly to discuss issues and advise on strategies and this enables a clear and constant dialogue between all those involved in a student’s support plan. Our Wellbeing Manager also plays a vital role in supporting all our students with managing anxiety and promoting a positive and proactive approach to wellbeing.
All students are monitored through classroom processes such as class assessments and internal examination cycles, and then their progress is continually reviewed by our Individual Learning Team, alongside Heads of Year to ensure the support in place is having a positive impact and to allow any tweaks to provision to be made if required.
All Senior School students have access to drop-in lunchtime clinics across many of the academic subjects. These help students to catch up with work, offer additional support and aid with coursework.