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Leechpool Primary School

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Pupil centred approach to supporting complex needs


Leechpool Primary school has been recognised by WSCC Special Education Needs Assessment Team for the way they have worked with a range of services to ensure the inclusion of a specific pupil with complex needs.

Leechpool Primary School is a primary school for children from 4 to 11 years old, situated in north east Horsham. There are two classes in each year group. The school also offers an on-site nursery which is open 5 days a week.

Good practice explained

The Leechpool Team recognise the individuality of every child and constantly strive to ensure that they focus on how they recognise and develop pupil’s strengths.

“At Leechpool we believe that every child in an individual. Our key value is ‘to breathe life into learning…to be the best we can be.’ We are aware that one size does not fit all, and work hard as a team to ensure that every child develops to the best of their potential, whether that have additional needs or not.

We are very proud of all pupils that attend Leechpool and the inclusive nature of pupils and staff.”

Assistant head of inclusion

When a child with complex needs arrived at their school, the team engaged with a range of professionals and support services.

  • Supporting transition with the pre-school team

Although transition planning was limited due to the lockdown in summer 2020 initial cnversations started in October 2019 between school and nursery. In February 2020 the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) and Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) lead attended the child’s Annual Review held at the nursery. Due to the family shielding access to the school was restricted. However, photos of the environment and staff were shared with the family via the school online learning application. Activities that the pupil was doing at home were also shared with school.

  • Harnessing the expertise of a private speech and language therapist

When the pupil first transitioned into school, his family commissioned a private speech and language therapist who had worked with him in pre-school, to continue to work with him. She used her initial therapy sessions with the pupil, to train the staff who would be supporting him in school. She was able to model activities and strategies which allowed the support team to continue to deliver the same programme during the following week. The therapist knew the pupil well from pre-school, so was able to share her expertise and knowledge with the school team.

  • Seeking advice and training from the Learning and Behaviour Advisory Team (LBAT)

Leechpool were able to work with the WSCC LBAT specialist Advisory Teacher for pupils with Down Syndrome. A whole school training was originally planned for the summer term, ahead of the pupil starting at Leechpool. However, due to COVID-19 lockdowns this had to be postponed to September. The training was open for all staff, to give them the foundations of understanding and support for the pupil.

  • Working with the occupational therapy and physiotherapy teams

Joint visits were carried out by both agencies to ensure school had the correct equipment and that the right adaptations were made. This included reviewing seating in class, lunch seating and general equipment to access learning and school life.These agencies continue to visit regularly to carry out some 1:1 sessions, train staff, review targets or observe the pupil in the school environment.

  • Sensory Support Team – Hearing Impairment

The school were also supported by the WSCC Sensory Support Team. An advisory teacher for Hearing Impairment visited the school to check the pupil’s hearing device and to train staff in good practice for supporting pupils with hearing loss.

  • Seeking further support for pupils with Down syndrome

PSDS is a registered charity whose principal goal is to provide support for children with Down syndrome and their families. The offer a range of support and information events. Leechpool have accessed some network meetings as well individual consultations for further advice on ways to support the pupil in school.

Impact of working with these agencies:

  • Parents and school staff are confident that they have a good understanding of the pupil’s needs and how they can best be met. This includes knowledge of which agency to consult for more specific expertise and resources.
  • Working with these agencies enables a holistic approach to continue – this is inline with the to school’s ethos of looking at the whole child rather than a label.
  • The ongoing multi-agency support continues to upskill staff with much of the training happening on the job. This has quickly built staff knowledge, understanding and best practice.
  • The overall impact of all the above agencies working together is that this pupil has had a very successful start at Leechpool, despite lockdown restrictions!

You can see the impact of this pupil centred approach in a film produced by Joe’s class teacher for his annual review:

Joe’s video

(With grateful thanks to Joe’s family for allowing us to share this film)

Top Tips for schools for pupils with complex needs:

  • It is important to develop an open and honest relationship with parents. This co-productive approach promotes confidence and consistent/complimentary support for the pupil.
  • Robust transition planning is very important. It is never too early to start transition planning. This can start with talking to parents, visiting pre-schools and opening discussions with agencies. This begins the development of a useful pupil profile to build on as transition approaches. 
  • Multi-agency post transition support continues to be important. This can include regular reviews of the support in place, any new things to consider as well as celebrating successes. It is helpful if all such reviews are shared between agencies too.
  • Having consistent high expectations for the pupil is vital.
  • It is most helpful to know and make contact with key named staff in WSCC prior to the child starting at school. There are a range of teams available to ask for help and advice or training.
  • To ensure staff are kept up to date with the range of agencies and their recommendations, it is helpful to identify an accessible central place within school to store this information.
  • Patience – when a large number of agencies are working with a pupil, you cannot do everything at once!

Links to the West Sussex Inclusion Framework

The inclusive support at Leechpool Primary School links to a number of the Aspects and Dimensions within the West Sussex Inclusion Framework.

Within Aspect 1: The Environment, Culture and Ethos there are clear links to:

  1. Inclusive Vision, aims, values, philosophies, and the implications for practice
  • Clear inclusive aims and values are evident in the behaviour of staff and children and young people (CYP).
  • Inclusion is understood as an on-going process of increasing participation, achievement and nurture for all.
  • Aims and values reflect that leaders are ambitions for providing high-quality education to all CYP.


  • All adults model positive attitudes and behaviour and develop positive relationships with CYP, parents, staff, governors and members of the community in all circumstances.
  • All adults seek opportunities to really understand what life is like for all CYP and are skilled at adapting communication styles to achieve that.  
  • Effective training opportunities ensure that inclusive aims and values are planned throughout the year. Stakeholders can describe how this training has helped to shape and implement school ethos, vision and aims.
  • The principles of co-production and collaboration are embedded within the life of the school. This results in extensive engagement and participation by the full range of stakeholders. The impact of this collaboration and co-production can be clearly identified within day to day practice.
    • A welcoming environment
  • A welcoming school where children and young people (CYP), parents and visitors are greeted and feel they belong.
  • Key information about the school and local community is readily available.


1.6 Transitions

  • CYP are supported to manage transitions between schools and settings. This includes individual transitions that may take place during the school year.


  • All CYP are supported through transition. Those who may struggle a little more are pro-actively identified and a bespoke transition package, with additional visits and activities, is planned according to their needs.
  • Transition arrangements are planned for and tailored to CYP to ensure their individual needs are met and reasonable adjustments are in place prior to starting. For example, use of home visits, social stories, additional environment visits and one-page profiles, virtual tours and Meet the Staff film clips.
  • The views of these CYP, parents and relevant professionals are sought, considered and acted upon when planning for transition. For example, what information is appropriate to share as part of the transition process.
  • Data and information gathered during the transition process is used to inform strategic planning for increased inclusion and accessibility.

2.3 Management of provision

  • The school has a system in place to ensure that there is joint planning and provision for those who manage pastoral / inclusion / behaviour and Special Educational Need and/ or Disability (SEND) provision.
  • There is a clear provision map which identifies children and young people (CYP) with additional needs along with the provision that has been put into place, the cost of the provision and how the support is monitored and reviewed for impact.
  • There is effective use of resources and key staff to ensure early identification of needs and that appropriate support is put in place for individual CYP.


  • The special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) is a member of the school’s senior leadership team (SLT). The SLT ‘champions’ inclusion within the school and ensures there is a system in place for whole school provision planning to meet the CYP’s pastoral, social and emotional needs that impact on learning, well-being and behaviour.
  • All teachers are inclusive teachers; the role of the SENCO is focused on the leadership of inclusive practice and SEND across the school and has the remit and capacity within the school to affect change as needed.
  • The curriculum is effectively planned and adapted to meet the needs of all CYP and is therefore contextualised for their school community.  
  • Staff working with CYP with complex / high level of needs receive regular informal supervision to provide opportunity for reflection and problem solving and to make best use of staff expertise and experience.

2.4 Partnership working/collaboration

  • The school enhances its provision and practice for all children and young people (CYP) through building relationships and partnership working and can evidence improved outcomes as a result.
  • Corporate responsibility for all CYP in the locality is evident in practice.
  • The school collaborates with a range of agencies and other schools to develop its capacity to improve outcomes for each CYP.


  • School leaders work with external agencies, including the Local Authority’s Educational Psychology Service and Advisory Teams to review and develop plans for different groups within the school. For example, school (both special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) and designated safeguarding lead (DSL) attends a termly consultation with Early Help to discuss CYP that they are concerned about and identify appropriate support and next steps.  Actions are recorded, reviewed after a suitable timescale and impact evaluated.  Appropriate and relevant information and resources are shared and used across the school to support the child or young person.
  • The school fosters productive and positive relationships with a wide range of other agencies in the local community to improve outcomes for CYP including, where appropriate:
    • Local schools
    • Forums and network Meetings (Behaviour Forum, SENCO Hubs and Networks)
    • School Effectiveness Team
    • Advisory Services and other support services, including Safeguarding in Education and Pupil Entitlement, Autism and Social Communication team / Learning and Behaviour Advisory Team
    • Teaching Schools 
    • Hubs e.g. Maths Hub, English Hub, Science Partnership
    • Research Schools
    • Area Inclusion and Improvement Boards (AIIBs)
    • Educational Psychology Service (EPS)
    • The Special Needs and Assessment Team (SENAT)
    • SEND Infomation, Advice and Support (SENDIAS)
    • Ethnic Minority and Travellers Achievement Service (EMTAS)
    • Portage
    • Early Help and Children’s Social Care
    • National Health Service (NHS) and Therapeutic Teams
    • West Sussex Parent Carer Forum (WSPCF)
    • Alternative provision providers
    • Holiday, weekend and after school activity providers e.g. scouting organisations, Duke of Edinburgh Scheme, National Citizenship Service (NCS)
    • National and local support groups and organisations
    • Short break providers
    • Church dioceses and other relevant faith or organisations
    • Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) community groups

4.1 Curriculum design

  • The curriculum is geared towards ambitious outcomes for all and designed to give all children and young people (CYP), particularly the most disadvantaged, the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life.
  • The curriculum is designed to enable all CYP to develop a range of skills and abilities to prepare them for their life now and in the future, in their community and beyond. It is also designed with the needs of all CYP at its centre.
  • The curriculum is designed to incorporate a variety of ways that engage all CYP, including those operating at a younger developmental age.


  • The curriculum is aspirational. CYP study a full range of subjects for as long as possible.
  • The curriculum is specifically adapted, designed and developed to be ambitious and meet the needs of all CYP. The curriculum is carefully planned and sequenced towards accumulating sufficient knowledge and skills for future learning and employment.
  • Curriculum design is created in response to the needs of the CYP in the school and is fully reflective of the wider community. These needs and characteristics are reflected throughout all aspects of the curriculum.  Members of the wider community are regularly asked to contribute to planning that adds to the richness and diversity of the curriculum and counters stereotypes.
  • The organisation of the curriculum ensures CYP are ready to learn. There is a balance of opportunities that combines active learning with more traditional receptive learning, co-operative and individual learning and multi-sensory learning.
  • The special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) supports class teachers to ensure that ‘Ordinarily Available Inclusive Practice’ is provided in line with the needs of the child.

4.2 Quality first teaching

  • Quality first teaching meets the needs of all children and young people (CYP) with appropriate reasonable adjustments being made for those that need it. E.g. more able, special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), Pupil Premium, etc


  • Schools have a bespoke continued professional development (CPD) programme that supports quality first teaching, this includes the use of the ‘Ordinarily Available Inclusive Practice’ document.
  • Teachers plan and deliver lessons informed by accurate formative assessment that meets the needs of all children. Teaching is skilfully designed to help all CYP know more and remember more over time. Teaching enables CYP to link new knowledge into larger ideas.
  • The effective deployment of staff is planned and evaluated to enhance the learning of all CYP. Staff providing individual support and challenge can describe how this fosters independent learning.

4.4 Meeting the needs of individuals

  • Schools have a bespoke continued professional development (CPD) programme that supports quality first teaching, this includes the use of the ‘Ordinarily Available Inclusive Practice’ document.
  • Teachers plan and deliver lessons informed by accurate formative assessment that meets the needs of all children. Teaching is skilfully designed to help all CYP know more and remember more over time. Teaching enables CYP to link new knowledge into larger ideas.
  • The effective deployment of staff is planned and evaluated to enhance the learning of all CYP. Staff providing individual support and challenge can describe how this fosters independent learning.


  • CYP and their families are consistently and effectively involved in every stage of the ‘assess ‘plan, do, review’ cycle (graduated approach) and understand why an intervention is being used, how the curriculum has been adapted, and the impact this has made. For CYP with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), this is also captured as part of the Annual Review cycle.
  • Appropriate additional support is targeted at certain CYP within lessons from well-trained, confident staff, taking account of any advice from other agencies, e.g. Ethnic Minority and Travellers Achievement Service (EMTAS), Educational Psychology Service (EPS), Learning Behaviour Advisory Team (LBAT), Autism and Social Communication Team (ASCT), Early Help. School involves outside agencies to further support CYP and parents and know what is implemented and where appropriate, are part of the review.
  • The special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) meets with all relevant staff each term to review their provision for SEND children. The SENCO is available by appointment to meet with staff and parents to discuss a CYP’s SEND or possible SEND.

4.5 Parental engagement

  • Parent carers understand how their child is doing, what their child or young person (CYP) needs to do and what they can do to provide support.


  • Parents are invited to attend school events.  For example, parents evening, performances, curriculum and social occasions such as quiz nights. Parents from all backgrounds are asked what events would be comfortable and engaging for them.