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Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Primary School

Supporting sensory needs


Our Lady Queen of Heaven School (OLQOH) – is a primary school for children aged 4-11. The school opened in September 1957 and now has two classes per year group. The school is part of the national Catholic Education Service. It functions in partnership with the Catholic Diocese of Arundel & Brighton, and West Sussex County Council. The focus of this celebration is on the school’s understanding of pupils’ sensory needs and differences. It highlights the significant impact on pupil engagement and emotional wellbeing.

Good practice explained

The OLQOH team have long recognised the neurodiversity in their school community. They continuously develop supportive strategies to meet the individual needs of pupils. In July 2020 they achieved the WSCC Autism Aware Award. This further enhanced their understanding of sensory demands on some pupils. Recently they have increasingly recognised how individual sensory differences and preferences can impact on pupils’ abilities to self-regulate. With poor sensory regulation, pupils may find it difficult to focus on their learning. They may experience anxiety from sensory overload. They may also appear to behave in socially inappropriate ways as they seek sensory input to self-regulate.  There is now a comprehensive whole school sensory approach. This includes individual pupil sensory circuit programmes and regular sensory audits.

Hear the OLQOH sensory story:

Video 1 –

PowerPoint on sensory audits – please note that there is a five second delay between slides to give you time to read the content.

Top Tips from Our Lady Queen of Heaven School for other schools

  • Start by running a small pilot with individuals or pairs of pupils.
  • Identify pupils for sensory support carefully using a sensory profile or checklist.
  • Ensure staff training and understanding of the principles of sensory processing differences.
  • Deliver support in initial phases to staff who are running the programme.
  • Try to identify an allocated space to be used for sensory circuits.
  • Complete a risk assessment for sensory circuit activities.
  • Ring fence time for staff to plan and gather resources.
  • Ensure you have equipment that is just for sensory circuits and check that it is suitable for the age and weight of the pupils using it.
  • Agree success criteria with staff and pupils – How will you know it is a success?


Links to the West Sussex Inclusion Framework

We can see clear links to three areas of the inclusion framework:

1.5 Accessibility

The School is accessible to all CYP.

  • CYP, parents, governors and staff are involved in regular accessibility walks in school, which feed back into school policy and facility management.
  • The school conducts sensory audits of inside and outside of the school to identify potential sensory challenges and how these could be managed.

4.3 Improving provision and outcomes

Assessments are used to identify needs and appropriate intervention groups and the effectiveness of these interventions is reviewed and adjusted according to outcomes. The school is mindful about the time out of the classroom and promotes inclusion within class as much as possible.

  • The school collects additional assessment data that measures progress holistically. This could include assessments such as the Boxall Profile Assessment, Social Use of Language Programme, Thrive, social communication and interaction checklists or resilience frameworks. Information from these assessments is used to inform curriculum design and teaching.
  • Evidence of detailed analysis of groups across the school population is undertaken, including overlapping groups such as SEND, those with additional needs and at risk of disadvantage – this leads to tailored actions to effectively support all CYP.
  • The school has systems for monitoring teaching and learning and the impact of the curriculum, including teachers’ planning, CYP’s work and attitudes to learning within certain classes/lessons. This monitoring includes regular focus on the progress being made by CYP. The systems are transparent and are understood by staff who value the feedback this provides.
  • The school has developed systems to enable CYP to provide feedback on their learning and the extent to which their lessons help them to learn.
  • CYP have an age / developmentally appropriate understanding of the process of assessment and ultimately of their needs. They feel that they are being supported to overcome barriers to learning / achievement.
  • Additional support within classrooms is used flexibly and is focused on facilitating independent learning.
  • Meeting the needs of individual CYP

CYP who are experiencing barriers to learning and participation are viewed as individuals with different interests, knowledge and skills. The school outlines the arrangements for and identifies and assesses CYP in order to provide additional and different provision to meet individual needs.

  • Regular reviews with CYP with special education needs and disabilities (SEND), additional needs and those at risk of disadvantage show they are really being listened to and acted upon, their needs are being met and significant progress is being made. The setting obtains information to support this directly from the parent and CYP on their strengths, interests, needs and emotional well-being.