Special Educational Needs and Additional Needs

We are a caring and inclusive school where everyone is valued, nurtured and cared for in an extraordinary way and we provide a wide range of support to meet individual needs. By thinking carefully about the needs of each student we create the maximum opportunity for the success of all.

“At The Dorcan Academy students with special educational needs make good progress from their starting points.”


We have an excellent team of specialist staff and teaching assistants led by an experienced Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo). In addition to the support given in the classroom we have a wide range of specialist facilities at the Academy to support children with additional or special needs:

Worried about lack of progress or wellbeing?

If you have concerns about your child’s progress in a subject you should communicate with your child’s subject teacher or the Curriculum Leader.

If you have concerns about your child’s progress more generally you should communicate with your child’s Tutor, Head of House or the SENCo.

In our assessment cycle, teaching staff may also have concerns about lack of progress, or wellbeing.

If your child is identified as not making progress, or there are concerns regarding wellbeing, the school will set up a meeting to discuss this with you in more detail and to:

  • Listen to any concerns you and your child may have.
  • Assess, plan and agree any additional support your child may receive.
  • Discuss with you and your child any referrals to outside professionals to support your child’s learning.

Heads of House meet the SENCo and Pastoral Team each month to discuss strategies to support students who are concerning us.

We use a graduated response within the academy and had previously used the Early Help Record to start a cycle of Assess, Plan, Do and Review, with students and parent involvement. The Local Authority have now replaced this for Students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities with the new Core Standards for SEND. We are already making good use of the refined and detailed checklists that the new resources provide. Currently we continue to use Pen Portraits for staff to receive information regarding the students they teach; all new high needs students have Pen Portraits which are updated to reflect assessments, parent and student voice; these will be updated as Pupil Passports from the Core Standards Toolkit throughout the year, so that by July all students’ SEND information will be on the new format. The Early Help Record and plan will continue to be used if they are already in place and for any students with Care needs alongside SEND; however, from a SEND perspective, these will also be phased out and replaced by the Core Standards Progress Plan. These new Core Standards are part of a Local Authority plan to implement changes recommended by the recent SEND Area OFSTED inspection across the whole of Swindon.

Assessment includes looking at subject levels, Cognitive Ability Tests and Literacy Tests as general screening tools for all students.

For specific difficulties we use a phonological processing test. We may also observe students in class.


Primary to Secondary

The SENCo has regular meetings throughout the school year with the SENCos of the Primary Schools in our area.

If the students have an EHC plan, the SENCo is invited to meetings in Years 5 and 6 called Annual Reviews.

This arrangement makes sure that the support planned at The Dorcan Academy is appropriate, and any extra transition visits are organised to assist a smooth move up.

Our Transitions Manager works alongside the SENCo to provide transitional experiences of The Dorcan Academy for year 5 and 6 students including a Summer school to further ensure that the transition goes smoothly.

Secondary to College

All students have opportunity to do work experience, taster days at local colleges and targeted activities and experiences in school to prepare them for adult life.

Students who have SEND and those with EHC plans have transition annual reviews from year 9.

These make sure that the support planned at the college of their choice is appropriate, and any extra transition visits are organised to assist a smooth move up.

College transition managers are invited to the reviews.

Important documentation outlining students’ needs are passed on to the college of choice in advance.

Our SENCo and Leadership


Ms McKenna, our new SENCo, is joining The Dorcan Academy in September 2023 bringing a wealth of experience in SEND.

Ms McKenna is responsible for:

  • Co-ordinating all the provision for students with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) and developing the Academy’s SEND policy to make sure all students get a consistent and high quality response to  meeting their needs in school.
  • Ensuring that effective work is completed with external agencies who may come into school to help support a student’s learning e.g. Speech and Language Therapy, Educational Psychology etc.
  • Updating the Academy’s SEND register, which is a system for ensuring that all the SEND needs of students in the Academy are communicated to appropriate and relevant staff and agencies.
  • Providing specialist support and advice for teachers and support staff in the Academy so that they can ensure students with SEND achieve the best possible progress.
  • Providing training for all staff to ensure their knowledge of SEND is progressing from AWARENESS to ENHANCED and in some cases to SPECIALIST.

Ms McKenna is usually available by appointment at all relevant parents’ evenings and at other times by prior arrangement. Ms McKenna can be contacted through the school reception desk or by emailing


The Headteacher, Mrs Bareham is responsible for:

  • The day to day management of all aspects of the school including the support for students with SEND.
  • Ensuring that the SENCo and class teachers meet the needs of all SEND students.
  • Keeping the Governors/Trustees up to date about SEND in the Academy.

SEN Trustee

The SEND Trustee is responsible for:

  • Making sure that the necessary support is made available for any student with SEND who is on roll at the Academy.
  • Making sure that the staff have the highest possible expectations for all students including those with SEND.

In the classroom

Subject teachers aim to provide:

  • Excellent targeted, differentiated and adaptive classroom teaching
  • Classrooms which are needs friendly, catering for a wide range of learners including those with Autism and Dyslexia, for example
  • Regular checking and feedback on the progress of each student; identifying, planning and delivering any additional help a student may need (this could be things like targeted work, special resources and additional support) and keeping the SENCo informed
  • Consistency in ensuring that the Academy’s SEND policy is followed in their classroom and for all SEND students that they teach
  • The highest possible expectations for ALL students in their classes
  • Learning sequences which build on what a student already knows, understands and can do
  • Different ways of teaching so that each student is fully involved in learning
  • Specific strategies (that may be suggested by the SENCo or other relevant outside staff) to support each student to learn

English and Maths Catch up

These sessions are delivered as group work within a smaller group of learners with specialist staff.

Catch up aims to help support students who, for one reason or another, have fallen behind their peers.

These focused, targeted groups are designed to support these students to make greater gains in their learning.

Sometimes we specifically target students who are struggling to gain specific skills. We run Catch up sessions both before and after school and during the day.

Targeted group work with specialist staff

There are a wide variety of groups that run with specialist staff to meet particular needs of students:


Once a week, where possible, students with Autistic Spectrum Disorder and related difficulties, meet with specialist staff for issues relating to Social and Communication difficulties.


Once a week, in blocks of 6 weeks at a time, students with Specific Learning Difficulties and related difficulties, meet with specialist staff for issues related mainly to spelling and memory.

Breakfast Club in the Hub

The Hub opens at 08.15 for students who cannot cope with large numbers. Not everyone wakes up feeling happy about school – socially anxious students rarely feel like this. The early Hub is a more gentle start to the school day for these students.

Emotional Literacy Groups

We have two groups – Anger Management and Anxiety Management. Once a week, in blocks of 6 weeks at a time, students who have been selected by their Head of House can attend.  These focus on topics such as: settling into a new school; self esteem; anger management; friendships; communication skills etc. This provides students with the skills to better regulate their emotions.

High funded Support

Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)

More funding may be necessary if a student does not make progress with Special Educational Needs Support within the Academy.

In agreement with parents/carers and the local authority, support may be provided via an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP). To gain an EHCP, the Academy or the parent can request that the local authority carries out a statutory assessment of the student’s needs. This is a legal process that may result in an EHCP being agreed that sets out the additional support that the student needs and what will be provided by the local authority. The EHCP will outline the strategies that must be put in place and will determine both short and long term goals, and regular reviews for the student.

External agencies

Following government guidelines we have adopted a graduated response for support; i.e. if our additional support has not helped a student to make sufficient progress we ask for support and advice from other professionals.

This may be from:

  • External services such as the Social, Communications and Interaction Difficulties Team
  • Physical Disabilities Team
  • Hearing Impaired Service (currently based at The Dorcan Academy)
  • Educational Psychology Service
  • Speech and Languages Team
  • Education Welfare Service
  • Specific Learning Difficulties Service
  • Swindon Assistive Technology Service

We also have close links with the Children’s Paediatric Team and Targeted Mental Health Service

The Bridge

We have a nurture provision in the school, which we run in line with Nurture Network Principles.

The aim of The Bridge is to improve attainment, attendance and behaviour for students who are at risk of disengaging with education, for one reason or another, in particular, attachment.

Students who have been assessed as needing this support have group or individual programmes according to their needs. Looked after Children are among those designated for Bridge support.

Safe Haven – Anxious Students may have a YELLOW exit card to access the Bridge or be allocated a space in the Bridge during the school break and lunch time; we also run Breakfast club from The Bridge, for a few students. Students in the Bridge have access to our sensory room.

RAGGED timetables – For one reason or other, a few students are not always able to go to all the subject areas on their timetable. The Bridge uses a graded exposure method to help students with these difficulties to access more and more exposure to the subjects they struggle with, a step at a time. The Bridge is equipped with computers and laptops.

The Nest

The Nest is a small base in the school targeted at supporting students who may not be able to access areas of the KS3 curriculum.

They are students who have an EHCP or are under statutory assessment for SEND.

What does The Nest Offer?

  • A Key worker to provide attachment and a close monitoring of progress with clear improving engagement and attainment plans for each student
  • A Key worker with regular contact with home
  • A Key worker to facilitate a flexible approach to learning to meet each student’s need
  • A schoolwork focused small base to encourage integration
  • A small base from which to access other agreed curricular areas
  • Bespoke arrangements – in some cases a reduced curriculum in order to meet the needs of individuals

Sensory Room

We have a fully equipped sensory room that gives SEND students breakout time from mainstream lessons and provides intervention and nurture in a calm and soothing environment; this enables students to cope better with mainstream by developing a range of cognitive and communication skills and opportunities to communicate. It is available for individual and small group sessions in a quiet but not remote area of the SEN block which is fully accessible to all SEND students with physical or non-physical disabilities. The use of the sensory room is linked to IEPs and therapy programs where relevant; it provides opportunities for effective emotional development, a stimulation for all senses as well as relaxation needs and helps to minimise challenging behaviour that prevents learning for students with EHCPs, thus supporting improved attainment and progress outcomes.

Student Wellbeing and Counselling

School Counsellor

In addition to the many ways that The Dorcan Academy works to promote staff and student wellbeing, we are really pleased that we can offer counselling for students at The Dorcan Academy. Our school counsellor works with students giving a fully qualified counselling service 3 days a week. Teachers can refer students and students can self-refer.


Trailblazers also offers the school a counselling or small group provision for Wellbeing one day a week.


Swindon CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) have commissioned “Kooth” which is an online counselling and emotional wellbeing support service for children and young people available free at the point of use. As an early intervention solution, Kooth helps to reduce waiting times for young people seeking help whilst removing the stigma associated with accessing mental health support. Please see below a link to an article about Kooth and a link to the site.

Other helpful Information

You can see our most recent policies and Additional Needs Report below:      

The Dorcan Academy
St. Paul’s Drive
Covingham, Swindon
Wiltshire SN3 5DA
Switchboard: 01793 525231
Fax: 01793 431461
The Dorcan Academy is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales under company number 07831414. The registered office is St. Paul’s Drive, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN3 5DA.