SEND Information Report

When is the SEND information report reviewed?

Portland Academy’s SEND information report is reviewed and updated on an annual basis.

Effectiveness of our SEND offer

The effectiveness and impact of our SEND offer is reviewed as part of the cycle of monitoring undertaken by the Executive Leadership Team and is also part of the regular Academy monitoring cycle.

What do we mean by Portland SEND Information Report?

This is a report that encompasses everything we offer for your son/daughter with regards to their special needs.

How can my son/daughter attend Portland Academy?

Portland caters for pupils (in years 7 to 14) with identified learning difficulties who already have a Statement of Special Educational Needs or an Educational Health and Care Plan.

If you would like your child to attend Portland Academy, you should discuss this with their current school who may instigate a review of their Statement or Education Health and Care Plan. At the review meeting, yourself and the professionals involved will discuss possible next steps.

Alternately, you may contact the SEND department of your local authority. They will then advise you on what steps should be taken. The local authority will signpost parents to schools that can meet the needs of their child.

Parents/carers are always welcome to visit Portland, and this is especially important before making a decision about placement. After having gained as much information as possible parents should inform their Local Authority of their first choice of school. Once the placement is agreed upon, we will work with you to support your child in this transition period.

How will my son/daughter be supported and prepared before attending/leaving Portland Academy?

All students are entitled to an education that enables them to achieve their best; become confident individuals living fulfilling lives and making a successful transition to the next step of their lives whether it be to a new school, college provision, further education, training, supported employment or moving to supported semi-supported or independent accommodation.

Transition program – IN

  • The process of transition for Year 6 pupils into Year 7 at Portland Academy is carried out over the duration of an academic year.  Staff from the secondary department attend Year 5 annual education reviews at feeder schools for pupils identified as being likely candidates for placement at Portland.  This helps to inform parents when making a choice of school for their child and allows staff from Portland to become more familiar with potential Year 7 pupils.  Parents are welcomed into Portland at any point during their child’s tenure in primary school to enable them to see the facilities on offer and further inform their choice of secondary school.
  • Shortly before Christmas, the Head of the Secondary Department makes visits to feeder schools to gather information about pupils who are likely to attend Portland.  This process enables compatible class groupings to be devised and teaching staff to be identified in readiness for transition.  As the process progresses, the Head Teacher receives a copy of the Statement of Special Educational Needs or Educational Health and Care Plan from the Local Authority for the children who have been identified for Portland.  Once these placements have been accepted, the transition process begins in earnest.  Year 7 teachers and teaching assistants for the following academic year are identified and given time to visit Year 6 pupils in their own setting.  This allows more detailed information to be gathered in an environment in which the pupils are entirely comfortable.
  • During this time, detailed files are given to Portland by feeder schools containing essential pupil information to be shared with Year 7 staff so that any appropriate needs can be catered for in advance (dietary, care, medical etc).  Once the relevant information has been gathered, pupils from feeder schools begin to make short visits to Portland during a regular weekly slot.  Children are initially based in the class that they will attend in September, supported by staff from Portland and our feeder schools.  After each visit, the success of the visit is reviewed collaboratively by all parties involved and the visits are then extended gradually in duration.
  • As pupils become more comfortable with their surroundings, other areas of the school can be accessed as appropriate and children who are able can become more integrated with pupils in the wider school.  Every step of the process will be evaluated so that pupils are able to make the transition at a pace that is appropriate for them.  By the end of the process, the involvement of staff from feeder schools is gradually reduced until children are able to work with the sole support of Portland staff.  Children will also be invited to have lunch in Portland before the end of the transition process.
  • During the middle of the summer term, parents of Year 6 pupils are invited into schools for meetings with staff to complete the relevant consent forms, order school uniform and receive information packs about the school.  Parents will also be offered the opportunity to arrange an individual appointment with their child’s teacher to hand over any information that they deem to be relevant and ask questions in a less formal, more discrete context.
  • Occasionally transitions into Portland will occur at times other than the start of Year 7.  Where this is the case, the same process will apply where appropriate with necessary adaptations made to suit different time frames.

Transition Programme – OUT

  • Work on the transition of your son/daughter on to their next provision begins as early as Year 9.  This introduction usually takes place during the Year 9 Annual Review when introductions are made to the Connexions team who will play a pivotal role in the transition process throughout your child’s education at Portland.
  • This is then revisited in the Year 11 review where a decision is usually made for the student to remain at Portland in the 6th form provision for the following 3 years and parents are also asked to begin to think about Post 19 provision.
  • During the Year 13 reviews, more emphasis is placed on possible Post 19 provisions and their processes e.g., making applications, visiting colleges, making informed choices etc.  By the end of Year 13, the Connexions team become more heavily involved in the process.  During the summer holidays, the Connexions team make home visits to discuss with parents and students which would be their preferred option/s.  They often support parents to make the initial contact to preferred colleges, attend open days or specific visits.
  • From September 2014 and the introduction of the Education, Health and Care Plan your son/daughter from year 9 onwards will automatically be provided within the plan for provision to assist in the preparation for adulthood and independent living.
  • For our students, there are many different transition routes that form either an educational, vocational, social or employment-based route.  These are: –
  • Select Sunderland, Ascent’s Post 19 specialist provision in partnership with Sunderland College
  • Local sector colleges e.g., City of Sunderland College, Tyne Metropolitan, South Tyneside, East Durham College, Select Sunderland
  • Independent Specialist Provision e.g., E.S.P.A., Percy Hedley Foundation, North East Autism Association
  • Day care provision e.g., Fulwell Day Centre, Grindon Mews
  • Traineeship or Supported Internship e.g. Project Choice
  • Paid/unpaid work
  • Residential provision
  • Supported accommodation
  • Different colleges have different approaches to their transition process.  Some colleges ask that students attend their provision for a 3-day assessment period before making a decision on their suitability.   Others make a decision based on their application form and then follow up with visits.  For example, the City of Sunderland College sends staff into Portland to observe and work with the students who have made an application to their college.  This is then followed up in the summer term of their final year at Portland with visits to the College when they meet with the teaching staff and also students – most of whom were previous students at Portland.  These initial visits are always supported by Portland staff.
  • Portland has very good links with all Post 19 providers and has a well-established understanding of their processes.
  • For those students who require more focused transitions e.g., students with complex medical needs, arrangements are made for our staff to accompany the student at each visit and depending on the need, an individual plan will be put into place.
  • As above, Connexions play an important role in the transition process as does the Health Nursing Team, the College providers, Day care providers and specific work-related teams.
  • If at any point in this process it is felt that other professionals may enhance this process, then they will be contacted.  This usually takes the form of a Multidisciplinary meeting.  This enables all those who are/will be involved in your son/daughter’s future placement to meet together to discuss how best to make their transition as smooth as possible.

How will my son/daughter be transported to Portland Academy?

  • Most pupils have transport between Portland and home provided by the Local Authority, but this can be dependent upon the distance from home and whether a pupil is capable of travelling independently.
  • Decisions about home to school transport are made by the Local Authority and parents/carers should liaise with the education transport department about any specific questions.
  • You should meet the transport providers before your child starts travelling with them and there will be opportunities for you to share important information about your child with them.
  • Pupils who may be able to become independent travellers may be provided with lessons during school time to support them to develop this skill.
  • If you would like your child to learn to travel independently, please contact the school.

How will the curriculum be matched to my son/daughter’s needs?

  • Class teachers plan lessons to match the needs and abilities of each student within their group.  Students will be given appropriate support in order that they experience success. Each student is treated as an individual and their timetable is personalised to their specific needs and abilities.
  • Teachers use a range of creative teaching strategies to engage all learners in all areas of the curriculum.
  • Portland benefits from extensive resources both within the academy building and within its grounds. We also have established partnerships with external providers which further enhance the curriculum offered to students.
  • Our students benefit from access to a range of therapists including physiotherapists, speech and language therapists and occupational therapist.  We also currently buy in services from a music therapist.  A number of our staff also have qualifications allowing them to deliver a range of specialist therapies including rebound therapy, water therapy, the listening programme, and multi-sensory therapy.
  • In key stages 4 and 5 i.e., students aged 14 -19, follow a range of externally accredited courses which match to need, interests of the student and anticipated future pathway.

How will I know my son/daughter is making progress at Portland Academy?

Class teachers review the progress that the students make on a daily basis and communicate information to parents through a variety of means including.

  • Home/school diary, telephone conversations, parents evenings and school assemblies, school and external certificates, annual educational review meetings/ education health and care plan review meetings.
  • Teachers track the academic progress of students and this information is monitored on a termly basis by senior leaders to ensure that students are on track to make expected progress.
  • Teachers set focused targets for the students after consultation with parents. These priority targets are incorporated into the delivery of lessons and progress reported to parents in a variety of ways.
  • If teachers have any concerns about the progress a student is making they will develop a plan to identify the main barriers to learning and develop strategies to increase the progress made. As an academy, we recognise the contribution that parents and families can make to improve the progress of the students and as a result of the consultation, homework or activities to be completed at home, may be also implemented.
  • Students at Portland are encouraged to follow programmes that enable them to achieve external accreditation for the work that they are able to produce.
  • At the end of the academic year, an education report details progress made in particular subject areas that match the student’s individual timetables.
  • Staff at Portland welcome opportunities to show the fantastic achievements of our students and parents are very welcome to come into school to discuss progress at any point in the school calendar.

What specialist resources, services and expertise are available or accessed by Portland Academy?

  • Physiotherapy – There are a team of NHS physiotherapists who work in the school with identified students.  Programmes are written, carried out and shared with class staff. 
  • Speech and Language Therapy – The NHS provides a speech and language therapist who works in the school with identified students.  Programmes are written, carried out and shared with class staff.   Speech and Language reports accompany annual reviews.
  • Occupational Therapy – The academy employs our own part-time occupational therapist and occupational therapist support worker.   Programmes are written, carried out and shared with class staff.   Occupational Therapists reports accompany annual reviews.

Additional therapies

  • Massage – this therapy is mainly used for our students with profound and multiple needs.  Currently identified students access this once per week.
  • MOVE therapy – this provides targeted physio positions for individuals who require more input and specific individual programmes.
  • Rebound therapy – over recent years staff have been trained in rebound therapy (trampoline therapy).   It is currently used widely with our students who have profound and multiple needs as well as with those who have challenging behaviours.
  • The NHS provides qualified Paediatric Nurse cover throughout the school day.  The school nurses have their own office on site.
  • Doctors from both Paediatric medical and mental health team old regular appointments in Portland where a ‘Doctor’s Room’ is always available for clinics.
  • Educational Psychologist – Depending on the need and referral made, there is access to the Educational Psychologist that the Academy commissions.
  • Visual and hearing impairment team
  • The specialist services that have not been mentioned above but are accessible to the academy are: –
  • CAMHS -The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service
  • Health Nursing Team
  • Children and Young People Services
  • Connexions
  • Carers Centre
  • Independent Advocacy Services
  • Social Services
  • Quest
  • Parent Partnership
  • SEN Team
  • Clinical psychologist
  • Specialist nurses

How are the school’s resources allocated and matched to my son/daughter’s needs?

  • All students have a personalised curriculum offer which gives them access to a broad and balanced curriculum together with access to specialists such as speech and language therapist, occupational therapist and physiotherapist. Together with access to a range of other professionals each of these professionals work closely with our staff team in order that the programmes they develop to meet the needs of your child can be supported by the class team between sessions with the therapist.
  • Portland reviews staffing at least annually and staff groups according to the specific needs of the students within the group. As a rule of thumb, all groups have at least one teacher and one teaching assistant although some classes may have three or four teaching assistants. The specific needs of individual students are monitored on a daily basis by the class team and if these needs significantly change we will look to better meet these needs through further personalisation of the curriculum which may include more access to therapists, access to a different curriculum model and/or increased staffing.
  •  Additional grant monies such as pupil premium and year 7 catch up are used to further support identified students. This money allows us to have increased staffing ratios thus enabling increased personalisation and support to maximise progress. The detail of how this money is used can be found under pupil premium on our website here.

What specialist teaching qualifications do staff have who support my son/daughter?

All our staff receive regular training to ensure that they can provide the very best education, care and therapeutic support to you child. Qualifications and training include:-

  • Makaton signing
  • Intensive Interaction
  • Moving and handling
  • Medical training including – gastrostromy feeds, epilepsy, diabetes
  • PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System)
  • Social Communication Emotional Regulation Transactional Support (SCERTS)
  • Rebound therapy (trampoline)
  • Sensory room
  • First aiders 
  • Autism qualifications from awareness to masters level
  • Safeguarding
  • Team Teach (positive handling) 
  • Lifeguards (pool)
  • Midas training for minibus drivers
  • Listening programme
  • Dysphasia (swallowing)
  • Duke of Edinburgh
  • Initial teacher training
  • Middle & senior leader training

What activities could my son/daughter be included in within and outside the school day/extra-curricular activities?

  • We offer our students a range of lunchtime activities carefully matched to the needs and interests of individual students. Lunchtime clubs include the sensory room, computer club, bike club and adventure playground. We group students so that they are able to mix with their friends to support their social skills as well as enjoying and achieving whilst in these clubs.
  • After school clubs are offered to students on Thursday evenings. Clubs range from tea and massage to cookery and unwinders. Places within each of the clubs have to be limited for health and safety reasons and as you can imagine the demand for places is high. Letters are sent home on a termly basis so that you can request a place at one or more of the clubs and we endeavour to meet as many requests as possible. We charge for after school clubs and parents/carers are required to collect their child from the academy at the stated time.
  • Summer schemes are commissioned to Portland Academy as appropriate in liaison with Together for Children.  This is reviewed and allocated on a yearly basis in which TFC allocate the places for students
  • Residential visits are generally offered to our older students as part of the Duke of Edinburgh scheme and as a way of supporting the development of independence skills in readiness for life beyond the academy. We currently use Derwent Hill in the Lake District which provides a range of outdoor adventurous activities and Beadnall which focuses more on independent living and social skills. Parents/carers are asked to contribute to the cost of each of these activities.

How can I as a parent be involved at Portland Academy? 

The partnership between parents/carers and ourselves is considered crucial. You are the first educators and on entry, we need you to make sure we have all relevant information in order that we can provide your child with a personalised curriculum that best meets their specific needs. Following admission there are many opportunities for us to continue working together, sharing information and of course answering any questions you may have. Students are usually with us from age 11 to 19 and as such things change so regular formal and informal contact is actively encouraged. In addition to home school diaries and phone calls these are some of the many ways in which you can be involved:

  • Joining us at our regular coffee mornings.
  • Attending annual review meetings/MDT meetings/structured conversations as appropriate.
  • Attend parents evenings to learn more about the progress of your child.
  • Attend special activities such as our annual drama performance and sports day.
  • Contribute to our blog during special events such as challenge days
  • Volunteering (you would not as a rule be working with your own child). If this is something you would like to do please contact Steve Murphy.
  • Completing surveys and questionnaires as by gaining your views we can continue to improve our offer to your child.
  • Attending parent courses and workshops such as Makaton so you can further support your child at home.
  • Attend and/or support the fundraising activities of The Friends of Portland Academy.

How can I support my son/daughter’s needs?

  • Writing in the home school diary about news and activities at home.  At Portland, communication with parents is held in the very highest regard. Every student has a home/school diary and we urge parents use it to keep us abreast of events at home or ask any questions you may have. Sharing experiences from home enables us to enhance our students’ learning in meaningful and enjoyable ways and helps with future planning.
  • Providing the school with information regarding appointments or medical updates.  Your son or daughter’s attendance and welfare is very important to us so please let us know before they attend any appointments or if there are any changes with medication. This ensures that we can keep records up to date and care for your son or daughter in the best possible way.
  • Attending medical appointments, parent evenings and meetings with school staff.  Parents’ attending medical appointments in school is extremely helpful to the medical professionals working with your child. Information and assistance you can give is of great benefit and ensures we can do everything to look after your child.  We have two parents evening per year which are excellent opportunities to discuss pupil progress and targets as well as sharing examples of their work and achievements. During these meetings, you can raise any concerns you may have and help shape future curriculum decisions for your child.
  • Attending parent courses/workshops.  At Portland, we strive to provide the best training for not only our young people and colleagues but also parents. We offer a range of courses and workshops that will give you new skills and knowledge to help yourself or your child. Activities include Achievement for All, Speech and Language courses and Internet Safety.
  • Use curriculum advice and activity ideas from the class teacher.  Throughout your child’s time at Portland, we expect that you will take an active role in supporting their learning. You will always be made aware of your child’s targets and we hope you will help develop them in their daily lives outside of the academy. From time to time, the teacher will send activities home or ask for certain information as part of topic-based work in school. We really appreciate your support in this matter.
  • Homework.  At Portland, we provide meaningful homework opportunities for our students. The aim of this is to give our students the maximum benefit of homework without causing unnecessary stress to anyone in the family. Your child’s teacher will send the levels that your son or daughter is currently working at along with some suggestions on how they can progress. If you want more homework, you only have to ask!

What support will there be at Portland Academy for my son/daughter’s overall wellbeing?

  • The academy ethos ‘To value, to respect and to promote optimum learning’ is the kingpin in promoting wellbeing.
  • All staff take the safeguarding of students very seriously and have the required level of safeguarding training as well as a designated team of staff who have more in-depth training.  There are policy and procedures in place to ensure the safety of all.
  • There is a school nurse available as well as  a team of trained and dedicated First Aiders
  • The breadth of the curriculum helps target and meet the student’s behaviour and self-help needs.
  • Portland places great importance on Sex and Relationships Education which helps support the self-advocacy of all students.  To this end, our trained and dedicated staff have worked with the local authority to produce a customised curriculum that addresses this very important and vital skill to help promote wellbeing.
  • Portland also recognises the importance of working with all parents for the wellbeing of their son/daughter and it is with this in mind that Portland offer courses to help support parents with learning new skills e.g. Makaton training, Nurturing Programme.
  • The Academy has a ‘Student Voice’ which is made up of elected students who have the opportunity to voice concerns and ideas on behalf of their peers.

Who can I contact for further information?

  • Reception office  – Kathryn Thompson – Office Lead
  • Deputy Head/SENCO – Stephen Murphy

Who can I contact if I have a complaint?

  • Initial contact can be made with the school by contacting the above.
  • Alternatively, Portland Academy, part of Ascent Academies’ Trust have an Ascent Academies’ Complaints Policy.  This policy can be found in its entirety on the Trust website through this link

SEND Local Offer

Please click on the link to view Sunderland’s Local Offer