Special Educational Needs and Disability Policy

Special Educational Needs and Disability Policy



The purpose of this policy is to describe how pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are identified, supported and reintegrated into the school’s mainstream educational provision. This policy is written in consultation with staff, parents and governors.

St Martin’s Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Policy is written with regard to other school policies, including the Accessibility Plan, the Admissions Policy, the Teaching and Learning Policy, the Marking Policy and the Exam Policy, as well as applicable legislation. The SEND Policy will be reviewed regularly and amended as necessary.

In the Early Years Foundation Stage, Learning Support at St Martin’s is provided in accordance with statutory regulations, including the 2014 SEND Code of Practice. The school publishes an annual SEND information report for the Early Years on the St Martin’s website.

The school uses the definition of a special educational need and disability (SEND) described in the 2014 SEND Code of Practice:

‘Children have special educational needs if they have a learning difficulty which calls for special educational provisionto be made for them.’
‘Children have a learning difficulty if they have a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of children of the same age.’

At St Martin’s, a boy is considered to have a SEND when a learning difficulty is sufficiently severe to prevent him from making the progress he otherwise would within the school’s differentiated curriculum. A boy’s SEND may occur in one or more of the four broad areas described in the SEND Code of Practice:

  • Communication and interaction;
  • Cognition and learning;
  • Social, mental and emotional health;
  • Sensory and/or physical.

Examples of specific difficulties which may give rise to SEND are listed in Appendix 1.

At St Martin’s all pupils are provided with high quality teaching that is differentiated to meet the diverse needs of all learners. The quality of classroom teaching provided to all pupils, including those with SEND, is monitored through a number of processes:

  • Observation of teaching and learning by the Senior Management Team (SMT) and subject Heads of Department (HoDs);
  • Ongoing assessment of pupil progress;
  • Work sampling and scrutiny of planning by the SMT and HoDs to ensure effective matching of work to pupil need.

Meetings between boys’ mainstream teachers and Learning Support Department staff and feedback from pupils and parents may provide additional input.

A targeted programme of continuing professional development is available to ensure teaching staff have suitable expertise to meet the needs of pupils.

All teachers at the school teach all boys, including those who have SEND, in their mainstream classes. In addition, members of the Learning Support Department (Head of Learning Support, Pre-Prep SENCO and Learning Support Teacher) teach boys with SEND on an individual, paired or small-group basis.




Aims of the Learning Support Department

The underpinning philosophy of the Learning Support Department is for boys with SEND to be encouraged and helped towards becoming independent learners. Fostering boys’ self-awareness of their learning strengths and areas to improve is considered vital, both as a step towards achieving this independence and as a cornerstone for building their self-esteem.

All the Learning Support Department’s actions are targeted at supporting boys with SEND in making appropriate progress towards intended learning outcomes based on their individual circumstances.



The Learning Support Department’s procedures can be separated into three broad areas:

  • Identification;
  • Intervention;
  • Reintegration (cessation of intervention).



  1. Identification


1.1 Identification of boys with SEND in the Pre-Prep

1.1a. A boy’s Class Teacher or parents may raise concerns about his academic progress with the Pre-Prep SENCO and/or Head of Pre-Prep.

1.1b. The SENCO will discuss the perceived difficulty and may observe the boy in class and/or look at examples of his work.

1.1c. If she feels it is necessary, the SENCO may then seek parental permission to screen the boy for a specific learning difficulty.

1.1d. The results of any observations and screening tests are discussed with the boy’s Class Teacher, parents and the Head of Pre-Prep and recommendations will be made by the SENCO. These may include one or more of the following:

  1. No action is required;
  2. Further testing;

iii.Monitor the boy’s progress;

  1. Seek the advice of an external specialist such as an Educational Psychologist, Orthoptist, Speech and Language Therapist, GP or Paediatrician;
  2. Intervention with clear criteria for success and reintegration.


1.2 Identification of Boys with SEND in the Main School

1.2a. A boy’s Form Teacher, subject teachers or parents may raise concerns about his academic progress with the Head of Learning Support.

1.2b.  The Head of Learning Support will discuss the perceived difficulty and may observe the boy in class and/or look at examples of his work.

1.2c. If she feels it is necessary, the Head of Learning Support may then seek parental permission to screen the boy for a specific learning difficulty.

1.2d. The results of any observations and screening tests are discussed with the boy’s teacher/s and parents and recommendations will be made by the Head of Learning Support. These may include one or more of the following:

  1. No action is required;
  2. Further testing;

iii. Monitor the boy’s progress;

  1. Seek the advice of an external specialist such as an Educational Psychologist, Orthoptist, Speech and Language Therapist, GP or Paediatrician;
  2. Intervention with clear criteria for success and reintegration.



  1. Intervention

Learning Support interventions are provided for boys who have SEND: that is a learning difficulty, which cannot be met in class despite the school’s usual practice of differentiation. The school follows a graduated approach to support, which utilises an assess/plan/do/review cycle.


2.1 Intervention in Pre-Prep

Interventions in Pre-Prep follow these guidelines:

  • Boys receiving an intervention are listed on the school’s SEND Support list;
  • A Learning Support intervention may take the form of individual, paired or small-group teaching;
  • Interventions in the Pre-Prep typically focus on building a boy’s literacy and/or numeracy skills;
  • Boys may receive their Learning Support intervention within their class or they may be withdrawn from class;
  • In the Pre-Prep the intervention may be delivered by the SENCO herself or by another suitably qualified professional under her direction such as a Teaching Assistant;
  • Personal Learning Plans (PLPs) are written for each boy receiving a Learning Support intervention;
  • A boy’s PLP is reviewed as frequently as is deemed necessary for him;
  • The SENCO liaises closely with other staff;
  • The SENCO also maintains close links with the parents of boys receiving interventions;
  • The recommendations of outside agencies are taken into account wherever possible;
  • Boys and their parents are encouraged to participate in as much of the decision making as possible;
  • In the Pre-Prep, a communication log of ongoing achievements and areas of difficulty is utilised by the boy’s Class Teacher, the class Teaching Assistant and the SENCO.


2.2 Intervention in the Main School

Interventions in the Main School follow these guidelines:

  • Boys receiving an intervention are listed on the school’s SEND Support list;
  • A Learning Support intervention may take the form of individual, paired or small-group teaching;
  • Interventions in the Main School focus on building a boy’s literacy and/or numeracy skills;
  • In Years 6-8, ahead of senior school entrance exams, interventions may also focus on building study skills or learning how to learn;
  • Most boys receiving a Learning Support intervention in the Main School are withdrawn from one of their non-examined classes on a termly rotating basis. As a result of this, boys are usually withdrawn only where a specific recommendation has been made by an external agency such as an Educational Psychologist or Paediatrician;
  • Interventions are delivered by the Head of Learning Support, the Learning Support Teacher or another suitably qualified professional;
  • Personal Learning Plans (PLPs) are written for each boy receiving a Learning Support intervention;
  • A boy’s PLP is reviewed as frequently as is deemed necessary, usually 2-3 times per year;
  • The Head of Learning Support liaises closely with other concerned staff, including: Form Teachers, English and/or Maths teachers and teachers of other subjects where required;
  • The Head of Learning Support also maintains close links with the parents/guardians of boys receiving interventions;
  • Boys and their parents/guardians are encouraged to participate in as much of the decision making as possible;
  • The written recommendations of outside agencies are taken into account wherever possible.



  1. Reintegration


Once a boy’s educational needs can be met through the school’s usual practice of differentiation in the classroom, then his educational needs no longer constitute a SEND. The boy’s Learning Support intervention will cease, he will be reintegrated into the school’s mainstream provision and his name will be removed from the SEND Support list.


Most boys’ needs will be met within the school. However, if a pupil’s needs cannot be met within the St Martin’s setting, he may require an Education, Health and Care (EHC) assessment in order for the local authority to determine whether it needs to make provision according to an EHC Plan.


3.1 Reintegration in the Pre-Prep

In the Pre-Prep, a boy with SEND who has been receiving a Learning Support intervention is reintegrated into mainstream provision when he is considered by the SENCO, his Class Teacher and the Head of Pre-Prep to have made sufficient progress and to be achieving at an appropriate level. Various types of assessment, such as Performance Indicators in Primary School (PIPS), Progress in Understanding Maths (PUMA) and Progress in Reading Assessment (PiRA), are used to determine whether a pupil’s educational needs are being met in class.


3.2 Reintegration in the Main School

In the Main School, a boy with SEND who has been receiving a learning support intervention will be reintegrated into mainstream provision when he is deemed by the Head of Learning Support to have reached appropriate attainment levels in key skills. Achievement levels in core literacy and numeracy skills are assessed using standardised attainment tests such as WRATs and PIPs.


3.3 Reintegration in Year 3

The Learning Support Department treats Year 3 as a transitional period between the Pre-Prep and the Main School. The Pre-Prep SENCO and the Head of Learning Support manage this transitional period for boys with SEND.


In the Autumn Term, intervention may be continued while it is ascertained whether boys with SEND are able to manage the academic demands of Year 3. Boys will be removed from the SEND Support list, reintegrated and Learning Support intervention phased out where their needs can be met by the school’s usual differentiated curriculum.


Where boys in Year 3 have educational needs that cannot be met through the school’s usual practice of differentiation (that is where they have an ongoing SEND), boys will remain on the SEND Support list and will continue to receive a Learning Support intervention. If the advice of an external agency such as an educational psychologist has not already been sought, then this will need to be done at this stage. Withdrawal for Learning Support intervention is carried out in the Main School only if it can be justified by specialist professional recommendation.


Comments and complaints

We welcome feedback from parents. Comments and concerns about Learning Support at St Martin’s may be directed to members of the Learning Support Department, Class and Form Teachers or the School’s SMT. Any complaints should follow the School’s Complaints Procedure.




Appendix 1. Learning difficulties

Although receiving a diagnosis of a specific learning difficulty can be daunting initially, it may be helpful to remember that individuals with these difficulties frequently have compensatory skills or insights. These can range from artistic to entrepreneurial skills, arising from an atypical way of looking at the world and ‘seeing’ things differently.


1.1     Dyslexia

1.1a   Characteristics of dyslexia

Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty that is characterised by problems with the written word. Despite receiving good teaching, dyslexic individuals find it much more difficult than their peers to learn to read and spell accurately, often because of a weakness in phonological processing.

Many dyslexic pupils have problems with working memory: the ability to hold facts in their mind while they manipulate them. This impedes the ease with which they can transfer information into and retrieve information from their long-term memory.

Dyslexic pupils may also have difficulty with sequencing and organisation.


1.1b   How to help dyslexic pupils in class and at home

Until dyslexic pupils’ literacy skills have been raised to a level typical for other boys their age, they may need additional support in all activities that involve reading and writing. Some suggestions are:

  • The text they need to read could be broken down into manageable chunks and presented one chunk at a time rather than all at once.
  • Where possible text can be accompanied by visual information that aids understanding, for example pictures, diagrams or charts.
  • Instructions can be given orally and in writing, with a printed copy for pupils to refer to if they are very detailed. Dyslexic pupils often (but not always) have difficulty following lists of instructions and may need a hard copy to keep referring back to.
  • Copying large amounts of writing from the board is often difficult for dyslexic pupils. Where possible this can be circumvented by providing handouts for a boy to interact with by, for example, highlighting key words, completing sentences that have been started or filling in blank spaces in the text (cloze procedures).
  • Pupils may need support with spelling, where this is not being specifically tested, and could be given spellings of keywords or allowed to use dictionaries, spellcheckers, etc.
  • Where possible boys could be given opportunities for ‘overlearning’, where they have repeated interactions with the teaching material.
  • Initially, until independent learning is established, dyslexic pupils may need much more support at home than their peers with revision for tests and exams, the organisation of bags and folders, completing homework etc.


1.2     Developmental coordination disorder (DCD, dyspraxia)

1.2a   Characteristics of DCD

DCD is characterised by an immaturity or impairment in the organisation and planning of controlled movements. It is a specific learning difficulty and is associated with pupils experiencing problems with movement, time and space.

Children with DCD may appear to be clumsy, have poor posture and body awareness, poor handwriting, weak organisational skills, a poor sense of direction and may appear lethargic. They may find many activities that are part of physical education (PE) challenging, for example throwing and catching a ball, running, jumping and hopping, hitting a ball with a bat or a racquet, kicking a ball, etc.

Children with DCD typically require the intervention of an occupational therapist or physiotherapist to help build their strength and gross motor skills. They also usually need additional help with activities requiring fine motor control such as handwriting, doing up buttons and tying shoelaces.


1.2b   How to help pupils with DCD in class and at home

Some suggestions include:

  • Children with DCD need lots of additional opportunities to practise physical tasks such as doing up buttons, tying laces, using scissors and using a pencil or pen with an appropriate grip and amount of pressure.
  • Pupils need actions to be modelled, not just described.
  • Multi-step tasks can be broken down into single steps. These tasks can be practised separately then together in the correct sequence.
  • Seat pupils near to the board so that their view is ‘straight on’ and not at an angle.
  • Copying from the board is a particular challenge for children with DCD. Give them handouts wherever possible instead. Where possible these should be interactive so that the pupil can highlight key words, complete sentences that have been started or fill in blank spaces in the text.
  • Repeat instructions as frequently as needed. This may be much more frequent than you might expect. Pupils with DCD may not understand instructions the first or second time round.
  • Give a written back-up for oral instructions for pupils to refer back to.
  • The provision of writing frames can help pupils who find it difficult to begin work on a blank sheet. This can be as simple as one or more boxes drawn on the page or a series of headings.
  • Provide help with the organisation of folders, bags, games kit, etc. Children with DCD are unlikely to be able to manage these things for themselves at the same age that their peers can manage them independently.
  • Checklists can help support pupils in learning to manage folders etc for themselves.
  • Pupils may benefit from having a personalised colour-coded timetable.
  • Subject folders could be coded with the same colours to help them bring the right folder to each lesson.
  • Drawing accurate diagrams in Maths, Science and Geography can be challenging for pupils with DCD. Model diagrams to trace over may be needed until pupils can manage independently.
  • Judging time can be difficult for pupils with DCD. They may need frequent reminders or countdown/sand timers to show them how much time they have left for tasks.


1.3     Dyscalculia

1.3a   Characteristics of dyscalculia

Dyscalculia is characterised by a difficulty with the concept of number. Children with dyscalculia struggle to determine the relationship between pairs of numbers and patterns in sequences. They may also have difficulty estimating numbers, relative sizes and quantities.

Learning the basic number facts, number bonds and times tables, for example, is more challenging for dyscalculic pupils but it is not impossible. Rote learning can help.

While dyscalculia predominantly affects a child’s progress in Maths, it can also hinder his progress in other subject areas that involve counting, sequencing, rank-ordering, measuring and timing. Remembering facts that include numbers, such as dates in History, is also more problematic for the dyscalculic individual. Quantities that involve positive and negative numbers and BC/AD dates can be particularly tricky.


1.3b   How to help dyscalculic pupils in class and at home

  • Dyscalculic children need additional support with concrete materials as early as possible to help them build their concept of number.
  • They also need explicit teaching of the relationship between a number of real objects and the symbol used to represent that number.
  • Multisensory materials such as Numicon kits or Cuisenaire rods may be needed to establish relationships between numbers.
  • Pupils with dyscalculia will need number lines and number squares or grids to help them with addition (counting on) and subtraction (counting back).
  • Pupils will typically need to spend much more time than is average for their age in learning number bonds and times tables. They will need support for this at home as well as in school as daily practice is usually best.
  • Parents and teachers can try to introduce opportunities to engage with numbers whenever possible. For example, counting trees when walking, looking at numbers on road signs, counting items or measuring quantities in the kitchen.


1.4     Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

1.4a   Characteristics of ASD

Autism spectrum disorders are a broad-ranging group of difficulties in which individuals experience similar types of well-defined difficulties in three areas: social interaction; social communication; and flexibility of thought and imagination.

While ASD can occur in varying degrees including autism and Asperger’s syndrome, a diagnosis of ASD is made based on identifying difficulties in all three areas. A fourth area of difficulty, impairment in sensory processing and motor skills, may also be present.

Children with ASD may have difficulty with:

  • Making eye contact
  • Literality (sayings, jokes, idiom and metaphor can be problematic as words are interpreted literally)
  • Understanding and interpreting emotions, both their own and others
  • Hyperlexia (being able to decode words they cannot yet understand)
  • Changes to routines
  • Being over-focused on detail
  • Echolalia (repetition/mimicry of the speech/sounds other people make)
  • Echopraxia (repetition/mimicry of movements of others)
  • Weak prosody of speech (stress, rhythm and intonation)
  • Poor turn taking
  • Lack of empathy
  • Poor imagination
  • Repetitive body movements.


1.4b   How to help pupils who have ASD in class and at home

Some suggestions include:

  • Pupils with ASD need a structured environment where rules are clearly stated and adhered to.
  • Advice, warnings and reprimands need to be explicit and where possible adults should model the required behaviour.
  • Children with ASD find alterations to their routines stressful, so any changes need to be signalled in advance and prepared for.
  • Pupils with ASD have difficulty generalising from the specific. They will need help making links and transferring their knowledge and skills from one area to another.
  • Children with ASD may need help in answering questions, as they will not necessarily realise that a question has been asked of them.
  • Similarly, pupils with ASD will need guidelines on when they can/should speak as they do not possess typical thought-filtering processes, which act as a check on what is said.


1.5     Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

1.5a   Characteristics of ADHD

ADHD is a condition where individuals display a markedly reduced ability to attend and maintain concentration. This is sometimes accompanied by extreme physical restlessness.

The most common core features of ADHD are:

  • Distractibility – poor sustained attention to tasks;
  • Impulsivity – impaired impulse control and delay of gratification;
  • Hyperactivity – excessive activity and physical restlessness.


Common symptoms of ADHD include:

  • Failing to give close attention to detail or making careless mistakes;
  • Having difficulty sustaining attention for tasks;
  • Not seeming to listen when spoken to directly;
  • Failing to follow instructions carefully and completely;
  • Losing or forgetting important things;
  • Feeling restless;
  • Fidgeting with hands or feet or squirming;
  • Running or climbing excessively;
  • Talking excessively;
  • Blurting out answers before hearing the whole question;
  • Having difficulty waiting his turn.


1.5b   How to help pupils who have ADHD in class and at home

  • Use clear language. Prompts, rules and instructions should be clear, brief and when possible presented visually in charts, lists, etc. Instructions should be explicit and detailed, for example “Turn to page 10, paragraph 2, starting with the word ‘Rivers’” and not the more general “Open your book”.
  • Make eye contact with the pupil before giving an instruction and check for understanding (saying, for example, “Tell me what you have to do?”). Encourage the pupil to repeat instructions out loud or say them quietly to himself while he follows them.
  • Go over the steps in a procedure before and during an activity.
  • Identify critical bits of information by saying, “This is something that you will need to pay attention to,” and use prompts such as, “What is it you need to do right now?”
  • Use memory aids. For example, use visual clues to control talking in class – green for go and red for stop.
  • Seat the pupil close to the teacher and position him so as to minimise distraction.
  • An assigned buddy can remind the pupil to focus on his work when distracted and help take his belongings from class to class.
  • Breaking down tasks into smaller, simplified steps with a logical progression should help pupils with ADHD organise and plan their work.
  • When class activities require independent and flexible work, pupils could be supported by checking they stay on task, making sure they understand the instructions and have a plan to follow. Designated buddies and/or the teacher could help.
  • The speed of completing tasks is a relative weakness for pupils with ADHD. It may help them to have extra time with tests, exams and assignments.
  • Rewards and feedback for following rules should be delivered immediately and systematically. The pupil’s cooperation and understanding can be helped by being as specific as possible.
  • Children with ADHD often receive repetitive negative feedback. This has a detrimental effect on their self-esteem and induces anxiety. While it is crucial for a pupil with ADHD to learn about the consequences of his behaviour, it is also important for the teacher to try to “catch him being good” and offer positive reinforcement for good behaviour.
  • If a pupil with ADHD experiences fatigue or restiveness during class time, he could undertake structured, brief, physical activities such as going to the office on an errand.
  • The pupil with ADHD can be helped to identify for himself situations and tasks that he finds difficult and devise simple, straightforward plans and strategies to help him. These may be short lists or diagrams, giving reminders about staying on task and checking by the end of the class that he has understood the material.
  • Using countdown or kitchen timers can help with completing prep at home and time-bound activities in the classroom.


1.6 Speech, language and communication (SLC) difficulties

1.6a Characteristics of SLC difficulties

A child’s SLC difficulty may occur in one or more of the three areas of speech, language and communication.

  • Speech:
    • Saying the right sounds in the correct sequence;
    • Speaking fluently;
    • Speaking clearly and with expression to support meaning.
  • Language:
    • Using words to construct sentences and build conversations;
    • Understanding and making sense of what others say.
  • Communication:
    • Representing concepts and thoughts with language;
    • Using language for different purposes such as describing and asking;
    • Understanding non-verbal communication such as gesture, how to show active listening, taking turns in conversations, adapting language to suit the situation;
    • Taking into account other people’s perspectives and a broader context.


SLC difficulties can affect input (receptive language) and output (expressive language) and may lead to low self-confidence and poor self-esteem. They can also affect cognitive development and learning at school as well as social interaction and friendships.



1.6b How to help pupils who have SLC difficulties in class and at home

  • Respond to what has been said rather than how clearly it is said.
  • Repeat what the pupil says correctly so he can hear it spoken correctly but avoid asking him to repeat it after you.
  • Encourage the use of gesture, drawing and writing to aid understanding.
  • Avoid asking for constant repetition.
  • Praise good speech.
  • Praise other strengths.
  • Encourage active listening, state pupil’s name and gain eye contact before giving instructions.
  • Use visual cues to support what is being said and stress key words.
  • Consider the length and complexity of instructions and check if they have been understood.
  • Give the pupil time to process a question (at least 10 seconds) before expecting a response.
  • Ask open-ended questions.
  • Provide prompts or clues if the pupil cannot find the right word.
  • Use multi-sensory teaching methods to boost memory of new terms.
  • Repeat a pupil’s answer and expand on it with more details.
  • Avoid finishing sentences or saying the word a pupil cannot find as this may make him frustrated.

1.7 Difficulties with working memory (WM)

1.7a Characteristics of WM difficulties

WM is different from short-term memory (for example remembering a phone number long enough to dial it and long-term memory (stored experiences from the past or knowledge acquired over long periods).


WM is the ability to hold and manipulate information in the mind for short periods and can be thought of as a mental workspace or jotter and a short sound recording loop. WM allows pupils to remember sequences of instructions while they perform tasks, process information for storage to or retrieval from long-term memory and focus their attention on a single task or direct it from one task to another.

WM has a finite size, which varies from person to person. Difficulties with WM interfere with many aspects of schoolwork and learning, including:

  • Mental Maths calculations
  • Remembering spellings during composition
  • Remembering sequences of instructions while carrying out tasks
  • Revising material to store it in long-term memory
  • Retrieving information from long-term memory
  • Sustaining attention on a task
  • Switching attention from one task to another
  • Keeping place in a longer task.


1.7b How to help pupils with WM difficulties in class and at home

  • Repeat information. Give a visual copy of instructions.
  • Use concrete materials and hands-on (kinaesthetic) activities to help children develop skills/remember facts.
  • Help a pupil to rely more on his long-term memory than his WM by ‘over-learning’ information/skills to the point of automaticity and reducing the burden on WM.
  • Supply or help the pupil make memory cards for difficulties with remembering specific facts.
  • Give miniature memory cards on a keyring for all the general information pupils need or have covered so far. Add new information and vocabulary to the keyring. Remove old information and vocabulary once it is securely in long-term memory and the pupil can access it automatically.
  • Teach single methods for processes and standard procedures and back these up with ‘how-to’ video clips to reinforce them.
  • Encourage the pupil to ask for help if he is stuck or has forgotten important information.
  • Encourage the pupil to rehearse verbally (say in his head) information needed for brief periods of time to support his short-term memory.
  • Show the pupil how to make notes of important information and refer to them regularly throughout the activity. He can use a jotter, mini whiteboard, back pages of his exercise book, post-it notes, etc.
  • Use mnemonics and acronyms to support memorisation.
  • Pupils may also need help in keeping their place in longer tasks:
    • Help the pupil break down long tasks into separate parts and work against a checklist towards completing all the parts in the right sequence. A flowchart may help with this.
    • In Maths, show pupils how to keep place when counting items by touching fingers to chin, moving fingers up or down when counted or physically moving a finger along a number line.
    • Crossing off pictures of fingers or objects to be counted, or recording tally marks can also help.


1.8 Processing speed difficulties

1.8a Characteristics of processing speed difficulties

Processing speed is not just another term for reaction time. It is also a measure of how quickly a pupil can:

  • Integrate new information
  • Retrieve information from memory
  • Perform certain taskssuch as reading and writing.

Slow processing speed is not caused by physical slowness of the body.

Processing speed affects how the brain organises information. It affects a pupil’s ability to focus on important things while ignoring less important items and is what allows the brain to shift rapidly from one activity to another. How well a child understands what someone is saying, keeps up when someone talks quickly and blocks out other distractions can be affected by problems with processing speed.

Difficulties with processing speed affect many everyday activities, including:

  • Organisation and planning
  • Self-monitoring
  • Getting started on tasks
  • Keeping track of time and completing tasks
  • Shifting/transitioning between tasks
  • Underestimating how long tasks will take
  • Keeping track of belongings
  • Inhibiting impulses
  • Forgetting to bring materials home or to school.


1.8b How to help pupils with processing speed difficulties in class and at home

  • Give pupils extra time to absorb and understand instructions and new information and to complete work.
  • Pause after questioning to give time to formulate a reply.
  • Think about your speech. Slow processors may need a slower rate of speech delivery, brief pauses between ideas/instructions and simpler language to aid understanding.
  • Provide checklists/visual reminder of tasks, sequences.
  • Establish classroom and homework routines, so the same or similar things are done in the same order each time.
  • Keep classroom equipment in the same place so no time is spent looking for it. Label with words and/or pictures.
  • If locating their personal equipment takes too long, try keeping a minimal set inside their subject folders.
  • Try keeping a separate pencil case for them in each classroom.
  • Reinforce pupils’ awareness of time passing. Use countdown/sand timers to focus the mind on the task.
  • Give deadlines to encourage doing/starting tasks ‘now’.
  • Limit choices as selection can be slow.
  • Help pupils build speed and automaticity with basic skills.
  • Give timed practice with tasks and aim to build speed/accuracy by charting performance.
  • Use templates and scaffolding to help with recording.
  • Printed instructions for classwork and prep can help to reduce the amount of writing pupils need to do.
  • Give handouts or cloze activities of notes if pupils can’t keep up with the volume and speed of having to handwrite everything.
  • Consider whether a pupil may be able to type his work more quickly.


Appendix 2. Use of laptops

A pupil may be required to use a laptop for his written work at school. The decision to determine whether this is necessary may be based on the recommendation of an external agency. Where no such external recommendation has been made, a member of the Learning Support Department may make the determination based on the legibility of a boy’s handwriting, the speed with which he writes and other difficulties such as whether he experiences pain or discomfort on writing.

Once the decision has been made for a boy to use a laptop for his written work at school, he will need to complete a touch-typing course or demonstrate an adequate typing speed. Typically, this must be at least as fast as the average handwriting speed for his age so that he can keep up in class.

As well as undertaking a typing course at home, boys typically need additional help from their parents (at least initially) with:

  • Efficiently organising the files and folders on their laptops;
  • Operating keyboard shortcuts for word-processing;
  • Creating subject-specific templates;
  • Editing, proof reading and redrafting writing;
  • Using spell-check and grammar-check facilities;
  • Printing out completed work and ensuring that it is handed in to the relevant subject teacher, glued into his exercise book or filed in a ring-binder as required.


Once a boy can type at an adequate speed and manage his files and folders independently, he will be encouraged to bring his laptop to school for his lessons. A laptop use document, which describes phasing-in procedures, storage, insurance, exams, spelling, rights and responsibilities, etc, will be drawn up and signed by boys, parents and a member of the Learning Support Department.

The boy’s subject teachers will attempt to provide what support they can in establishing daily routines that will encourage him to operate his laptop in an organised, independent way, but the main focus of their time will of necessity be on delivering the curriculum.

Reviewed May 2018

Next Review May 2019

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