Wanganui Collegiate School sees its provision of learning support as a point of difference. Alongside smaller classes and a robust tutor and pastoral support network, students who have experienced difficulty in engaging with their academic studies are identified as early as possible and then provided with the appropriate support tailored to their individual requirements in order that they may obtain the best possible experience from the School’s robust academic programme.
Students that need Learning Support are identified from information provided by internal and outside sources such as information gleaned from enrolment forms and previous school reports which identify students with Specific Learning Difficulties. A number of students arrive with SpELD reports and, in some cases, may even have an Individual Education Plan in place from their previous school. Low scores in their entrance tests also help us identify students at risk of being marginalised. Often teacher observations and parental input can lead to the identification of a difficulty that requires more support than can be provided by our exceptional classroom teachers.
Once a student has been identified as having a learning disability, communication between teachers and Learning Support regarding the needs and progress of the student is rich and ongoing. If a student is falling behind, teacher observation may often lead to Learning Support collating information from the student’s other teachers and gathering further evidence through testing such as spelling, reading, comprehension, writing and typing tests. Conversations with parents and care-givers, is begun early. This process may lead to intervention without further testing where a strategy is put into place to provide support for that student.
Possible actions which may be accessed through the Learning Support Department:
Wanganui Collegiate School believes in inclusive educational practices, however has a range of support mechanisms which may assist in better engaging students who need support.
Graduate Gap Tutors are employed to provide support for students in targeted classroom settings or even to work with students on their homework within the houses in extreme cases.
In some cases students are encouraged to use Assistive Technology such as student phones (to take photos of notes), computers (to generate notes or assignments) or specialised technology (recommended by outside sources in exceptional cases).
One-on-one tuition is provided by learning support where activities to remedy areas of weakness, to develop study skills or identify, educate and exploit a student’s learning style, are put in place.
Room 13 is a Student Drop in Centre where advice, resources or simply a place for taking time-out is provided.
Despite being an inclusive educational environment, Literacy Laboratory Classes (Lit Lab) are provided in Year 9 or 10 for the provision of additional literacy and learning support for students who have been identified students as gaining the most educational benefit from this dedicated programme.
For students who have entered formal NCEA assessment classes (Year 11, 12 and 13), alternative subject / course choices have been provided and include a Gateway programme as well as correspondence courses.
One of the fundamental tools Learning Support uses in order to support students with special educational needs is an Individual Education Programme or IEP. At a meeting of the parent(s) and/or caregiver, the student, Housemaster, Learning Support teacher, subject teachers and the Resource Teacher Learning and Behaviour (RTLB), a Learning Programme plan is formulated using SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable/Attainable, Relevant/Result focused, Timely).
Assessment can be an anxious time for the most competent students and may be even more so for students with learning difficulties. In some cases, students may apply (and receive) Special Assessment Conditions (SAC) and receive support when producing internal and/or external assessment. SAC may involve one or more of the following strategies in order that a student is assisted in reaching their full potential: Reader/ Writer, computer use, extra time or separate accommodation.
SAC applications will be made to the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) for NCEA exams, and other assessments, where needed. This would require a SpELD or other report, or substantial alternative evidence to support such an application.
It is important to note that Wanganui Collegiate School cannot provide Special Assessment Conditions without permission from NZQA, though this can be trialled in year 9 and 10.
Obtaining a SpELD Assessment:
If needed, an arrangement can be made by the Learning Support teacher for assessment with a local assessor. Cost for the assessment is covered by parents. A report of this nature assists teachers with understanding a student’s learning difficulties and learning style. It is a pathway to informing the provision of a variety of strategies and is often used in obtaining Special Assessment Conditions.
Additional options for support in learning obtained independent of Learning Support:
A number of teachers volunteer their time to provide tutorials or study groups after school or during lunch times,
Specific Subject tutors can be employed for Correspondence subjects,
Outside Tutors or a Teacher Aide can be employed by a parent or carer.
How the Learning Support Department operates:
Communication is key and begins with the Annual Needs Analysis Form which is completed as soon as possible in order to plan strategies for each student and thus provide effective, individualised support. Regular communication with students is made by email and through the Room 13 Drop in Centre. This may be initiated by the student or Learning Support. In addition, every effort is made to communicate with the parents either telephonically or by e-mail. The Department relies on regular communication with its graduate Gap Tutors and well as with subject teachers, Housemasters and the school councillor in order to ensure clarity and deal with difficulties as efficiently and empathetically as possible. This communication includes regular communicate with RTLBs in order to ensure the best provision for students with learning difficulties.
Possible Learning Difficulties students may present:
It is important to note that these conditions are generally not related to a lack of intellectual ability although they may affect the academic development of the student as it is more difficult for the student to operate in the classroom.
- Dyslexia – a phonological-based learning disability. Dyslexia affects individuals throughout their lives; however, its impact can change at different stages in a person’s life. It is referred to as a learning disability because Dyslexia can make it very difficult for a student to succeed academically in the typical instructional environment, and in its more severe forms, will qualify a student for special education, special accommodations, or extra support services.
- Dyspraxia – or more accurately, `Developmental Dyspraxia’, is a Developmental Coordination Disorder and is often termed the Clumsy Child Syndrome. ‘It is a neurologically based disorder of motor function, affecting the gaining of new skills and the carrying out of those already learned.’
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – A persistent pattern of inattention and hyperactivity – impulsivity that is more frequent and severe than is typically observed in individuals at a comparable level of development.
- Dysgraphia – A specific learning disability that affects how easily children acquire written language and how well they use written language to express their thoughts. Dysgraphia is the condition of disabled handwriting and sometimes spelling. Impaired handwriting can interfere with learning to spell words in writing.
- Dyscalculia – This is a term used to indicate a lack of ability to perform mathematical calculations. This condition is associated with neurological dysfunction. Students with Dyscalculia have difficulty processing numbers. It is a significant learning disability, often showing up in students with other learning difficulties, which can mask the Dyscalculia.
- Processing deficits and slow processing speed – Problems with the processes of recognizing and interpreting information taken in through the senses. The two most common areas of processing difficulty associated with learning disabilities are visual and auditory perception.
Wanganui Collegiate is commited to helping students reach the best possible outcome despite any difficulties.