Support for learning

Barnard Castle School has built an excellent reputation for learning support thanks to highly skilled and dedicated teachers who are able to bring out the very best in pupils. Learning support makes an enormously positive contribution to the school’s ethos of helping every child to achieve and fulfil their potential. The department is very proud of the fact that pupils who access learning support are just as likely to succeed as those who do not require additional help.

In welcoming pupils from a wide range of abilities and capabilities, and those for whom English is an additional language, our learning support provision is fully integrated into daily school life with an open-door policy, supporting children with any extra help they may need in a non-judgmental and encouraging way that addresses each one’s particular and unique personal needs. As such, learning support is a popular place to be, pupils enjoy their lessons and benefit greatly from them.

Pastoral care is a significant aspect of earning support and teachers are always ready to lend a listening ear when pupils want to share successes, challenges, worries or simply have questions. Much of the work centres on developing communication skills, an important aspect of learning that can be applied to all subjects and a useful attribute in itself. Learning support teachers, who are highly trained and kept up to date with the latest developments, also help pupils develop a positive mindset and strategies to build self-confidence and help prepare them mentally and emotionally for examinations and other tests.

Senior School Learning Support Staff 
Head of Learning Support: Mrs J Gibbons
Mrs J Lee
Mrs J Pepper
Mrs L Rowlandson
Mr D Blackie
Mrs L Nicholsonova (English as an Additional Language specialist)
Numeracy and visual processing:
Dr R Lee
Mrs S Truss
Mrs M Butterworth (dyslexia specialist)

English and mathematics are the main focus of learning support, but teachers can also work with pupils to help them grasp specific topics from other subjects or to work on areas of particular challenge. Learning support staff work closely with class teachers to make topics relevant to the curriculum and, likewise, class teachers can reinforce techniques used in learning support in the classroom. Lessons are normally one-to-one, with occasional group activities; learning support teachers may go into some classes to do group work. When learning support lessons are within the daily timetable, staff ensure that children do not miss the core subjects of English, mathematics and science, or their favourite subjects.

For some pupils, intervention may focus on one aspect of learning and last for half a term; for other children learning support may require an on-going, longer term programme. Drawing on their expertise, teachers may pick up tendencies or issues that they consider worthy of further investigation and will arrange for testing if required, for example in dyspraxia, dyslexia and Asperger’s. The school also works closely with a fully qualified educational psychologist and has access to speech therapists, physiotherapists and child and adolescent mental health services. Where it is considered necessary for pupils to receive help in examinations, for example the use of a reader or a scribe or being allowed extra time, staff will apply for special dispensation via the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ).

Communication with parents is extremely important and Mrs Gibbons and her team keep parents well informed about their child’s progress, by telephone, email and via termly reports that are in addition to the child’s main school report. Teachers will also offer advice on what parents can do at home to support their children.

Learning support lessons are charged for and booked in half-termly blocks.