Support for learning

The high quality learning support provision for which the school is known does not stop when pupils enter the Sixth Form and is available to all students, whether or not they have accessed additional support in the past. Recognising that the learning needs and methods of older students may be different, the department, led by Head of Learning Support Mrs J Gibbons, maintains an open-door policy, supporting students with any extra help they may need in a non-judgmental and encouraging way that addresses each one’s particular and unique personal needs.

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

Whilst English and mathematics are the main focus of learning support further down the school, learning support teachers work one-to-one with Sixth Form students to help them grasp specific topics from other subjects or to work on areas of particular challenge. Staff work closely with teachers to ensure the support is tailored to a student’s academic subjects and can also be applied to relevant techniques such as as study and research skills, essay writing, project work, proof-reading and editing course work.

For some pupils, intervention may focus on one aspect of learning and last for half a term; for others, learning support may require an on-going, longer term programme. The school 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).

“I was really keen to take five A Levels and that was a major problem for a lot of sixth forms I visited, but Barney was with me from the start. It was a nightmare to put together my timetable, but the school bent over backwards to accommodate me. Everyone was incredibly friendly and supportive and I’m now really enjoying studying at Cambridge.” Sam Carling, former pupil (2018-2020)