Learning Development Unit

The LDU at Stoke

At Stoke College the LDU works with pupils who have some kind of learning difficulty/disability.

LDU Aims
• To increase the pupils’ literacy and numeracy skills
• To enable the pupils to benefit fully from the mainstream curriculum despite any learning difficulties / disabilities
• To have pupils’ weaknesses minimised or overcome
• To improve the pupils’ self esteem and confidence
• To assist the pupils to reach their full potential
• To assist the pupils to prepare for their GCSE examinations

1. To increase the pupils’ literacy, numeracy and thinking skills by using a structured, multi-sensory teaching programme.
2. To enable pupils to progress through school accessing the full curriculum.
3. Pupils should have the opportunity to sit external examinations and be empowered to succeed to the best of their ability.
4. To liaise between pupils, staff and parents.

The LDU staff believe that a Specific Learning Difficulty or Learning Disability is not an excuse, but that it is a problem that can be dealt with providing effective strategies are used. Pupils are taught in a sympathetic way and are encouraged to discuss their fears and difficulties so that ways of resolving them can be found.
The department encourage all staff to acknowledge effort as well as achievement in academic and non-academic areas of school life, so that the pupils’ strengths are recognised, celebrated and built upon.

The Unit is staffed by three qualified and experienced teachers. A limited amount of in-class support can be provided by these staff if necessary. If more extensive support is needed for the core subjects, then an LSA is employed by arrangement with the school and the parents. The Statemented pupils may have support funded by the LEA. The LSAs are encouraged to take part in in-service training to develop professional skills and competencies. The Unit works as a team, there is a strong sense of community and members of the Unit provide great support for each other. (The role of the Learning Support Assistant, see section 11) Weekly Departmental meetings are held for both LDU and LSA staff.

Cross Curricular Links And Issues
There is close liaison and co-operation between the Unit and all other departments in the school. The LDU operates an “Open Door Policy” for staff and pupils where issues are discussed, suggestions given and these are followed up on either a formal or informal basis. The LDU provides in-class support for particular pupils or follow up work in the Unit where appropriate. The LDU staff give staff of other departments an overview or an oral detailed picture of each pupil’s learning difficulties, strengths and weaknesses, and the ways in which these will affect the pupil’s learning.

After assessment of a pupil, the LDU staff give subject teachers recommendations regarding these pupils e.g. methods of teaching and differentiation of work and access to a copy of their Individual Education Plan (IEP). They receive a copy of the statemented pupils’ IEP for their files.

Pupils who are causing concern are discussed at staff meetings convened for that purpose every half term. However issues that arise between those meetings can be discussed at any staff meeting. The nature of the concern and necessary actions are agreed and recorded for all staff.

On the trial day the pupil is interviewed by a member of the LDU staff and assessment takes place, in the form of a reading, a spelling test and possibly a numeracy test. Pupils are re-tested the following May/June and in subsequent summer terms to assess progress. Occasionally pupils are tested more frequently but generally we believe that more frequent testing is not beneficial for two reasons. Firstly pupils can become too familiar with particular tests and secondly pupils may become demoralised if progress is disappointing.

An IEP is formulated in consultation with pupils and parents where necessary, with 2-5 targets. These are reviewed half yearly or yearly and amended accordingly. If staff/parents feel it is necessary, an Educational Psychologist’s report may be requested at a later stage.

Numeracy skills are assessed on the use of the four operations for number, telling the time and any other topic giving cause for concern. Assessment is made by the teacher according to attainment/non-attainment of the target(s) set in IEPs which may or may not include department-set tests, as appropriate.

In the LDU provision for each pupil can be discussed with the parents at any time and alterations made if necessary.

The Role of the Learning Support Assistant
Learning Support Assistants (LSAs) aim to support pupils with special educational needs to gain access to the curriculum. They work with pupils in mainstream lessons and occasionally in the Learning Development Unit in very specific ways.

In class, the LSA ensures that the pupil has understood instructions that they have been given and checks that she/he will be able to tackle the task in hand. If necessary, information may be read and explained to a pupil. Help may be offered with the planning and organisation of a task, particularly if it is a written piece of work, and equipment may be provided if it seems to be lacking. Some pupils may need help with the presentation and layout of their work. The LSA may scribe for the pupil to ensure that she/he keeps pace with the rest of the group. At an appropriate time in the lesson, the LSA may discuss the work with the pupil, explain concepts and provide opportunities to practise new skills.

Some LSAs work with pupils on individual programmes designed to meet very specific objectives. This work may be carried out in the Learning Development Unit. The objectives may relate to literacy and/or numeracy skills and they will generally include study skills. LSAs may be involved in drawing up appropriate IEP targets for pupils.

LSAs are expected to keep records of all their work with pupils, including observations about the way pupils learn, strategies used, and their usefulness, and any other clues about pupils’ learning styles, and they are an ideal source of information on these matters. They are also able to indicate whether reading material is within the reading capacity of a pupil. Any matters arising from these observations can be presented for discussion at the weekly LSA departmental meeting.

The Learning Support Assistants at Stoke College possess these qualities and skills:
  • Sympathy towards children with specific learning difficulties
  • Awareness of their educational and emotional needs
  • Ability to work as part of a team
  • Willingness to follow a programme devised by the Unit
  • Ability to work independently and willing to undertake new challenges
  • Awareness of the need of confidentiality
  • Ability to draw up support materials to supplement lesson material.