Learning Support

The Learning Support Department at Downshire aims to identify and assist those pupils with special educational needs. It seeks to enable pupils to achieve the maximum possible during their time in Downshire following the school ethos of ‘Personal Excellence’ and ‘Mutual Respect For All’.

Every pupil entering the school is tested to determine literacy and numeracy levels: this formal testing is supplemented by contacts with the teachers in the feeder primary schools. Children who need support with their learning are placed in small classes suitable to their ability and are monitored closely by experienced, specialist staff to ensure they are developing the skills necessary to succeed.

Within the Department pupils study English, Maths, Social Studies and RE, following the whole school programmes of study for Key Stage 3. For more information on content please see the individual pages for these subjects. The objectives of the Department are to help pupils achieve their personal best and make learning a rewarding and satisfying experience.

At Key Stage 4 all pupils in Downshire, regardless of their starting point, are offered the same choice of GCSE subjects with GCSE English and Maths continuing to be taught in small classes, by specialist staff.

Each pupil is seen as an individual and learning Support Staff liaise with teachers of subjects outside the Learning Support Department as well as keeping in close touch with parents. Our aim would be to make each pupil’s whole school experience a profitable one. We also aim to raise the self esteem and self management skills of pupils through positive behaviour strategies and positive reinforcement through Assessment for Learning.

The Learning Support Department works closely with all staff and will assist in any way possible to support pupils throughout the whole school. Literacy and Numeracy support booklets are used when appropriate and the department also works closely with the Literacy Teaching Support Service to provide literacy support for pupils.

In addition we are fortunate to have the expertise of the NEELB Psychology Service, Special Education Branch of the NEELB and Behaviour Support offered by both Newtownabbey Guidance Centre and the NEELB.

The school SENCo, Mrs Boyd, and Assistant SENCo, Mr Press, work closely with all staff in school to provide support for any child with any special educational needs which may include ASD, Dyslexia, ADHD, social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, hearing or visual impairments and physical needs as well as academic needs.

Pupils with a Statement of Educational needs are placed in a class best suited to their ability level and are fully integrated onto the life of the school.

Downshire School has a dedicated team of Learning Support Assistants who work together with staff to enhance the learning of all pupils.