Believe. Inspire, Succeed


by Mark Birkbeck, Headmaster of Slindon College

At Slindon College we provide specialist learning support for approximately 100 boys with SEND. The boys are aged between 8 and 18 and include day boys and boarders (boarders from age 11). With a staff-pupil ratio of one to five we provide a carefully structured and tailored education for boys who cannot thrive in a mainstream environment. Pupils require learning support in a variety of areas including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia and dyspraxia but by far the majority of our pupils are diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). However, we do not take severely autistic children or those officially designated as having emotional and behavioural difficulties (EBD). 


Our approach is specific to each pupil and includes regular individual education plans (IEPs) and continual assessments in both academic and social contexts. The aim is to provide pupils with strategies to compensate for the constraints that their condition imposes on them, promoting their positive abilities in a lifeskills context at the same time as maximising their academic potential. In line with this individual approach, the academic pathway is not set in stone but is tailored to the needs and potential achievement of each boy. Hence our school motto: ‘Believe. Inspire, Succeed’. 


ASD can present with a wide range of symptoms, which are often grouped into two main categories:


The symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be categorised into two sets of behavioural problems:

Most pupils with ADHD have problems that fall into both these categories, but this is not always the case. For example, some pupils with the condition may have problems with inattentiveness, but not with hyperactivity or impulsiveness. This form of ADHD is also known as attention deficit disorder (ADD), and it can sometimes go unnoticed because the symptoms may be less obvious.

The aim is to provide pupils with strategies to compensate for the constraints that their condition imposes on them


Dyslexia is a common learning difficulty that mainly affects the way pupils read and spell words. Dyslexia is a spectrum disorder, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Pupils with dyslexia have particular difficulty with:


Pupils with dyspraxia may have problems with movement and co-ordination including difficulties:

Individual programmes of support

Pupils with SEND need individual programmes of support provided by a multidisciplinary team. These programmes enable pupils to thrive and have a positive learning experience. At Slindon programmes include the following.


The Social Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) programme at Slindon College provides vital support to enable pupils to develop social and emotional skills within a safe, structured and progressive framework curriculum. The aim is to help them in the following areas:

The programme builds self-esteem, confidence and motivation, all vital if barriers to learning are to be removed. This work may be on a one-to-one basis or in small groups. 

Speech and language therapy

Speech and language therapists work with pupils with a range of communication difficulties. Children are assessed both formally and informally. These assessments include attention and listening skills, social interaction, understanding receptive language skills, expressive language skills, speech sounds, fluency and voice. Once these assessments have been undertaken, the results are analysed and a therapy programme is established. Therapy is carried out during one-to-one sessions, paired sessions, small group work and at a functional level by supporting the pupil in class to monitor generalisation of skills. 

Wave 3 literacy and numeracy

Staff work with children with specific learning difficulties to assess, plan and deliver appropriate programmes to support pupils on a one-to-one basis. This may include phonological training, alphabet work, reading, writing, spelling and numeracy, and using the teaching reading through spelling (TRTS) strategy. A multisensory and holistic approach is used across the curriculum. Pupils are supported in developing metacognitive executive function skills, poor memory functioning skills, organisational skills and concentration.

Occupational therapy (OT)

Occupational therapists take a holistic approach, working with pupils who have co-ordination, sensory, organisational and behavioural issues. Assessments establish how their needs can be best met and intervention usually takes the form of one-to-one sessions in our new well-equipped sensory/OT room. For example, purposeful activities challenge the boys to:

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