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Breaktime with our SENCO Lead Mrs Pillay

Dharani

Tell us a little bit about your background, what inspired you to become a SENCO and what does the responsibility mean to you?

I was born and raised in South Africa , before moving to the UK with my husband 22 years ago. After I completed my Master’s Degree in History of Art in India (I loved it as I got to travel around this beautiful country as part of my degree), I had a great interest to work in museums and conservation. I first worked at the Henri Moore Art Gallery in Leeds, before moving to Bristol and taking up the role as Schools and Learning Manager at the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum (now part of Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery). It was here that I developed the love for teaching, and learning and more importantly I became interested in what ‘learning outside the classroom’ means through artefacts, and oral histories, but also developing a passion for different learning styles.

What does your day-to-day role as a SENCO lead involve? 

Resilience is key to my role! No two days are the same and its constantly evolving, which is what makes the role so rewarding. In the broader sense, my role is to oversee the school’s SEND Policy and ensuring that all our neurodiverse students are accessing learning and being supported day-to-day. I assess and monitor progress of students with SEND and liaise with all teaching staff, SMT and parents to support individual learning plans. I have to be creative in my approach in supporting students overcome barriers with their learning and implement strategies that will enable them to make progress. As well as being a Year 13 tutor, my day will also involve liaising with external agencies, local authorities, specialists and parent groups. Operating an open door policy to the Learning Support Centre, ensures students are free to drop in between lessons, or at break and lunch times and have a chat with either myself or a member of the team to alleviate fears, discuss learning challenges or just a word of encouragement to get them through the day. I meet with students and parents regularly to ensure those with Exam Access Arrangements are being supported and is part of their normal way of working.

Who is on our Redmaids' High SEND team? 

We have a fantastic team in the SEND department with an array of skills and specialties:

   – Specialist Support teacher – who is a trained in Dyslexia and Dyscalculia offering 1:1 support.
   – Pastoral Support Assistant – who meets with students on a 1:1 basis offering strategies to support mental health and wellbeing.
   – EAL Teacher – supporting those students with English as a 2nd language to access their curriculum and support with assessments.
   – 1:1 Learning Support Assistant – supporting any students with Hearing impairment.
   – Visiting teachers – we are fortunate to have a selection of specialist teachers that offer 1:1 paid support for students during the school day.  This ranges from mathematics, dyslexia, English, EAL, specific learning difficulties.
   – SEND administrator – a key role that supports the SENCO managing the day to day running of the department from Exam Access arrangements, parent meetings, external agencies etc.

What specific support does our Redmaids’ High SEND team offer to our students and why is it important?

We are fortunate to have a team with a range of skills, specialisms and experiences in the SEND department. Every member of the team ensures that those students with SEND get the most out of their school life and maximise their achievements. Overcoming barriers to learning, is something the SEND team strives towards when working with students. By instilling confidence, resilience, teaching at a slower pace, breaking the learning down, offering encouragement and supporting social development are just some of the examples of support we offer.

What is the best thing about being part of the Redmaids’ High community? 

It’s the inclusive environment that I felt from the very first day I started. I was made to feel welcome and apart of a very professional and friendly team, but most importantly the students who are down to earth, warm and supportive of each other.

Do you have any particular highlights working with our students that you would like to share?

I run a neurodiversity club every Thursday at 1:15pm in the Learning Support Centre. It is open to anyone with or without a neurodiverse profile to come together and share how our week is going, highlights, challenges, successes in and out of the classroom, strategies that have been working especially for those that find learning or being in school a challenge. What is really humbling about the group, are the older students who attend, and offer such valuable advice and support for those younger students. There is a real sense of camaraderie amongst the group! Oh and we all love the biscuits too!

What plans do you have for our SEND team/SEND offering in the future? 

The next year is looking exciting for SEND at Redmaids' High School. We are going to be offering more parent coffee mornings, and this will be in Partnership with the Bristol Parent/Carer Forum. Our Counsellor Cat Taylor will also be leading a coffee morning talking to parents on mental health and how to support your child at home.

 

To find our more about the Senior School, join us at our Visiting Morning on Tuesday 7 November 2023.

 

Date Posted: 26 September, 2023

Articles for: Sixth Form, Senior, SENCO

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