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We've described the types of special schools we have in Hertfordshire, to help you understand what's out there for your child.

If you are considering requesting a special school place for a child, you might like to read the special schools admissions guidance (PDF 291kb) Opening a new window. This is the guidance that provision panels use to place a child.

In most cases, only children with an EHCP will be admitted to special schools or specialist provisions in mainstream schools. In some cases however, a child may be admitted if they have just moved into the area from a different county, and an Education, Health and Care assessment has started.

Requesting a special school


Learning disabilities schools (LD)

Conditions and needs

Children and young people placed in LD schools will have a learning difficulty or disability, and may also have:

  • autism
  • speech, language and communication needs (SLCN)
 

They may have other needs too, such as:

  • behavioural and emotional difficulties
  • physical and sensory difficulties
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • dyspraxia 
  • medical issues that may require daily supervision from an adult


 

 

Severe learning difficulty or disability schools (SLD)

 Conditions and needs

Children and young people placed in SLD schools will have disabilities which may include:

  • Severe learning difficulty or disability
  • profound and multiple learning difficulty or disability
  • autism
  • significant difficulties with communication
  • sensory impairment

This may show itself in some or all of the following ways:

  • great difficulty with social interaction and understanding
  • challenging behaviour
  • limited self-help skills and awareness of danger
  • mostly dependent on adults for personal care
  • dependent on adults for activities and travel

They may also have other needs, including:

  • physical difficulties
  • medical difficulties including those with life-limiting conditions
  • fine and gross motor difficulties
  • multi-sensory impairment
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • sensory difficulties

At severe learning difficulty or disability schools, a high priority is placed on developing the pupils' communication, independence, social and functional everyday living skills.


Physical and/or neurological impairment schools/ special provision (PNI)


 

Conditions and needs

Children and young people who attend PNI schools have severe physical difficulties as their main need, which can't be supported at a mainstream school.

Their disability may be caused by injury, illness, a congenital condition or genetic disorder.

These children and young people may also have a range of other needs, including:

  • sensory impairment
  • an additional neurological impairment such as epilepsy.

Some children and young people may have difficulties with:

  • speech, language and communication
  • swallowing, feeding and drinking
  • medical issues that require daily, regular intervention from an adult
  • require a range of specialist equipment in order to help with their learning and support their development.
  • be dependent on adults for personal care and travel

When children are very young it can be difficult to work out whether their main need is physical and neurological impairment or speech and language difficulties. This usually becomes clearer when they move from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 2, or at secondary transfer.


Children and young people in a PNI special school need therapy and healthcare professionals to:

  • regularly assess and review their therapy and healthcare needs
  • provide direct therapy according to their need
  • provide support, advice and training for school staff to help them support their pupils to learn and develop their physical skills, communication skills and health management
  • speak regularly with parents about their child's health and therapy provision and the impact it is having.

 

Hearing impairments schools/ special provision (HI)


 

Conditions and needs

Children and young people who attend HI schools have a significant hearing impairment as their main need, which may affect their:

  • speech, language and communication
  • listening and attention
  • understanding of language and concepts
  • ability to express thoughts and feelings
  • relationships and interaction with others

This may show itself in difficulties with:

  • the ability to engage fully in school life
  • social maturity/ self-confidence/ self-esteem
  • literacy and numeracy
  • progress with learning

As well as hearing impairment, some children and young people at these schools may have additional needs, including:

  • visual impairment
  • physical impairment
  • specific learning difficulty or disability
  • speech, language and communication needs
  • autism
  • medical difficulties
  • emotional and behavioural difficulties
  • moderate learning difficulty or disability

How the school meets their pupils' needs

They deliver the curriculum accessibly, using:

  • sign language
  • sign supported English (SSE)
  • a structured approach to language delivery and development
  • techniques and approaches designed for deaf children i.e. visual phonics, auditory training, listening programmes and shape coding.
  • acoustic classrooms which meet 'BB93 recommendations'
  • listening devices e.g. cochlear implants, hearing aids, radio hearing aids, sound field systems, wireless mini-mics

Children will need different approaches to develop their langauge and communication skills. For example, some will use listening, speaking and lip reading, and will be placed at a unit which uses this approach. Some will need or prefer a total communication approach, meaning that they are developing communication mainly through sign language or benefits from sign support.



Social, emotional and mental health difficulties schools (SEMH)

 

Conditions and needs

Children and young people placed in SEMH schools have difficulties in 3 areas: social, emotional and mental health.

There are no particular guidelines on how many difficulties a pupil must have to require this type of setting. Some pupils may experience just a few, but to a severe extent, and others will meet a lots at varying levels.

Social difficulties

  • always challenging authority
  • regular aggression or threat of aggression towards others
  • a learning difficulty or disability
  • anti-social and uncooperative
  • indifferent or varied response to discipline
  • delayed social skills
  • inability to form relationships with other peers and/or adults
  • very poor social communication skills, including language and the conventions of social behaviour
  • lack of social conscience or a sense of inner justice
  • behaviours which seek to control situations, including regular use of targeted and abusive language
  • lack of basic hygiene and / or sense of personal safety
  • severe and regular damage to property

Emotional difficulties

  • low self-esteem and poor self-image
  • lack of empathy and respect for the needs and emotions of others, including inappropriate emotional responses and actions in a given situation
  • long-standing school phobic / neurotic /  isolated
  • high levels of frustration or distress
  • extremes of emotions or withdrawal behaviour
  • inability to trust others and / or lack of resilience
  • inappropriate sexualised behaviour, including a preoccupation with sexualised matters and language
  • expressed desire to harm others for reasons of self-esteem and / or status, including through psychological intimidation or bullying behaviour
  • inability to manage own anger

Mental health difficulties (as defined by mental health professionals)

  • emotional disorders, e.g. phobias
  • anxiety and depression
  • conduct disorders, e.g. stealing, defiance, fire-setting, aggression and antisocial behaviour
  • hyperkinetic disorders, e.g. disturbance of activity and attention including ADHD
  • developmental disorders, e.g. delay in certain skills such as speech, social ability or bladder control
  • attachment disorders, e.g. children who are markedly distressed or socially impaired as a result of an extremely abnormal pattern of attachment to parents or major care givers.
  • other mental health problems include eating disorders, habit disorders, post-traumatic stress, sleep disorders, and psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and manic depressive disorder

Pupils tend to join SEMH schools when school behaviour reports show that the pupil's issues have increased over time, and a range of support has failed to help them or had a limited effect.

Some pupils may be known to early help services, social care or mental health services.

Autism and / or social, emotional and behavioural difficulties school

There is only one school of this type in Hertfordshire, called Romans Field.

 

Conditions and needs

The main difficulties of children and young people placed at Roman Fields include:

  • disrupted / unusual emotional or social development.
  • autism
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), attention deficit disorder (ADD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) or similar disorders.
  • diagnosed mental health conditions

Some of the pupils will have been permanently excluded or at risk of permanent exclusion from mainstream, special or out-of-county schools. Others haven't got on well in other places because of anxiety and/or other mental health concerns.

Pupils tend to join Roman Fields when a range of support from different specialists has failed to help them with their learning and/or social and emotional well-being.

 


Mainstream bases for speech, language and communication needs (SLCN)

Conditions and needs

Children and young people who are placed in SLCN bases have a specific impairment of speech and/or language abilities as their main area of need.

This means they have great difficulty understanding and/or expressing themselves through speech and language.

A pupil in a speech and language base will have impairment in one or more of the following:

  • receptive language
  • expressive language
  • speech and phonology

They could also have additional needs such as:

  • social use of language and functioning
  • attention and listening
  • memory for spoken information
  • motor skills
  • symbolic play

They may have social and emotional difficulties because of  frustrations in communicating. Or they may have autistic spectrum condition; however, these needs will not be severe enough to prevent the young person making progress with their speech and language needs in the base.

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