The Independence Support Plan
The goal of all learning at Sheiling School is learning for life, the impetus being to enable pupils to maximise possibilities in future settings where 1:1 support will not be an option, and to live life to the fullest. This can only happen where pupils learn to truly value their own independence, and master the skills that will enable them to live and work safely with the minimum of external support.
As such, we aim to foster in each pupil: independence in socialising, increased levels of academic engagement without support, independence in learning, and the ability to self-manage at moments of difficulty or anxiety. These personal qualities will be assessed using the Sheiling School’s bespoke assessment tool, the Ariadne Assessment Framework, which is updated half termly.
Equally, the Independence Support Plan is an approach to making more efficient use of our staff team, in the long run allowing for a more flexible distribution of workload and a readily available ‘bank’ of staff support for where it is most needed. This will hopefully have a positive impact on staff retention and wellbeing, as well as opening up avenues for continued professional development.
At Sheiling School we are fortunate that every pupil is staffed at least 1:1. However, issues associated with such high staffing ratios include the possibility of dependency, over-support, and by extension, reduced independency skills.
We support in order to promote independence: “the right support at the right time.”
The Plan: Progress So Far & Next Steps
Phase 1: Baselining. Class teams identified pre-plan support levels throughout the timetable for each individual pupil, and then considered where, by small increments, this support might be reduced. For convenience, levels of support were categorised in four levels: ‘hand-on-hand’, ‘proximate’, ‘eyes on’ and ‘remote’. Staff were asked to identify those times where the need for support is minimal and the pupil felt most secure. Staff were also asked to identify and remain conscious of the exact purpose of the support that was being given ie: to support academically, to support general engagement, or to help regulate emotions. Over terms 1 and 2 of academic year 2019-20, small adjustments were made to increase independence at ‘safe moments’.
Assessment and Phase 2: We will then ask class teams to re-assess the levels of independence achieved by individual pupils during phase 1. Where does the pupil need most support, and where is the pupil most comfortable being by themselves? We will repeat the process as per Phase 1, reducing support by safe increments. The plan as a whole will be thoroughly assessed at the end of the academic year. If it has proved successful, it will be ongoing.