Additional Learning Needs

We are an inclusive school, where every learner is welcomed, respected and supported as the unique individual they are. We view neurodiversity, ‘thinking differently’ and ‘acting differently’ as a strength, something to be valued in our school community and beyond into the wider world. At the same time, we acknowledge and understand the difficulties associated with neurodevelopmental conditions. We promote equity, rather than equality, ensuring that each individual receives the care and support that they require to flourish whilst they are under our care.

Our ALNCO (Additional Learning Needs Coordinator) is Sarah Ruggeri, the Headteacher. This is the designated person who has the responsibility for coordinating the support required for learners with additional learning needs. This entails assessing, planning and monitoring the progress of learners, ensuring that each and every one of our learners with additional learning needs has their needs met as fully as is possible.

ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support Assistants) Complex Needs
ELSA Complex Needs is an initiative specifically developed to support the emotional well-being and mental health needs of those children that are particularly vulnerable due to their complex learning difficulties. Our ELSA Complex Needs Leads are Sonia Harris and Harry Austin, who have been specifically trained to develop and deliver individualised support programmes to meet the emotional needs of the learners in our care who present with additional learning needs. It recognises that children learn better and are happier in school if their emotional needs are also addressed. The educational psychologists provide on-going professional supervision to maintain the high quality of work undertaken by our ELSA’s, ensuring safe practice for both our ELSA’s and learners alike.

Skills Space
Our Skills Space reflects the inclusive nature of our school. The promotion of wellbeing is at the heart of this welcoming, low-arousal environment, which supports our learners with specific sensory needs. This calming, safe space provides a richly resourceful setting, which enables our learners to fulfil their sensory requirements. Our Skills Space is open to our whole school community, optimising the learning potential of each and every one of our learners as they are supported to flourish, in their own time and in their own way.

LEANS (Learning about Neurodiversity in Schools)
Learning About Neurodiversity in Schools is a programme we follow which introduces our learners to the concept of neurodiversity and how it is relevant to own school and the wider community. Our learners with additional educational needs will thrive if they receive the right support and understanding from everyone at our school. It enables our whole school community to increase their knowledge of neurodiversity terms and concepts, to develop positive attitudes towards neurodivergence and to increase positive and inclusive actions within our community.

Autism Friendly School
We are an accredited Autism Friendly School, with our whole school community – staff, learners and Governors – having completed the autism awareness training provided by Autism Wales. Signing the Autism Superhero pledge, recognises our commitment to providing an inclusive environment which promotes the wellbeing of every learner with autism within our school.

Makaton Friendly School
We are on the journey to becoming a Makaton Friendly School. This is supporting us in improving the accessibility for anyone living with learning or communication difficulties. It is in keeping with our drive to help create a fairer a more tolerant society for all.

Specific Areas of Need and Advice for Parents / Carers
For some individuals, there may be a specific area of need with which our school staff can support, through providing individual and / or small group targeted intervention. This specific learning provision can be targeted support for a whole plethora of skills development, which require that extra support. If you feel that your child requires some additional support from our school team, then it is essential that you get in touch with us so that we can devise a support plan if required. Please find below a snapshot of support and advice that is available for parents / carers, which we hope you will find helpful should you have any concerns:

ALN Transformation
The Additional Learning Needs Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018 has changed the way that learners with special educational needs are supported. The new system is called the Additional Learning Needs (ALN) system. It ensures that:

•  all learners are provided with the support that they need to do well
•  all learners and their families are listened to
•  all leaners are provided with the right support
•  most learners can use schools close to them
•  all learners can get support before they start school
•  all learners and their families understand the support they are being offered
•  there are ways learners and their families can speak up if they are not happy
•  all learners can get support in Welsh if they need it.

For further information, please read the following documents:
ALN Information for Children; ALN Information for Parents / Carers (Easy Read Guide); ALN Information for Parents / Children or watch this animation – Additional Learning Needs – An animation explaining the new system for parents and young people (

Snap Cymru – Snap Cymru is a national charity, with the aim of advancing the education of people in Wales and support their inclusion. It offers free and independent information, advice and support to help get the right education for all children and young people, with all different kinds of additional learning needs and disabilities.  For further information, please visit Snap Cymru’s website – Home – Snap Cymru

ADHDResources Archive – ADHD Foundation
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that affects people’s behaviour. People with ADHD  can seem restless, may have trouble concentrating and can act on impulse.

ASDInformation for parents & carers – Awtistiaeth Cymru | Autism Wales | National Autism Team
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. Autistic people have differences in the following areas – social communication and social interaction; social imagination and flexibility of thought; restricted repetitive interests or activities; restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour;  unusual sensory responses.

DyslexiaUnderstanding Dyslexia FREE parent edition | Nessy
Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling.  Characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed.

DyscalculiaWhat is dyscalculia and how can it be spotted and supported in children and adults? | National Numeracy
Dyscalcuilia is a specific and persistent difficult in understanding numbers which can lead to a diverse range of difficulties with mathematics.

DyspraxiaHome (
Dyspraxia (also known as developmental coordination disorder, DCD) is a condition affecting movement and coordination.

Global Development DelayAccess Learning Disability Advice and Support | Mencap
Global Development Delay (GDD) is a term used when a child takes longer to reach certain development milestones than other children their age. This might include learning to walk or talk, movement skills, learning new things and interacting with others socially and emotionally.

Speech and Language DevelopmentAges and stages (
Children develop their talking and understanding of words at different rates. However, knowing what is typical can help you identify speech and language problems early.

Tourette SyndromeUnderstanding Tourette Syndrome – Overview (
Tourette Syndrome (TS) in an inherited neurological condition. The key features are tics – involuntary sounds and movements.

“Love one another as I have loved you, then everyone will know that you are my disciples”. John 13:34

Our Mission Statement anchors our purposeful learning, so that valued in our uniqueness we nurture our skills and talents to our fullest potential. Our stimulating experiences promote our joy of learning as we thrive, growing in our self-belief, happiness and independence. We inspire and motivate each other to strive for excellence in our increasingly digital world, as we become advocates for our ever-changing future.

We develop our inclusivity and compassion for our global neighbours as we encourage each other in our responsibility to care for God’s world. Together, we build a stronger community through mutual respect of our differences and similarities, celebrating our home in Cymru and our place in the wider world as we Listen, Laugh and Live in the Light of the Lord.

Contact Us

St Mary’s Catholic Primary School
Milford Road
SY16 2EH

Telephone: 01686 625582