Ysgol Garth Olwg is a Welsh-medium 3-19 school serving the Pontypridd area. The school is located on the Garth Olwg campus with 1,250 pupils attending the school.
We have developed strategies throughout the school to personalise learning for pupils with Additional Learning Needs (ALN), primarily in response to the new ALN Code of Practice. We have also shared this strategy with other schools on across the CYDAG (Association of Schools for Welsh Medium Education) network.
We have a Learning and Teaching model under the heading of “Personalising Learning” which is divided into four subheadings: Assessment, Feedback and Responding to Feedback; Learning and Teaching Strategies; Person-centred School; Partnerships Beyond the Classroom. A key part of the model is the way the school has approached it to introduce the ALN Code of Practice.
When the school opened in 2019, combining the good practice of the primary and secondary school, a number of whole-school strategies were introduced that would help children with additional learning needs e.g. now and next cards, ALN handbook. In addition, interventions for secondary age pupils have been added, to harmonise the interventions across the school. One of the key ones was “Language Link”, which recognises the difficulties of language comprehension – this has had a big impact on numeracy and literacy and so the intervention is crucial. As part of the strategy, coffee mornings for parents were also held to share the information and strategies with them.
Following this, more strategies were introduced, including a very successful intervention – pre and post learning – an opportunity for pupils to gain additional access to lesson content. Using Teams (after the lockdowns), pupils could review the content, vocabulary and concepts of their lessons with a member of staff before and after the lessons in order to replicate the learning and ensure sound understanding.
Teachers have recently begun to record reading texts and give pupils more opportunities to show understanding orally (through video or audio recording) rather than placing more emphasis on written work.
As part of the ALN Code of Practice, we are now in our third year of person-centred meetings, with all staff attending at least one a year. Each pupil and staff member has also created their own one-page profile, to improve understanding of the profile and its purpose.
Parents and pupils also made presentations on their needs and strategies that helped them during the summer term. This has been very successful in raising awareness of different needs.
More generally, we try to personalise the learning for all Garth Olwg pupils. We have been sharing good practice through CPD, Learning and Teaching bulletins and “Spotlights” – meetings sharing good practice. We are having periods to promote a particular aspect of the Learning and Teaching model such as “12 Days of Literacy” leading up to Christmas to promote Voice 21 activities. We are also encouraging staff to actively research an aspect of the model in trios this year and they will report back at a Research Fair in June.
The person-centred meetings, parent presentations and the one-page profiles have increased staff understanding of pupils’ needs. This has meant that they are able to adapt their learning more to maximise their progress. Monitoring results and questionnaires for pupils and staff show that the whole-school strategies have improved the progress and well-being of pupils with difficulties by giving them support without drawing too much attention to their needs. All the strategies have sparked staff interest, and many have now attended training on an aspect of ALN since the beginning of the year.