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Applebee Wood Community Specialist School

Respect, Belonging, Trust, Resilience, Aspiration


SEND Information Report 


All pupils at Applebee Wood have an Educational Health Care Plan. The primary aim of all staff and Governors at Applebee Wood is to provide a suitable learning environment for everyone to achieve and to make progress. All pupils at Applebee Wood are treated with respect as individuals and are encouraged to develop to the best of their potential.


Regardless of individual needs, all pupils are offered a broad and balanced curriculum which is adapted, meeting the requirements of the Foundation Stage of Learning and the National Curriculum, but offered in a way that is appropriate to the ability and age of each child.


Pupils are guided and supported to develop concepts, skills and understanding in the core areas of the curriculum such as English, Mathematics and Science and this is linked to all subject areas. In all areas of the curriculum, pupils are taught at a level that is appropriate to their age and stage of development.   The three strand curriculum provides opportunity for all pupils to have the opportunity to continue to develop the life skills that will enable them to work towards their aspirations and to reach their full potential.


All pupils at Applebee Wood are entitled to a broad, balanced and enriching curriculum that is adapted as appropriate to meet individual needs. 


All our teachers are teachers of children with special educational needs. All our children can learn and make progress.


Maintaining children’s safety and wellbeing is central to their development and at the for thought of all activities. 


Effective assessment and monitoring of the  provision for our children with SEND is secured in partnership with parent/carers, children, LA and other partners through the EHCP review cycle and target setting process.


As a generic learning difficulties school Applebee Wood caters for pupils with a wide range of needs. 

These include:

  • Communication difficulties
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Specific learning difficulties
  • Physical difficulties and medical needs
  • Sensory difficulties -  vision/hearing difficulties and associated social, emotional and mental health difficulties.
  • Severe, Moderate and Complex learning difficulties.   


The area of need which has the largest population in school is pupils with a diagnosis of Autism spectrum disorder. 


Applebee Wood prides themselves with their specialist support for pupils with an autism diagnosis.  We use a variety of strategies and teaching methods to support our pupils which includes:  PECS, AAC, TEACCH and Attention Autism. We have  lead teachers for autism who offer support and outreach to other schools within South Ribble.


Pupils with an autistic spectrum disorder may be taught in an intensive support class or within the main body of the school.


Many of our pupils have sensory difficulties which have an impact on their ability to focus on teaching activities, their learning and often their behaviour. These difficulties can cause extreme distress to our pupils. All pupils with a statement of autistic spectrum disorder will be assessed by the Occupational Therapist and, if appropriate, a sensory diet will be developed. Staff will be trained by the Occupational Therapist on the best way to deliver the diet for individual pupils. These sensory diets will be reviewed regularly. Many of our pupils also have difficulty with flexibility of thought and require highly organized visual supports to help them understand routines, expectations and emotions.

At Applebee Wood we try to reduce environmental anxiety by providing the following:

  • A calm, distraction free environment, with a low level of visual and auditory stimulus.
  • A high degree of visual and physical structure to the day. 
  • A curriculum that provides pupils with the opportunity to learn how to self-regulate their emotions and behaviour.
  •  A mix of established approaches and interventions drawing on best practice. The interventions include , TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication handicapped Children), PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) and Intensive Interaction.


Applebee Wood is an inclusive school and offers the following range of provisions and interventions to support children with special educational needs.


  • Pastoral support, focusing on social and emotional development, delivered 1:1, paired or in a group as appropriate, either in or out of class. The pastoral team run 1:1 'walk & talk' sessions and group sessions with Willow our school therapy dog, including 'reading' sessions. 
  • Opportunities to be included in the whole School Council, and organise enterprise activities such as coffee mornings.
  • Opportunities to take part in residential school trips such as Hothersall Lodge, The Isle of Man, Bendrigg Activity centre and D of E . These activities are planned and organised to meet the needs of each child and develop independence and life skills.
  • Tailored intervention programmes delivered by the school’s allocated educational psychologist and advisory teachers to support children and their parents/carers, as appropriate.
  • Intervention from the Targeted Family Support Service for children and their parents/carers on referral delivered both in school and in the home.
  • Intervention from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) for children and their parents/carers on referral, delivered at CAMHS or in school as appropriate.
  • Development of gardening skills through projects delivered by teachers in the school garden.
  • Participation in a range of creative arts activities including school concerts, summer production, Christmas production, The A Factor, cheerleading and  choir.
  • Pupil involvement in achievement Assemblies and news assemblies, developed to promote self-esteem and a sense of pride in celebrating personal achievements.
  • Extensive use of rewards systems and rewards days including star of the week, achiever of the week, 100% attendance and Reader of the month.
  • Access to a wide variety of after school Clubs, holiday club, lunchtime clubs and the school summer scheme.
  • Opportunities to be involved in the buddying system, sports leaders and prefect system.
  • Work experience programmes for pupils in KS4. 


Total Communication Approach 


The school employs AAC for pupils who have little or no clear speech and / or exhibit difficulties in their communication. The general practice of the school is to use AAC to add to or complement pupils’ existing communication – that is to augment it. The key objective is to use AAC to advance a pupil’s means of expression, promote their understanding and to improve their overall communication. There are also occasions where it is appropriate for a pupil to have a high technology electronic aid which provides alternative communications systems in addition to the range of augmentative strategies & systems that are in place in school.


Thus the school uses two types of AAC 

  • Unaided that does not require additional equipment
  • Aided that requires additional equipment – some simple and ‘low tech’ – and some of a more sophisticated ‘high tech’ nature.


Applebee Wood School is committed to a ‘Total Communication’ approach which covers all aspects of communication and includes unaided communication such as:-

  •  Body language/posture
  • Pointing
  • Gestures
  • Eye pointing
  • Facial expressions
  • Vocalisations

Gestures and signing are quick, immediate, and practical in all settings – they are used intuitively by most pupils/adults especially facial expressions and hand movements and are easily understood by a lot of pupils. However, we recognise that our ASD pupils may find the use of gesture, body language and facial expressions difficult to understand, and so these skills are taught through the use of  PHSE targets, SALT programmes and our ASD friends’ communication group.


More formal signing is required, however, to support more abstract meanings and more sophisticated concepts, and signs based on the Makaton system may be used to cover more complex communication needs. Staff are trained in signing skills to ensure children have access to a range of signs for functional communication.


Aided communications systems that specifically address the needs of individual pupils, as well as those that are common to designated groups of pupils, such as those on the Autistic Spectrum. The school presently administers the following strategies in numerous settings to develop and extend pupils’ communication skills.


Picture Exchange Communication System (PECs)

This augmentative communications system has proved to be highly effective with ASD pupils with communication disorders. PECs is also used with other pupils who do not have speech or who speak with limited effectiveness; those with articulation or motor difficulties; those who are in regular contact with peers who have limited communication abilities; and those pupils who lack initiative in communication and function in a reactive rather than a proactive mode. PECs is based on visual symbols that are easy to prepare and are highly portable. A specific range of symbols will be personalised for each pupil and used to develop communication skills. PECs has a sophisticated structure that can be applied to suit a wide range of communication abilities; it can be used in a wide range of environments and by anyone who comes into contact with the pupil.


Objects of reference

This is based on the use of objects as a means of communication. Objects are used to represent things – activities, events, wishes etc and help a child to understand what is about to happen. Objects of reference may act as a ‘bridge’ to more complex forms of communication such as words, symbols, signs etc. Objects of reference may be real life objects used in activities, objects with a shared feature, miniature objects etc – they may be smells, sounds etc linked to particular activities/events.



The school uses signs to support functional communication. Key words are used when signing in order to promote pupils’ grasp of verbal exchange – both for comprehension and expression. Signing acts as a bridge between speech and its intended function. For some pupils, the use of signing may be faded as their understanding increases. The use of signing is flexible – it can be personalised to individual pupils’ needs and can be used alongside other systems such as TEACCH and PECs.


Symbols: Widgets

This programme is used as resources for producing visual symbols to support understanding and communications. It is used for daily timetables, individual work schedules, individual communication books, resources to support all curriculum work where appropriate, and to label items in the school environment etc. Consistent use of the same symbols ensures the maximum potential for understanding at the early stages of communication – this is then extended to include different symbols/representations as pupils’ understanding and proficiency develops to encourage generalisations to occur.


At Applebee Wood we recognise that children with autistic spectrum disorders have difficulty with understanding social norms and routines. This fundamental component of the Triad of Impairment implies that children with ASD have difficulty recognising or understanding other people’s emotions and feelings. They may find it hard expressing their own emotions and feelings, which can make it more difficult for them to fit in socially. They may:

  • not understand the unwritten social rules which most of us pick up without thinking: they may stand too close to another person for example, or start an inappropriate subject of conversation
  • appear to be insensitive because they have not recognised how someone else is feeling
  • prefer to spend time alone rather than seeking out the company of other people
  • not seek comfort from other people
  • appear to behave inappropriately, as it is not always easy for them to express feelings, emotions or needs. (NAS 2008).

Difficulties with social interaction and understanding can mean that children with autism find it hard to form friendships: some may want to interact with their peers and make friends, but may be unsure how to go about this. Within the school community a myriad of complex social interactions, sets of rules and routines exist. Therefore, these difficulties in social understanding can profoundly hinder the learning process for children with autism. As a result, these difficulties may be shown in:

  • Challenging or inappropriate behaviour.
  • Difficulties in developing friendships.
  • Apprehension or anxiety of social situations.
  • Limited range of play skills.
  • Reluctance to explore new experiences with their peers.
  • Inability to learn in some group situations.

At Applebee Wood we have an eclectic/pragmatic child-centred approach to learning and this is reflected in our strategies addressing social interaction and understanding for children with autism. We do recognise that at times some children may withdraw from certain social situations and choose to do so, but at Applebee Wood, we aim to create and maintain a learning environment that is conducive to addressing this aspect of the Triad of Impairment through putting the child first and individualising his or her learning.


At Applebee Wood developing our pupil’s social understanding forms the foundations of our curriculum; therefore social understanding is woven through each and every activity the children are engaged in. Applebee Wood’s ethos is one of a caring, nurturing and socially engaging environment. Consequently, the very nature of Applebee Wood as a school community facilitates relationships between children, their peers and staff to be established and maintained.