Academic Support

Academic Support Coordinator: Mrs Toor

At Hexham Middle School, we believe in providing targeted academic support, where appropriate, for pupils with a particular focus on English including reading and mathematics. Our aim is to ensure that all children become confident, resilient and motivated learners. Our belief is that academic support may be for any pupil depending on their individual needs. Our sessions are focused, timely and carefully tracked to ensure they have the intended impact.

Our teaching team work closely across subjects and school departments including SEND and pupil support to coordinate holistic pupil support. This is reviewed on a continual basis and staff liaise with parents/carers and pupils to ensure that the right support is being offered and that it is having positive impact.

Strand 1: All teachers provide high-quality teaching through a well-sequenced curriculum which enables them to continually assess the security of learning and to address any gaps in understanding through direct teacher instruction. Teachers work hard to adapt their curriculum planning to ensure that all pupils are able to gain a secure understanding of the knowledge and skills being taught. In response to ongoing formative and summative assessment, subject leaders and their teams will adapt the curriculum sequence accordingly to ensure that learning is prioritised. This has been particularly important in response to the pandemic.

Strand 2: We offer a wide range of targeted support, including:

    • We believe that academic support should be offered in a timely manner. Our RAPID approach allows teachers to refer pupils for additional practice should they need it. This will be delivered in the same week so that pupils keep up, rather than catch up. The aim is that, with more targeted practice on particular aspects of learning, pupils return to the class with more confidence and can maintain the pace of the teaching sequence. We offer RAPID sessions in maths and English.
  • Online
    • We carefully select some online programmes which provide tailored intervention and support for pupils depending on their individual need. Reading Plus, Maths Whizz, Times Table Rockstars and Maths Flex are all examples of such platforms (more detail below) and these can be accessed at home.
  • Support groups
    • Within the support model, some pupils embark upon a well-planned programme of support to address a particular need. This will run for a block of time and the impact of the intervention will be carefully monitored and tracked.

English, including literacy skill development  

Pupils complete reading age testing when they join the school. Pupils in Year 5 also complete a fluency assessment. These allow us to identify those who require additional support, alongside a review of teacher assessment from both their previous school and from our own baseline assessments.  

  • Pupils with significant weaknesses and gaps in their phonics knowledge will be referred for a phonics assessment and may join our Fresh Start reading programme. These are regular targeted groups supporting pupils to develop their understanding of phonemes, develop their fluency and comprehension. Pupils complete regular assessments. These pupils read aloud to a member of staff on a regular basis.
  • Pupils with weaknesses in fluency are given the opportunity to develop this by reading aloud to an assigned reader. They attend small reading groups to encourage confidence when reading aloud and study engaging texts. Reading Plus is a package to support reading fluency, vocabulary and comprehension and it is used for these pupils; this is an online resource which struggling readers in every year group access both at school and at home. It has a significant impact on pupil engagement and motivation.
  • 1:1 Reading allows pupils to read aloud so that their fluency and comprehension can be assessed regularly and their confidence builds.
  • Reading groups focus on embedding comprehension strategies so that confidence builds alongside skill development and fluency.
  • SPaG groups focus on developing spelling skills and understanding of rules. They also build retention and application of grammatical terms and principles.
  • Spelling groups are established to ensure that pupils struggling with high frequency spelling and the application of spelling rules receive rapid support to catch-up.
  • In KS3, pupils who do not reach the expected standard in KS2 will access targeted literacy support to continue their reading, spelling, punctuation and grammar development through timely and well-coordinated support, alongside their KS3 curriculum.

Maths including numeracy skill development

  • Maths Whizz is a targeted online tutoring programme where pupils follow an individualised course of learning to address any gaps in learning. This programme addresses gaps in learning to unlock barriers to progress.
  • Maths Flex is used by all KS2 children in lessons to assess their security of learning. The programme identifies gaps and addresses these through the practice platform.
  • SparxMaths is used by all KS3 children to provide additional learning resources which can also be used at home.
  • Arithmetic support targets pupils who have written and mental mathematics gaps in their understanding. We firmly believe that fluency in number is one of the main barriers to pupil success and we work to ensure that our children build their number confidence.
  • Pre-teaching is used to introduce new concepts with a focus on vocabulary acquisition particularly for disadvantaged and SEND children – this breaks down barriers to learning in advance of high quality first teaching.

Strand 3: liaising with external agency support, including:

  • SEND services
  • Behaviour support
  • Literacy support
  • EAL support

School staff work as a team to ensure that we provide as much support in school as we possibly can and know when to seek the support of experts from external agencies to provide more tailored input where it is needed. All referrals are made in conjunction with the people who know the children best – their parents/carers, themselves and their school teachers/staff.