All students coming to Dunedin spend a trial period in the school. During that period their needs are assessed. The Support for Learning (SfL) department teacher is responsible for administering a bank of assessments to show what academic strengths or support needs may exist.
In many cases the priority of building trust and confidence in the school means that these assessment procedures may be only partly completed during the trial period and will be finished when the student is able to attend the school with confidence and regularity.
During this period all staff will be carrying out their own informal assessments of a student’s strengths and weaknesses. As a result of this a decision is made as to whether the student requires additional support over and above that which is considered the norm.
This support will be offered by the SfL teacher and may involve academic support, emotional support or a mixture of the two. This will usually be provided by the withdrawal of the student from class for one to one tuition.
Support within the classroom is also available but not often required due to the very small class sizes. Some students receive support in the long term but it is also possible to offer short term support for a single issue which arises from one area of class work.
Some students arrive with a diagnosis of dyslexia and some are just weak in one or more areas of their learning. This is often caused by the fact that students have previously missed a lot of school, become de-motivated and developed low self esteem.
It is our job to build their confidence and fill in as many gaps in their knowledge as possible. Sometimes the support takes the form of a chat allowing the student to raise any issues they want.
The SfL teacher is in school on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning. On each morning there are six half hour slots. Where there is demand extra periods can be added in the afternoon.