Department of Additional Support

The Department of Additional Support in Balwearie High School is a positive learning environment which caters for learning needs of pupils who for many different reasons are unable to access learning in a mainstream environment.

The Department aims to provide a welcoming, enjoyable, stimulating and purposeful environment in which learning and teaching and personal development can take place.  This environment should be one of equal opportunity.

The curriculum reflects that offered in mainstream, but it is elaborated and adapted to individual needs.

The Department provides education for secondary aged pupils with a wide range of Additional Support Needs including physical, intellectual, social and emotional.  The department also caters for pupils who have significant complex needs.

Learning Environment

There are eight classrooms, a double hut unit, a small gym hall, a withdrawal room named The Quiet Room and a kitchen which is used as a learning/teaching area by groups of pupils working on independent living skills and/or National Units.

Pupils are taught in small class groups of 8 – 10 pupils with a high staff/pupil ratio as appropriate to the needs of the pupils.  The pace and content of learning is individualised ensuring teacher expectations are continuously high.

Smaller class sizes allow much greater pupil/teacher interaction.  Opportunities for ‘first-level guidance’ are also greatly enhanced and the importance of pupil/teacher relationships is recognised.

Curriculum

The curricular areas taught in the department are English and Literacy, Mathematics and Numeracy, Social Studies, Religious and Moral Education and Health and Wellbeing.

Senior pupils have access to National Qualifications as appropriate and offered at National 1, National 2 and National 3 level.  In addition pupils also have the opportunity to be taught the following subjects by mainstream subject teachers: Art & Design, Music,  Design & Technology, Home Economics, PE and Science.

Teaching of ‘life skills’ is inbuilt into pupils’ programmes.  Independence is encouraged from first year and is developed and expanded upon as the child moves through the Department.

For those pupils who are able to cope academically, socially and emotionally, part of their individualised programme may be that they are included into one or more mainstream subjects where appropriate. In these instances the pupils are supported by PSAs from the Department and there is close liaison with subject specialist PTs and parents to support success.

The department aims to develop each individual’s mental, emotional, social and physical well-being. This individual approach to support the ‘whole’ child is fundamental to their health and well-being. Staff within the department search and create opportunities for the individuals to succeed and establish their talents and interests.  Weekly award assemblies are held where individual achievements are celebrated and community news is shared.  Pupil groups often lead these assemblies and offer presentations on learning or focused activities.

The Department enjoys positive partnership working with various fellow professionals and support agencies and appreciate the need to work together with families and carers in a holistic, nurturing approach.

Pupil Choice

The Department has a strong sports team and staff encourage pupils to participate in many events organised by Scottish Disability Sport and Disability Sport Fife.

Whole department themed days and interdisciplinary learning opportunities are planned where staff and pupil embrace the opportunity to celebrate skills, talents and working relationships. 

Pupils are offered a choice of activity from our Electives programme with a focus on Skills for Learning, Life and Work and spend two periods per week enjoying their chosen focus.

Pupils in the Department aspire to become members of the pupil leadership team in DAS as Prefects in parallel and in conjunction with the main school Prefect team. These experiences offer pupils the opportunity to participate in the management of the school.

Senior pupils enjoy partnership working with Fife College where they attend a transition programme one day per week in their final year of school in preparation for adult life and the possibility of full time college study post-school.