Special Needs at The Moat

Specialist support is embedded in everything we do.   Unusually, not only are all our staff subject specialists but they are also post graduate Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD) qualified.

Should staff join us without this level of qualification, they are required to undertake a Level 5, year-long training course for teaching learners withSpLD.  This extends to our Learning Support Assistants who are graduates themselves and hold a Level 3 qualification.   We believe in continual improvement to ensure our training is up to date. We initiate whole school training programmes such as L3 Success with Learners with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

Specialist Therapeutic Staff at The Moat School

The Moat School is fortunate to have specialist therapeutic staff on board including two Speech and Language Therapists, an Occupational Therapist (OT) and a School Counsellor.   Our therapeutic staff provide small group and/or one to one support as well as team teaching so you will find our OT outside, working alongside our Director of Physical Education in Games lessons, for example.

Where possible we try to avoid withdrawing a child from a lesson; our preference is to scaffold and support no matter what the lesson.

A CReSTeD Registered Specialist School That Shares Best Practice

We believe in sharing best practice, not only with each other but also in the wider community.  Thus, each year we run free training events and invite professionals into our school to see what we do and learn from our teaching.

We have been invited to be guest speakers at national conferences as wide ranging as Dyslexia Action, Durham University CEM  MidYIS to the Independent Schools Association and the TES show. We have links with a number of training establishments such as Buckingham University and the IoE (Institute of Education) and frequently receive requests for placements from PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education) Students.

We are a CReSTeD registered specialist school and a member of the Independent Schools Association.

Specialist Support

Context: All of the pupils attending the Moat School have specific learning difficulties, many are severely dyslexic.  The Moat school provides a total learning environment for pupils with specific learning difficulties.  The Moat has had a successful history of good academic and social progress working with pupils joining year 5/6 remaining through to GCSE.  Pupils leave after GCSEs are completed in Yr 11 and enter a range of both independent and maintained special and mainstream provisions.

Teaching: Our specialist support is integrated into all classroom teaching and all of the permanent teaching staff at the Moat have either completed an approved SpLD Certificate or Diploma, or undertake the course in the first two years of teaching at the school.  LSAs are also well qualified and have either passed or are undertaking the Level 3 course in supporting the needs of Learners with SpLDs. Every lesson throughout the day whatever the subject, is designed to a meet the needs of the Dyslexic and is delivered by a qualified Dyslexia teacher in a very small group, using specialist schemes and materials with a proven track record of success.

Teaching Groups: At The Moat, pupils experience “wall to wall” Dyslexia teaching in very small groups using multi-media and multi-sensory teaching methods throughout the day. A Year 7 student would join a form group of 10 or less pupils.  They would be taught all subjects, save Physical Education, in this small group except Technology which is taught in a group of 5 or less.  Later on in KS3 pupils are further sub-divided into smaller ability based groups for core subjects. Depending on the make-up of these English and Mathematics sub groups, for example, a pupil may be in a group of 4 to 8 pupils.

Specific difficulties are addressed in ‘Skills for Learning’ lessons which are mini-groups in order to stream children into the appropriate ability set for different learning aspects including reading, , spelling, comprehension, grammar, numeracy and social communication. Children may be in different groups, from 2-6 pupils, for each of these aspects which ensures work of an appropriate level is set and progress closely monitored.

Assistive Technology

The Moat School utilises a variety of assistive technology for classroom and home use.  We incorporate software and hardware that best helps students to process and integrate materials within the learning curriculum.

Types of Assistive Technology Utilised at The Moat School

The Moat School provides our students with laptops in which to record, organise and store work.  The laptops enable pupils to record their written responses clearly and successfully, while storing and saving their notes and assignments.

Pupils access a range of subject-specific software and use internet and email facilities for completing and delivering work to teachers.  All Year 7 pupils complete a touch typing course before being ‘awarded’ their laptop. Touch typing is encouraged and practised throughout The Moat School curriculum.

Types of Software Incorporated Into Lessons

Students are encouraged to use a variety of assistive technology during lessons. One method is called Texthelp Read & Write Gold, which helps pupils to read text independently, be it teacher-created resources or internet research. The Texthelp Read & Write Gold software reads blocks of text at the speed, volume and pitch of each student’s preference. This software is also approved for use in public examinations.

Specifically identified pupils also have access to ‘Dragon Naturally Speaking’.  Dragon Naturally Speaking is voice activated speech-to-text software that we offer for extended writing tasks.  It helps students, when appropriate, to focus on the content of their work rather than the writing itself.

Benefits of Assistive Technology for Dyslexic Students

Both Texthelp Read & Write Gold and Dragon Naturally Speaking assistive technology can also be used at home and in the classroom.  These tools offer a dynamic learning approach in a diverse classroom of learners. Both types of software create the space for students to approach tasks enthusiastically; to keep pace with the exceptional ideas and abilities with which they are gifted.


What is SENCo?

SENCo stands for Special Education Needs Coordinator.  Each school has a Special Education Needs (SEN) policy that is based within the framework set out in Part 3 of the Children and Families Act 2014.  The SENCo arranges for additional support, as needed, for pupils with SEN.

Mr. Pinel is The Moat School SENCo and is responsible for the SEN provision of all pupils who attend the school.

Mr Pinel’s responsibilities as SENCo include:

  • Management of Annual Reviews
  • Preparing reports for statutory assessments
  • Preparing SEN register and Pupil Summaries
  • Liaising with therapeutic staff (SaLTS, OTs and School Counselor)
  • Liaising with external agencies including Educational Psychology Services, legal services, educational authorities
  • Taking an active role in the admissions process and screening prospective pupils
  • Taking an active role in advising on transition to post-16 education
  • Advising and supporting form tutors with regards to the needs of individual pupils
  • Promoting appropriate teaching in relation to our Statement Objectives
  • Attending Tribunals if school representation is required

Our SENCO’s Background and Experience

Mr. Pinel originally taught mathematics in a number of mainstream schools in Birmingham before joining The Moat School as a Teacher of Mathematics in 2011. Shortly after joining the school he became KS3 SENCo and since September 2014 has enlarged his role to become the school SENCo and member of the Leadership Team.

Throughout his career, Mr Pinel has taught pupils with a range of SpLDs, including dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, social communication difficulties and those with an outright fear of mathematics! One of Mr. Pinel’s main areas of interest has been developing a multisensory approach to teaching maths which includes visual representation, exploration, discussion, games, songs and origami.

Mr Pinel has the following qualifications:

  • BSc Computing and Mathematics
  • PGCE (Secondary) Mathematics
  • Masters in Education
  • Level 5 Certificate in Teaching Learners with SpLDs
  • National Award for SEN Coordination (completed by September 2015)


The Moat School offers a diverse and comprehensive range of GCSE subjects tailored to the individual cohort of pupils as far as is reasonably possible. In recent years, we have offered more vocational options such as the BTEC in Home Cooking as well as the more academic GCSE Food Technology. We have also introduced a Performing Arts GCSE in 2012 instead of GCSE Music and/or GCSE Drama which did not cater to pupils who were interested in areas of Performing Arts such as lighting and make up. This has proved very successful.

The GCSE subjects offered in 2016/2017 are:

  • English
  • Maths
  • Science
  • Additional Science
  • Further Additional Science
  • Art and Design
  • Business Communication Studies
  • Design and Technology: Food Technology
  • Design and Technology: Graphic Products
  • Design and Technology: Resistant Materials
  • Geography
  • History
  • Media Studies
  • Performing Arts
  • Physical Education
  • BTEC – Home Cooking

The Moat School Staff produce many of their own resources in concurrence with specific text books produced by examination boards to cater for the needs of individual pupils’ specific learning difficulties.