Special Educational Needs

Gesher children are unique, individual and learn in their own special way. They may benefit from being educated differently in regards to communication and social interaction; tailoring and adapting the environment to their own learning style. Gesher children are likely to have mild-moderate social difficulties or learning needs, and/or autism. Many also have sensory processing difficulties and need support with their attention skills. Gesher School is not a school for children whose primary need is emotional and behavioural difficulties, or severe/complex learning difficulties. Gesher school currently supports children with a range of needs including Autism, ADHD, Downs Syndrome and Dyspraxia.

Holly, Simon and John are typical of the children who attend Gesher; these are the stories of what their educational experiences were like prior to joining our school:

Holly is five years old, lively, bright and intelligent. As a toddler she attended a local nursery but her fierce resistance to sharing and her complete disinterest in playing with other children drew attention to the differences between Holly and her peers. Unable to meet her needs, her parents placed her in the nursery at a local school which was better resourced to support her, but her behaviours continued and at three years old she was given a dual diagnosis of autism and ADHD. The school put an individual plan in place for her and were able to support her until she entered Year 1 where she was unable to cope with the learning, the classroom environment and the expectations. She returned to Reception but had regressed to such an extent that the school was no longer able to support her.

John is four and is exceptionally bright. He knew his numbers and letters before any of his peers and could recite scripts from television programmes having only watched them once. At an early age John fell in love with crocodiles…as well as anything else green! Overnight this switched to puppies…then health and safety signs…then Star Wars…with many more to follow. John’s passions are all-consuming and he will engage in nothing else, usually followed by a seemingly overnight rejection. More distressing are John’s behaviours. He consistently rocks, flaps his hands, is reluctant to hold a pen, and although he can be incredibly affectionate, the overwhelming classroom at his mainstream primary school made him anxious and difficult to engage. John could easily cope with the academic challenges, but his behaviours prevented him from meaningfully participating in much of the learning.

Simon is eight years old and has a dual diagnosis of ASD and ADHD. Simon is extremely creative and very active, needing to be on the go for the twenty hours he is awake every single day. He loves building with Duplo and Lego particularly, but has recently taken on Meccano with equal gusto and will invent elaborate scenarios and stories around his buildings. Simon has good academic skills and is on a par with (and occasionally slightly above) the levels attained by his peers; he has excellent numeracy and literacy skills, though he struggles with comprehension. However, Simon found it difficult to fit in with the rigours and routines that make up the everyday life of the mainstream primary schoolboy. In a class of 27, he was often the one who appeared out of step, unable to confirm, and seemingly unable to negotiate acceptable boundaries of behaviour.

For all three of these children, a fast paced, active, lively, noisy, bustling primary class – however academically outstanding – can be a place of constant stress and anxiety. Gesher School offers a place of sanctuary, love and outstanding learning where children who might struggle in a mainstream school can thrive, grow, learn at their own pace, and become the happy and successful young adults they have the potential to be.