At Thomas Gainsborough School, we have two Access classes: small groups of about 15 students, where the curriculum is tailored to individual needs. Access 1 is broadly for the younger KS3 students and Access 2 primarily for years 9, 10 and 11. Largely, it is operated on a ‘stage not age’ approach, depending upon each student’s academic, social and behavioural needs.

The Access classes are modelled on the primary classroom; staffed by one teacher and a learning support assistant at all times; teaching a combination of literacy, numeracy, themed humanities curriculum and social/life skills. Schemes of work are differentiated to allow for all students, across the ability range, to meet their academic potential, staying together with their teacher for a number of lessons, depending on their individual needs.

Provisions in the Access classes are individually focused upon each student and cater for all years, across the whole ability range. Some students attend for only a few weeks; others might attend throughout their school career. Some attend full time and others part time. The Key Stage 3 Access students stay together as a small group for varying amounts of their timetable depending on their needs, accessing subject specialist teaching in mainstream classes for practical subjects where appropriate. KS4 students are supported in the Access class on an individual basis depending on where they need support in their timetable.

Ruth Canham is the class teacher for Access 1 and Laura Hempel is the class teacher for Access 2. Both Laura and Ruth have extensive experience of dealing with students with additional needs and are supported by a number of key learning support assistants.