Chestnut Grove Academy
45 Chestnut Grove
Balham, London SW12 8JZ

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SEN Co-ordinator: Ms Lois Vanstone

Our aim and ethos is to create a supportive and inclusive environment for all of our pupils irrespective of any additional learning or physical needs.

At Chestnut Grove we offer a variety of interventions to support students with a range of barriers to learning potential at school.

  • Synthetic Phonics Workshops
  • Handwriting/touch Typing Workshops
  • Speech and Language Workshops
  • Numeracy Workshops
  • Learning Zone Homework Club
  • Learning Support Centre Workshops
  • Parent Coffee Mornings to Discuss Pupil Progress in Interventions
  • Spelling Workshops
  • Study Skills Workshops
  • LSA in Class Support
  • Outside Agency Support


Reading is essential to all aspects of learning in school. You will probably know if your child has struggled with reading but often older children will cover it up to avoid embarrassment.

What to look out for in your child

  • Avoids reading by, for example, pretending they don't enjoy it or storming off
  • Gets very angry and frustrated with homework
  • Does not enjoy school much

What the school can do

At Chestnut Grove we screen students at the start of Year 7. Any child with a reading age below 10 years is placed in an intervention group. We then check their reading age every term.

Intervention Groups

Reading Renaissance is for good readers who need a boost (reading age above 9 years). It runs for 2 hours a week during the day. The children follow a structured reading programme that supports reading, comprehension and higher level reading skills as well as reading for pleasure. 

Synthetic Phonics is for students who are emergent readers (reading age below 9 years). It runs for an hour a day. The children follow the Read Write Inc programme which has been recommended by the DFEE and supports reading, comprehensions and wider literacy skills.

What you can do at home

It can be very frustrating to support reluctant or emergent readers. Our top tips are;

  • Any reading is good reading - TV pages, comics, recipes, video game instructions.
  • Try to match books to your child's interests level of reading. Harry Potter is far too difficult for an emergent reader. Contact us if you are unsure.
  • Move from your child's strengths. If they are good at fishing then look for fishing books. They will be familiar with the terms and find it easier to read.
  • Self confidence as a reader is very important, which means you have to give lots and lots of praise and make it enjoyable (even when they are being very annoying!).
  • Chat about what they have read. This will improve their vocabulary.
  • Use the internet
  • Story CDs. Listening to stories is really enjoyable for many children and it will help all of their language skills.

We have regular coffee mornings to demonstrate how synthetic phonics works and show you how you can support your child more effectively. Look out for the dates in the school newsletter.


What to look out for

If your child avoids writing complex words or doesn't enjoy written tasks.

What the school can do

We use the primary records and our own screening test to identify students who have had spelling support at primary school. For children whose difficulties are isolated to spelling we offer spelling workshops for one hour a week.

  • Fast Track Phonics runs for one hour every week. We use the Read Write Inc spelling programme which offers a structured multisensory method to remediate spelling weaknesses.
  • Students will be given a word book to record the words learned.
  • In some cases students will be allowed to borrow laptops for agreed lessons.
  • We will usually complete a dyslexia screen if after a period of monitoring significant progress is not shown.

What you can do at home

Learn the phonics sounds as we use them at school. Using a different 'sounding out' method will be confusing.

Use ICT to complete homework whenever possible. The work can be stuck into books or saved onto Fronter.


What to look out for

Your child may already have a diagnosis of Aspergers or ASD.

Parents often notice the symptoms of Aspergers syndrome when their child starts preschool and begins to interact with other children. Children with Aspergers syndrome may:

  • Not pick up on social cues and may lack inborn social skills, such as being able to read others' body language, start or maintain a conversation, and take turns talking.
  • Dislike any changes in routines.
  • Appear to lack empathy.
  • Be unable to recognise subtle differences in speech tone, pitch and accent that alter the meaning of others' speech.
  • Have a formal style of speaking that is advanced for his or her age. For example, the child may use the word "beckon" instead of "call" or the word "return" instead of "come back."
  • Avoid eye contact or stare at others.
  • Have unusual facial expressions or postures.
  • Be preoccupied with only one or few interests, which he or she may be very knowledgeable about.
  • Talk a lot, usually about a favourite subject. One-sided conversations are common.
  • Have delayed motor development. Your child may be late in learning to use a fork or spoon, ride a bike, or catch a ball. He or she may have an awkward walk. Handwriting is often poor.
  • Have heightened sensitivity and become overstimulated by loud noises, lights, or strong tastes or textures.

What school can do

Children with ASD are very individual and as an inclusive school we are aware that we need to offer flexible packages for support.

We offer a gradual transition starting in the summer term with short visits to acclimatise your child to their new surroundings.

We have found that the most important thing we can do is to maintain close contact with parents who can guide us as to their child's needs.

What can you do

Maintain close contact with a key person in school to ensure clear and effective communication.

Speech and Language

Communication and Interaction Difficulties (CI)

What to look out for

Many young children have communication problems because of:

  • Delayed development
  • Disordered development
  • Finding it difficult to put sentences together so that they can be understood (expressive language difficulty)
  • Finding it difficult to remember words and their meanings
  • Having difficulty in understanding what others say (receptive language difficulty)
  • Otitis media (glue ear) causing intermittent hearing impairment which affects learning
  • Pragmatic difficulty (using spoken and nonverbal communication to interact socially)
  • Selective mutism (only speaking in certain situations)
  • Speech dyspraxia/verbal dyspraxia (a motor coordination difficulty affecting pronunciation)
  • Using thw wrong sounds in speech and not improving following the expected developmental pattern (phonological difficulty)

What school can do

At Chestnut Grove we offer speech and language therapy sessions during the day.

What you can do

Contact the school SENCO if you are concerned about your child's language development.

The ican website has excellent advice for parents.


What to look out for

Counting: Dyscalculic children can usually learn the sequence of counting words, but may have difficulty navigating back and forth, especially in twos and threes.

Calculations: Dyscalculic children find learning and recalling number facts difficult. They often lack confidence even when they produce the correct answer. They also fail to use rules and procedures to build on known facts. For example, they may know that 5+3=8, but not realise that, therefore, 3+5=8 or that 5+4=9.

Numbers with zeros: Dyscalculic children may find it difficult to grasp that the words ten, hundred and thousand have the same relationship to each other as the numerals 10, 100 and 1000.

Measures: Dyscalculic children often have difficulty with operations such as handling money or telling the time. They may also have problems with concepts such as speed (miles per hour) or temperature.

Direction/orientation: Dyscalculic children may have difficulty understanding spatial orientation (including left and right) causing difficulties in following directions or with map reading.

What school can do

At Chestnut Grove we offer numeracy workshops during the school day.

What you can do

Contact the SENCO if you are concerned that your child has difficulties.