SFL Overview

Support for Learning Staff

The Support for Learning Department at Sciennes is led by Ms Rhona Kennedy and Miss Paula Gilhooly who, alongside experienced and skilled pupil support assistants, work with class teachers and the senior leadership team to anticipate and meet learners’ needs. The needs of our young people are varied and growing, and we are continually striving to improve the supports we can offer. We offer academic and wellbeing supports to our learners and their families.

Ms Kennedy and Miss Gilhooly work collaboratively. However, Ms Kennedy is generally responsible for the support in P1-P4 and Miss Gilhooly is responsible for the support from P5-P7 although there is some overlap in the wellbeing supports that are offered.


Each year the whole school complete literacy assessments in spelling and reading. Support for Learning teachers analyse the results to identify children who may benefit from some additional support.

All pupils in P1, P4 and P7 complete online literacy and numeracy assessments for the local authority.

Support for Learning teachers carry out a range of diagnostic assessments such as the Single Word Reading Test, The York Assessment of Reading Comprehension (YARC), British Picture Vocabulary Test (BPVS) or Non-Verbal Reasoning Test when taking a closer look at a pupil’s learning needs. The results of these assessments, alongside conversations with class teacher, parent and pupil, enable staff to target support where it is needed.

The assessment results and views of all concerned are gathered together in a learning profile which provides evidence of need when support from external agencies is required or when staff are seeking an identification such as dyslexia.

Support Needs

Children may require support in their learning for a variety of reasons, such as difficulties with reading, language or number, a return from a lengthy period of absence, or a change in home or school circumstances.

Anything that is a barrier to learning is an additional support need. These needs may impact learning in a variety of ways – literacy, numeracy or health and wellbeing. As a school we work together to identify the barrier to learning and put supports in place to allow the child to thrive.

Pupils may require adaptations in teaching or learning to be able to perform to the best of their ability.

Some pupils may have a health condition requiring substantial on-going support and some pupils may need support for only a short time. Support for learning teachers, pupil support assistants, class teachers, parents and pupils work together to support the child’s needs.

Accessing Support for Your Child

At Sciennes our policy is to put strategies in place to meet learners’ needs as soon as they become apparent. If you believe your child has a need that has not been noticed by the school, the first point of contact should be the class teacher. The next step would be for the class teacher and parent to contact the support for learning teacher for advice and support if required.

We would hope that at this stage parents, class teachers and support for learning teachers would work together to mitigate barriers to learning and provide adequate supports. Some children may also be part of the child planning process.

In addition to accessing support in school, parents can access more information about the supports they are entitled to through third party organisations such as Enquire and Education Scotland.

Pupils with Significant Additional Needs

The City of Edinburgh has a policy of inclusion where children with significant additional support needs are supported within mainstream education. The size of the school and number of pupils with recorded additional support needs determines how many hours of additional pupil support assistance the school receives. In most cases schools will use these hours to support pupils with additional needs.

Where there are significant additional needs – for example in terms of mobility and personal care – the school can apply for additional support hours. Local authorities have strict criteria and budgeting requirements.

Educational Psychologists, Headteachers, Depute Headteachers, class teachers, Support for Learning teachers, Pupil Support Assistants, parents and Specialist staff from outside agencies work as a team to support the child.

Pupil Support Plans

Where a child has significant needs an individual education plan may be required. For pupils with multi-agency support, a co-ordinated support plan may be required. Most pupils with an additional support need at Sciennes have an additional support plan (at Sciennes this is called a Supports and Strategies Record) in place but do not require an Individual Support Plan or Co-ordinated Support Plan. If a child is part of the GIRFEC process, they will also have a plan associated with this.

English as an Additional Language

The EAL (English as an Additional Language) team provide a visiting service which aims to offer support for bilingual pupils. In most cases this involves an enhanced transition and support for the class teacher through training and signposting to resources. Occasionally, direct teaching of the pupil may be required.

Bilingual is defined as someone who uses two or more languages in their daily life.

The EAL teacher is responsive to the changing needs of our school population. The new arrival of a pupil or sudden departure of a pupil will dictate the kind of additional support required.

EAL teachers and class teachers liaise to compile a profile of competence which tracks and monitors a child’s language development in English. This helps to ensure the right level of support is offered and that able learners are not disadvantaged because of a lack of English language.

The EAL teacher can work directly with beginners as well as those pupils who have developed a high degree of fluency in English.

External Services and Partner Agencies

Where a pupil’s needs cannot be met directly in the classroom or through an established Support for Learning intervention then we would seek support from external services and partner agencies. This is done in partnership with parents and through the Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) process.

GIRFEC is the national framework to help co-ordinate children’s services across Scotland. The City of Edinburgh Council has followed this by adopting the Getting it Right for Every Child approach to give the right help to children, young people and families in Edinburgh when they need it from a joined up multi-agency team.

Services that may be required include Literacy and Dyslexia Team, Speech and Language Therapy, Psychological Services, Occupational Therapy, Child and Community Health (CCH), Child and Mental Health Service (CAMHS) as well as others not listed here.

Support for Learning Interventions

At Sciennes we are continually seeking to develop our knowledge of supports and our expertise in running support programmes. We can offer a variety of supports in school for individuals and groups of children. Established programmes include:

  • Reading and Literacy Interventions (small groups and 1 to 1 supports)
  • Emotion Talks
  • Social Thinking
  • Circle of Friends
  • Nurture
  • Mindfulness – Paws b Programme
  • Talk and Move
  • TIPS (Therapy Inclusion Project)
  • Seasons for Growth (support programme for grief and loss)
  • Play boxes (individualised support for communication in early years)
  • Paired Reading (PSA / child, buddy reading)
  • Speech and Language 1 to 1 programme
  • Motor Skills programme
  • Toe by Toe – a phonic reading intervention
  • Code Cracker – a phonic intervention
  • Maths Challenge for P6 and P7 highly able pupils
  • SEAL – Stages of Early Arithmetic Learning – taught in class, 1 to 1 and small group interventions
  • Nessy – an online reading and spelling intervention

Contact Us

We are in the process of developing our online support for learning resources and website pages. If you have an enquiry related to support for learning, please contact us by email.

Rhona.Kennedy@sciennes.edin.sch.uk P1-P4

Paula.Gilhooly@sciennes.edin.sch.uk P5-P7