Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEND)





Our SEND Vision

At St Matthew's, we value all pupils equally and recognise that every child is unique and special. We strive to ensure that all children develop their skills and make good progress throughout their time here. Our diverse and inclusive school is a place where each individual’s achievements are celebrated and children are supported and encouraged to realise their full potential. We aim to be a school where everyone feels fully included, valued, happy and excited about learning. 

As a school, we are committed to ensuring all children receive:

  • high quality teaching alongside their peers 
  • access to a broad, balanced and stimulating curriculum
  • full inclusion in all aspects of school life
  • individualised provision and/or extra adult support when needed in order to meet individual needs

We recognise the importance of not only supporting children’s academic progress, but also developing their emotional wellbeing, social skills and life skills in order to help them to become confident, enthusiastic and increasingly independent learners. We ensure that parents are fully informed of their child's progress at regular points throughout the year, and work alongside the Local Authority, external agencies and health professionals to provide the most effective SEND provision for pupils in our care.

The SEND Information Report and SEND Policy below will give you more detailed information about SEND provision in our school. If you wish to discuss anything further, please do not hesitate to contact me: 

Mrs Melanie Berry, SENDCo (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Coordinator) 01204 333005 

Our Local Authority SEND Officer is Michelle Patton. She can be contacted on 01204 332016 or via email: Michelle.Patton@bolton.gov.uk

SEND Documents

The Local Offer

Since September 2014, each local authority in England has published a Local Offer for children and young people aged 0 to 25 years who have a special educational need or disability.

Please click on the image below for Bolton Council’s Local Offer.

Please find further information on our SEND provision in the tabs below, as well as various helpful documents to support children and families.  










































What is Signalong?

Signalong is a key word sign-supported communication system based on British sign language.  It uses speech, sign, body language, facial expression and voice tone to reference the link between sign and word. It is designed to support spoken language, so the signs are used with speech, in spoken word order.

The importance of communication

Communication is at the heart of everything we do at St Matthew’s. It is the key skill needed to access the world and the people in it. Communication is vital to every aspect of our lives. It impacts on our choices, emotions, self-esteem, relationships and self-expression. Therefore, it is fundamental to wellbeing and quality of life. Through communication, children build relationships with others and can make their needs, thoughts, ideas and feelings known.

At St Matthew’s, we value all pupils and their communication methods. Some children don’t communicate through speech, which is why we need to use a Total Communication Approach. To do this, we work in partnership with Speech and Language Therapists and Ladywood Outreach staff to equip pupils with communication strategies which work for them.

What is a Total Communication Approach?

The total communication approach is about finding and using the right combination of communication methods for each child. This approach helps an individual to form connections, ensures successful interactions and supports information exchanges and conversations.


Total communication includes:

  1. Speech   
  2. Body language
  3. Facial expression
  4. Signing and gesture
  5. Vocalisations
  6. Symbols, visuals, photographs
  7. PECS (picture exchange)
  8. Written words
  9. Hearing
  10. Touch
  11. Taste
  12. Art
  13. Music
  14. Contextual cues
  15. Behaviour

We all communicate in different ways and we believe each way should be equally respected. 

Individual Communication Needs

Some children require personalised speech and language plans to ensure they have access to appropriate strategies related to their stage of development, such as PECS or signing.

Having a whole school approach to Total Communication ensures these children can participate and contribute as fully as they can.

A Total Communication Approach at St Matthew’s

At St Matthew’s, we use a range of communication strategies and approaches in order to enable children with communication difficulties develop their skills. Some children use PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) and many benefit from the use of visuals and symbols to support their understanding. (Such as using a visual timetable to help children understand what is happening throughout the day.)

Our Signalong Journey

At St Matthew’s, we have some children who use signing to help them understand and communicate with others. We are really excited about using Signalong throughout school to ensure everyone feels included, valued and understood. As part of our whole school Total Communication Approach, we have begun to learn the signs for core vocabulary.

This term, the whole school learnt the signs for the Christmas song 'Love Shone Down' and perfomed this in church during our advent service.  

We run a 'Sing and Sign' club every week where children have fun signing along to their favourite songs and become good role-models for signing throughout school.       

Signing at Home

We have created Signalong video clips to help you support your child's use of Signalong at home. We will add a new sign every week. Have fun learning and using these signs as a family!    

Wait, listen, read

Help, dinner, sorry

Mum and Dad

Good afternoon, please, thank you 

Good morning





Grandmother and Grandfather

Happy and Sad

Brother and Sister

What is mental health?

We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health. Like physical health, mental health can range from healthy to unwell, and it can fluctuate on a daily basis and change over time. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. It affects how we think, feel and act.

The World Health Organisation defines mental health as a state of wellbeing which enables individuals to achieve their potential, cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and make a contribution to their community.


What helps children develop good mental health?

Factors that help children be mentally healthy include:

  • being physically healthy, eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep and regular exercise
  • feeling safe, loved, understood and valued
  • having daily opportunities to play (indoors and outdoors) 
  • being part of a family that gets along well most of the time
  • going to a school that looks after the wellbeing of its pupils
  • taking part in activities which help them develop friendship skills and healthy relationships


 Other factors are also important, including:

  • having the strength to cope when something goes wrong (resilience)
  • being able to learn and having opportunities to succeed
  • being interested in life and having opportunities to enjoy themselves
  • having a sense of belonging in their family, school and community
  • being hopeful and optimistic
  • accepting who they are and recognising what they are good at


How does school promote and support children’s mental health?

We believe in promoting positive mental health and emotional wellbeing to ensure that school is a place where everyone can thrive. Our school mission, vision and Christian values underpin this and everything that we do.

Our whole school provision has an important part to play in promoting emotional health and wellbeing. The teaching of PSHE helps all children develop as individuals in a wider society. School clubs, residential experiences, trips, worship and special days in school provide opportunities for children to build positive relationships, have fun, discover their talents and values, develop resilience, and become well-rounded, confident individuals. 

When a child needs extra support for their emotional or mental health, the SENDCo, Pastoral Team and Nurture Staff work together to ensure that provision is put in place which meets their individual needs. Where necessary, we refer to external professionals such as CAMHS and the school nurse, to support children or families who need a greater level of support. 

We are committed to working in partnership with parents as we recognise the positive impact of school and home working closely together to encourage good mental health.


What if my child is experiencing difficulties with their mental health and wellbeing?

Positive mental health doesn’t mean being happy all the time and neither does it mean avoiding stresses altogether. In many instances, children’s worries and negative feelings pass with the support of their parents and families. One of the most important ways to help your child is to listen to them and acknowledge their feelings.

However, if your child is distressed for a long time, and their negative feelings are stopping them from getting on with their lives or disrupting family life, or they are repeatedly behaving in ways you would not expect at their age, then please speak to your child's teacher.

Sometimes children need additional support for a short period - this may be in the form of a daily check-in with a trusted adult or time to talk through what they are feeling and develop coping strategies during Nurture sessions.

Coping with difficulties and adjusting to setbacks are critical life skills. Helping children develop positive, rather than negative, coping skills gives them the best chance of positive mental health throughout their lives.


The following activities and information may be useful to support healthy habits and positive mental health at home.      

Mental Health and Wellbeing

What are the benefits of having a therapy dog in school?


Studies show that just five minutes stroking a dog can release endorphins and raise serotonin levels. Dogs can lift mood, ease anxiety and provide non-judgemental comfort. Libby recognises the children who spend time with her - the warm welcome she gives them is a big boost for their confidence. Children who struggle to manage their emotions find that time with Libby helps to calm them.    


Dogs can teach responsibility, help children develop compassion towards others, and improve self-confidence by sparking conversations and positive interactions with peers. We find that shy or anxious children grow in confidence when walking Libby. Dogs give and respond to social cues in a similar way to people, so positive interactions with Libby boosts children’s self-esteem and social confidence.    


Studies have shown that time spent with a dog can strengthen memory and improve problem- solving skills and creativity. There is wealth of evidence that reading to a therapy dog improves children’s confidence and enjoyment of books. Dogs are attentive listeners and they don’t point out mistakes, which can help children who lack confidence.  Libby loves listening to children read!     


Interaction with dogs is proven to lower blood pressure, stimulate the senses and encourage exercise. When walking a dog, children are getting all the benefits of being outdoors – fresh air, sunshine and exercise. 

Our Therapy Dog, Libby















Communication is the key skill needed to access the world and the people in it and is vital to every aspect of our lives. It is therefore imperative that we support children in developing their communication skills, as the ability to communicate is fundamental to their wellbeing and quality of life, impacting on their life chances and self-esteem. Through communication, children build relationships with others and can make their needs, thoughts, ideas and feelings known. At St Matthew’s, we value all pupils and their individual communication methods. Some children require personalised speech and language plans to ensure they have access to appropriate strategies related to their stage of development. We work in partnership with Speech and Language Therapists and Ladywood Outreach staff to equip pupils with communication strategies which work for them.


Have a look at the following tips and activities to help your child develop their speech and communication skills.   

Speech, language and communication needs resources

Sensory Play

Sensory play plays an important role in your child’s development from birth to later childhood. It helps build nerve connections in their brain’s pathways, which can help your child complete complex tasks.

What is sensory play?

You can probably name all the main senses: sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. But do you know why they’re so vital and why they’re even more important for children as they grow?

Sensory play focuses on activities that engage your child’s senses, helping them develop language skills and motor skills. It also helps with cognitive growth, fosters social interactions and encourages curiosity and experimentation.

Sensory play can also address two sensory systems that are often overlooked: our proprioceptive and vestibular systems.

Our proprioception sense refers to awareness of one’s body. It helps us know where body parts are relative to one another and tells us how much force we need to exert when holding, pushing, pulling or lifting objects.

Our vestibular sense, also known as our movement or balance sense, allows us to maintain balance while engaging in activities.

Examples of sensory play include playing with slime, bouncing on a trampoline or moulding play dough.

Here’s how sensory play can benefit and help your child:

Helps with fine motor skills

Sensory play can help your child develop fine motor skills like tying their shoe laces, writing and zipping up their coat. Through tactile play that focuses on building, pouring and mixing, your child builds on their ability to use small muscle groups and coordinate movements.

Tactile play is a great way to address and home in on using a child’s fine motor skills in a fun way. Allowing your child to freely explore small sensory contents like dried pasta, dry cereal, rice or even slime or play dough can strengthen and build their fine motor skills.

Helps with gross motor skills

Gross motor skills include sitting, crawling, jumping and running — activities that use your child’s body’s large muscles in their arms, legs and core (stomach area).

Whether your child is just learning to walk or has been trying to throw a ball, the key is to allow them plenty of time to practice those skills freely.

Helps with cognitive growth

Asking questions, thinking about how things work, experimenting with objects and materials and noticing the results are all part of healthy cognitive growth. It’s how we learn something new and figure things out. It’s also how we problem solve. Challenges like working out how to get rice from one container to another or how to stay balanced on a swing help the brain learn how to problem solve.  

Helps with language skills

Your child’s language skills develop naturally through sensory play. When a child participates in any sort of play, sensory included, they’re learning through experiences in their environments and learning different ways to communicate emotions, wants and needs. By engaging the senses, your child will learn how to describe what they’re doing and how it feels, eventually using more descriptive words to communicate.

Has a calming effect

Your sensory system can help you calm down. This is particularly important for children as they develop. Sensory play can be used to help regulate your system. It can be used to stimulate a child who might be a little sluggish, or help to calm a child who has hyperactivity or difficulty focusing.

Fosters social interaction

By engaging in sensory play with siblings or peers, your child begins developing social skills. They’ll learn how to communicate, how to troubleshoot problems and learn to adapt to how others play. Sensory play is something that all ages and abilities can engage in. It’s very inclusive.


Try out some of the ideas below to help your child reap all these benefits!

Sensory play and motor skills resources

Further information on different areas of SEND and ideas to support your child at home: 

SEND information and learning resources


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