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Supporting Your Child

Working Together to Support Your Child - with Mr Smith, Headteacher 

The context for this page is to share and celebrate all the strategies and systems that go on “behind the scenes” at St. Michael’s to support children – be that support with Learning Needs, Behaviour, Attendance, Emotional & Pastoral Care, Safeguarding, etc.; lots of work has gone into this area over the past 12 months are we are keen to keep parents and carers updated with our work - and to celebrate what we do.


All of the following information was shared with parents at a "Supporting Your Child" Information Evening on the 5th March 2024. 

Please scroll down to read how we support children through:

  • SEND provision
  • ELSA & Pastoral Support
  • Draw & Talk
  • Tea & Toast
  • Read, Write, Inc. Tutoring
  • Individualised Literacy Interventions
  • Talk Boost
  • Maths Peer Mentoring
  • Ready To Progress Interventions
  • The Forest School
  • Child Protection & Safeguarding
  • School Chaplaincy
  • Parent & Family Support Advisor
  • Attendance
  • Risk Assessments & EEC Live
  • My Child At School (MCAS)

Special Educational Needs - with Mrs Parfitt, SENCo

At St. Michael's to support children’s learning we aim to deliver High Quality Teaching. Teaching that is differentiated and personalised, which will meet the individual needs of the majority of children. However, some children need educational provision that is additional to or different from this. This the special educational provision under Section 21 of the Children and Families Act 2014. Schools and Colleges must use their best endeavours to ensure that such provision is made for those who need it.


In deciding whether to make special educational provision, the teacher and myself as SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator) will consider all of the information gathered from within the school about the pupil’s progress, alongside national data and expectations of progress. This will include high quality and accurate formative assessment, using effective tools and early assessment materials.


Within my role as SENCo I offer professional guidance to colleagues and work closely with staff, parents and other agencies to ensure that pupils with SEN receive appropriate support and high quality teaching. Some of my key responsibilities include:

  • Advising on the graduated approach to providing SEN support

  • Liaising with parents, early years providers, other schools, educational psychologists, health and social care professionals, and independent or voluntary bodies

  • Liaising with potential next providers of education to ensure pupils and their parents are informed about options and a smooth transition is planned


Our Aims at St. Michael's are:

  • To identify and monitor children’s individual needs so that at the earliest possible stage appropriate provision can be put in place and progress is made

  • To plan and effective curriculum to meet the needs of all our children, ensuring that the teaching and learning strategies used match identified needs

  • To work in close partnership with and involve parents / carers

  • To ensure that all who are involved with children are aware of the procedures for identifying their needs, and how best to support and teach them.

  • To work in closer partnership, where appropriate, with outside agencies to support the needs and provision for children who have special educational needs and disabilities


For more information on SEND at St. Michael's please also refer to our SEND page.

ELSA & Pastoral Support - with Mrs Paige

My role within our SEND team is to offer pastoral support to our children, which means to support the children’s emotional needs and development. I am the school’s ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support Assistant). I qualified back in 2022 and was trained by Educational Psychologists to support the emotional development of our children. I also receive regular supervision sessions every 6 weeks from Educational Psychologists who support me in the work I am delivering in our school.

An ELSA programme usually lasts anywhere between 6-12 weeks. Each session is between 20-45 minutes and every sessions is tailored to meet the needs of each individual child. A child can be referred by the class teacher, the SENCo, or the Headteacher; from that we do a pre-assessment – which the SENCo and me use to create a SMART target which we aim for the child to have met by the end of the programme. Some areas I may work with a child on are: recognising emotions; building self-esteem; anxiety; anger management; bereavement; relationship; and many more.

It is well known that if a child’s emotional development is low they will find it difficult to enter a classroom ready to learn, therefore the aim of my support is to help children learn and develop new skills and coping strategies to move forward. Our sessions are fun, we always start with a drink, a story (which I link to the areas we are covering in the session) and a biscuit. We then complete an activity which links to the child’s SMART target, then finish with a game. Let me introduce Wilbert [shows a cuddly toy], he is a very important part of our ELSA family; he listens to the children’s worries and eats them away. All sessions take place in “The Den”, which has recently been decorated; it is a lovely calming space for our children to visit each week.

In addition to my ELSA work, I also run Draw & Talk Interventions which is essentially what it is: the children draw and we talk. This intervention is a gentle and therapeutic approach which provides an effective way for children to process emotions. Child Psychologists state that some children that struggle to verbalise how they feel find it easier to draw how they feel. Draw & Talk is often used for children who have suffered some kind of trauma and is a proven highly effective form of intervention.


Finally, I also run a “Tea and Toast” session which runs first thing in the morning from drop off and this is aimed at any child within our school. This is just for children to have a bit of extra time in the morning to regulate those big emotions with which they sometimes struggle. We understand that if a child is dysregulated or upset for whatever reason and we feel that they would benefit from some time to calm down, sending them straight to class is not going to support their emotional wellbeing. They will not be ready to learn; in turn this may impact on others within the class. Having 5-10 minutes to come and have a drink, some toast and a short story or even a game allows the child the opportunity to calm down, regulate and be ready to learn.

Maths Interventions - with Miss Thompson

Maths peer mentoring is a low cost, highly effective maths intervention with benefits for both the mentor and the mentee. An older child is trained to work 1:1 with a younger child on a set of structured activities and games which target a specific area of maths.

The benefits include and increased maths scores, as well as improvements in self-confidence, self-esteem and oracy skills. Teachers have also stated that there can be positive changes to mindsets in the mentors who witness first hand a younger child masking mistakes but then making progress through practise. This approach also helps to tack maths anxiety, as the learning is based around games.


We have trained 6 mentors from Year 4 who support children from Reception to Year 3. Mentoring sessions are 1:1, lasting roughly 15 minutes. There are approximately 3 sessions a week but these are timetabled flexibly. Children are mentored for 6-8 weeks on a unit.


We also offer Ready to Progress interventions. These interventions enable us to deliver a high-quality intervention session in 1:1 and group settings. This intervention is aligned with our curriculum and the DfE Ready to Progress criteria. This intervention will focus on Number and Place Value, Addition and Subtraction and Multiplication and Division and will be available for all year groups.

Read Write Inc. Tutoring - with Mrs Littlefield

We deliver phonics tutoring to children who would benefit from extra daily practice in reading sounds and words. It is also for children with special educational needs and disabilities. Tutoring works by breaking down the strands of the Read Write inc. phonics program into smaller steps to accelerate children's reading progress. It does not include the handwriting, spelling, and writing activities that we do during our daily phonics lessons, so it provides intensive targeted support to address specific gaps in a child's reading.

At the end of every half term all children on the Read Write inc program are assessed to identify any sound gaps or areas that would benefit from an intervention and to ensure the children are placed in the correct phonics group for their morning lessons. Each tutoring session lasts between 10-20 minutes depending on the area that we are targeting, as each session is delivered to address the child’s specific need. These range from plugging any sound gaps to reading longer words, reading speedily and fluently, and showing comprehension. For each child that is being tutored in phonics, their intervention will happen every afternoon in a quiet and relaxed space on a 1 to 1 basis. 


We know that children make rapid progress when they have individual support from an enthusiastic and dedicated tutor. We are committed to teaching children to read, and the children know that we will stick with them and ensure they succeed. For us as tutors it is an extremely rewarding intervention as we love spending time with the children on a 1 to 1 basis, seeing them progress and achieve their goals.

Ili - with Mrs Howe

ILI stands for Individualised Literacy Intervention and it can be used to provide 1:1 support for pupils who are delayed in their reading and spelling development.


In Somerset, we have used ILI to support pupils with literacy difficulties since 2003, so this is an intervention which has proven to be very successful over many years.


First of all we undertake an assessment to identify gaps in knowledge and starting points. We then start the intervention which runs for 10 weeks and is 1:1 for 30 minutes, three times a week. This level of intensity and pace is required for effective results. Each half hour session is broken down into five minute segments which address reading, writing, spelling, phonics and phonology. Ili supports children by developing new reading strategies whilst sustaining their comprehension skills and bespoke letter/sound work to encourage decoding of unfamiliar words and support spellings too


Relationships are key to also making ILI a success. It is vital we have a great rapport with the children so they feel comfortable and ready to learn, and it is also extremely important that I communicate with the class teacher, who can adjust their teaching to consolidate what we have learnt through our 1:1 session.

Talk Boost - with Miss O'Sullivan

Talk Boost KS1 is a targeted programme for 4-7 year old children that need help with talking and understanding words, including children in Reception classes. It is a structured programme that boosts children’s progress in language and communication by an average of 9 – 18 months after a ten-week intervention.

Talk boost is a targeted programme to help support children with talking and understanding words. The programme runs for 10 weeks, with 3 sessions a week between 30/40 minutes long normally in a group of four. These sessions are short and focused. The sessions focus on sentences, storytelling, and conversations. Usually during the sessions there are 4 short activities which help support these areas. Some activities included are bingo, colouring and making sensible and silly sentences. Talk boost would help your child to make significant progress in their ability to talk in sentences and in understanding and using vocabulary.

Handwriting / Fine Motor Intervention - with Mrs Jackson and Mrs Paige


In both KS1 and KS2 we have weekly small group Handwriting / Fine Motor interventions for targeted children. It focuses on developing:


- finger dexterity;

- letter formation;

- and writing resilience.


To enable this some of the activities we use are: manipulating play-dough; tweezer work; working on chalk boards; stacking skills; gross motor letter formation using brooms and paint brushes. These activities then have a time element added to build endurance and resilience.


Over time, our aim is to encourage fluency in writing, good pencil grip, resilience and - most of all confidence.  


As of September 2024, we also plan to develop this further through the introduction of Write Dance in Yr.R. This focuses on large motor skills, building co-ordination and rhythm - all precurrsory work for Handwriting / Fine Motor skills.

Forest School - with Mrs Chisling

What is Forest school, and what does it do for your children, beyond allowing them to behave like Tarzan in the jungle?


Forest school is a child-centred programme based arounds self-discovery through exploring the natural world around them. They are encouraged to consider supported risk taking and building skills including using tools they might not otherwise have access to.

Child centred simply means that through observations we can spot any challenges, fears and interests they individually have, and support them in building upon them or overcoming them.

Let’s quickly talk about something you’ve probably all seen by now, the mud face-painting, we’ve had beards, kitty whiskers and immense monobrows. How on earth does this support your children I hear you ask.


First off, they each consider the risks, such as; finding mud that hasn’t had an animal leave anything behind, and making sure it stays out of their mouths – we have a Pick-don’t-lick rule in forest school to reduce the chances of contamination.


Secondly, the activity is creative, allowing for their natural, fun, exploration of their senses and natural materials. We also think about others whilst doing such an activity – we are aware that not everyone wants to be muddy!


Thirdly, some children are extremely adverse to certain items or feelings so for a child with these concerns, being around mud or having a dot on the back of their hand and seeing their peers caked in it, can be a huge step towards independence, resilience and confidence and self-esteem which can in turn be brought back into the classroom, their school work and life in general. I also like to think that such an activity reduces their needs to look a certain way, it’s ok to have a monobrow larger than the grand canyon, its also ok to be and look a little bit silly in a safe way in the correct environment.


Overall, we are aiming for each child to develop themselves in their own time, in their own way out in the wild, with a laugh along the way.

Safeguarding & Child Protection - with Mrs Bradshaw

Introducing the Safeguarding Team: DSL (Mrs Claire Bradshaw), DDSL (Mr Richard Smith), Trust Safeguarding Lead (Mr Joe Murch), Safeguarding Trustee (Mrs Hayley Lake)

  • Who do we work with to safeguard your child? Somerset Safeguarding Children Partnership (SSCP), Somerset Council, Avon & Somerset Constabulary, Home Start, NSPCC
  • Reviewing Statutory Guidance
  • Safer Recruitment, Interviews, Checks, DBS, “Safeguarding Young People”
  • The Law, Serious Case Reviews
  • 4 Key Areas: Emotional Abuse, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Neglect
  • How we building a Safeguarding Culture
  • Staff Training Program (biannual): Child Protection Refresher 2023: KCSIE 2022 Part 1 Questionnaire, KCSIE 2022 Annex B Questionnaire; Online Safety; Extremism & Radicalisation; Harmful Sexual Behaviours; Domestic Abuse - Children & Young People; The Prevent Duty; Trauma-Informed Practice in Schools; Child Exploitation; Female Genital Mutilation Awareness; Raising Awareness of Child-on-Child Abuse
  • What to do if you are concerned about a child’s safety.

School Chaplaincy - with Mrs Chisling

 [preamble]   …the reason I’m telling you this is because the word chaplain comes with a bit of a stigma. It sounds…. Regimented possibly; we know the army has chaplains. It also sounds highly religiously formal. Don’t panic, it’s not, and I’m not. This role is twofold: religious education and pastoral care.


I have my Christian beliefs, and I do plan on concreting our church connections more thoroughly and further our children’s understanding of the bible through collective worships and hopefully group work in the future. My ultimate goal however, is more based around expanding our schools Christian virtues, understandings and our overall core values. Jesus told us to love God and love each other. That’s what I am about. If each child can leave each day feeling loved by God and therefore feel able share His love with others through kindness, respect, empathy and compassion, I’ve done my job.


My role goes beyond religion though. This is where the pastoral aspect comes in. We have an incredible ELSA specialist here who completes ELSA sessions with your children, she is amazing. My pastoral care covers lunch times, check ins, gate duty at the beginning of the day. I’m here to listen, the saying goes; I have two ears and one mouth, meaning I’m here to listen twice as much as I talk, not just to the children, but also to my colleagues and to all parents and careers. I’ll try my best to have tea available so if you’re ever having a bad day, I’m here, or a good day, I’m here. If you’ve had some news and you’re just buzzing to tell someone, I’m here. If you want to chat to me about your Grandma’s-third-cousins-hamsters-missing-toe, I’m all for it. And our chats most definitely don’t have to be about God. I’m here for everyone. Chaplains are multi-faith, including those of no faith. I’m here for everyone. I’m here for you.

Attendance - with Mr Hirons

Attendance Matters: good attendance at school is not just valuable, it's essential. Going to school is directly linked to improved progress and exam success which should in turn lead to further learning opportunities and better job prospects. Evidence shows that the pupils with the highest attendance throughout their time in school gain the best results. Research found that pupils who performed better both at the end of primary and secondary school missed fewer days than those who didn’t perform as well.


As well as this, going to school helps to develop: friendships and relationships.


What we do at St Michael’s:

  • Monitor – Weekly, 2 weeks, termly
  • Evaluate – Letters home termly, specific interventions, meetings
  • Celebrate – Whole class, high attendance, improved attendance

Parent & Family Support - with Mrs Tucker

What is the Role of a parent Support Advisor? To Listen to you or your child if you are experiencing difficulties. To support to enable children to gain the maximum benefits from their education. All families can go through a difficult time, this can affect children’s ability to do well at school.

The PFSA can support on a wide range of issues: Parenting concerns; Emotional wellbeing; Healthy Eating; Behaviour; School Attendance/Transition; Housing Advice;  Budgeting; Debt Advice and Signposting; Benefit Advice; Family Issues; Feelings of Isolation;  Signposting and referrals to additional support services where necessary


The PFSA can help families form a good relationship with school. They work closely with other professionals where necessary. They can signpost your family to other local services. The PFSA works closely with Lisa Bisson, Inclusion and Mental Health Lead and The Schools SEN Team.


The PFSA can meet with Families, in their own homes, at school or somewhere else in the community. They are available to Support Families with children who attend Minehead Middle school, Minehead First School and St Michael’s School. They are available during term time and Key points in the School Holidays.

Risk Assessments & EEC Live - with Miss Thompson

Whilst children are more likely to have an accident than any other age group, some accidents involving children, particularly in school, could be preventable if proper procedures are followed. As a school it is our responsibility, our duty of care, to ensure that Risk assessments are created and used to help us understand how we can you’re your children safe in line with the national health and safety guidelines.

Carrying out a risk assessment is not aimed at ensuring that there are no risks, as this would be impossible. Instead, it is designed to make sure that measures are in place to reduce risks to health and safety as much as possible. Some of the areas for which we conduct Risk Assessments include: Managing health infections and outbreaks; Staff injury and accidents; Pupil injury and accidents; Visitor injury and accidents; Residential visits; School trips and off-site activities. So, we have risk assessments ranging from the use of Glu-guns through to our trip to Kilve.


Risk assessments are necessary as they demonstrate that SMF is taking the correct actions to meet the statutory requirements for health and safety. Risk assessments identify who may be at risk in a particular scenario, what the risk may be and what has been put in place to reduce the risk. It is an effective and preventative method, keeping schools prepared for worst-case scenario instances. Furthermore, risk assessments are useful and necessary for other staff to understand their roles and responsibilities in a given scenario.

My Child at School (MCAS) - with Mrs Lawrence

Reasons to register with MCAS:

  • Data Collection: if anything changes e.g. your address, a new telephone number, it is VERY important that you update the Data Collection Sheet through your MCAS app
  • Communication: any messages / announcements are sent within this app because it is secure
  • Lunches: Lunches need to be booked a week in advance and booked via this app.  If your child is in either Year 3 or 4 and is not entitled to a Free School Meal, you will also need to pay when you book. 
  • Clubs / Trips: If your child has any trips coming up or wishes to enrol on an After-School Club, you would need to register your child on the club/trip in question and provide payment.
  • Buccaneers After-School Provision: if your child needs to go to our after-school provision, you can book the relevant time/date and pay on your app.
  • Attendance: you can monitor your child’s attendance
  • Reports: you can view your child’s reports throughout the year
  • How To Create an MCAS account? – discussion
  • Booking Clubs and Trips – discussion


Important points to remember:

  • When booking lunches, please remember to book a week in advance
  • If we are nearing the end of term, please book for the first week back after the half-term because numbers are submitted before we break up


If you wish to book your child into Buccaneers, please try and do this in advance unless it is a real emergency on the actual day.  After the Easter half-term, it will be pay as you go so that parents do not build up a debt