At Leipzig International School, we are committed to an inclusive learning environment. The purpose of the Learning Support program at LIS is to respond to the diverse learning needs of all students. This includes students who encounter mild to moderate learning difficulties, as well as students who may require greater academic challenges than those provided within the regular curriculum. Students experiencing a specific learning difficulty need support in acquiring skills and strategies, which will enable them to succeed with the regular curriculum. The Learning Support teachers work collaboratively, through on-going observation, assessment and evaluation, with the classroom teachers, parents and outside specialists to support students work towards obtaining those skills. Our level of support ranges from incorporating learning strategies into the classroom, small group intervention (individual and/or small group intensive instruction in a separate classroom), in-class support by a learning support specialist. Our aim is for all students to thrive, be safe, happy and become empowered and lifelong learners who will achieve their highest potential while celebrating their unique learning identity.
Middle School Learning Support
The upper primary/lower secondary
Learning Support specialist is responsible for students in Grade 5 through
Grade 8. The Learning Support specialist, in collaboration with the principal
and assistant principal (AP), evaluates new students to determine if services
are needed upon entry to LIS. The type of
support offered is mainly in-class (“push-in”) support, in which the Learning
Support specialist is present with students, in certain mainstream lessons.
In Grade 5, students receive support
in Literacy and Mathematics. The Learning Support specialist works with
classroom teachers to differentiate the curriculum to meet the unique needs of
students and meets with parents to discuss the transition to secondary school. A
recommendation for Learning Support is made based on student needs.
In Grades 6 – 8, students receive a number of in-class (“push-in”) support lessons every week. The Learning Support specialist works with the Head of Department to arrange examination access arrangements for students in Grade 8 that have a diagnosed learning difficulty and performs internal assessments, as needed. Students without a diagnosed learning difficulty are not eligible for access arrangements and students in need of additional testing will be referred for an external assessment by an educational psychologist.
Upper Secondary Learning Support
Learning Support in Upper
Secondary focuses mostly on students with mild to moderate learning difficulties.
Learning difficulties may affect the acquisition, organisation, retention,
understanding or use of verbal or nonverbal information. We also strive to support any students that
have been identified from the teaching team in collaboration with Student
Support Services. However, supporting students in the lower classes of primary
or in middle school is very different to supporting students in Upper
Secondary. We are an IB school; therefore, when it comes to our students, we
try to help them to become:
(IB learner profile)
As described by Ware et al (2011)
the following factors help students with learning difficulties to access the
Different teaching approaches
Individual Education Plans
Out of Class interventions
Use of Technologies
So our approach is focused on
those factors. We try to support our students not just during the Learning
Support lessons but also by working collaboratively with the subject
specialists so our students can overcome any barriers they face when they are
accessing the curriculum.
Working with Subject Teachers
As mentioned above we try to work
and communicate with the subject specialists when possible on the above
factors. It is important to point out here that different teaching approaches
do not only benefit students with learning difficulties. However, we need to consider that for a
student with Special Educational Needs (SEN) different approaches need to be
targeted to his/her needs. Therefore, whenever it is needed, we review with the
subject teachers resources, educational platforms or even the structure of an
assignment. We try to liaise with the subject teachers even on details like
where a student sits in the classroom. Differentiation is also very high on our
agenda and we try to share this with our colleagues. Personally, I do not feel
that it is something that should be happening only for students with learning
difficulties and I feel that it has the potential to benefit all the students.
For example, instead of writing an essay, students are allowed to type it. In
my experience, students with dyslexia will prefer typing to writing but this
also might look easier for other students as well. Differentiation should focus
on students’ strengths, interests and abilities, or as described by Levy ‘a set
of strategies that will help teachers meet each child where they are when they
enter class and move them forward as far as possible on their educational path’
(2008, p. 162).
Individual Educational Plans (IEPs)
or similar documents help us to collaborate and communicate the needs of the
learner and the modifications that the learner requires in order to access the
curriculum (NCSE,2011). IEPs also help
teachers, SEN staff, students and parents to communicate, evaluate the
arrangements and establish a well-functioning relationship in order to support
the learners effectively. In an IEP we will generally find the following:
From the above, I feel it is evident that we try to help our
students boost their academic performance, make them more confident learners
and improve their self-esteem.
Out of Class Support
During a learning support lesson,
we try to be as flexible as possible in order to maximise the benefit of
learning support to the students. Usually during a lesson the following
situations happen a lot:
help with the learning resources that the
subject teacher has provided
positive relationship with the student
work on various educational platforms
students take ownership over their work
To the best of my experience, the
relationship of the learning support staff with the student cannot be more
important than the student-subject teacher relationship. As Blatchford et al
(2009) state, this could have a negative impact on a student’s progress, which
makes sense in my opinion as the learning support teacher is there to help subject
teachers and not to replace them, since they do not possess the subject
In the Upper High School,
Learning Support happens mostly outside of the classroom, which with the most
mature students can work very well as, according to research (Norwich and
Kelly, 2004), students tend to prefer it to the in-class support, as it gives
them a quiet place to work away from all the distractions. Additionally, this
working in an out-of-class support environment makes them more productive and
Blatchford, P., Bassett, P., Brown, P., & Webster, R.
(2009). The effect of support staff on pupil engagement and individual
attention. British Educational Research Journal, 35(5), 661-686.
Levy, H. (2008).
Meeting the Needs of All Students through Differentiated Instruction: Helping
Every Child Reach and Exceed Standards. The Clearing House: A Journal Of
Educational Strategies, Issues And Ideas, 81(4), 161-164. doi:
Norwich , B., & Kelly, N. (2004).
Pupils’ views on inclusion: moderate learning difficulties and bullying in
mainstream and special schools. British Educational
Research Journal, 30(1), 43-65. doi: