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Additional Needs

This page provides details of the school's additional education needs (AEN) and English as an additional language (EAL) provisions. 


Additional Educational Needs (AEN)

Click here to view a chart of our AEN provision.

The school is non-selective and no account is taken of any matter when offering a place to a child. However, it is very important for a child’s wellbeing that additional needs of any kind are fully discussed by parents and the school before enrolment of a child with additional needs is finalised. This is because it is vital for the child’s educational and emotional development that the school and parents, in partnership, are fully able to accommodate any special arrangements necessary. We will always of course do our very best to do this, but we have to live in the real world and there may be occasions where we reach agreement with parents that a child would gain more benefit from an alternative environment. It is a requirement therefore that parents give, on the enrolment form, full information about any additional needs that their child has.

In particular, as an independent school we are currently unable to directly access the support services and funding provided by the local authority which is available to state-maintained schools for primary aged children. The lack of funding means that, if a child needs one to one support from a facilitator in order to access the environment and learning at River House, it is necessary for parents to contribute to the cost of the facilitator. If parents are unwilling to do this then it may be necessary for the school to request that the child is withdrawn. Funding for facilitation cost will be provided by the local authority if the child has and Education and Health Care (EHC) plan. We maintain contact with the local authority and other bodies in respect of additional needs matters and will always assist parents in seeking an EHC assessment or professional diagnosis.

We are currently located in premises which were taken on a temporary basis and which, as such, do not provide full facilities for some forms of physical disability. We are aware of the need to expand this provision and plans for future permanent premises include full provision for all facilities.

The school has a range of equipment available to support AEN and will make suggestions or recommendations to parents about other equipment which it may be appropriate for them to provide for their child.

Regular meetings with the AEN department are offered to parents of all children for whom inclusion provision or an individual learning plan is appropriate. Parents receive copies of their child’s learning plan and inclusion provision map each time it is updated. Children’s and parents’ views will always be taken into account during these discussions.

Pupils with AEN receive the same level of support for transition between phases of education and in preparation for adult life as all other pupils at the school. When there is a need for additional support, the school’s AEN department will coordinate with parents and/or other schools according to each child’s needs.

Information regarding the personnel of the AEN department and their qualifications is available in the school’s policy and procedure manual. Any complaints about our provision for AEN pupils will follow the same procedure as any other complaint as we make no distinction between AEN related complaints and others.

The school's local authority, Tower Hamlets, sets out a local offer containing information about services that are available to children, young people and families in Tower Hamlets. This includes details of the help offered for children and young people with SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) from birth to 25 years. Please note however that some of this offer is not available to children attending an independent school. Information can be found at:


English as an Additional Language (EAL)

Click here to view a chart of our settling in procedure for EAL pupils.

River House is a truly international school and at any one time 40 to 50 languages are spoken by the children and staff combined. We have many pupils who arrive at the school unable to converse in English and many more who are bilingual.

The school recognises that parents wish their child to learn English as a language and all teaching within the school is carried out in English. However, intensive survival language support is given to recent arrivals with no English.

On the first day of joining the school a child will be allocated a class buddy and wherever possible, introduced to another pupil who speaks their first language.

For those with little English and those who have been in the UK for 3 years or less and, due to the language barrier, are currently working below the expected National Curriculum level for their age group, the EAL department provides support by working in-class with a child plus, where appropriate, an individual or small group lesson once a week.

EAL children spend most of the school day in class with other children. This is because children learn more quickly when socialising and interacting with their peers who speak English fluently and who can provide good language and learning role models. As we are a Montessori school, which offers children a hands-on and exploratory style of learning, young children in the pre-school and reception rarely need additional support lessons.

We firmly believe that speaking more than one language is an asset, and the first language has a continuing and important role in identity, learning and the acquisition of other languages.

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