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Darwen Vale High School - An Aldridge Academy

Darwen Vale is a member of the Aldridge Education family of schools.

In this area, this also includes Darwen Aldridge Community Academy, Darwen Aldridge Enterprise Studio school and Sudell Primary School.

Aldridge Education is a charitable Trust of entrepreneurial community schools and colleges that help young people to reach their potential.

We support our schools’ Principals and teachers in rapidly improving the quality of education on offer at early years, primary, secondary and sixth-form levels in order to transform the life-chances of our students.

Our vision is that every student at an Aldridge school will achieve academically beyond initial personal expectations and prior attainment. Their learning and experiences in education will give them a wide perspective on the opportunities open to them and they will develop the practical skills to access every opportunity they want in life.

Aldridge Education was established as a national multi-academy trust by the Aldridge Foundation in 2016, taking over responsibility from the Foundation for its family of non-selective academy schools and colleges.

Our shared belief is that by introducing young people to, and helping develop in them, the core attributes of entrepreneurship, we can provide context and relevance to their learning, fostering creativity, passion, determination, risk taking, problem solving and teamwork. These characteristics help our students achieve in their education and acquire further vital skills for adult life.

For more information about Aldridge Education, including the Trust’s  statutory information, Annual Report and Accounts, please visit


Who to contact

Contact Name
Catherine Kenyon/ Sharron Pollitt
Contact Position
Head Teacher's PA/ SENDCO
01254 223000

Where to go

Darwen Vale High School
Blackburn Road

Other Details


Referral required
This service is part of the Local Offer

Local Offer

Contact Name
Sharron Pollitt SENDCO
Contact Telephone
01254 223 000
Contact Email
Darwen Vale high School Website
Local Offer Age Bands
11-16 years
Needs Level
SEN Provision Type
What specialist services and expertise are available at, or accessed by, the school/setting?

Faculty Team

SENDCO: Sharron Pollitt

POD Manager/SENCA: Emma Moore

HUB Manager/HLTA: Rose Addicott

Level 3 TAs

Level 3 (SEMH & HI): Helen Holmes

Level 3 (SPLD, SLCN and Testing): Tracy Warder

Level 3 (ASD): Zoe Godby

Level 3 (English): Rachel Charnock

Level 2 TAs

Sophia Sidat (Maths specialist)

Nicola Morini (ASD/Sensory needs specialist)

Donna Gray (SEMH Specialist)

Lauren Cheetham (History/SpLD Specialist

What training and experience have the staff supporting children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities had, or are having?

iClass – Improving Careers, Learning and Social Skills

iClass is the learning support department at Darwen Vale High School.

iClass stands for: Improving Careers, Learning and Social Skills and the area is open to support all pupils, especially those identified with one or more of the four areas of need listed in the SEND Code of Practice.

These are: Social, Emotional and Mental Health; Cognition and Learning; Communication and Interaction and Sensory and/or physical needs.

We aim to provide an Inclusive environment where all pupils feel valued and able to achieve to their full potential, meeting and exceeding their personal pathways and raising aspirations, regardless of need or disability.

We aim to provide staff with the confidence, knowledge and skills to support all pupils to access a full and balanced curriculum.

 Pupils should feel safe, not only physically and emotionally but also safe to make mistakes and to use these mistakes to make progress.”

How do you know if my child/young person needs extra help?


How they work

Pre-tests are carried out to identify pupils for interventions. These could include screeners, 1:1 or group tests. Needs and gaps in learning are identified and discussed with teachers and parents before a personalised 6-week program is built and delivered. These are usually in 20 – 45 minute slots so that pupils do not spend too much time out of the classroom. Post-tests are carried out to check progress and next steps are planned for.

Where will they take place?

iClass HUB

The Hub is based right in the Heart of the school. This provides a comfortable space with specialists in Specific Learning Difficulties and Speech, Language and Communication Needs, to work on bridging gaps in learning, allowing pupils to fully access their broad curriculum.

iClass LINK

Whilst we value in-class support, we also take our duty to develop pupils into independent young adults very seriously. We look to ICT to support where possible; this could include the use of a reading pen, laptop or voice recognition technology. Where 1:1 support is absolutely necessary, pupils are supported in a non-invasive way, guiding learning so that the full curriculum can be accessed by all pupils. All of our classrooms are dyslexia-friendly.

iClass POD

Pupils needing a safe space, time out or support with social skills can access the Pod. This is a nurturing space to work and learn together. It’s also a place to discuss aspirations, hopes and dreams.  Some pupils find a full curriculum too much at times. When this is the case, we are able to offer bespoke timetables and alternative learning environments while pupils access the support they need to enable them to return to mainstream learning.


The Pod can be accessed from 8:15am in the morning for breakfast and Nurture. Some pupils need to access us throughout the day, others just need a safe space with friends at break time and lunch time. We offer this space to pupils on a personalised basis.

What should I do if I think my child/young person may have special educational needs?

How can parents be involved?

Your input is incredibly valuable for the effective support of your child. If your child is placed on the SEND register, we will hold termly reviews which you will be invited to attend.

We welcome close links with parents and can be contacted by email or telephone.

How will staff support my child/young person?

What Provision can we offer?

  • In class support
  • Break/Lunchtime nurture groups
  • Breakfast or homework clubs
  • 1:1 or Group withdrawal for intervention
  • An Alternative Curriculum Pathway or Personalised timetable
  • Recovery Time card to access the POD or the DEN sensory room
  • Toilet or Medical Pass
  • Access to counselling or a designated Mentor
  • Access to outside agency support such as an Educational Psychologist, East Lancashire Child and Adolescent Services or the SEND Support Service
How will the curriculum be matched to my child's/young person's needs?


  • Preparation for adulthood is at the centre of the SEND provision at Darwen Vale.
  • The SEND Department knows every pupil’s Special Education Needs in depth.
  • Personalised Provision Plans are co-produced by staff, pupils and parent/carers to meet these needs.
  • All interventions, including support by Assistant Teachers, have a direct impact on outcomes for pupils with SEND.
  • All provision is reviewed regularly to ensure a pupil is making progress and all identified needs are being met.
  • Reviews of statutory plans are robust.
  • The involvement of specialists is strategic and planned to ensure pupils’ SEN is identified across all four areas of need and staff receive support and advice from specialists which directly improves the quality of SEND provision.
  • Pupils with SEND report they are involved in shaping their provision, perceive the benefit of the provision and feel supported as they prepare for adulthood.
  • All staff feel they are confident in contributing to SEND provision which is good or better.
  • Transition arrangements – both KS2-3 and KS4-5- are strategically planned with a high-profile input from the SENCO and her/his team. Linking directly to robust Personalised Provision Planning.
  • Information exchange with feeder primary schools are robust.
  • All pupils with SEND participate in a broad and balanced curriculum. Personalised arrangements for access and engagement in enrichments days’/career forums/trips and visits etc. are planned in advance reflecting the needs of the pupils as recorded on their Personalised Provision Plans.
  • All departments collaborate in a joined-up approach to ensure SENs are identified, provision is well matched and linked to shared outcomes for pupils
  • Pupils with SEND make progress tracked by aspirational personal outcomes.
  • Parents/carers report they are very satisfied with the SEN provision at Darwen Vale.
How will both you and I know how my child/young person is doing?

Your child's progress will be monitored and reviewed regularly and we ask that parents and carers are part of that process. 

Parents will be invited into school during parents'/carers evenings and will have the opportunity to discuss any needs with the SENDCO.

If a need has been identified, pupils will receive a personalised learning plan which parents and carers will be asked to contribute to.


How will you help me to support my child/young person's learning?

We are here for you as well as your child.

We can signpost you, through our PATH Centre and the SEND Team to a number of professionals who can help you in supporting your child's learning and well being.

We are always just a phone call away. 

What support will there be for my child's/young person's overall wellbeing?

Alongside nurture, before and during the school day, and our after school clubs, we have our sensory room and POD Centre.

These are specifically designed to support young people with sensory and social, emotional and mental health difficulties. 

We also have our PATH Centre - Pupil Advice That Helps (named by our pupils).

PATH is seen as a beacon of good practice in Blackburn with Darwen and beyond. Our PATH Manager co-ordinates links with professionals such as:

  • Our School Counsellors
  • Family Wise
  • Child Action North West
  • Youth Zone
  • ASU
  • School Nurses
  • Social Care

And many more agencies. 

Our PATH Manager and school counsellors are also on hand daily for pupil drop-in at break times and lunch times. They can offer a listening service or signpost pupils to the correct person or service to meet their needs.

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