The Local Offer

Primary and Secondary schools for children and young people with learning difficulties (LD)


Primary and Secondary aged learning difficulties schools in Hertfordshire enable pupils with complex learning needs to access education and to engage in learning in preparation for adult life. This is provided in a very safe and secure environment. The pupils in learning difficulties schools have barriers to learning, which may include a main need of learning difficulty (LD), autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) and/or speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). They may also have secondary needs in the areas of behavioural and emotional or physical and sensory difficulties.

Education from 7 to 16 years at St Luke's is enabled through a wide range of means which can be identified under some key headings:

Curriculum content, organisation and delivery

All pupils are offered a broad and balanced curriculum that is differentiated according to their personal needs and strengths. The curriculum focuses on the development of functional skills in literacy and numeracy, speech, language and communication, social interaction and independent living.

The curriculum includes a wealth of routes for learning, which may include lunch-time and after-school clubs, with high levels of skilled staff who continue to educate and support learners. There are planned integration experiences, for example with pupils from local mainstream schools, and educational outings as part of the curriculum.

Pupils will have access to a good range of nationally accredited courses in Key Stage 4, which can include Entry Level certificates of achievement, personal development and life skills courses, various vocational courses and GCSE courses. College Link courses in Key Stage 4 promote the development of independence and social skills, helping prepare pupils for moving on from school.

Timetables at StLuke's follows a primary style manner of teaching, with pupils having a 'learning group' which most of their lessons are taught in. However, specialist teachers and/or teachers who developed expertise in a primary or secondary setting work with our children over the course of the week. School organisation is flexible to meet the changing pattern of pupil needs.

Organisation is responsive to the needs of the pupils through the Key Stages. Small classes, and variable adult/pupil ratios depending on the needs of the group, ensure that learning can be tailored to a pupil’s individual needs. Included in this offer of a personalised approach is the assurance that intimate care and attention to all basic functions is guaranteed.

Teaching uses a wide variety of methods to teach key skills and abstract concepts through national curriculum subjects. Children learn in different ways so knowledge is delivered and skills taught using kinaesthetic, visual, practical and concrete approaches. Pupils are likely to require access to a high level of visual support, e.g. objects of reference, photographs, the use of symbols and appropriate signing strategies.

Pupils are given regular opportunities to learn new skills and to generalise those already learned through frequent repetition and the chance to practise skills in different situations. This will include a large range of curriculum enrichment activities, such as visits to museums and subject-related facilities in the wider community.


Staff are the greatest resource in the school and they are expert in using strategies to overcome barriers to learning. Learning difficulties schools provide expertise in a number of associated areas which impact on the education of the pupils. Pupils have access to staff trained in alternative communication approaches, for example signing, symbols and IT-based alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) devices. Staff are trained in physical intervention as a matter of routine.

Visual aids such as schedules and social stories support social communication and learning.

Facilities to support teaching and learning include, for example specialist science, PE, sports, design technology and art, sensory resources, ICT, adventure play equipment and minibuses. Additionally pupils have access to swimming and appropriate outdoor spaces.


Targets are set in collaboration with pupils, parents and other professionals and reviewed together on a regular basis. Assessment is moderated across the county and regionally. Information and data is held at school, local authority and national level. A range of assessment tools are used to provide a picture of attainment and progression. These tools include our bespoke system, StAPPS, the use of National Curriculum levels, P Levels, visual assessment tools, Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS), reading tests, receptive and expressive language tools and Teacher Assessment. Progress against P Levels and National Curriculum data may determine movement to different educational provision, but consideration is given to the needs of the whole child and not just focused on assessment results. The functionality of pupils is as much an aspect of attainment within the assessment and placement process as assessment results are.

Trans-disciplinary Approach

A range of professionals works with the pupils, parents and staff of the schools to ensure that the best possible guidance is provided to encourage and support educational development. These professionals include Speech and Language Therapists, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Music and other therapists, School Nurses, Consultant Paediatrician, Educational Psychologists, Clinical Psychologists, Counsellors and Advisory Teachers for Autism, Hearing Impairment and Visual Impairment, Connexions Personal Advisers and FE College tutors.

Schools work with a variety of external professionals to provide for the holistic needs of children and young people.