Learning Support in the Senior School

‘Learning Support has changed my life for the better and has helped improve my learning’ Fourth Form Pupil

Bishop’s Stortford College is proud to be a diverse and inclusive learning community, committed to ensuring that all pupils have the support they need in order to access all aspects of school life, becoming confident learners and achieving their full potential.

Within our Learning Support Department we currently have six highly experiences members of staff who work across the College and work closely with teaching staff to ensure that the support programme in place for each pupil is tailored to meet his or her specific needs. Four of our members of staff are qualified Specialist Assessors and are therefore able to assess pupils, if requested by staff, for learning differences and eligibility for Access Arrangements for internal and external examinations.

Learning Support is offered to those pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) and who are not making expected levels of progress. This may include in-class support from subject teachers or a Learning Support Assistant, and/or group, paired or individual intervention or support sessions. There is no additional charge for this support. You can read the criteria for Learning Support provision here.

We consider home/school liaison to be very important and we encourage regular contact with parents of pupils receiving Learning Support. If a parent has concerns about their child’s learning we would encourage them to raise these, in the first instance, with their child’s subject or form teacher and/or the SENCo directly. Where parents may be considering having a formal assessment completed by an external professional, we would ask that this is discussed with the subject/form teacher and/or SENCo prior to assessment so that we are able to contribute to and support this process.

It is important that we are aware of the additional needs of pupils joining us from other schools, so that we are able to ensure that new pupils have access to the support and resources they require in order to reach their full potential during their time with us. Parents are encouraged to assist us in this by providing us with copies of all relevant reports, assessments and other documentation in good time.

Please feel free to contact the department if you have concerns about your child’s learning and progress, if you wish to discuss additional provision or if you are a prospective parent who would like to know more about the support we are able to offer our pupils.

Learning Support Staff

Elizabeth Bridle: MEd, PGCE, BSc (Hons), DipSpLD, NASENCo, PAPAA
Elizabeth is Head of Learning Support, and joined the College in 2015.  She has a broad range of experience in a variety of educational contexts, including time spent as a Curriculum Leader in an outstanding special needs school.

Helen Atkinson: MA (Ed), PGCE, BA (Hons), Dip SpLD, PAPAA 
Helen joined Bishop’s Stortford College in September 2012 as a Class Teacher in Shell. Having taught in Shell for three years, she started working in Learning Support in January 2016. She has a wide range of experience working in a number of schools.

Estelle Shilton-Heath: BA (Hons), PGCE, TESOL
Estelle joined the College in the academic year 2017-18, and has brought a wealth of experience and huge enthusiasm with her. She supports pupils within core subject lessons in the Senior School and also provides some one to one sessions for individual pupils, reinforcing in-class learning and developing basic skills.

Jo Bharatan: QTS, Masters in SEN, Level 7 assessor (psychometric testing, assessment & access arrangements), CELTA (EAL)

Jo moved with her husband and Alsatian to Bishop’s Stortford in July 2020. Jo began her career as a nursery nurse, training as a teacher in her 30’s.  Having specialised in both Special Educational Needs and Design and Technology (RM), she left the traditional classroom environment to become a SENCO in both primary and secondary schools.  A well-earned ‘gap year’ took her overseas, where she proudly opened the first British Early Years and Special Educational Needs Centre in Cyprus.  Jo's love for travelling, languages, and culture grew, leading her to SENCO and Teacher Training positions in the UAE and Malaysia. As a true advocate of lifelong learning, Jo is currently embarking on the training path of a diagnostic assessor for Specific Learning Difficulties. 

Louise Vandenburg: SEN TA

Louise has had links with Bishop’s Stortford College since 1997, when her eldest of five children joined Pre-Prep. She is a fully qualified Special Educational Needs Teaching Assistant and previously worked in Shell for 7 years. She also works in Grimwade House as a Visiting Tutor.

The Learning Support Department
Contact number: 01279 838656