Learning Support

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The Learning Support team is led by Miss Dawn Fryer (SENCo), Mr Christopher Harbinson (Assistant SENCo) and 19 trained classroom assistants.  This dedicated team works closely with teaching staff to provide each student with full access to the broad and varied curriculum at the Belfast Model School for Girls.

Students with special educational needs can access specialist teaching in Numeracy, Literacy and social and emotional skills individually or in small tutorial groups.  Some students receive long-term support and teaching in Learning Support, while others may attend Learning Support for a shorter period of time following illness, or other challenging circumstances.

Learning Support is also a safe haven for those more sensitive pupils in school (perhaps those with ASD) who find break and lunch times very stressful due to the increased noise and movement in these less structured times of the day.  The girls can come to the unit to sit quietly with their friends or to take part in our peer-reading scheme where they have the opportunity to sit and read with one of the Year 13 students.

The main aim of Learning Support is to ensure a successful transition for students with additional needs across all key stages including a successful transition from primary school to post-primary education, and most importantly into adulthood.

We have three Nurturing classes in KS3. These classes are taken by our dedicated team:

  • Mrs G Pirie (Year 8)
  • Mr R Fitzpatrick (Year 9)
  • Mr C Harbinson (Year 10)

The Nurturing classes aim to develop positive student relationships with both teachers and peers in a supportive environment. Nurturing groups are designed to address the social and emotional needs that can hamper students’ learning. So as well as providing academic teaching, the group is designed to help children develop vital social skills, to develop confidence and self-respect, and to take pride in behaving well and in achieving in all aspects of School life.

In Nurturing groups, there’s a special emphasis on communication: nothing is taken for granted and everything is clearly explained by the staff. Active learning is a key element in the provision. Students are given the time they need both to listen and be listened to. Nurturing groups are also designed to learn in a friendly supportive environment.

If you would like to speak to someone to find out more about the work of the Learning Support Unit and how we could support your daughter, contact school and either Miss Fryer or Mr Harbinson will get back to you as soon as possible. We can speak to you on the phone or arrange a visit.

Support within the Belfast Model School for Girls

  • Literacy and Numeracy tutorials in small groups
  • Literacy and Numeracy Support tutors
  • Counsellors
  • Full Service Extended Schools Programme
  • Behaviour Support Mentor
  • Peer Reading
  • JIGSAW – support club for pupils with dyslexia
  • Language support
  • After school catch-up classes
  • Transition support

External Support offered in the Belfast Model School for Girls

  • Educational Psychologist
  • Oakwood (ASD support)
  • Park Outreach (literacy support)
  • Secondary Pupil Support Service
  • Link Centre
  • Pathways
  • Mitchell House
  • Vision Support
  • Hearing Support


School Links