Support for Learning

We are extremely fortunate to have two excellent Support for Learning Specialists at Sciennes, Ms Rhona Kennedy and Ms Paula Gilhooly, who strengthen the capacity of school to anticipate and meet learners’ needs and to support families, playing a vital role in the education and wellbeing of our young people with additional support needs.

Ms Kennedy and Ms Gilhooly play a key role in implementing the school’s Mental Health and Wellbeing programme.

Curriculum – Support for Learning & Early Intervention

Support for Learning Staff

Ms Rhona Kennedy and Miss Paula Gilhooly are our Additional Support for Learning (ASL) teachers who work with pupils throughout the school. Ms Kennedy predominantly works with pupils in P1-4 and Ms Gilhooly works with pupils in P5-7, although there is some overlap.


Literacy assessments are carried out every year in spelling and reading. Results are analysed to identify children who need some additional support. In P1 all children complete a baseline assessment in both literacy and numeracy which helps identify those children needing extra support or challenge and ensures this support is quickly put into place.

In P1, P4 and P7 pupils complete online literacy and numeracy assessments for the local authority. In addition to the annual assessments, the ASL staff will carry out a range of diagnostic assessments such as the Single Word Reading Test, British Picture Vocabulary Test (BPVS) or Non Verbal Reasoning Test when taking a closer look at a pupil’s learning needs. A learning profile will be developed providing a fuller picture of a child’s strengths and difficulties. This enables staff to target support where it is needed and provides evidence of need when support from external agencies is required.

Children may require support in their learning for a variety of reasons, such as difficulties with reading, language or number, a return from a lengthy period of absence, or a change in home or school circumstances. ASL teachers, class teachers and parents work together to support the child’s needs.

A guide to Additional Support for Learning at Sciennes outlining the supports offered and a guide to accessing support can be found here: Sciennes ASL Policy

Pupils with Additional Support Needs

Anything that is a barrier to learning becomes an additional support need. All schools have children with additional support needs.  These needs may impact learning in a variety of ways – literacy, numeracy or health and wellbeing. As a school we work together to identify the barrier to learning and put supports in place to allow the child to thrive. Dyslexia, ADHD, ADD, FASD, Dyspraxia, Insecure Attachment and Trauma are likely to require additional supports to be put in place for a child to fully access education in a main stream school.

The education authority has many legal duties towards pupils with additional support needs.  Information about this is contained in a booklet called In On The Act : Information For The General Public which is published on the education authority website at Information about the involvement of an Educational Psychologist can be found at
For parents wishing to find out more about additional support needs and how to access support the Enquire website has lots of useful information:

Pupils with Significant Additional Needs

The City of Edinburgh has a policy of inclusion where children with significant additional support needs are supported within mainstream education. Additional support may be given to the school where a child could not successfully access education in a mainstream school without additional adult support. Educational Psychologists, Headteachers, Depute Headteachers, class teachers, ASL teachers, Pupil Support Assistants, parents and Specialist staff from outside agencies work as a team to support the child.

English as an Additional Language

The EAL (English as an Additional Language) team provide a visiting service which aims to offer support for bilingual pupils. (Bilingual is defined as someone who uses two or more languages in their daily life.)

Miss Aisling Groarke is our EAL teacher. She works with pupils, staff and parents to provide additional support. The EAL teacher is responsive to the changing needs of our school population. The new arrival of a pupil or sudden departure of a pupil will dictate the kind of additional support required.

EAL teachers and class teachers liaise to compile a profile of competence which tracks and monitors a child’s language development in English. This helps to ensure the right level of support is offered and that able learners are not disadvantaged because of a lack of English language. The EAL teacher can work directly with beginners as well as those pupils who have developed a high degree of fluency in English.

Additional information about the EAL service can be accessed at:

External Services and Partner Agencies

Where a pupil’s needs cannot be met directly in the classroom or through an established ASL intervention then we would seek support from external services and partner agencies. This is done in partnership with parents and through the Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) process.

GIRFEC is the national framework to help co-ordinate children’s services across Scotland. The City of Edinburgh Council has followed this by adopting the Getting it Right for Every Child approach to give the right help to children, young people and families in Edinburgh when they need it from a joined up multi-agency team. More information can be found at:

Services that may be required include Literacy and Dyslexia Team, Speech and Language Therapy, Psychological Services, Occupational Therapy, Child and Community Health (CCH), Child and Mental Health Service (CAMHS) as well as others not listed here.

Where possible staff at Sciennes aim to build capacity and are able to offer a variety of supports in school for individuals and groups of children.

Additional Support for Learning Programmes at Sciennes

Support for Learning interventions available at Sciennes include:

  • Reading and Literacy Interventions: Both group and individual literacy programmes taught by both ASL teachers and PSAs
  • Emotion Talks taught in class and used in 1 to 1 interventions
  • Social Thinking
  • Circle of Friends
  • Nurture
  • Mindfulness – Paws b Programme
  • Talk and Move
  • TIPS (Therapy Inclusion Project)
  • Seasons for Growth (support programme for grief and loss)
  • Play boxes (support for communication in early years)
  • Paired Reading (PSA / child, buddy reading)
  • Speech and Language 1 to 1 programme
  • Motor Skills programme
  • Toe by Toe – a phonic reading intervention
  • Code Cracker – a phonic intervention
  • Maths Challenge for P6 and P7 highly able pupils
  • SEAL – Stages of Early Arithmetic Learning – taught in class, 1 to 1 and small group interventions


Advice for Parents


Enquire is the national support service for parents of children with additional support needs. The Enquire website will explain in simple language your, and your child’s, rights to additional support for learning. It will explain the roles and responsibilities of staff involved with your child, what to expect at meetings and much more.

It is an easy document to read through but keep it handy and use it as your child grows. It has lots of information about the different stages of your child’s education including pre-school, primary and secondary school and post 16 choices.

You can access the Enquire website at:


In On the Act

‘In on the Act’ was produced by the City of Edinburgh Council to ensure effective implementation of the Education (Additional Support for Learning)(Scotland) Act 2004. It includes ‘Pathways to Support’ which give a structured approach to identifying, assessing and supporting pupils’ learning.

You can access the documentation at:

LOCAL and NATIONAL ORGANISATIONS offering advice for Additional Support Needs:

Kindred – Supporting Families with Additional Support Needs

Lothian Autistic Society

Scottish Autism Charity and Services

Mindroom – Scottish independent charity

Autism Initiatives charity providing services to children and adults with autism.

Edinburgh Carers Council
Tailor Ed
Edinburgh Young Carers Project





City of Edinburgh Additional Support for Learning Service


Aisling Groarke is Sciennes’ English as an Additional Language Specialiast Teacher.