Strategies to reduce barriers to progress and ensure support for every pupil

Print this page
Strategies to reduce barriers to progress and ensure support for every pupil

Maesteg School, Bridgend, has implemented ways to ensure that pupils are able to overcome barriers that impact on their progress in education. A carefully designed system has ensured that tailored, in-depth and specialised support is provided for pupils and has resulted in an increase in wellbeing and standards.

Number of pupils: 1075
Age range: 11 - 18 years
Date of Estyn inspection: November 2012

Context and background to sectorleading practice

Maesteg School is an 11 to 18 English-medium mixed comprehensive school situated to the north of Bridgend. Pupils attend the school from the Llynfi valley. Twenty-six per cent of pupils are entitled to free school meals. This is well above the national average of 17.4% for secondary schools in Wales. Around 55% of the pupils live in the 20% most deprived areas in Wales.

Pupils at the school represent the full range of ability. Twenty-eight per cent of pupils have a special educational need. The school values every pupil, and seeks to provide them with high quality academic, emotional and behavioural support. The school believes that the care it offers is vital to all pupils’ success.

The school is aware that a majority of its pupils have a range of barriers that impact on their progress. To overcome these difficulties, the school provides an extensive range of intervention strategies. In order to provide tailored support to individual pupils, the school:

  • established clear lines of responsibility and accountability
  • has eveloped specialist expertise in their support staff; and
  • created close partnerships with parents and external agencies.

Nature of strategy or activity identified as sector-leading practice


Every Leader of Learning takes responsibility for tracking pupils’ progress and when necessary, arranging timely interventions
to remove any barrier to learning. Regular planning meetings are held to decide what type of support individual pupils need. The Leaders of Learning closely monitor and evaluate the impact of any intervention.


The school’s provision includes:

  • individual mentoring involving academic support for raising standards across the curriculum;
  • alternative pathways providing pupils’ with personalised programmes;
  • highly specialised additional learning support; and
  • extensive partnership with other agencies.

Central to the success of the support offered by the school is a highly effective additional needs faculty that takes timely actions that make a difference to pupils’ learning.

This faculty provides:

  • high impact literacy and numeracy sessions;
  • a skills room for those having difficulty in mainstream lessons with some sessions on emotional literacy; and
  • a learning support officer dedicated to working with any looked after children, liaising with the various services as and when required.

Individual pupils can be referred to the learning support officer who works with them on a programme designed to help them manage their emotions and develop empathy, supervised by the Educational Psychology Service. In addition, the learning support officer provides specific support for the more vulnerable pupils and those with specific learning difficulties. Support staff are trained in particular areas such as examination access requirements and testing, dyslexia and autistic spectrum conditions. Each member of staff takes responsibility for providing targeted guidance in their expert areas in addition to providing targeted literacy and numeracy support.

Together with its partner primary schools, the school employs a Family Engagement Officer to arrange and coordinate a variety of services to involve parents in their child’s learning. These include linking with agencies to provide parenting classes to helpparents and carers support their children with their academic work. A ‘Helping Hands’ group for vulnerable pupils is identified in Year 6 by all partner primary schools using a diagnostic tool. This measures the pupil’s perception of their own well-being and also takes into account the views of their peers. These pupils and their parents or carers attend sessions at Maesteg School for familiarisation with the school and key staff prior to pupils joining the school in September. These sessions continue in Year 7. The school is also involved in the P.U.P.I.L. (Pupils Understanding Problems in their Locality) Scheme which is run in conjunction with the police. Our participation in this has resulted in the production of a DVD warning of the dangers of drugs and alcohol. This film is shown at all local hospitals. In addition, the school has a Police Liaison Oficer who delivers some of the PSE curriculum programme and also meets with those pupils who require guidance.

Impact on provision and learners’ standards

Maesteg School has developed a culture where improved standards go hand in hand with excellent support for pupils’ wellbeing. The impact of this work is evident in:

  • improving attendance;
  • a significant increase in pupils achieving the level 2 threshold;
  • a significant decrease in exclusions;
  • no pupil leaving school without a qualification;
  • an increase in pupils’ self esteem resulting in pupils enjoying school more and being more prepared for the world of work;
  • higher aspirations among pupils, parents and carers leading to in an increase in the numbers of pupils considering higher education; and
  • pupils transfer smoothly from key stage 2 and most make good progress.