Support for Learning



Mr Cockcroft-Support for Learning Leader (Monday-Thursday)

Mrs Campbell – Support for Learning Teacher (SfL Leader on Fridays)

Mrs Fallon – Support for Learning Teacher (Monday-Wednesday)

Mr Andrews –Support for Learning Teacher

Mrs Oatman – Pupil Support Assistant Mon-Wed, SfL teacher

Mrs Lee –Pupil Support Assistant

Mr Savill – Pupil Support Assistant



Mrs Killin – Pupil Support Assistant

Mrs Robinson – Pupil Support Assistant

Mrs Thomas – Pupil Support Assistant

Mrs Arnott – Pupil Support Assistant

Miss Brownlee – Pupil Support Assistant

Mrs Tidder – Pupil Support Assistant

All children and young people have entitlement to an educational experience of the highest quality. All staff at James Gillespie’s High School are committed to the effective inclusion of all pupils in the life of the school. However, some pupils with Additional Support Needs (ASN) may require extra support to help remove barriers to learning to enable them to access the curriculum and get the most from their time at school. The role of the Support for Learning department is to offer assistance to these pupils, their teachers and parents.


The Support for Learning Department offers assistance in a number of ways:


• Work closely with our feeder primary schools to ensure the smooth transition of pupils with ASN to the High School
• Gather up to date information and strategies about pupils with ASN which are shared with all staff through the ‘rainbow folders’ and the ‘On The Button’ computer system.
• Run tutorial classes for pupils with more significant needs to support them with their studies
• Run catch up reading classes in S1 and S2 for pupils with weak literacy skills
• Organise the Paired Reading programme in S1 to encourage reading for pupils with weaker literacy skills
• Coordinate the team of Learning Assistants to ensure pupils with ASN are supported effectively in class
• Work co-operatively in classes and in consultation with subject teachers to help make the curriculum accessible for all pupils
• Run the Break and Lunch Club to support vulnerable pupils at these times
• Administer the SQA special exam arrangements for those with specific learning difficulties
• Work with parents, pupils, external agencies and teachers to write and update Additional Support Plans (ASPs) and Individual Educational Plans (IEP)
• Run ‘The Nurture Group’ to support vulnerable pupils in S1 and S2
• Work with colleges, universities and employers to support transition from school to further education or employment.


Parents who have any concerns or questions about their child’s learning are encouraged to contact the Support for Learning Leader.

Useful Information

Assessment Arrangements

Assessment Arrangements is the process for ensuring pupils with Additional Support Needs get the appropriate support when it comes to their final exams. The aim is to replicate the support available in class in the exam environment. For example, a pupil with dyslexia may have someone read the test paper to them for class tests; the Assessment Arrangement (AA) process enables the school to apply to the SQA for them to get this in their final exam in that subject.


The system is complex with a number of checks and balance to ensure schools do not take advantage of the system and only provide AA to pupils who really need it. In the City of Edinburgh the school’s educational psychologist has to verify all our requests and the SQA moderate school’s AA process every few years.


In order for schools to put AA in place for a child the following criteria need to be met.


  1. The child needs to have some recognised Additional Support Need – a label or diagnosis isn’t necessary, but we must be able to identify an issue with some aspect of their learning, be it very poor spelling, weak decoding skills or excessive lack of focus.
  2. Subject teachers need to see the negative impact this is having on a pupil’s performance. This is required for each individual subject.
  3. Appropriate support, such as a reader or extra time, needs to be shown to have a positive impact on a pupil’s performance.


It is important to note that a diagnosis of an ASN on it’s own is not enough to apply for AA. The above criteria need to be met. National 3 and 4 assessments are often not time limited and teachers are able to tailor assessments to a child’s needs, so we may not need to apply for AA.


More details can be found on the SQA’s website:


English as an Additional Language (EAL)


EAL pupils can use a bilingual dictionary in some exams to assist with their understanding of English. In order for the school to apply for this the pupil must be seen to be making regular use of a dictionary in classes. In addition to being able to use a dictionary, EAL pupils get 10 minutes extra per hour to give them time to consult the dictionary. This cannot be requested for English qualifications or exams in the child’s native language. The pupil must provide their own dictionary.


 Pupils with medical conditions


If your child has a medical condition with you feel will impact on their performance in exams please get in touch with your child’s Support for Pupils teacher. In such instances the school will need a letter from your child’s doctor detailing the impact their condition will have on their performance. We will contact the SQA to see what provisions can be made.


There are many different definitions of what constitutes dyslexia with many experts disagreeing over what it actually is. Schools within the City of Edinburgh Council use the definition drawn up by the British Psychological Society which focuses on literacy difficulties.


‘Dyslexia is evident when accurate and fluent word reading and/or spelling develops very incompletely or with very great difficulty. This focuses on literacy learning at the “word” level and implies that the problem is severe and persistent despite appropriate learning opportunities’


Identifying Dyslexia


Support for Learning Staff at James Gillespie’s High School are trained to identify dyslexia in pupils. There is no one ‘dyslexia test’; rather an identification of dyslexia is arrived at through conducting a number of literacy assessments which look at factors such as a child’s reading rate, reading fluency, comprehension, decoding and spelling. Consultation with class teachers is crucial, as they have an insight into the child’s literacy skills in practical settings. Dyslexia is usually identified whilst children are still at primary school, however, some dyslexic pupils develop successful strategies that can mask signs of dyslexia and it is only when the difficultly level of school work increases that the signs become apparent. If you feel that your child may be showing signs of dyslexia please get in touch with the Support for Learning department who will undertake an investigation to assess your child’s literacy skills.


Support for Dyslexic Pupils


Dyslexia can present in children in a range of ways and in varying levels of severity, with some children displaying relatively minor literacy difficulties and others struggling to read at all. With most dyslexic pupils support will come from their class teachers. Class teachers at James Gillespie’s are trained in supporting dyslexic pupils within the classroom. Many of the strategies for support pupils with dyslexia are examples of good teaching practice and staff will already have integrated these into their lessons. These include strategies such as encouraging pupils to build up a glossary of new words, employing a range of ways for pupils to present their work and making use of IT.


The Support for Learning department will extract some pupils with more significant literacy difficulties in S1 and S2 to take part in a catch up reading programme called SRA Corrective Reading. In S3 and S4 the department offer tutorial groups as a course choice option. Pupils can choose to pick seven subjects, rather than eight, and are timetabled to SfL for 3 periods a week in small classes of around 6 pupils. These classes are staff by a SfL teacher and often a Pupil Support Assistant and offer curricular support to pupils through assisting with homework, helping to prepare for tests and reinforcing learning taking place in the classroom. These have proved to be very successful at improving pupils’ performance in their exams.


Parents can support pupils at home by assisting with revision (see the Revision Skills page) and encouraging pupils to revisit their studies. Evidence shows that the most effective way to support dyslexic pupils with their schoolwork is through over-learning. This means that pupils need to revisit their work and do many practice questions; not very exciting, but it is effective. Encouraging reading is also very helpful. This can be any sort of written material: magazines, factual books and online articles are all as good as novels in helping pupils develop their literacy skills. Audio books are also useful at helping to maintain a child’s interest in stories. A wide range of these are available from both the school library and council libraries.  Try to establish a routine at home where reading becomes part of everyday life. Discuss books and newspaper articles and make use of the excellent library facilities the city has to offer.

Spelling Support

Evidence suggests that the best way to support a child with spelling difficulties is to practice spelling for short periods of time on a regular basis. The very full curriculum that pupils enjoy at James Gillespie’s High School means it is difficult to extract pupils to work on their spelling without them missing out on their subjects. The Support for Learning department test all S1 pupils’ spelling around October. We will offer in-school support to those with the very weakest spelling skills, however, if your child’s spelling is moderately weak we may not intervene. If you wish to support your child with their spelling at home the following resources will prove useful. This excellent website has a series of spelling interventions which deal with the most common words. We would recommend spending 10-15 minutes every day working through the exercises.


Another useful strategy is to maintain a glossary of subject specific words at the back of your child’s jotter.  Revisit these lists on a regular basis using the ‘Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check’ method.


  1. Look at the work – visualize it, picture the shape of the letters and the word as a whole.
  2. Say the word aloud.
  3. Cover the word and visualize.
  4. Write the word out.
  5. Check the word and correct if necessary.


Spelling comes easier to some than others and there are no quick fixes. Some people may have to overlearn spellings, meaning this process will need to be repeated numerous times.


If, despite interventions like these, you child’s spelling fails to improve and teachers are concerned pupils may lose marks in exams due to poor spelling (English is the main subject where pupils can lose marks for poor spelling- it has to be very poor for pupils to lose marks in other subjects) the school can apply for the child to use a computer with spellcheck or to have their exam paper transcribed and corrected in the final exams. See more details on this process in the Assessment Arrangements section on the website.

Transition to James Gillespie's High School

Moving to High School is one of the key moments in a child’s life, full of excitement, questions and anxiety. For pupils with Additional Support Needs (ASN) these anxieties can be great and, without appropriate support, can threaten a successful start to High School. In order to lessen anxieties and improve children’s confidence in joining us at James Gillespie’s the Support for Learning department have developed a comprehensive transition programme. From January staff at the High School visit all six of our feeder primary schools to discuss the support needs of Primary 7 pupils with the appropriate staff. For pupils with more complex ASNs the High School ask primary schools to arrange Planning Meetings to allow High School staff to meet with the child’s parents, teachers and any relevant professionals. These meetings will allow the High School to gain an understanding of any specific challenges that the child may face during transition and whilst at high school and allows us to put appropriate support in place. All of the information gathered during these visits is shared with High School staff, both in a confidential report issued before the 3 day visit and during a training session on our first in-service day in August.


Between Easter and mid June, when all P7 pupils visit the High School for 3 days, the Support for Learning department at the High School run two Transition Support Groups. The groups consist of around 10 pupils from P7 who primary schools feel may struggle with transition, be it due to an ASN, social issues or behavioural issues. The groups are staffed by a SfL teacher and a Pupil Support Assistant and meet for 2 hours a week for 6 weeks. These groups have been hugely successful at helping pupils build relationships with key staff at the High School, enabling them to get to know the school buildings and allowing staff to get to know the pupils. During the course of the group pupils make a video about the school, interviewing staff and highlighting the areas of the school which the pupils are particularly excited about. The pupils take the video back to their primary schools and show it to their peers. Pupils who have taken part in the groups report significant decreases in their anxiety levels and an increase in confidence, not only with moving to high school, but also with their relationship with their peers.


If your child has an Additional Support Need, attends an out of catchment primary school but is coming to James Gillespie’s High School please ask the primary school to get in touch with us. In some cases we may only need to have a phone conversation to pass on relevant details, but in more complex cases staff from Gillespie’s will be happy to attend any Planning Meetings to get all the information that is required for a smooth transition.