The innovative work of teaching assistants working with neurodiversity at Mount Kelly

Personalised Learning Team

Mount Kelly

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Mount Kelly is co-educational day and boarding school in Tavistock, Devon. It is a school with a strong commitment to co-curricular activities and high standards of academic achievement. It is also a school with an increasingly neurodiverse community. It is one of the things that makes it such a great place to learn, and to work. However, it comes with great responsibility.

We are the Personalised Learning Team. Some people think we just help in the classroom, that we ‘do maths’, but our roles are much wider than that.

We have to be adaptable. Each day is different. Our neurodiverse pupils can sometimes become overwhelmed by their commute into school. So, before we even set foot into a classroom to support, we need to be a listening ear and a calming influence – helping to give the pupils the toolkit they need to regulate; to help get themselves through the school day.

We support more than academics; we provide social and emotional support too. And in building trusting relationships, we help prepare young people for next steps – confidence to play a musical instrument, go on their first Learning Outside the Classroom experience, or go onto GCSE’s, A Levels, university or elsewhere. It is rewarding when it pays off, when pupils learn to trust us enough to try to express their feelings.

This extract is from a letter a pupil sent to her teachers. It was the first time this pupil had tried to articulate their frustration. This was a first step.

“I have masked my whole life and that has meant that people have never really believed that I am autistic and that I experience the same things that other autistic people who don’t mask do; but I have learnt to hide this. The world just doesn’t understand that I also want to be a person who gets a job, has a relationship and integrates into society, but apparently you can’t have both and that means I am constantly stuck between two different versions of me, which is exhausting.”

Providing support is a complex process and we all need more guidance and training in schools to help give these young people a chance to ‘integrate’.

In Personalised Learning at Mount Kelly, we don’t just ‘do maths’.


29 September 2023