What we do
As a support department we are actively involved at every level of the school. From meeting with the directorate, to collaborating outside agencies, discussing issues with parents, working with children and leading staff training for teachers, the support department performs a variety of integral activities within the European School The Hague.
Documentation and Coordination of support
An important part of our work is described in the Support Plan, both for the Nursery and Primary (download here) as well as Secondary (download following soon). The coordination of support encapsulates a variety of tasks, from monitoring the process between a psychologist and a family to active involvement in the allocation of hours towards supporting our pupils in a variety of situations. This includes, but is not limited to children with learning difficulties or high achieving pupils. By having regular discussion with all class teachers & mentors, we discuss all pupils within our school and try to coordinate and allocate the appropriate support where needed.
Language Support / English as an Additional Language (EAL)
Apart from other types of support (be it mathematics or social-emotional) special attention is given to language support and EAL. Because of the number of language sections and children who are educated in a language that is not their mother tongue, a high number of our support hours are allocated for extra tuition for language in the Dutch and English language sections, since these sections are open to children with any mother tongue.
The focus of Language Support and EAL is not to support children until they are completely fluent or capable within the language of their section. The focus is on providing a short-term intensive period where through in-class support and withdrawal, the children work on their basic language skills. This enables them to access the curriculum and be supported within regular class activities for further development of their language skills. Once this level of skill has been attained, the children have finished the language support / EAL programme and follow the in-class program without involvement from a support teacher.
Some children have more specific needs that cannot be met without more intensive support. For example a diagnosis of dyslexia or autism could mean that special measures need to be provided to support the child in becoming an independent learner in the classroom, capable of accessing the curriculum. These cases are treated individually and always with collaboration of the parents and specialised organisations together with our school advisor from the support network (see: External organisations for more information on this).
Partner in communication
During a pupil’s time with us there are a number of events that can occur that are difficult to deal with. Divorce situations at home, bereavement within the family or a sudden illness are all serious events that we actively support pupils and their families with. This can mean that either one of our teachers has a few sessions with a child, or that we collaborate with school social workers or other outside agencies to help the family wherever possible.
The European School The Hague is partly funded and supported by the Dutch government, which means we also receive funding and are a part of the support network of this region, the Stichting Passend Primair Onderwijs Haaglanden (SPPOH) for Primary and Samenwerkingsverband Zuid-Holland West (SWVZHW) for Secondary. From SPPOH/SWVZHW a school advisor is appointed to us who can liaise and discuss particular pupils with us where the school requests input to help provide for the pupil’s specific needs. In some cases when the needs of the pupil extend beyond our support structure within the school, we will refer to specialised schools within the area. One of these schools provides English tuition to children with special educational needs in English, which is Lighthouse. In other cases, provisions are available within the language of the host country of our school.
International SEN Forum
The support department of the ESH is a proud member of the International SEN Forum (ISENF). This body of people consists of members of the support departments of all international schools within The Hague and meets regularly to discuss joint matters related to the provision of education for pupils with specific needs. Whilst the terminology can differ (additional needs, support, special needs) the aims are the same, to provide fitting education for the pupils within our school.
As an accredited European School, the support department also joins the other European Schools for professional development and contact days every year. During these days, together with other coordinators and the inspectors for support from the European School system, we explore and discuss matters related to differentiation, provisions for our pupils and procedural steps within the school system related to pupils with more specific needs.
Centre for Youth and Welfare
Within our area of the city we are linked with our Centre for Youth and Welfare (CJG Segbroek). We have an appointed school doctor and school nurse based at the CJG who we can contact for any matters related to the health of our pupils. The doctor and nurse also join us at our Internal Support Committee (see below) and all pupils within our school are called in for a medical examination at the age of 5, 11 and 14.
The educational centre here in The Hague, the Haags Centrum voor Onderwijs (HCO) is our partner in all matters related to staff training and further psychological/pedagogical support for our pupils. Sometimes this can be for one consultation after which we refer to other agencies. At other times this means that a member of HCO will come to our school to work with one of our pupils or teachers to help implement strategies for further support.
Various external organisations and individuals
Apart from our partners at HCO, CJG, SPPOH, ISENF and SWVZHW the school also works closely together with individuals and organisations in the region. One of these is Laura Koster, a speech therapist who works within our school two days a week and can offer speech therapy in English, Dutch and Spanish. Furthermore we work together with specialists at psychological health centres, like De Jutters or Groos Orthopedagogie. These are some examples of the specialists we can refer to and consult with.
Internal Support Committee
Once every six weeks we meet together with our school advisors from SPPOH/SWVZHW, our school nurse, our school social worker and consultant from HCO in our Internal Support Committee (ISC) to discuss pupils where the school requests additional input in meeting the pupils’ needs. This can either be in an extended form to gain more clarity (where parents are always invited to attend) or in a shorter manner where we update each other on all the progress. These meetings are invaluable in the whole process of arranging support for our intensive support pupils. By bringing together multiple disciplines we can take action together from different perspectives and always in collaboration with the parents.