Introducing the Learning Support Team

Who We Are, What We Do, and How We’re Involved in Helping Every Student Succeed at Prem

Welcome to post #1 of the Learning Support team newsletter column for the new academic year! We’re so excited to be able to use this space to tell you all about our role at Prem, the value we add to the learning that goes on here, and our collective passion for building a truly inclusive community, where all students are accepted for who they are and how they learn best. Going forward, we will be delivering our take on a wide range of topics, from how you can encourage fine motor development in your preschooler, all the way to advocating for your high school student’s assessment accommodations. 

The article below is a repost from a largely similar one we published last year. We feel the overall message bears repeating, especially for those of us new to the Prem community. Enjoy! 

In this post, we will be responding to some common questions and misconceptions that might be out there regarding the purpose of Learning Support (LS) in general. 

What does “Learning Support” mean? The focus of our job is very straightforward: to ensure that every student in our school is being academically challenged in an appropriate way and that we are basing our judgment of whether or not this is happening on data. 

This means that we work with classroom teachers, specialist teachers, English as an Additional Language (EAL) teachers, and Counsellors to assess and monitor student progress and determine whether any student might require additional support in order to fully access the curriculum. Other times, there may be students who show especially strong aptitude, which requires us to design extensions to the curriculum that will be suitably engaging. This act of tailoring instruction to meet individual needs is called differentiation and is the cornerstone of what the LS team does here at Prem.  

Sometimes, we might judge that we need additional information on a student’s learning that we cannot easily obtain from our own assessment tools. In these cases, we would work with you to determine the best course of action, which may involve a recommendation to an external specialist such as an Educational Psychologist, Speech and Language Pathologist, or Occupational Therapist.

How do you decide which students receive support? In a word: data. We closely analyse all the learning data that is painstakingly collected by the teachers, from informal classroom observations to standardised assessments, and make all decisions related to our involvement with any student on the basis of this information. We insist on making sure that everything we do is evidence-based, as we are aware that we may be embarking on a years-long academic partnership with you and your child. 

How involved we are with your child will depend on the level of support required; for some students, it may be enough for us to have regular meetings with their teachers to help plan learning engagements tailored to their level; for others, it might mean that we do small group or 1-to-1 sessions targeting a specific skill. 

All students on our caseload are given a Pupil Passport, which documents the nature of the support they are receiving and is easily transferable whether they continue onto the next grade level at Prem or move elsewhere. This helps to ensure continuity in your child’s education, which is especially important in international schools where many families move around often.

Should I be worried if I hear from you? Please don’t! While we certainly understand how concerning it might be to hear that your child may need additional support (some of us are parents ourselves, and know how hard it is not to take something like that personally), here at Prem we are part of a larger collaborative team whose aim it is to make sure that we differentiate our instruction for all students as a matter of good practice. If we contact you, it does not mean that anything is “wrong” with your child; it simply means that we are able to offer specific support or intervention that could really make a difference to their learning. 

The world awaiting our students when they graduate is a diverse one, and what better way to prepare them than to truly celebrate diversity in our own learners!

What if I’m worried about my child in school? Come and talk to us. Perhaps you have already discussed your concerns with your spouse, or with your child’s teacher, but the worries persist; you know your child best, so if you have nagging doubts about any aspect of their development, we are more than ready to listen and formulate a plan with you. 

Will you take into account my views and those of my child when planning how best to support us? Absolutely. You and your child are our best partners in your child’s learning, and it is crucial that you feel ownership over the support plan that we develop. If it doesn’t sit right with you, we will keep working on it until it does.  

Who are you people, anyway? We are quite a motley bunch, with a mix of languages, upbringings and interests, but what unites us is our dedication to supporting all students in finding their version of success at Prem! We are certified educators with decades of international school teaching experience between us, and all of us possess additional  credentials in special education. 

Where can we find you? The Early Years and Junior School LS office is along the same corridor as the Junior School Art classroom. The Senior School LS office is in room SS10, directly across from the Senior School administration office. We have an open door policy and would love to see you if we’re not in the middle of teaching – please pop in to say hello! Below are our email addresses, should you prefer to get in touch that way:

For Junior School:

Agnes Wdowik,

Keiko Shofu,

For Senior School:

Akane Yoshida,

Alec Wright,

Coming up in the next column: Your Child and Executive Functions.


Until next time,

Your friendly neighbourhood LS team

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