Cedar House Values and IEB Accommodations

Cedar House is a progressive school with a strong emphasis on academic aspiration and self-management.

The School operates according to the principle that values, rather than rules, should be the main elements directing the behaviour of children. The fostering of healthy relationships between children and between children and adults is central to the life and wellbeing of the School. We encourage expressions of individuality that are highly respectful of self, others, the community and the environment.

The School will do everything it can to support students whose behaviour, when they join us, has been affected by problems they’ve experienced in unsympathetic environments, or who who have not responded well to the coercion of standardized thinking in previous schooling. We also embrace children who have been victims of bullying or have failed to thrive because they appear different. Many of these children go on to flourish in the environment at Cedar House.

We have no tolerance of any kind of disrespectful behaviour and strive very hard to maintain an environment where all members of the School feel valued and respected and where a respectful relationship with the learning process is paramount.

At the same time, we have an understanding of the difficulties encountered during childhood and adolescence. Within certain inviolable boundaries, and always holding individuals to account for their behaviour, we are tolerant of mistakes that are made and can be rectified, where we can find the underlying positive intention.

The quality of our emotional support of students who face challenges in their development is something that, at Cedar House, we feel particularly proud of.

However, students who, despite encouragement and support, are unable to take responsibility for their own learning are clearly not best served by a school that demands a high degree of self-management.

At Cedar House we do not provide ongoing intensive help for students who have severe problems that interfere with their academic achievement or personal happiness. The interests of a child with a severe learning barrier or behavioural difficulty, for example, are much better served by a school that is dedicated to providing this sort of help.

Accommodations

Some families wish for an application to be made to the examination board (IEB) for (what are termed) accommodations for their children in examinations. These include extra time, use of a computer, a reader or a scribe, or a separate venue. Applications can be made when the student is considered (following an assessment by an educational psychologist) to have a significant learning barrier. For some students these accommodations can give the limited extra help that will allow them to achieve their best in exams.

An accommodations application is a matter for the family rather than the School – even if, occasionally, the School suggests that an accommodation may benefit a child. The School will administer the accommodations application, which must be made through the School. If accommodations are granted by the IEB, the School will implement them in exams (from grade 10). The costs of the assessment (made externally), the application itself, and additional costs (such as purchase of recording device or hiring of a scribe) are the responsibility of the family. No accommodations can be implemented by the School until they have been granted by IEB and from grade 10.

The School provides substantial academic and personal support for students of all levels of skill, including additional classes after school; individual ad hoc tutorial help (within the limits of teachers’ available time); personal help and guidance by mentors and teachers; and therapeutic help from the student adviser. The student adviser is a specialist in helping students to overcome internal obstacles that interfere with personal and academic development. However, the School has no other specialist resources to support students with learning difficulties or who need intensive help.

Students who have significant learning barriers can usually overcome them through specialized individual therapeutic work. The School’s view is that it is greatly preferable to overcome learning barriers than to perpetuate them through accommodations and risk pathologizing the student.

We therefore encourage families to work with the School, through the student adviser, to identify possible learning barriers as early as possible in the student’s time at Cedar House so that, wherever possible, these can be overcome in a way that is beneficial to the individual student in the long term.

Jonathan Livingstone  June 2016