Welcome to The Pod

The Pod is an Inclusion Hub for up to 10 children experiencing communication difficulties impacting on social interaction and social inclusion. The children in The Pod are all able to access a suitably adapted mainstream classroom and curriculum.

Please see the section to the right for more information. If you would like to make an enquiry about your child joining The Pod, please fill out the enquiry form on the link below. If you would like more information please contact the school and request to speak to the SENDCO.

Which pupils can attend The Pod?

Places in the Pod are only available to pupils with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

Schools, parents and/or professionals may recommend that a child with an EHCP is considered for consultation for a place in the provision. They are then referred to the SEN Admissions Panel that sits at Dorset County Hall once per term.

During the panel, each child is considered on a case-by-case basis against the agreed criteria for complex communication needs: children will also have significant need in social communication and, sometimes, a diagnosis of a complex communication need such as Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC).

Specialist advice is sought from all of the professionals involved with the child to indicate whether the provision would be suitable and whether they would benefit from being in a mainstream environment but require more intensive support than would normally be available in a mainstream setting.

Admissions Criteria

To be admitted to The Pod at Parley First School:

  • An Education, Health Care Plan (EHCP) or a draft EHCP, with ‘specialist provision’ stated will be required before consideration can be given for admission (review within the last 12 months)
  • Pupils will have a significant Complex Social Communication Need
  • Pupils will need to be of an appropriate chronological age with the appropriate personal care skills appropriate to their age and profile to fill the available place
  • A stable and secure environment is a priority within the Pod and must be maintained. The school will carefully consider (through the referral process) the vulnerability that is likely to be felt by any student within the school
  • Pupils must be able to keep themselves safe and refrain from physical aggressions towards themselves, others and property
  • 1:1 provision must not be stated as a requirement of the EHCP. Staffing ratios will not allow for this
  • Allocation of places will also take into consideration the age of the pupils to ensure that a mix meets social needs as well as effective curriculum access
Who is in The Pod?

The Pod is led by our base lead Julia Thebault our Specialist Teacher for ASC. The base lead works closely with the Specialist Pod Teaching Assistants, Speech and Language Therapist, Occupational Therapist, mainstream staff and many outside agency professionals to ensure that children within the base access a broad and balanced curriculum. Barriers to learning and social inclusion are proactively removed.

The base lead ensures that every child’s needs are individually planned for during their learning time within the base and within their mainstream lessons. Highly personalised programmes of teaching are available to support in mainstream lessons to ensure that all of the essential skills learnt within the small group environment are transferred into the wider contact of the mainstream classroom and beyond.

Targeted specialist teaching is delivered in order to develop key skills, with a particular focus on social communication and social understanding. Staffing, support levels and adaptation of resources and activities are planned to encourage maximum independence for each individual child. Staff throughout the school recognise their joint responsibility to support pupils in The Pod. They support both educational and social inclusion and facilitate joint planning between The Pod and the mainstream class teams.

Specialist Teaching Assistants support in the base and within mainstream lessons where needed. They also deliver individual programmes under the guidance of the base lead and outside agency professionals e.g. Speech and Language, sensory diets and occupational therapy programmes.

The children have weekly access to a Specialist Speech and Language Therapist that works within the base. The Speech and Language Therapist delivers highly specialist programmes as an integral part of the curriculum. This is a highly valued part of the provision, and the development of these basic skills enables the children to develop as effective communicators within the school and beyond.

Access to mainstream

The Pod offers an inclusive environment ensuring that every child feels safe, confident and happy to learn. Consideration is given to facilitate a pupil’s inclusion. Activities and expectations are suitable adapted to take into account individual needs. Our aim is for every child to interact successfully with their families, friends and teachers and contribute as independent, confident, happy members of the school community.

Children in The Pod will learn alongside their mainstream peers for part of the school day.

The continued suitability of placement will be considered at Annual Reviews of Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP) and if necessary, during interim reviews.

Specialist Teaching Assistants support children both in their mainstream classes and during unstructured activities, such as playtime, as required.


In The Pod we use the Cherry Garden framework through Tapestry to record and document the work that the children complete. Parents’ consent to having photos of their children taken and shared through an online learning journal. This is a fantastic tool to communicate and share the learning that takes place in The Pod. 

The Pod Staff

Mr J Bagwell


Miss J Thebault

Specialist Teacher ASC

Mrs A James

Specialist Teaching Assistant


Specialist Teaching Assistant

Mrs C Lake

Deputy Head

Miss L Morrison


Miss K Sewell

Specialist Teaching Assistant

Mrs C Aiken


Mrs D Mott

Specialist Teaching Assistant

Mrs G Everden

Specialist Teaching Assistant

Miss E Wood

Specialist Teaching Assistant