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Admissions Requirements

Name of School

Combe Pafford School (Special)


The primary need must be Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD), some pupils with MLD may also have Autism or Physical Difficulties

Number of Places

202 pre 16*    60 Post 16*  (*as per EFA funding agreement)

Age Range

7 –19  

Pupils with Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD)

Pupils with MLD will have attainments significantly below expected levels in most areas of the National curriculum, despite appropriate interventions. They have much greater difficulty than their peers do in acquiring basic literacy and numeracy skills and in understanding concepts. They may have associated speech and language delay, low self-esteem, low levels of concentration, under-developed skills, communication and interaction or physical difficulties.

To access a place at Combe Pafford School the child:

  • should be in receipt of an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan or Statement of SEN naming moderate learning difficulties as the primary area of need; and
  • for the main school, pupils should be between 7 and 16 years of age (Y3 – Y11), though admission at Key Stage 4 (Y10 & 11) would occur only in exceptional circumstances;
  • for the Sixth Form, students should be between the ages of 16-19 (Y12 – Y14), admissions priority will be given to Combe Pafford School pupils, but students may also be admitted through consultation with the Local Authority if they fit the general admissions criteria.
  • requires access to an appropriately differentiated, broad and balanced curriculum; and
  • should exhibit a level of ‘vulnerability’ requiring an educational environment offering a high the level of social and emotional support.

Children with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Pupils with an ASD placed at Combe Pafford will have moderate learning difficulties, but also have significant needs on the ASD spectrum and find it difficult to:

  • understand and use non-verbal and verbal communication;
  • understand social behaviour, thus affecting their ability to interact with both children and adults; and
  • think and behave flexibly, this being demonstrated in restricted, obsessional or repetitive activities.

They find it difficult to understand the social behaviour of others, are literal thinkers and fail to understand the social context. When routines are changed, or when settings don’t meet their needs, they can become anxious or stressed. This can result in inappropriate behaviour.

Some pupils with an ASD have altered perceptions of sounds, sights, smell, touch and taste that affect their response to these sensations. They may also have unusual sleep and behaviour patterns.

Young children with an ASD may not play with toys in a conventional and imaginative way, but use them rigidly and in a repetitive manner. They find it hard to generalise skills and have difficulty in adapting to new situations, instead preferring a known routine.

For admission to the autistic spectrum base within Combe Pafford School the child should:

  • have an EHC plan or Statement of SEN that identifies both MLD and an autistic spectrum disorder as the primary areas of need;
  • require access to an appropriately differentiated, broad and balanced curriculum;
  • require a high the level of social and emotional support;
  • be able to, or capable of, developing spoken language, (although this may need to be initially supported by an appropriate augmented system of communication such as PECS);
  • demonstrate a level of tolerance and have a behaviour profile that would make mainstream education inappropriate.

Physical Difficulties (PD)

As a general principle of policy, the Local Authority does not place children whose primary area of need is a physical and/or medical difficulty in special schools.

Only children who present physical and/or medical difficulties together with moderate learning difficulties will be considered for placement at the school.

For further information about admission to the school please contact the SEN team at Torbay LA  on 01803 208274