In any school context, there will be a range of achievement from low to high. Examples of work outcomes, collated into an exemplar portfolio, can provide baselines against which progress can be measured. A language, similar to levelness, is likely to be applied to describe the subtleties that contribute to a decision that progress has been made. A portfolio is a very good resource for newly qualified teachers and teachers new to the school, or to a year group. If you have never seen a level 5 piece of work, or an A* piece, how would you know what it looked like and what to look for? It would also act as an exemplar to back up teacher judgements on transfer, if collated as a transfer magazine.
If children are doing well, as defined by the expected range of outcomes for a year group, teachers, parents and learners are likely to be happy, with positive feedback and guidance supporting the learners to continue and accept further challenge.
What happens when child x starts to really fall behind peers, to a point where a teacher and school suspect some additional needs exist?
The diagram above seeks to articulate steps that can be taken and which would fit within the requirements of the new SEN approach.
If a child falls behind others in a class or year group:-
- Parents should be aware at the earliest stages and be offered support and guidance to help at home.
- The school SENCo should be made aware of concerns and the ensuing professional dialogue may propose specific courses of action to be tried in the classroom.
- Teacher thinking should be captured on lesson plans, to demonstrate clearly adaptations to lessons and outcomes.
- Marking work (possibly on a photocopy) should become more diagnostic and more focused on specifics to support progress.
- In-class available support, from teacher and Teaching Assistant, should be available and deployed effectively.
- A clear descriptor of the child, based on some kind of SWOT analysis creates a background statement, a summary of the current position.
- Individual Education Plans (which are not mentioned in the new framework, but which often were inactive documents), could be replaced by some kind of Personal Action Plans to be developed and enacted, with reporting to parents and SENCo at specific intervals, within an internal Team Around the Child discussion.
- External expertise should be sought, should child x’s needs exceed the school capacity to understand and cater for appropriately.
- As difficulties become greater or more obvious, the need for what was a Statement of Need, now to become an Education, Health and Care Plan, will be more clearly articulated in a Case Study, collating the available history of descriptors, intervention and outcomes.
- An EHCP may, or may not be appropriate, decided by the LA, and may, as now, specify the help that the school should provide. Either way, the process is cyclic, and should be based on excellent communication.
There is a clear statement in the draft SEN framework 2014 that states that intervention should not be seen as a substitute for poor teaching. Extrapolated further, this could equally read that a child will not get an EHCP intervention to substitute for a poor school system.
Time to look at the whole system, including assessment and record keeping.