The 2014 SEN framework
SEN changes for 2014
Top Tips for Inclusion
SEND 2014; possible class teacher Crib sheet.
When is SEND?
Individual needs; fine tuning
SEND Building an individual case study.
SEND Teachers as investigators
Changes to the organisation of SEND provision have been in train for the past few years, during which time I have blogged, as I have come across useful information. These blogs are archived within the contents list of the blog, but I have extracted (some of) them to make what I hope is a more holistic document here.
I have focused on issues as they affect mainstream school teachers. I have sought to develop a coherent, investigative approach that can fit with normal classroom practice, largely premised on the need to look, to reflect and record concerns to inform deeper conversations. I am not looking to describe the range of individual needs that might be encountered. There are many expert colleagues who are much more able to offer insights into the specifics of individualised SEN(D).
SEN is the area of teaching and learning where teacher expertise may be challenged. This, in itself, is an indicator of potential need, but, for a teacher, can create a feeling of vulnerability. There is always the possibility of meeting a child whose needs fall outside previous experience; the truism that “you’ve met one child with autism, so you’ve met one child with autism” can exemplify many areas of SEN. General statements like, “x cannot read”, are unhelpful to discussion. Investigating and sharing specifically what a child can and cannot do can lead to focused intervention, rather than general approaches. Leaving a child in a situation where they are clearly failing, are seen to be failing and know that this is the case, is destructive to the teacher and the child. Acknowledging specific issues and finding the specific means to address the issues demonstrates a positive approach for everyone to acknowledge.
There is no doubt that, when a teacher encounters a child who does not fit the “normal mould” that they are used to, that they may experience unease. However, although it is possible for changes to occur later in life, as a result of illness, or a degenerative situation that suddenly becomes apparent, it is unlikely that special needs will be unknown to some extent, relatively early in a child’s life, at home and (pre)school. Concerns will have been raised, by parents or professionals, which hopefully have been followed up and investigated, so that, by the time a child enters school there may already be substantial information available.
Inclusion is just doing your job
Inclusion is seeking to effectively teach each and every child who enters your classroom. They will be known from earlier records, from preschool and parents on entry to school. Therefore, from the early stages of their education journey, teachers can analyse, prepare and begin to plan what they think are appropriate challenges and support structures for known cases. Plans should be adaptable to developing needs with challenge and support altered to evidence. I would amplify the word challenge, as it is easy to fall into the trap of considering needs to be lower level than reality.
On entry into the formal learning situation, the staff eyes and ears are alert to issues, noting down things that are said and done, to ensure that future reflections can be based on pattern finding or evidence across a range of issues. Evidence finding is the bread and butter of teacher life, in terms of interactions, questioning, feedback, support and outcomes.
This was summarised in a pair of posts; SEND Tic-Tac-Toe (team including the child; in class decisions, team around the child; including parent(s) and in-house expertise; Team including external experts) and SEN Radio? (Record of Actions, Discussions and Decisions, Interventions and Outcomes) which propounded the ides of fine tuning to need.
Consolidating this into a case study can support the efforts of external professionals to provide appropriate advice and support. A lack of detailed information ensures that an investigation has to be put in place. SEND Teachers as investigators
In order to support classteacher thinking, especially about the details of some aspects of SEND, I pulled together a crib-sheet, SEND 2014; possible class teacher Crib sheet.
which proved popular, as a start point for planning, thinking and record keeping.
Unlike taking tablets, remediation is also embedded in relationships and these need to be carefully considered. Children know where they are in comparison with their peers. They can judge for themselves those who can and can also highlight that they can’t, across a wide range of subjects. This can lead to diminished self-esteem, to go along with the understanding of a learning struggle. They know when they are being given easier things to do, so presenting challenge with a clear rationale is important.
Allocating a teaching assistant can create a mutually dependent relationship, with a child’s independence being limited by constant adult support. Equally, the TA role can be dependent on the child’s continuing needs. It need careful oversight and review.
The child needs can challenge the teacher expertise, especially in the earlier stages of their career, where they may not have had wide experience across several year groups, so can understand where the child is on the development spectrum. Where this is the case, reference to teachers of earlier years can provide pedagogical and practical advice. In many ways, teaching standard 2, progress and outcomes, is THE key standard to support teacher understanding. What is the “normal” learning journey of children from early years through to year 6? Ok, I know this will never be linear, but there are developmental patterns which describe the possible jumps through aspects of the curriculum. Unpicking what progress “might be like”, gives a background to raising concerns.
Keeping a track of all the different needs of children is currently significant, within the change National Curriculum, where cohort expectations have been articulated, with “labels” that will be allocated at the end of Key Stages that suggest that a child may not be at the expected standard, a euphemism for possible SEN. There is a need to ensure cohort coverage while at the same time looking at the areas where individuals might not be quite at the level required.
I would propose the use of Exercise books as personal organisers? as a means of keeping track of the two aspects, where lesson by lesson progress through the curriculum is evidenced, but flip-out sheets record the specifics of individual needs. The whole becomes a personal portfolio, from which year-based portfolios can be developed. They also allow clarity in formative and summative assessment, as well as reporting, because the evidence is available for all viewers.