It has been intriguing me over the past few weeks as we’ve waited for the confirmed Code of Practice on SEND to be implemented from September 2014. There is an implication that the change will be managed over time, and, as far as the “sharp end” of SEND, where Children and Young People are in receipt of a current Statement of Special Educational Needs, or perhaps are already in some kind of special provision, that may be the case. I can see that over the anticipated three year period, the annual reviews embedded in the statements will enable them to be changed to Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP) as they are reviewed, with emphasis on those approaching transition to another institution.
At a recent talk by a Hampshire senior inspector for SEND, there was a suggestion that EHCPs will impact on between 1 and 2% of the school population. A large number of these will already be in the system, so should be ok, as long as they have families capable of keeping the system on it’s toes, or teachers able to act as an advocate in vulnerable cases.
That still leaves 98% of children in classrooms across the country. If, on the Government preferred scale of achievement, 85% of children are expected to leave Primary education with the equivalent of what was previously level 4b, it leaves 13% of children above the EHCP threshold, but less than the expected level. It is possible to speculate that they will have a range of individual, some special needs, within Communication and Interaction, Cognition and Learning or Social, Mental and Emotional Health. Sensory and/or Physical needs, I would suggest, are likely to have been picked up before formal education, so should already have the benefit of an EHCP/Statement. I would speculate further that the needs of a small number of those who achieve will occasionally be individualised, requiring specific interventions by adults.
Checklist of characteristics to look out for.
Keeping up with your peers is visible for three weeks of the year in the Tour de France, so is an apt analogy. The 150 best (depends on your choice) cyclists, working together in teams, seek to ensure that their leader, not necessarily the best of the bunch, has a chance to win the overall race after 3000 gruelling kilometres of racing. It is interesting watching the Peloton, or main pack, especially when hitting the worst of the mountains. Whereas on the flat, they are all seemingly capable of maintaining a reasonable place among the pack, but the hills and mountains drain the stamina, make muscles ache and provide such a challenge that even a winner of a stage can hit the wall and drop further behind.
The same can apply to learning. Going along on the flat is fine but learners need to encounter the hills, learn the techniques to keep going and then to develop the specialist skills needed to attempt the mountains. Children who encounter burn out are difficult to motivate to continue.
The 20% of learners who may have different degrees of individual needs have always existed in classrooms, and, despite the best efforts of every pre-school teacher, are likely still to enter the school system. Their needs need to be carefully interrogated through what I have called in another post, a Record of Actions, Discussions or Decisions, Interventions and Outcomes, or RADIO.
Identification, intervention, discussion, adaptation, feedback are all teacher skills, outlined in the teaching standards 6 and 5, thinking on your feet and adapting to needs. These derive from teacher expectation, standards 2 and 4, where, hopefully, planning embeds the lesson narrative, for different groups, to an extent where the teacher can spot those whose “progress” is somehow not as anticipated, therefore requiring a short chat. These interactions, if regular and progressively deeper and concerning, might be the beginning of a pattern, which if left, becomes a learning deficit, requiring greater intervention.
The mantra for September 2014, in the brave new world of SEND should be “Anticipate and expect, then Actions, Discussions or Decisions, Interventions and Outcomes” to ensure thatno childis allowed to slip.
It is worth remembering that a child cannot be deemed to have special educational needs if the teaching received is inadequate. This can apply to ineffective Teaching Assistant intervention also. SEND children need quality teacher time.