Writing up my notes from a couple of County briefings on the draft SEN framework, recently passed through Parliament, it struck me that notes on the website might help. There are other insights on line, which may provide greater detail on specific issues, so please keep browsing. SEN change is becoming very important and will have significant impact in each classroom and on each classteacher.
Applies to education until 25 years of age.
Early Years settings and Schools must have a designated and qualified SENCo, who can provide support and guidance to staff and parents. They will also act as a link between the school and external providers of specialist support.
There are four areas of SEN description in the new framework
- Communication and Interaction
- Cognition and Learning
- Social, Mental and Emotional Health
- Sensory and/or Physical needs.
Categories, such as School Action and School Action+ are removed, with a single category of Additional Needs replacing. It is expected that the majority of children in mainstream education will have their needs met. In significant cases, the current Statement will be replaced by an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan.
The classteacher will be responsible for the progress of all children on their class register. This will be a consideration within Performance Management and possibly have a bearing on Performance Related Pay. The teacher knowledge of SEN should be a part of PM conversations. There may be a need for CPD for staff in this area.
There is no mention of IEPs (Individual Education Plans), but early identification of SEN should be built into monitoring the progress of all children. Planning should take account of all needs. It has been interesting to note that the process of analyse-plan-do review-record is an underpinning statement within the policy, as it is an underpinning of the IQM scheme.
Regular reviews should be built in to practice, with meetings with parents expected, as now with IEPs. There is a focus on outcomes, which will also be a focus for Ofsted inspections.
High quality teaching is an expectation. Any judgement of SEN will be made against judgements of teaching. A child cannot have a judgement of SEN if teaching is inadequate. Advice should be actively sought from the SENCo and other internal experts to ensure that effective teaching approaches are used to help pupils make progress towards agreed outcomes.
The school SENCo role is a statutory duty upon a school. They are responsible for coordination of provision for children with SEN. Informing, identifying, monitoring, securing services, inclusion, training, record-keeping. They should be a qualified teacher, who, post 2009 holds the National award for SEN coordination, within 3 years of appointment.
“Where pupils continue to make inadequate progress despite high quality teaching targeted at their areas of need, the classteacher, working with the SENCo, should assess whether the child has a significant learning difficulty. Where this is the case, there should be an agreement about the SEN support that is required to support the child.”
Note the emphasis on the classteacher, who is being seen as the first level of the descriptor of needs, supporting possible diagnosis with support.
SEN support in schools is described as graduated, based on analyse, plan, do review, record. It should involve parents in conversation at the earliest stages. Record keeping is essential, from the classroom plans to TA/teacher interventions. Plans should be shared effectively, so that parents can be partners.
Where there is a level of concern, after a series of interventions that, despite high quality provision, have not had demonstrable impact, an application can be made for an Education, Health and Care Assessment. The request can come from a parent, the young person, school, post-16 providers, and health or care professionals. The LA collates evidence and must secure EHC assessment if “opinion the child has or may have SEN.” Decision on assessment must be made within six weeks, with bodies asked for information responding asap within the six weeks. As now, the LA has to approach a wide range of external advisers; essential that these have been involved with the CYP before the assessment is requested, so that they can express a view. Will have regard to the four categories of SEN need.
Assessment should take a maximum of 20 weeks, as opposed to the 26 weeks currently. A parent will be informed within 16 weeks if an EHC plan not needed. If agreed, 15 days for agreement from YP/parents, then 15 days for the institution, before being quoted in the plan. There is a right to appeal at all stages.
The plan should be maintained and reviewed in the same way as a Statement currently. Health services specified supplied by the Clinical Commissioning Group or NHS. There is a feeling that the care needs flow from the 1989 Children’s Act.
The LA can cease a plan if no longer responsible for the child with SEN. The LA may deem a plan “no longer necessary”, if evidence of outcomes being achieved. The EHC plan ceases at the end of the academic year where a young person turns 25.
There is an option for a parent/YP to hold the Personal Budget, but this can be rejected under certain circumstances, judged by personal capability.
School SEN Information report
The setting should publish on the website a document outlining their approach to SEN identification and how needs are met. This will include:-
- Identifying and assessing SEN.
- Reviewing progress to agreed outcomes.
- Supporting CYP at points of transition and transfer, especially where vulnerable.
- Adaptations to the curriculum and specific programmes followed.
- Resources available to support specific needs.
- External expertise available and how it is secured.
- Assessing the effectiveness of SEN provision; reporting to Governors.
- Enabling CYP to access the whole experience, including extra-curricular and off-site experience.
- Supporting and improving emotional and social development and measures to prevent bullying.
There is a duty on Local Authorities to identify, collate and disseminate information about locally available provision which can be accessed, through a clear website, by educational institution or CYP to support the CYP with SEN. It should be easy to access and navigate. Inevitably, this will vary from LA to LA, depending on the available, identified expertise.
Expertise available within a school setting should be included within the Local Offer to make best use of local expertise.
Schools will receive allocated resources to support additional needs which are not ring fenced. Within their budgets and available resources, schools must provide high quality appropriate support. Costs of special educational provision beyond a nationally prescribed threshold per CYP are met by the responsible local authority (currently £6000)
Admissions and Inclusion
- Assumption that the majority of CYP with SEN will be in mainstream education settings.
- A child with SEN but without an EHC plan must be educated in mainstream.
- CYP and parent preference should be met where possible.
- CYP with EHC plan and parent can apply for specific institution.
- Equality act 2010, prohibits discrimination against disable CYP in respect of admissions for reasons related to disability.
Spring 2014 Royal Assent expected (subject to Parliament)
Transition arrangements to be clarified by DfE.
September 2014 implementation.
Kent and Lambeth Pathfinder meetings
Andre Imich SEN and disability adviser- DfE.
Part 2 SEN Changes, further reflectionsThere are more questions than answers… and the more I find out, the less I know…
IQM’s most viewed post in one weekend, was a summary of the draft SEN proposals due to be implemented in September 2014.
Inevitably, some questions were asked by colleagues, seeking clarity. Some I was able to answer, from recently acquired information. Others remain. Many questions are likely only to be asked when the bill becomes statutory and reflections on embedding the new system in practice becomes a reality.
I can see issues arising, for all participants, some due to the vagaries of the new legislation, some to the recognition that class teachers will be held accountable for progress of children with SEN in their class(es), some to internal systems, some down to concerned parents, some to external colleagues required to respond to the need for multi-agency meetings. Some issues will become visible over time, as the implications of the new curriculum and the need for a school assessment system emerge. The latter could become an issue in comparison with another school. A case of “my child with SEN is worse than yours”.
Looking at some of these in isolation.
Teachers, in any education setting, have always had the requirement to ensure that they plan to meet the needs of the children in their class. However, the new SEN framework speaks in terms that may cause some concern. “Interventions should not be used as a replacement for poor quality teaching”; the room for manoeuvre, by SLT/SENCo/LA in consideration of SEN support within this statement, is huge. Equally, if it is the regular class practice for the children with SEN to work with a TA and the TA frequently plans and implements those plans, but a child makes/ or does not make progress, Performance Management of the teacher might depend on those outcomes. Who’s able to claim the progress or lack of it? Teachers will need to address any shortfall in their SEN knowledge urgently, as this will begin to form a part of a PM conversation.
There is an assumption that the majority of CYP with SEN will be in mainstream education settings and that a child with SEN but without an EHC (Education, Health and Care) plan must be educated in mainstream. These underlying assumptions will have significant bearing on school and class decision making.
IEPs have been a part of SEN practice for some time, although they are not mentioned in the draft framework. These have been well used in many cases, but equally they can be filed and shelved for the periods between reviews and targets reset by default. Class teacher record keeping will become a significant issue, particularly for vulnerable children. School Action and School Action plus categories are replaced by a single SEN category. With teachers being held more accountable, I can see a case for in-class individual case studies being developed, based on descriptions of what’s been done in class and the outcomes, to support the school SENCo in fine-tuning decisions about need. The next steps, articulated in a Personalised Action Plan (PAP-my words), will be for the class teacher to implement, with intention and outcomes reported to SENCo, parents and SLT/Governors on a regular basis.
Inevitably, with PM and an Ofsted focus on SEN outcomes, classroom observations will have a focus on the needs of identified specific groups and individuals.
The combination of a number of PAP style interventions, will build a picture that supports a referral to an external “expert”, eg an Ed Psych, which will, in turn result in further, fine-tuned PAPs.
Over time, evidence which can be presented for the replacement for a Statement, the Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), will be developed.
It may sound like the status quo. There is, professionally, more at stake for class teachers in the new framework, but potentially even more for a child with SEN, whose teacher is unable to spot and investigate needs and with the skills and knowledge to address them.
Parents will need to know the outline and details of the new system, so this will be an on-line statement of policy and practice, with potentially hard copy alternatives to allow easy access reference material. Parent contact with class teachers are likely to be at a more detailed level, replacing some conversations which might have been conducted by the SENCo.
Parents will also need to know the details of the Local Offer, the range of services available locally.
All school communication systems will need to be reviewed. Supported discussions with parents may become the norm, with commensurate cost implications.
With Personal Budgets available within the EHC plan, parents may well need significant support in decision making about how best to use this, especially if they choose to be budget holders. Internal Team Around the Child (TAC) meetings are likely to become more frequent, as information is brought together, shared within collegiate expertise and decisions made about future plans. These could be Class teacher, TA, SENCo and HT with parents, sometimes supported by external expertise.
Like Statements, EHCPs will depend on the quality of information that shows regular, sustained intervention by appropriate staff, the (lack of) impact and a descriptor of the continuing, serious needs of the child.
SEN and Levels
Where the National system of levels has seemingly been abandoned for most year groups, with the requirement for schools to have their own system, it is not inconceivable that within this particular area lies further room for manoeuvre for decision makers, who will have to decide how robust the internal assessment system is to back up the decisions, how effectively they have been applied and their impact.
There will be a question of whether it measures one child’s performance against peers effectively and whether it show that the need is significant, compared to their age group. This latter aspect, against National age group, is currently partly articulated by a child’s level in comparison with peers, showing a level of developmental delay. Below level 1, there are “P” levels, which fine tune pre-level decisions.
Assessing Pupil Progress (APP) statements, or similar, have been a part of school assessment systems for some time. It might be assumed that they will disappear, along with levels, but the structure might just provide the vehicle for a fine-tuned internal assessment system, as it applies to children with SEN. Whether these statements are derived from yearness capabilities, is likely to be down to each school as it stands. There is, in my mind, a strong case for area moderation of systems, to ensure comparability.
The fine-tuned aspects of APP, although less helpful for whole class assessment, does provide a clarity to describing individual progression, especially for an early career teacher, who may be unsure of what to look for.
Behaviour as a category has been removed; “Behavioural difficulties do not necessarily mean that a child or young person (CYP) has a SEN and should not automatically lead to a pupil being registered as having SEN”.
This statement, in itself, signals an intention, where , unless it can be demonstrated that a child’s behaviour is a result of one of the SEN categories, just being “naughty” to some degree, does not count as SEN, so should not be passed to SENCo for remediation. A reminder of the four categories:-
- Communication and Interaction
- Cognition and Learning
- Social, Mental and Emotional Health
- Sensory and/or Physical needs.
School behaviour policies need to be revisited/revised in the light of the new legislation.
In conclusion: - Considering the implications of the impending changes should be a priority. Not doing so could leave a school, or class teachers vulnerable to challenge by parents of children with SEN. Understandable systems, clearly articulated within policies, available to everyone connected with the school and enacted by every member of staff need to be developed.