Session 306: How are schools now supporting students with SEN?

On Thursday 8th June 2016, UKEdChat explored how schools are now supporting children with special educational needs. In particular, the session asked:

  1. National SEN priority should be?
  2. Tips for coordinating with SENCo and agencies.
  3. Best resources to support SEN.
  4. What would you include in ITT about SEN?
  5. How to ease transition issues for children with SEN?
  6. How can educators best support medical special needs?
  7. What are the common special needs you have encountered in your classroom and how have you supported them?
  8. How can we support parents to support children with SEN?


The education of pupils who are deemed as needing further support is often a subject provoking passion. The main emphasis of Special Educational Needs (SEN) education is to create opportunities that are as equal as possible, with the fight arising arise against bureaucracy, funds and equality feeling constant.

The SEN topic is always well attended when #UKEdChat sessions discuss the challenges, joys and ideas when working with children who live with their disability. The questions for this discussion were carefully deliberated to ensure the topic was explored from different perspectives.

The first question prodded participants to think about what national SEN priorities should be, and why. Tute began by saying that the, “priority should be early identification of any learning challenge”, whereas Victoria Renwick pleaded, “letting professionals do whatever is best for the children in their care, including their families – whatever that is.” Indeed, there was a coalescence of excellent responses to this initial question including, “National SEN priority should be appropriate educational/vocational placement for every EVERY child” and “timely assessment, advice and support to and from professionals, appropriate funding, high expectations for all”, via Joe W and Roy Souter respectively. One key message from several in the session called that SEN students can achieve and fulfil their potential like all students in a school, however this may look for each person.

The second part of the session explored tips for coordinating with SENCo and agencies. Organisation is key, but Joe W argued that, “coordination with others must be honest about what is needed to support best outcome for child. Not organisations reputation”. This resonated with Keely Nugent who correctly pointed to, “keep the centre of focus on the child. All parties should be working for the same end”, and Sharon Smith added, “Frequent, open dialogue. Involve parents and student wherever possible. Always child-focused, agenda free!”

The session developed to the third question, asking for best resources to support SEN. Kathryn Morgan claimed that, “No 1 resource. Personalise provision, seek support where necessary, partnership with parents & above all BELIEF in them!”, with Keely Nugent adding, “communication passport, personal profiles, relationship building. Comfort brings confidence.” Beyond knowing the students, Emily Davies suggested that, “symwriter is very useful, using visual aids to support writing” Check this link to explore.

The session progressed to ask about what aspects of SEN ITT should include. Ideas, such as ensuring teachers appreciate the importance of relationships with children, we included, but when we pressed on the amount of training teachers had received during their training, some responses were disturbing in the lack of attention given. Most worrying was this comment, “worryingly- absolutely no training during ITT…told to read “the curious incident of the dog in the night-time” for info!!” Let’s hope that training has improved since then. 

Question 5 explored how to ease transition issues for children with SEN. Keely Nugent suggested, “early start, planning, contact, involving family, communication, don’t wait on others be proactive in organising”, and Joe W asked, “a clear plan discussed and shared with all parties. How would you feel if everything you know was taken away?”

Next, Question 6 asked how can educators best support medical special needs? David Chalk responded that you, “ensure that you understand what their medical needs are and who to contact if something happens” , and JulieCordiner_SFS ‎stressed that, “making sure that Health pay for specialist treatment, equipment and training. There is a huge inconsistency between areas.” But, critically, Victoria Renwick advocated, “find out as much as you can from the trained professionals.Ensure you fully understand the terminology & ask for help if needed”.

The penultimate question was interested in know what are the common special needs you have encountered in your classroom and how have you supported them? ASD cropped up via Keely Nugent who uses, “schedules visual timetables 5 point scale social stories key workers and training staff!”, and Sarah White added, “I have also worked in a school that used TEACCH and work stations. A great approach”, that might be of interested for those wanting to develop this strategy. Keely added, “also dyslexia becoming more common use phonics based intervention but not the answer for all”. Greg Chantler pointed out, “autism & adhd – set SMART targets for chd, build close relationship with parents & child & use regular praise & positivity”.

So, finally we asked how can we support parents to support children with SEN? Emily Davies commented that, “Collaboration is key for success – we know that teachers/school staff love to magpie!”, but a key message from Sarah White stated that, “simply by listening and opening up communication opportunities.” However, we shall leave the final words to Victoria Renwick, who was consistent in her message, “consistency, consistency, consistency. Parents need to know they can trust you and you’ll be there for them”.

There are loads more ideas and inspiration hidden within the Storify archive below.

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The Editorial Account of UKEdChat. “Mastery is an unattainable illusion”

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