-[pullquote]Be prepared – Ensure that your school has the right impact and your efforts ripple out[/pullquote]
By now you should have heard about the new SEN code of Practice being introduced in England. There may have been an Inset about it on the first week back and your school should already be implementing its first stages.
It represents the biggest shakeup in inclusive education since the 1970s. In 2009 the Lamb inquiry found that students with special needs do better when parents and schools work together, and when there is transparency in the allocation of resources and provision. This inquiry served as the building blocks of the new Children and families bill which ascended in May, and from September 1st is a body of law that has to be implemented. But what does it mean for schools exactly?
Here are the essentials:
All Local Authority websites must have clear information about the types of SEN provision offered by each of its schools, for example, what specialist provisions you buy in or SEN classes you run. This enables parents to make a fair and equal choice about where to send their child.
SEN Information Report
Every school website needs to highlight its arrangements for SEN. Some schools are using this as a tick box exercise, but the spirit of it is really opportunity for you to be proud of everything your school does.
Differentiation in Classrooms
The key aspect for classroom teachers is that all SEN students must be provided for in the mainstream classroom through the use of effective differentiation. This approach is in line with the new Ofsted framework which states that all groups of students must make rapid and sustained progress within the classroom. The onus of responsibility is on the teacher to engage the learner by adapting their approaches and strategies wherever necessary, without falling back on the SENCO to deal with any issues that arise.
The EHC Plan
The most revolutionary feature of this new Code of Practice is the Educational Health and Care plan, which will replace the traditional statements. Instead of focusing on elements solely related to a student’s educational path, the EHC takes into account medical planning or home life issues so to makes them an integral part of the planning for the student’s particular needs.
Change to School Action and School Action Plus
Out go School Action and SA+ which were based on increasing levels of need and concern, and in comes the new system which will target and provide for a student’s specific needs. Levels of interventions will be referred to by the commonly used phrases Wave 1 and 2 and an additional level called ‘SEN support’ will precede the EHCP level.
From IEP to IPM
Individual Education Plans are likely to be replaced with Individual Provision Maps which will display the interventions and general provision accessed by the learner. To help decide on the most appropriate ways to support the learner, IPMs should be reviewed throughout the year with regular input from the learner and their family. There will also be a concise one page version which provides a snapshot of how your school has adopted the graduated approach to SEN support for this individual student. They should also clearly show the interventions in place for learners and benchmark them to help evidence progress and impact.
The Role of the SENCO
The SENCO is the main point of contact with parents and the key to ensuring that there is effective communication between the various services that are simultaneously caring for the child. The Code of Practice does allow for a sensible transition period between the outgoing and new approaches, so you might want to speak with your SENCO every so often to find out where they are up to with the schedule of change.
Some Further Practical Advice
Whilst researching ‘Inclusion Expert’s CoP guide for schools’, I found that many teachers still do not feel adequately trained in applying differentiation to a classroom setting. There is a temptation to muddle through without ever really cracking the problem. Now would be a good time to speak to your Head of Department or SENCO to see if they can assist you in improving this vital area of practice.
Daniel Sobel established Inclusion Expert (inclusionexpert.com) and with his team they have supported over 200 schools through both personal consultancy as well as training courses which are available online such as the Pupil Premium Handbook (pupilpremiumhandbook.inclusionexpert.com) and the SEN CoP Pack (sen.inclusionexpert. com). He is a nationally respected consultant in the field of inclusion. Find Daniel on Twitter at @InclusionExpert.