What does good SEND provision look like?
As an Accredited Attachment Lead who has been trained by Whole School SEND to review MATs using the MAT Review Guide, current practising SENDCO at the first ADHD friendly school in Yorkshire, Aimee Cave, explores SEND provision, diagnostics, intervention types and the new Ofsted framework…
As a practising SENDCO, it’s taken me quite a while to ‘get it right’ in my school. I spent lots of time trying different things and changing them often. I feel that we’re now there and our SEND provision was praised highly under the new OFSTED framework, after our inspection in October. It really ratified for me that what we had in place was working and that the SEND children were getting a good deal at our school. The bonus of good SEND provision is that providing well for SEND learners won’t affect other children in the class, it will simply benefit them.
Now, it is worth saying at this point that every school is different and you do need to find what is right for you and your school. This will come down to a variety of factors such as: how much sway your have in school (I think being on the SLT is super important as a SENDCO – if you’re not on SLT, can you approach your head and discuss ways around this?), budget, staff expertise, the make up of SEND in your school and many other things. However, here are a few, hopefully quite general points, that can get you on the right track.
You need to know the breakdown of SEND in your school. How many are on the register? How many EHCPS are there? But, and this is the most important part, what is the actual breakdown? You need to know how many children you have in each of the broad areas of need, or even better, the breakdown of specific areas of need. If you don’t know this, you can’t tailor provision correctly. For example, you might have a whole host of high-quality teaching and intervention resources to support cognition and learning, but if your SEND population is mainly children with communication and interaction difficulties then you won’t be having an impact.
- The Importance of Diagnostics
In order to know what difficulties children have, you need to ideally have a good set of diagnostic tools in school. These don’t have to be expensive and can be built up over time. I started with a basic Dyslexia screener and a Visual Stress test. We now have a range of diagnostics that we have acquired over three years and we can get a really good idea of difficulties a child has and can start to support them accordingly. After all, if you’re waiting for an EP or an outside agency – you may be waiting a while before the child can be seen.
Some of my favourite diagnostics are, of course, Lexplore Analytics (perfect for objectively finding out children’s reading ability in a few short minutes) as well as tools like SNAP (this is from Rising Stars, is cheap and gives a good general overview of strengths and difficulties both academically and socially and emotionally, using information from the teacher, parent and child) and Speechlink (again, this is a reasonably cheap diagnostic and assesses understanding of language. It also has the intervention package to support it).
There are, of course, a wealth of diagnostic tools available. If you would like to know the full range of tools that we have, or where to find others, please do get in touch with me through the Lexplore Analytics team.
- Staff Need to be On Board
Staff need to be on board in supporting these children in your school and it needs to be a whole school effort. Every teacher, TA, governor, lunchtime supervisor and member of admin needs to be a part of it. You cannot do it alone and remember that, according to the code of practice, every teacher is a teacher of SEND. SEND has to be a priority in your school and don’t ever stop flying that flag!
Now, staff can’t support children if they don’t know how, so training has to be a part of this. This can be training you deliver (I have just been part of putting a programme together with Whole School SEND to support SENDCOs with delivering staff training and this will be available shortly), online training or face to face training from a provider. Lots of training is free, so if the budget is an issue make sure you go down this route. Do just make sure that any training you do use is good quality. If you look on websites of organisations who know about the things you want training in, for example the ADHD Foundation/Autistic Society/NASEN, they will usually point you in the right direction of good training. In fact, NASEN has lots of free training available through Whole School SEND and I highly recommend their courses. Again though, train staff in what they need to be trained in. Don’t train teachers in ADHD if you have no ADHD children in school. If possible, train all staff, not just the teachers.
- High Quality Teaching
I’m sure you’ve heard this a lot but high-quality teaching really is the first port of call for supporting SEND children and can really help you realise who actually has SEND and who just needs high quality teaching to help them move forward. Improving teaching and learning has to be a high priority in every school and as SENDCO, you need to be an important part of that, showing staff the reasonable adjustments that they can make in class to help move SEND children forward.
When talking to staff, I always use an analogy of a child in a wheelchair. This is a visible difficulty and easy to make reasonable adjustments for. For a child with a non-visible difficulty, such as working memory difficulties, ADHD or Autism etc then you have to make reasonable adjustments for them too, or they become a child who can’t walk, without a wheelchair, trying to get around school.
There is a wealth of information out there about high-quality teaching. Again, make sure that you use good quality resources and tailor it specifically to your school and your children.
I won’t preach to you about all the different interventions out there but there are some excellent intervention packages that will support children. Interventions are super important and our OFSTED inspector was very clear that what was good about how they worked at our school was that where children took part in interventions, they were interventions that supported them in something that they really needed to learn (more so than the thing they were missing because of the intervention). However, most importantly, they didn’t miss the same thing each week. That is super important! The way I manage this is to keep the intervention timetable the same each week but teachers swap lessons around so that a child doesn’t always miss the same thing.
Moreover, if the intervention doesn’t work, don’t do it! Finally, and most importantly, make sure the interventions are research based, have been trialled and adapted as necessary for your school and are ran by people who really know how they work. In my school, we no longer have class TAs unless they are one-to-ones. Instead, we have trained ‘SEND TAs’ in key interventions, so they become experts in that intervention and can take ownership of it. For example, we have trained one TA in Catch Up Literacy and Catch Up Numeracy. This is an intervention we found using the Education Endowment Foundation and she was specifically trained by Catch Up Staff. She now spends most of her time doing this intervention with various children and we are seeing excellent results.
The Education Endowment Foundation and the ‘What Works’ section of the SEND Gateway have a whole range of intervention programmes that work.
- Provision Mapping
Provision mapping is so important. Not only does it show you what provision you have in place for every child (and makes sure you’re not overloading them with too many interventions) but it allows to you measure the impact of the interventions that you are doing. Again, if they are not working – don’t keep doing them! If you can afford to purchase a package, I would highly recommend doing so. I personally use Edukey’s Provision Map and think it’s great. We obviously had to pay for it and it took a little while to set up, but once it’s set up it really does revolutionise your life! You can pull off reports at the click of a button which can be useful for reporting to governors, EHCP assessments, reporting to SLT and many more! There is, of course, other provision mapping software out there but I don’t have experience of these. If you can persuade your head though, he/she will love what you can do with it!
Parents are a huge part of what we do and they are massively important in ensuring good provision for the children in your care. Please listen to them! They know their children best and will probably be able to give you great insight into how best to support them. If you can give time to parents, it is beneficial for you, them and most importantly, the child.
We sometimes get carried away with saying ‘Well, they’re not like that in school’ but think about this. An autistic child, for example, may actually have developed coping mechanisms to just about get through the school day. When they get home, they may have a huge instance of overwhelm because they are now in their safe space and can’t keep it together any longer. By making small adjustments at school (maybe something like regular sensory breaks to help keep them regulated throughout the day) they may be more settled at school, be a better learner and less likely to go into overwhelm at home – a win-win for parents, school and most importantly the child. Never underestimate the value of co-production.
There are, of course, lots of things that make ‘good provision’ for our SEND children in school and each school, SEND make-up of your school and provision will be unique. However, I have hopefully outlined above a few key points to help you move towards good provision in your school.
I am more than happy to be contacted through the team Lexplore Analytics by anyone who would like further guidance, pointing in the direction of a resource or would even like to chat with me about what I do at our school. You can also join the further discussion into SEND provision by purchasing a recording of my Lexplore Webinar.