So, having declared that I don’t really do details, here’s part two. I seem to have come up with a few. If you have anything to add, please so so in the comments.
These people need to be on SLT in a school. That needs to be added to the Code. I am also concerned that the people responsible for co-ordinating SEND in post-16 colleges do not need to be teachers. It isn’t a purely administrative post.
It seems to me that there ought to be some rules, based on agreed good practise, around about how the funding for SEND can be spent, and some sort of scrutiny from someone that it is having the desired effect. It seems clear that just spending the money on a 1-1 TA isn’t the answer, and neither is putting the money into one big melting pot. There is too much misunderstanding of what it is that children and young people actually need and how to go about it. Or too much half understanding, and too much writing things down on digital paper so that you can be seen to be doing the right thing even if reality says different.
This needs to be looked at wholesale. We have an inclusive system. Whatever we think about that we have got to the stage where we know that just putting vulnerable kids in mainstream settings isn’t exactly the end of the story, and we need to make sure that all of our teachers – and indeed all of the people who work in schools, from the secretary to the caretaker – have the knowledge to help them do their jobs in the school community.
For a start we need there to be more than a passing nod to SEND when trainee teachers are learning how to do the job. Teaching children with SEND is the most difficult and challenging part of our job (in my view), it’s worth spending time going over the main areas at the very least. I would suggest spending some time at a special school local to them, as well as really good training on reading and ‘what to do when things go wrong’. I would also strongly suggest that there is specific training on working with parents as well as how to work with TAs and other professionals.
Teachers need to be aware of their legal responsibilities as far as SEND is concerned, as, at present, I’m not sure that all of them do. I might be tempted to insist that a part of any INSET programme is devoted to SEND and what teachers can do at classroom level.
Where to start here? Some unified standards and proper training and qualifications would be nice. Oh.
I have learned that there are some children who do not fare very well in mainstream education. They are just too vulnerable, and their needs are too great. I know this because one of them lives in my house. He is my son. However, while he is incredibly fortunate that he lives in a town where there is a special alternative that suits his needs, I know that this is not the case for many vulnerable children. This needs looking at.
All our young people need and deserve an education, so we need to look at how this can be achieved. Not all special schools are the same, and just because there is a special school nearby it does not automatically mean that a child with a specific need will fit in there.
Until I became a parent and my children started at school I didn’t really understand how spectacularly bad schools are at communicating with parents. And now that I’m thinking about the national picture I can see that this lack of communication is system wide. Teachers get stuck in next door classrooms. Schools in the same town have little clue about what is going on in their neighbourhood, or the head teachers might, but not the teachers. And special needs provision is much the same. Do mainstream schools know what their special counterparts are up to and vice versa? Are there mechanisms for sharing good and bad news?
I think it would be really useful to research who are the gatekeepers for information about SEND in our schools. Who gets the emails? Who gets the circulars? How does information sharing – or not sharing – work? If we know this, then we can have a look at how to make it better and make changes.
Research needs to be much more widely disseminated – we need to look at how to do that effectively too.
Oh, where to start with this one? We need school leaders who are committed to SEND and making schools a great place for all. Where they lead, other people will follow. But to be honest, I’m not sure that it is very wise to wait until those leaders appear out of the ether. Training for school leaders needs to include SEND, and we need to give people time to talk around the issues. SEND is an emotional minefield, and people need this reflection time on a subject that touches us all deeply.
All teachers are leaders – in fact anyone who works in a school is – and they need training not just in how to work with children and young people, but adults too. I hadn’t the first clue, when I started teaching at age 22, about how to work with a TA, and over twenty years later there is a positively astronomical number of them in our schools. Training for teachers in their responsibilities towards TAs and what they are and aren’t expected to do would be very useful.
If schools are being badly led as far as SEND is concerned, what do we do to highlight it? In fact, if this is the case generally, where do teachers turn? Help us do better.
Thanks for reading.