Welcome to our blog

Who are we?

The Quality of Education blog is brought to you each fortnight by the QoE Team at Kingsthorpe College, Northampton.

We are passionate about making a difference in the lives of the young people at our school by engaging in academic research and leading change in classrooms.

If you would like to know more about our school or would like to contribute to our blogs, please get in touch with Kate Hayward-Pretty via admin@kingsthorpecollege.org.uk

Wave 1 SEND support

Brought to you by Louisa Broughton and Kate Hayward-Pretty

The Bigger Picture

  • The percentage of pupils with a statement or EHC plan attending state-funded special schools has seen a year on year increase since January 2010.
  • Special educational needs remain more prevalent in boys than girls.
  • Pupils with special educational needs are more likely to be eligible for free school meals.
  • Overall, in January 2018, 3.0% of White British pupils had statements of SEN/EHC plan compared to 2.7% of minority ethnic pupils.
  • 55.5% of children who had been looked after continuously for 12 months in 2017-18 had a special educational need.

One of the challenges we face this year is in ensuring that our SEND students get the best possible experience at KC. This challenge is not new to us; its roots lie within differentiation which has always been a part of our educational landscape. Regardless of our ‘teacher age’, we will have read hours of blogs and research, attended CPD, been observed, observed other people, and tried things out at the coalface. Yet we may still only have a surface level understanding of how to differentiate for SEND students, not really knowing about the barriers they face every day.


Every major brand spends time investigating and analysing their target audience and working out how to deliver what they want and need. They would be silly not to. Although the frequency of delivery is much higher in schools, we should always have our audience in mind when we plan lessons. It is not enough to recycle content or activities that have worked before without giving thought to the suitability for the students who will be on the receiving end. We should always consider how best to deliver learning so it can be accessed by everyone. This is not the same as making it easier – it is about bringing everyone with you – even when it gets hard.


When working with SEND pupils in the classroom, it can be easy to overlook some minor changes that can lead to major wins. Whilst not all of these will work for the specific needs in your classroom, these will help along the way. 

First and foremost, emphasise the positive. It can be something as subtle as a thumbs up or as grand as a whole class mention. Either way, they need to see you champion their success.

Secondly, to avoid unfinished work help the pupil to complete core elements of the work. They may not find it easy to keep up with the pace of the class so pick out the ‘must dos’ and ensure that they are completed. To help with this, use realistic timed targets to promote engagement with a task. You can also use these to monitor pupil progress to finish tasks within an allotted time; e.g. outline the amount of work you expect a pupil to complete in this time and then check. This really helps pupils with ADHD, anxiety, and those who struggle with time management. It gives them clear boundaries and can then be referred to in a conversation discussing the work. 

Scaffolding is everyone’s friend! It can be something such as definitions, key points, diagrams, or questions on labels so that key words can be correctly defined.

Finally, keep it simple and do it well.

  1. Always read the SEN profile and passport. The recommended strategies aren’t a wish list – they are essential.
  2. Know who they are and what they like. A little bit of knowledge about their hobbies and interests goes a long way. Use this as you greet them on the door – they’ll feel happy talking and thinking about something they enjoy which makes them more likely to learn.
  3. Talk to your colleagues and share ideas. When was the last time you visited our SEND department to access the wealth of knowledge and experience at KC?


The cult of average in the national picture:

  • Pupils with SEN achieve, on average, over half a grade lower per subject than other pupils with similar prior attainment nationally.
  • For those who continued onto Post 16 study, 30.6% of pupils identified with SEN in year 11 achieved Level 2 including English and mathematics by age 19 in 2017/18.
  • Pupils with special educational needs (SEN) account for just under half of all permanent exclusions and fixed period exclusions.

We are anything but average here at KC. There are no glass ceilings on what our students can do. Let’s buck the trends and show them what we’re made of.


The 5 Step Model: Step 2

Literacy Through the Door Tasks

In 2019, 27% of pupils began secondary school in England without having reached the “expected standard” in their Year 6 SATs reading assessment. Research undertaken by Oxford University Press found that the word gap caused by these issues represents a significant and widespread challenge to secondary schools and it is only getting bigger. As we evaluate our curriculum design and appropriateness at KC, this is something we have to be acutely aware of. After all, how do we ensure that we offer challenge and subject mastery if our students cannot decode, comprehend and use complex texts?


Vocabulary affects students’ achievement and progress throughout secondary school, and the results affect the entire school. It means that students have difficulty working independently and following what is going on in class. As a result, students make slower than expected progress in all subjects, not just English. We need to build a foundation of language understanding to allow more students to access learning which is especially important for our disadvantaged and SEN students. Sharing these words is a great start but students need to be using them rather than just reading them in isolation.


Our KC Word of the Week (WOW) is featured in every bulletin and tutor time PowerPoint. Each term, it is based on a different Latin root word to encourage students to start thinking about etymology and morphology so they can make links between different words and their meanings.

More widely than this, we need to consider how can we use Through the Door tasks to:

  • Share key vocabulary before our students encounter it in lesson activities to avoid overloading their working memory. To support this, each subject has been provided with a list of subject specific Tier 2 language.
  • Allow pupils to hear and practice correct pronunciation of words.
  • Encourage them to read! Do we encourage our students to read within our subject and for pleasure?
  • Develop a culture of talk and discussion.


Research from the Early Intervention Foundation showed that children with language difficulties were four times more likely to have reading difficulties in adulthood, three times as likely to have mental health problems, and twice as likely to be unemployed when they reach adulthood. Developing our students’ vocabulary will not only make them more successful in school, but it will also make them ready for the world and opportunities that await them.

The 5 Step Model: Step 1

Formal Greetings

When I was at secondary school, my Principal stood inside the door every morning greeting us. She was a stern lady with an occasional smile which was hard-earned; she meant business and we knew it. We were a small school with a small staff and she knew us all by name. We got away with nothing from the moment we arrived. Each day, she reminded us of this by standing on guard making sure we were dressed properly and on time. I expected this and it set the tone for the day. A smile from her went a long way as it never came easily. Years later I find myself teaching at KC where each morning, we too greet our students on the gate as they arrive at school. Instead of my experience however, we offer a smile and welcome for all (as well as the inevitable reminders about tucking in shirts and removing earphones!). For every ten times we say good morning, we rarely hear it back and yet we persist as we know they have heard us.


The stark reality is that for some children, we could be the first people to notice them that day. They may never admit it, but children are creatures of habit. We know that they need routine and consistency especially if it is lacking in other aspects of their lives. We pride ourselves on our relationships with children; for many staff at KC, these have been fostered over several years. We are significant role models in their lives and so we keep smiling and saying hello even if its not returned. It offers warmth. It sets a tone. It offers reminders about expectations. It builds relationships. It makes a difference.


Lesson starts should be no different and a simple greeting is one of the highest impact, lowest implementation strategies in our toolkit. You will have your preference of course for what this looks like, be it a handshake, a smile, a quiet word of praise for some, a raised eyebrow pointed toward an untucked shirt. Or even just keep it simple by knowing and using their names, make eye contact, ask how their day is going. No matter what it looks like for you, keep doing it.


Research shows that academic engagement can improve by almost 21% if students are exposed to routine formal greetings. Additionally, disruptive behaviour incidents are reduced by almost 10%. Our challenge therefore is to embed formal greetings in our practice. Build the routine and our students will come to expect and need it. It’s what they deserve.

Further reading Cook CR, Fiat A, Larson M et al. (2018) Positive Greetings at the Door: Evaluation of a lowcost, high-yield proactive classroom management strategy. Journal of Positive Behaviour Interventions 20(3): 149–159