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.
- Always read the SEN profile and passport. The recommended strategies aren’t a wish list – they are essential.
- 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.
- 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.