Coronavirus: 4 tips to support SEND students remotely

Remote schooling will be tough for all pupils, but those with additional needs may be particularly hit. Gemma Corby offers her advice

SEND provision is in desperate need of a systemic overhaul, says Barney Angliss

Supporting students remotely is a challenge, one that many teachers have not experienced before, at least not on the current scale.

It is likely to be a difficult time for all students, but what about those young people with additional needs? While those with an education, health and care plan will still have provision in school, according to the guidance announced, what about those without?

Here are four top tips that will help all students, but particularly those with SEND.

1. Be specific

Instructions must be as detailed as possible. It is easy to assume that students can infer your meaning, but that is not always the case.

If you have ever asked your students to write instructions or scientific methods, as if they are writing them for an alien with no prior knowledge, apply the same thought process here.

Assume nothing; give specific page numbers and include links to websites.

Avoid generalised instructions, for example, “write about a time you felt upset” – some students will need guidance and structure (such as writing frames and sentence starters) – as they will not know where to start, or what it is you’re looking for.

You might end up with just a one-sentence response.

2. Stay in touch

Make sure that all students have your school email address. Reassure them that you are happy to help and answer any questions they may have about the work.

Reach out to parents/carers, too. This is likely to be a stressful time for all parents, but for those with a child or children with special needs, it could be even more so. Be on hand to offer advice, or just a listening ear.

Some young people with autism find homework difficult at the best of times. They can be very fixed in their thinking: school is for work and home is for relaxation. This could present parents with an extra challenge.

3. Be creative

There are so many excellent and interactive resources out there – be sure to point your students in their direction.

Make use of video content, whether it’s on YouTube, BBC Bitesize or packages such as GCSE Pod.

Give students the opportunity to present their work creatively.

Could they create a short film (using their phones and iMovie or Kinemaster) or an audio recording? Perhaps they could make a card or board game, based on a topic they are learning.

4. Recap, revision and recall

Try creating simple, multiple-choice quizzes that are low stakes, but will help students recall their previous learning.

Many schools buy into packages that include these types of assessments.

There are also free apps and websites (such as Kahoot!) to help you create your own.  

These will be particularly useful for students who struggle to retain and recall information.

Gemma Corby is a former English teacher and Sendco

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