For my first Sendco blog for Tes, I thought it would be useful to outline some of the basic, generic aspects of SEND provision in schools, including a list of the most common acronyms. My hope is that starting the school year with this in mind will mean a really fantastic experience this year for children with special educational needs and disability.
1. You are all teachers of SEND
All schools adhere to the policies set out in the SEND Code of Practice (2015). In this document, it clearly sets out that all teachers are teachers of pupils with special educational needs.
2. The SEND register
Each school will have a SEND register. You will observe that some students have an EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan) and some will have identified SEND but no plan. The idea is that the students with the most complex needs will have an EHCP; however, it is important to remember that all students with identified SEND are protected under the Equality Act (2010) and have a statutory right to an education that meets their specific needs (the key phrase used here is "reasonable adjustments" – schools must ensure that they make reasonable adjustments in order to meet the needs of all their pupils with SEND).
3. The EHCP
So what exactly is an EHCP? It has replaced the old Statement of SEN and it offers statutory protection for individuals aged 0-25, as long as they are in education (not including higher education, as universities have their own system). Individuals will have their areas of need identified under four broad categories: cognition and learning; communication and interaction; social, emotional and mental health needs; physical and/or sensory.
It may be the case that the young person has multiple needs, in all four categories, or their need may be more specific. The EHCP is outcome-driven, rather than provision-driven, and it looks at what the young person aspires to achieve and how to support them in achieving these goals.
4. The ‘graduated’ approach
The SEND Code of Practice (2015) advises schools to follow a graduated approach of: assess, plan, do, review in supporting all of their pupils with identified SEND. But what does this actually involve?
Teacher responsibilities Teacher assessment of pupil progress: are individuals making expected progress? And if not, why not? It could be useful for teachers/teaching assistants to liaise with colleagues. If there is a concern that the young person may have unidentified SEND, then the SEND department should be contacted (at our school we have a SEND referral form)
SEND department responsibilities To act upon referrals from teachers, or any concerns regarding students who may have an identified SEND but are not making progress at the expected level for them as an individual.
Teacher responsibilities To plan inclusive, high-quality teaching to meet the needs of individuals. Use information provided via Individual Education Plans (IEPs) or Pupil Passports. Liaise with the SEND department if in doubt. Attend relevant training. .
SEND department responsibilities To communicate the needs of all students with additional needs to teachers and TAs. To support and train teachers and TAs. To identify and plan for those students who are working below the expected standard and who require Wave Three (outside of the classroom) intervention.
Teacher responsibilities The development of inclusive lessons to meet the needs of identified individuals – eg, by using "dyslexia-friendly" strategies.
SEND department responsibilities The provision of required support for individuals, perhaps through intervention (such as additional literacy or numeracy support, or through speech and language sessions, etc).
Teacher responsibilities Provide feedback in books or through teacher-student conversations or school reports. TAs may also want to make notes in the students' books. At our school, we are piloting a system whereby the TA uses a code to inform the teacher how much support the pupil required in order to complete a given task.
SEND department responsibilities All young people with an EHCP will have an annual review – this is a statutory requirement. The SEND department will also meet with and collaborate with the parents/carers of students on the SEND register, regardless of whether they have an EHCP or not.
5. The acronyms
SEND is a minefield of acronyms; I have attempted to list some of the most prevalent ones below:
ADD: Attention deficit disorder
ADHD: Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder
ASD: Autism spectrum disorder
EP: Educational psychologist
HI: Hearing impairment
MLD: Moderate learning difficulties
OT: Occupational therapist
PD: Physical disability
PMLD: Profound and multiple learning disability
SALT/SLT: Speech and language therapist
SEMH: Social, emotional and mental health
SLCN: Speech, language and communication needs
SpLD: Specific learning difficulties
VI: Visual impairment
Gemma Corby is Sendco at Hobart High School, Norfolk. Her Sendco column for Tes runs every second Tuesday in term time