It’s the time of year to reflect. To look back on the year. To lead a process of working out what has gone well and what needs to be addressed next year. Depending on your context – as well as your natural inclinations – you might approach this in a number of ways:
Be led by your instinct
You’ve most likely been the SENDCO for at least the past academic year. If so, you’ll have a pretty good sense of what is now an embedded, self-sustaining success and what needs a complete rethink. As long as you stay alert to the limits of your own subjectivity, there is certainly merit in backing your instincts, to an extent.
Be led by the numbers
Numbers don’t tell us the whole story, but they can give you a potentially useful shortcut to what has gone well this year. Whether related to attendance, academic progress, behaviour and exclusions or interventions, numbers will help to focus your attention on what may need to happen next.
You might consider:
- Did pupils new to our school reach a good level of attendance this year, or do we need to turn more careful attention to transitions into the school next year?
- Did all pupils make good academic progress from their starting points? If not, are there particular year groups, need types or subject areas that need a sharper focus and greater support next year?
Be informed by the people around you
Though time can be the constraining factor here, asking those around you will provide useful insight and allow others (colleagues, parents, pupils) to know their voice is heard. You might design a simple SurveyMonkey, Microsoft Form or Google Form, on which you ask for comment.
Consider the time you can afford to leading this process.
It will take a little bit of time to design some questions that invite the kind of feedback you need (how would you rate the support we have in place; how much do you feel listened to and supported; etc.).
It will take a bit more time to analyse the results, drawing conclusions from the data.
It may take a considerable amount of time – and a real commitment to the process – to receive the feedback openly and to allow it to influence your practice, in the spirit of co-production.
- Ask all teaching assistants how well they feel they have been supported and developed
- Ask all parents how they rate the communication the school has had with them
- Ask all pupils how they feel the school supports their safety and wellbeing
Be supported by a framework
You might choose to look at the Self-Review guides from Whole School SEND. You might choose to invest in an evaluation tool such as Evaluate my School, which has a SEND arm to it. Having some statements to rank yourself against can give a useful, objective benchmark against which to consider the strengths and areas for development within your provision.
However you choose to look backwards, the process only has as much value as the impact it has upon what you do next. What you find out should inform your development plan, which doesn’t have to be complex – in terms of implementation, there is a good argument for doing fewer things better, rather than trying to deliver on too many priorities simultaneously.
A simple development plan might contain 4-5 rows of the following:
Should you identify such development priorities, share them widely. Ensure it remains a live document that others – especially those you lean on heavily –own with you and support the enactment of.
It is only through this constant, cyclical process of looking backwards and consequently planning ahead, that you can lead a provision that moves forwards each year.