SEND has become a national crisis. From lack of financial support, to an increase in tribunals over SEN cases, it is consistently shrouded in a fog of chaos. However, July 2017 research has identified ‘7 Key ingredients’ for effective SEN Support.
What then is standing in the way of school’s employing this recipe for success?
Amy Skipp and Vicky Hopwood’s report, ‘SEN support: Case studies from Schools and Colleges’, identified and researched settings (primary and secondary schools and colleges) promising SEN support. From this, interviews with 15 SEND experts identified key ingredients (rather than particular approaches or practices) that they believe underpin SEN support. These are as follows;
- Culture, Leadership and Management
- High quality teaching (formerly ‘Quality First Teaching’)
- Use of Expertise
- Flexible use of evidence-based strategies
- Use of evidence for tracking progress
- Communication and collaboration
Schools and colleges can then choose to learn from, draw on, or adapt the 7 key ingredients for use in their own settings, providing a useful audit tool for a SENDCO to structure their own project management processes. However, if such ingredients are easy to identify why are schools not able to adopt these recommendations?
In my experience, time remains one of the biggest hurdles for schools in achieving effecting SEN Support, even when it’s broken down into 7 bitesize key ingredients.
But there is an easy solution. School’s paper systems are overwhelming time short staff. From word documents to excel spreadsheets and email trails to be printed out. However, outside of school, no-one questions how the digital age is our normal. Very few of us now plan a lunch time dash to the bank to scribble a paying in slip and ensure a cheque is in our account. We can choose to shop, communicate and travel at any time without a paper printout in sight.
Aspirational outcomes should be leading all SEND provision in all schools and in all local authorities.
Change has to happen, and I believe that it will. While the national crisis continues, every young person is experiencing a day in their education that cannot be repeated. But there are now too many teachers, SENDCOs, senior leaders and family’s angry and determined to be heard.
Let’s get SEND systems and processes digitalised and then the 7 key ingredients can grow and have impact.
Leaving the paper led process behind is just the start for the future of SEND.