More Questions than answers: The DfE SEN data May 2019

At the end of May the DfE released two sets of data relating to Special Educational Needs (SEN): Special needs: An analysis and summary of data sources  analysing data from 2018 and the statistical release for Statements and EHC plans: England, 2019. They show much of the same data, but in different ways and with different foci. The former looked at proportions of the school and SEN population while the latter looked at numbers and focused just on EHCPs and statements. However, individually and taken together they seem to me to raise more questions than answers about what is going on with SEN in schools. Continue reading

TA deployment in structured and unstructured times

The traditional approach to supporting children with SEND is to focus on lesson times. This is correct in that additional support should be focused on children’s learning which is concentrated in lesson times. However, for many children with social communication issues, high levels of sensory issues, difficulties managing change and high levels of anxiety, including those with ASD, ADHD and attachment issues, this leaves them unsupported at the times of the school day they find most stressful. Continue reading

Teaching Assistants: The Dangers of teaching by echo

The role of the TA is among the most controversial in schools. However, much of the debate focuses on numbers, not what TAs do. TAs undertake a vital role to ensure inclusion of pupils with special needs and disability. However, there is too much concentration on TA supporting learning which all too often ends up as ‘teaching by echo’, rather than preparing children for learning, so they can engage with the teaching first hand. Continue reading

Teaching empathy to move beyond our bubble

The word of the week seems to be  ‘bubble’ Not the soft soapy kind that children play with or that helps us to clean, but a hard, impermeable shell that stops us from understanding and knowing each other. The leaders in two schools, I have worked in this week, have spoken about ‘our school bubble’.  By this they mean that they are a good school in a nice, affluent area and so, for some members of their community, there is no perceived need for change. This ‘niceness’ both prevents the children (and their parents) from wanting to know about the world and creates a feeling they need to be protected from it. Continue reading