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

Looking for a magic wand: Labelling children.

In my SEND work, I often have to discuss with parents the possibility that a diagnosis might help support their child and signpost them to professionals to manage this. Many are grateful to have the opportunity to discuss their concerns about their children. Some are in denial and refuse to consider that there might be anything ‘wrong’ with their child. But increasingly, I am meeting a third group of parents who come in and demand that their child is diagnoised and labelled. Continue reading

What is the difference between closing a gap and diminishing a difference?

The release of the new OSTED documents is always a sign for teachers that summer is really over. This year we can breathe a sigh of relief as there seem to be few major changes. However, for those teaching disadvantaged pupils and those with SEND there has been a subtle change of language in the new OFSTED handbook. Gone is the language of ‘closing the gap’ and in its place is ‘diminish the differences.’ Continue reading