SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS AND DISABILITIES
Information Report – Update March 2017
In our school we take great pride in how every child contributes to the school and that children with special needs or disabilities (SEND) are everyone’s responsibility. Our work in identifying and responding to vulnerability always starts with the child and seeks to include parents; we recognise parents and carers as the experts in their children’s lives and actively seek to develop meaningful partnerships with all parents around their child’s learning. We achieve this through being accessible and make time to meet with and talk with parents. And our work involves additional external expertise as and where appropriate (for example, we work regularly with Alan Ebbens our Educational Psychologist and a variety of other specialist staff). This work includes both targeted work in response to specific identified need as well as ‘development’ work that aims to extend the range and effectiveness of provision we offer as a school.
A child or young person has SEN if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for them. A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if they:
a) have a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age; or
b) have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of educational facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions.
A child under compulsory school age has special educational needs if they fall within the definition at (a) or (b) above or would do so if special educational provision was not made for them.
Children must not be regarded as having a learning difficulty solely because the language or form of language of their home is different from the language in which they will be taught.
The school is a part of a wider offer. The Local Offer in Plymouth provides children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities, families and professionals information in one place, helping them to understand what services they can expect from a range of local agencies (including their entitlements). The Local Offer covers provision for children and young people from birth to 25 and includes information on education, health and social care services. The Local Offer has been developed working with children and young people, parents and carers, schools, health services and voluntary organisations – see details below.
Ways of working in our school are as diverse as the individual needs of our children. Responding to individual needs may include one-to-one conversations, work within small groups (adult and/or peer-led) or wider ‘project’ type work across the Studio or whole School as appropriate. Whatever the way of working, we use an ‘asset development’ (rather than ‘deficit management’) approach; emphasis is placed on developing what is needed and useful (rather than removing what’s not). Staff hold regular meetings where issues around vulnerability (including attainment and progress) are discussed and strategies developed. Where individual needs highlight a wider need/opportunity, work might be ‘co-created’ with outside partners and additional expertise (e.g. the SPOKES Literacy Project) to ensure that the positive impact of identifying and meeting individual needs is shared as broadly as possible.
In our school, we aim to use all expertise and experience as broadly and effectively as possible; SEND is everyone’s responsibility. There are staff with specific skills and focus on SEND, EAL and Safeguarding. The role of these staff is to support and share the development of practice across the school and with families; to work within and alongside Studio teams to create sustainable and effective practice within Studios, and to make sure this practice is shared and developed across the whole school and within the family home. This team (led by the SENCo) also quality assures Studio judgements and maintains an overview of the progress, attainment and development of all vulnerable groups across the school. As a school we track progress very carefully so that student needs are attended to and possibility maximised.
Staff have regular and ongoing training with regards to SEND. This includes working alongside specialist staff, training during and at the end of the day linked to specialists within the school and outside the school. In the last 12 months staff have had training in relation to:
- Autism and Perception (All Staff)
- Speech and Language (All Staff)
- Communication and Interaction (Phase Teams)
- Statutory Expectations Around SEND (Extended Leadership Team)
- Cognitive Processing (Select group to pilot work with John Maxwell Batten)
- Scaffolding and differentiation (All Staff)
- Checking for Understanding (All Staff)
Individual Learning Profile
Recognising our uniqueness as individuals (and as ‘individual & different learners’), the purpose of our Individual Learning Profile (ILP) is to provide a central mechanism for describing, promoting and measuring every individual’s learning, progress and development in our school. Each Profile will be different in detail for every individual, but all will have a common structure and be driven by our development process. Every ‘learner’ within the school – child and adult, ‘typical child’ and ‘SEN child’ alike – will have an ILP (as will each Studio and the school as entities in their own right). The aim of our school’s Individual Learning Profiles is to make sure that every individual has a ‘voice’ in their learning journey and a full, clear and detailed understanding of what they need to succeed. It will detail what they can do to support themselves (alongside the support available from others) to enable them to fulfil their potential and to be successful in their own right.
In ways that are age and ability appropriate, the ILP will detail each individual’s aspirations, their talents and skills (what they’ve noticed for themselves, alongside what’s been noticed by others), their academic progress and attainment and their development as a human being (including wellbeing). These details include specific targets that will support that next stage of development and address specific and additional needs and resources to support that development. Through the detailed process of observation and assessment required in the development of each individual’s ILP, potential vulnerabilities and barriers to learning can be identified and assessed as quickly as possible as part of every child’s learning assessment. The ILP is accompanied by our understanding individual needs form (UIN). The UIN helps the school gather information from home about what needs have been noticed and also allows us to access the support of the Alan Ebbens.
Typically, children recognised as having special educational needs and/or disability have provision recorded and monitored through a separate process. Previously, this has involved an Individual Education Plan (IEP), and for children and young people in care Personal Education Plans (PEP’s). Following recent changes in legislation, this process would now be recognised as the ‘Early SEND Support Plan’, with progress reviewed at points during the year. Our Individual Learning Profile effectively removes the need for separate assessment processes at an early stage; the ILP records and reviews academic and social progress and attainment, aspiration and individual strategies for the development of every child’s individual potential through a ‘live’ document. The ILP is subject to continuous and on-going review (and which forms the core of every child’s learning journey in our school). Every ILP is ‘child centred’ and their views, thoughts and aspirations (together with those of their family) form the centre of the process. It doesn’t just report what has happened, it includes practical and meaningful targets for how to develop further; in this way, everyone can be clear about what ‘good’ looks like in terms of outcomes and impact. And, as described previously, the ILP also includes information about academic progress and attainment. In this way, assessments, strategies and actions that might be described elsewhere as interventions that are in some way separate or additional to classroom practice are included within ILP’s as part of that child’s overall process of learning and development. Our approach is genuinely holistic, ensuring every child’s individual needs are met as effectively – and inclusively – as possible.
There is also a clear process for recognising and supporting conversations that identify and look more deeply into individual need, and that include others (family members and other professionals) wherever relevant and appropriate. We also recognise that discussion and development around meeting individual needs will frequently give rise to thinking, ideas and practice that will have a much wider use and help to extend and develop progress within the whole Studio group, helping to raise levels of progress and attainment generally across the school.
Our approach is designed to best support the development of individuals by continually building and extending learning opportunities within the Studio. The more we recognise and respond effectively to individual learning needs, the greater the understanding and resource we have to offer everyone within the school. This on-going development of learning helps create a genuinely inclusive learning culture; it also reduces the tendency for ‘labelling’ children based on individual difference, encourages a positive understanding of ‘difference’ and reduces the likelihood of bullying and other unhelpful behaviours. Making sure that each and every child is heard and understood also reduces the likelihood of safeguarding issues remaining hidden. Including every individual’s voice within their own ILP helps build the relationships that supports every child to be safe and motivated to achieve their full potential.
Our school recognises how, in order to be sustainably successful as a human being, it’s necessary to know how you’ve achieved, as well as what you’ve achieved. To achieve this successfully it’s essential to be able to identify the individual needs of learners. And it’s essential to have a learning experience that’s sufficiently flexible and comprehensive to enable individual needs to be met as part of a whole school learning process.
Whatever the need or vulnerability, we’re working to enable children (and our staff) to become responsible for their own learning and development; to create young people who are confidently curious about themselves and the world around them, who are able to think critically and make creatively (for themselves and with others), are excited by what lies over the horizon – and who are resiliently capable of making that journey.
Parents may want to access independent advice from Plymouth Information, Advice and Support for SEND (PIAS). PIAS provides information, advice and support relating to Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) for parents, carers, children and young people within the Plymouth Local Authority area.
Disability and Equality
As a school we ensure that providing equality is a foundation to our work. The link to our approach around equality and the more detailed objectives that we are working on is below. Please let us know if there is something missing from this so we can adapt our actions to meet need more effectively.
The following roles exist in relation to SEND
Nick Griffiths (SENCo)
Phase Leaders act under the direction of Nick and work directly with parents, students, staff and other professionals. This means after initial work with studio teachers you are most likely to be working with the Phase Leaders. If you have an idea to help us develop or a concern for your child please speak to a Phase Leader.
Sarah McConkey (SEND team co-ordinator)
Sue Anderson – Medical / Health Lead
Mike Beard (Deputy Head) – Well-being and Mental Health Lead
Alan Ebbens – Educational Psychologist