The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Gareth D Morewood

The new draft Code: important points for schools

Following on from my initial thoughts, from my work supporting SENCO colleagues and other schools I know these are areas that currently require a change in thinking.

What the Code wants for young people

6.1 All children and young people are entitled to an education that enables them to make progress so that they:
  • achieve their best
  • become confident individuals living fulfilling lives, and
  • make a successful transition into adulthood, whether into employment, further or higher education or training.

This seems clear and sensible to me; however the detail as to how this may be achieved seems to lie in the more ‘forceful’ parts of the Code – where ‘must’ indicates a strong duty for schools and/or LAs to act.

Whole-school approach

6.3 School leaders should regularly review how expertise and resources used to address SEN can be used to build the quality of whole-school provision as part of their approach to school improvement.

I think this is an important statement – SEND provision must be part of a ‘whole-school approach’. This was something supported by a national project almost three years ago and is so important for the inclusion of young people with additional needs. However with a ‘should’ the duty is less strong (‘must’ indicates a stronger duty). A recent book by Natalie Packer highlights the need for SEND provision to be integral to whole-school improvement planning.

Teachers

6.4 The quality of teaching for pupils with SEN, and the progress made by pupils, should be a core part of the school’s performance management arrangements and its approach to professional development for all teaching and support staff. School leaders and teaching staff, including the SENCO, should identify any patterns in the identification of SEN, both within the school and in comparison with national data, and use these to reflect on and reinforce the quality of teaching.

Ensuring that inclusive, quality first teaching is part of the professional responsibilities of all staff is an important change; however many will argue that training is required. In addition to the Whole-School Approach project mentioned previously, my recent publication 'SEND for new teachers' may support schools in developing this element of provision with more detailed explanatory notes and training materials. Additional support for this can also be found on my site.

Identification and progress

6.5 The identification of SEN should be built into the overall approach to monitoring the progress and development of all pupils.

I think this is an area that initially caused great concern – there was a view that class/subject teachers would be identifying and assessing young people as part of their roles. I think it is clear that the emphasis – perhaps made more explicit now – is on whole-school analysis of all pupils and that monitoring and progress should not segregate different groups. This is something I have been emphasising for a long time; schools that separate off SEND students for analysis and monitoring, risk falling into a trap of low-expectations and underachievement. This may be a significant shift for some.

Local Offer

6.6 The arrangements for identifying and assessing pupils as having SEN should be agreed and set out as part of the Local Offer. A school should publish its arrangements as part of the information it makes available on SEN (see the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014).

Schools should all provide a clear picture of what they offer for students at their schools, who the SENCO is and how parents/carers can contact the school. Formalising this as part of the Local Offer seems sensible (even though ‘should’ is used again); however I fear there will continue to be a clear range of schools that offer a lot as part of a basic entitlement (SALT for example) and those that choose to do the bare minimum and actively ‘encourage’ parents/carers to send their children elsewhere. Without a baseline requirement, Local Offers will vary enormously, thereby simply recreating a ‘postcode lottery’ of provision – something I feel must be guarded against!

Sharing a SENCO

Additionally the revised Code specifically notes (6.87 & 6.88) that small schools may share a SENCO – a practice that has been very effective and one that is welcomed.

Keeping up to date

A good place to find detailed analysis of the legal implications can be found at IPSEA which includes their initial feedback to the original consultation. There is little doubt that this revised Code is vastly improved; however it is important to consider the detail and implications for schools in what appears to be a final version.

Categories: 

Subscribe to Optimus Education's Blog

Join other educators and get the latest Optimus blogs direct to your inbox.
Your data is safe with us: Privacy Policy

Similar Posts

Gareth D Morewood

How can we improve outcomes in a broken system?

The initial promise of the SEND reforms has been replaced with confusion, frustration and delays. The system works well for no one, least of all our children and young people. Back in September 2014, there was a lot of hope that the introduction of the SEND reforms would bring better outcomes for...
Read more...
Gareth D Morewood

Planning, preparation and evaluation: a summer to-do list for SENCOs

As we enter what's likely to be the busiest term of the year, now is a good time to identify our priorities for giving all pupils the best possible start in September. In these long summer days, there is often a feeling that the time we need seems to miraculously appear! Most (if not all) SENCOs...
Read more...
Gareth D Morewood

Preparing young people for the road ahead

We all expect our young people to have smooth transitions to adulthood, with support from school and the wider community. Why should those with SEND be any different? Last week our school was fortunate enough to be visited by Chris Rossiter and Nance Gedge from the Driver Youth Trust , a national...
Read more...