The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Gareth D Morewood

SEND provision: a three-stage plan for school improvement

The 'assess, plan, do, review' model is worth keeping at the centre of any efforts to improve a school's SEND provision. Here's an example of how it can be put into practice.

Occasionally I’m asked to visit schools and support them with SEND provision as part of a whole-school review.

I don’t do many of these, perhaps five or six each year, but it is always a mutually-beneficial experience. I can’t think of a single school I’ve been to without taking something positive from the experience. I’d like to think that the schools also benefit from my work with them!

Any review must take the views of a range of stakeholders. After all, good SEND provision is about partnerships, keeping the young person at the centre and co-producing the outcomes in partnership with a range of professionals, parents and carers.

Outline of the day

I like to ensure a full and engaged day with plenty of opportunity to discuss the issues and get information from a range of stakeholders.

My typical school improvement day is a 12-hour stint; no waiting for a report weeks later, but a full-on day with a presentation and discussion to governors and senior leaders at the end of the day.

Download this example timetable to see what my typical day looks like!

After the day itself I usually produce a short immediate action plan, often focused around:

  • knowing individual pupils’ needs
  • supporting Quality First Teaching
  • engaging with parents and carers
  • developing an inclusive CPD model as part of a whole-school approach.

Example action plan

Thinking about action planning, and using the assess-plan-do-review model as an example, here are some typical suggestions:

Action one: develop use of student passports

  • Assess: gauge effectiveness of current systems.
  • Plan: trial student passports with small number of students and parents/carers.
  • Do: implement for a cohort – students with EHCPs, for example.
  • Review: ask all stakeholders after half-term of use what the impact has been for students, parents/carers and teachers.

To work with existing staff in being able to meet with each student and engage in a ‘learning-to-learn’ (or metacognitive) discussion regarding learning, specific needs and engagement.

My article and short video to support staff in creating student passports can be found with the Successful Classroom Partnerships training pack.

After a period of use, undertake short evaluation of the impact of the Passports; consult pupils, parents/carers and staff.

Student passports have had a significantly positive impact on many schools; ensuring any observations link to the passports, look for reference to specific needs, and that all staff with SEND appraisal targets also support an effective whole-school approach.

Action two: undertake staff audit of training requirements and deliver targeted CPD

  • Assess: use school audit.
  • Plan: choose two or three areas of need.
  • Do: use training resources available to plan and deliver training.
  • Review: use the audit tool again to evidence impact.

Develop and undertake a whole-school audit of staff confidence and understanding – the full audit can be found half-way down this page.

From the responses, develop a ‘top three’ action plan which will allow for specific training and development to support their concerns/needs. After supporting these areas, use the audit again to measure impact.

Sometimes having a ‘menu’ of CPD whereby all staff need to acquire 30 points (for example) of training over the academic year is helpful. SEND CPD can be worth five points while other more routine sessions can be worth two points, for example.

This can be very effective in ensuring SEND is kept high on the agenda for all staff.

Action three: use the Parent/Carer Confidence Measure to analyse parent/carer confidence and improve co-production

  • Assess: use the Parent/Carer Confidence Measure (Morewood and Bond, 2012).
  • Plan: choose two or three areas for improvement and work (co-produce) with group of parents/carers.
  • Do: use resources to develop communication and add discussion groups/feedback opportunities.
  • Review: use confidence measure again (one year on).

Use the parent/carer confidence measure for all pupils with Statements/EHCPs and at School Support Stage.

After results are available, develop an action plan to address parent/carer concerns and support fuller confidence in provision.

It is always most effective to work with a group of parent/carer volunteers on the action points from the confidence measure. 

This group, or working party, can meet regularly and support development of proper parent/carer engagement as part of wider co-production.

Final thoughts

It goes without saying that any action plan needs to be bespoke to the circumstances and nature of an individual schools or setting. 

However, from my experience the three points outlined above are core areas that, if addressed pro-actively and from an evidence base, can provide the foundations for good SEND provision and improved outcomes for young people. 

In my experience, this can even be demonstrated against the backdrop of significant educational change and increasing financial constraints.

Further reading

Morewood, G. D., & Bond, C. (2012) Understanding parental confidence in an inclusive high school: a pilot survey. Support for Learning, Vol. 27 No.2, p.53-58, Wiley-Blackwell Publishing.

Accrediting inclusion

The SEND Inclusion Award provides a framework for recognising outstanding SEND provision in schools, and identifying areas that have high or little impact on your pupils' outcomes.

Find out more

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