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

Evie Prysor-Jones

Streamline your SEND paperwork

Paperwork piling up? Our training day with Anita Devi will see SENCOs’ desks decluttered and their minds back on loving their job.

When you’re not sure what to do, you make a list.

If it’s a bit more complex than that you might make a spreadsheet, or, if not complex at all sometimes a Post-it will do.

You want all the information about a pupil in one place so you make a pupil profile. But you have 60 children that need pupil profiles – better find a ring binder to keep them nice and tidy.

Then there is:

  • performance data
  • provision mapping
  • that letter you need to send to that pupil’s parents
  • about a million letters from the local authority.

And now, just as you’ve got everything into neat piles, someone opens the door and the hurricane that is an EHC plan application sets you right back at square one.

Where is square one? Usually it’s sitting at your desk well after your working hours, tired and stressed and wondering when the digital age is going to happen to paperwork.

Looking over the paperwork parapet

Aside from the papercuts, ink stained hands and lack of space that endless ring binders take up, the huge amount of paperwork that you as SENCOs have to wade through can have serious and significant consequences on your wellbeing and ability to do your job.

It’s extremely rare that I ask a SENCO why they chose their current career and they reply ‘Oh, I just love forms!’ More commonly it is because of the pupils, because they care about education and they like working in a team.

But with the huge amounts of forms to fill in and boxes to tick, we’re hearing more and more from SENCOs that they do not have the time they would like to dedicate to their pupils, or to improve their own professional development, and the only time they see a colleague is when one of the surrounding towers of ring binders falls over.

We’re seeing talented SENCOs leaving the profession due to stress, mental strain and exhaustion and hearing that fewer budding NQTs want to take on the role.

In the meantime, the pressures of the digital age and changing assessment models mean that our pupils are living in an increasingly stressful and difficult environment. They need the adults around them to be their support, to be well prepared, positive and physically and emotionally available for them.

How can those adults give pupils what they need when they are buried under a pile of paper and completely exhausted themselves?

This year our aim is to help SENCOs rediscover your love of your job. We know it’s there, but it’s been buried beneath paperwork, workloads and restricted by time. This year is the year to get it back.

SEND has to be more than just paperwork

For more of Anita's views on how SENCOs can tackle their paperwork mountains, read her article from the latest issue of Insight magazine. 

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