Thursday, March 13, 2014

Being SENDco - part 1

I started this post last year...bear with me! It's a bit waffly, but will hopefully lead on to useful things.

In September 2013 I started a new job as SENDco at East Harling Primary School and Nursery. I have a background of teaching children with autistic spectrum disorders and prior to that working as a TA in a school for children with a range of needs and challenging behaviours. This meant that I participated in a range of CPD, which I continued when I started teaching in a mainstream setting.

My degree was based around education and disability and for my final dissertation I debated the question of whether a mainstream setting was a suitable place of education for a child with autism. I concluded that it depended on the child, their needs and what was on offer at the school. That's my dissertation in a nutshell! who needs 5000 words when you can write it so succinctly?! I've never really thought about what happens to these papers, but was surprised and delighted last year when my niece informed me that during her research she had (accidentally) found and read my paper and really enjoyed it! Apparently the UEA archives hold many things!

A continued interest and the temptation of free CPD led me to undertake two post grad certificates at masters levels regarding inclusive practices. I focused one on challenging behaviour and autism and the other on support mechanisms for teaching writing to children with SEN (lots of ICT there). I enjoyed doing these; through action research I believe I enhanced the way I approached teaching children with SEN in a mainstream setting. It was a very practical and useful way of learning for me. However, the courses only really impacted learning in my own classroom as the school employed a part time SENco and at that point had very fixed views on provision for children with special needs.

I must confess that despite my interest, I have never really desired to take on the SENDco role, but that may have been because at Roydon it was essentially a non-teaching role. When the Deputy Headship came up at East Harling, I knew I had to go for it. I know other teachers who have the view 'I will only leave my current post if a job comes up at ...' and deputy at East Harling was one of mine. Why? Location, size and rural nature of school, ethos, reputation and the fact it was part of a cluster that my own children belonged to. It felt right. The SENDco role was part of the responsibility and I would be moving away from ICT, but I felt ready for change.

 During the interview we had to answer the question 'As SENDCo how would you ensure that the school was effectively meeting the needs of all SEND pupils, taking into account the challenges and opportunities presented by current changes to SEND provision’ through a 10 minute presentation. I wrote a leaflet to hand out, which would serve more as a prop for me. (I will share this here as soon as I get textease working again.)

In the role

SEN is changing and thanks to the new (draft) code of practice the emphasis is put on what children and their families need. These are some of the things I have achieved since I have been in post, with the support of staff and governors at EHPS&N:

  • Hosting a coffee afternoon - invites went out to all parents of children on the SEN register so that they could put a name to a face and hear about changes to provision.
  • Moving away from IEPs for low attaining children who don't have SEN
  • Implementing group education plans for low attaining children
  • Implementing learning profiles for children who don't have IEPs, but who have needs that should be acknowledged by everyone working with them
  • Creating an action plan that will hopefully show OfSTED when they arrive that I have a plan of action!
  • Taking my first steps to achieve Seven Steps to OfSTED Success (separate blog coming soon!)
  • Hosting my first statement review meeting (with my headteacher as a much needed safety net!)
In future posts I will endeavour to be as honest as possible about the challenges I have faced (mainly to do with my own organisational skills), the good practices that I have inherited from my predecessor and Headteacher, the information I have gleaned from the 'New SENDco' course I am attending (brilliant advice!) and the interventions that are really supporting our children. I hope that these posts will be useful to anyone starting this new role. 

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