Saturday, March 28, 2015

Being SENDco part 6: Graduated response and monitoring schedule

Paperwork is not my strong point. Creating or completing it is absolutely fine, filing it is the problem. For any one piece of paperwork there seems to be a range of places that it could be filed. I am a 'piler' who is working hard to develop organised systems where I can put my finger on things quickly. I have tried to learn from my previous deputy head and from my current head, who both have the kind of systems that I am in awe of. For SEN the whole system has to be organised, meaningful and most importantly, simple to use. The latter is extremely important in order to be inclusive.

Last year I simplified our school's IEPs and introduced GEPs based on ones created by my friend Cassie's (@ca51bee). Because of the changes brought about by the new Code of Pratice, quite a few of our children came off the SEN register, because provision was part of our normal differentiated curriculum. We needed a clear way of to recognise the continuum of SEN and appropriate provision, thus we needed to adopt a graduated response that would encompass what we do at East Harling. 

Before creating our graduated response I did my usual internet research to see which formats I liked best. I decided on creating a flow chart as it seemed like the easiest way of presenting information. The one I liked best was created by Lucy Pearce for Milton on Stour VE CA Primary School. I used her template and created my own using publisher. If you would like to copy and tweak your own, you should be able to download it here

I think it is simple, easy to follow and it provides guidance for families and school staff. This was completed before our OfSTED inspection and added to my 'OfSTED folder', which was very well received by the lead inspector. I am not a fan of doing things for OfSTED and believe that our focus should always be on pupil progress, but I also know that I needed to organise everything in one place so that hard copies can be found quickly. 

More recently I have started to create a monitoring schedule to sit alongside my SEN action plan. This document  is in response to OfSTED, who wrote:

  • The special educational needs coordinator is not given enough time to check on the effectiveness of the support provided for pupils who need extra help.


  • The deputy headteacher is also the special educational needs coordinator. She provides a positive role model for colleagues in her own teaching practice, but does not have enough opportunities to check on how effective the provision is for disabled pupils and those who have special educational needs.

The report acknowledges the progress that children with SEN make, and were very positive about what I was doing, whilst being clear that monitoring was not rigorous enough. They recommended that I should be observing TAs and children with SEN, including during our Read, Write inc sessions, which are already rigorously monitored by our RWi coordinator. 'You will be looking for different things,' was the rationale. I could not argue, I had observed our TAs delivering First Class @Number sessions, but these were ad hoc and not recorded. It would seem that this is common - schools have limited funds and the catch 22 is that I have to observe in the morning, so my class lose their teacher again. I'm not saying it shouldn't happen, it should. I care about all children's progress, not just those in my class, but year 2 is a key year when progress is measured. I want the best for them - they deserve it. 

So now I have extra time for SEN monitoring, but am wondering if it will really fulfil what the inspection team expects. It has to be at the same time each week for continuity, not just for my class and I, but for the HLTA who covers my lesson and the loss of her support to the teacher she is usually with. This in itself is limiting, but justifiable as it cannot be a moveable feast. Schools can't be expected to work in that way.

The other dilemma is that the Code of Practice is clear that children with SEN need quality first teaching, from a teacher. They should not always be with TAs, the weakest children deserve the strongest teaching. When I have tried to organise observations some teachers have said that they are working with the lower ability groups, which is great. So who do I observe, the children with SEN or the TAs? 

I guess it will all balance out in the end and there are other ways of monitoring, hence the monitoring schedule. Once again I found somebody else's format that I liked - I assume that folk share things on the web and they don't mind them being replicated. It saved me a job anyway as lots of the foci were similar to mine. I'm ashamed to say that I can't remember where I found it, but when I locate it, the source will be acknowledged here. You can view mine here and of course download it to tweak for your own use. It actually does feel like a good safety net and now I have recorded evidence of usual practice, with the observations added in. 

It would be great to know what you do in your school!

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