Lagislation over the years has been written to ensure mainstream schools are more welcoming and accessible
for children with special education needs and dis ahli SENDI, Where possible, it is important that children with an additional need can thrive and make expected sin mainstream vision. It is said to say that many schools have made srdies in this are however, with an increase in special educational needs (SEN) across schools, ancrease of pupils with undigne needs budget constraints, staffing concerns
(supply and hiring and retaining col-leagues) pressure to need national standards OFSTED and league table; schools can fall short in providing children and people with the 'reasonable adjustment'
they require to succeed in education and beyond. Having work in special education
needs for over 12 years across a variety of provisions from stream to specialist at a senior level, I have seen and felt the pressure schools are under to perform, whishlist trying to maintain an inclusive
environment for all children and young people who attend.
Unfortunately, this can leave schools with inclusion as an add on to their practice the instead of being at the heart of all they do.
Iam the Director and Founder of inspire 321 Ltd. Inspire 321 a place where children, young adults, parents, carers and professionals have acess to early and crises intervention, family support, advice, guidance and training when they need it most. At Inspire 321 we beleive children and young people deserve an inclusive education that takes into account their indivisual needs, enable them to overcome their difficulties and equips them to achieve their full potential in school and life beyond it.
Inspire 321 was birthed from a place of seeing parents and carers unable to get the support they needed for their child, whether that be schools staff being unable to identify what is required to support the indivisual, leaving the child or young person to fall behind academically, behaviourally, socially or emotionally; or, parents and carers having to watch their child being placed on waiting lists for assessments for up 18 months and wondering whether their will ever end. I believe there is more we can do to share best practice and we we are working together to educate guide, advise and share our experties that our children and young people do not 'slip through the net', but instead we pride the net that will catch them when they fall.
It is widely documented that exclusions across the UK continue to be a concer. Although the figures fell slightly during COVID, the autumn term prior to lockdown showed a continued rise year on year now. Only 3 years ago 78% of permanent exclusion issued were to pupils who; (1) have SEN. (2) were classified as in need, or (3) were eligible for free school meals. 11% were to p ls who have all three characteristics (2019, Timpson Exclusion Review).
The question is what are we missing? What can parents and carers do to minimise the risks of the child falling in, and make sure that the provision available to them does not put them at a disadvantage to their peers?
When it comes to provision within a school, there are four tiers to consider;
Tier 1 - Quality First Teaching IOFT)
QFT is the first level of provision and is available to ALL pupils at school. QFT is high quality inclusive teaching that assesses, tracks and monitor the prpgress of each child a school,
The SEND Code or Practice 2014 States:
Teachers are responsible and accountable for the progress development of the pupils; in their class, including where pupils access support from teaching assistants or specialist staff.....
High quality teaching, differentiated for individual pupils, is the first step in responding to pupils who have or may have SEN. Additional intervention and support cannot compensate for a lack of quality teaching.
SEND Code or Practice,p,99
As a parent or carer, your expectation of QFT should be:
1) Focused lesson planning with dear objectives, identified according to the needs of all pupils 2Teachers knowing the pupils well and understanding the implications of SEN on learning
3) High levels of pupils involvement and engagement with their learning
4) High levels of challenge and expections
7) Pace of lessons adjusted to reflect how pupils are learning
8) Teachers providing pupils with effective feedback on learning (and vice versa!)
9) Pupils accepting responsibility for their own learning and work
10) Teachers effectively deploying additional adult support towards improving learning and increasing independence.
It is important that parents and schools work together for the best interests of the child. If there are areas a child or young person is not making expected progress, despite QFT being in place, there may be work that can be completed at home to help bridge the gap in learning. Utilise Parents Evenings and progress reports to have discussions with your child's tutor about their progress.
As parents and carers you know your child best. If you feel something is not right or your child continues to fall behind, go with your instinct.
Tier 2- SEN Support
When a child or young person is not making expected progress despite QFT, the SEND team and Special Education Needs Co-Ordinator (SENCO) may become involved at this point to assess the additional needs of the child. SEN Support given to the child or young person will be allocated through the school or college's overall SEND budget, up to the threshold (set out by the government) per student, per year. This level of support might include: additional help in lesson from a teaching assistant, working in smaller groups on targeted interventions such as reading numeracy or social use of language, observations, pastoral support and/or help with physical or personal care difficulties.
If your child is not already on the SEND reg. ister, they may be placed on it at this point, especially if the interventions in place are ongoing. You and your child will help devise a learning profile, sometimes referred to as a 'Pupil Passport'. For some pupils, the SEND register can be a revolving door, they are placed on it because they are not making expected progress but with targeted intervention they close the gap in learn ing and begin to thrive again, no longer requiring the support that was provided. There should be clear evidence of the interventions that have been put in place for your child - this will include a baseline assessment, a plan with expected outcomes, ending with a review of progress made.
Tier 3 - Individualised Specific Intervention
When a child or young person continues to fall behind, this is the point where school would involve external agencies or professionals such as: Speech and Language Therapists (SALT), Educational Psychologist (EP), Early Help/Family Intervention, Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), Social Care, Occupational Therapists (OT) or Sensory Teams (Visual, Hearing or Mobility). Following assessments from any of these teams, the school would allow time to implement any provision or advice they suggest. This would take place over a period of at least two terms with continued support from the professionals.
Tier 4- Education Health and Care Plan
An Education, Health and Care plan is for children and young people up to the age of 25 years old with more complex needs and require further support. EHCPs are a legal document that bring together, education, health care and social care needs under one plan.
If waves 1-3 have been successfully implemented but there is still a lack of progress and your child remains below expectations, or your child is closing the gap but requires additional provision beyond what the school can provide within their allocated budget, this is the point where an application is made to the Local Authority for additional funding through an EHCP.
Parents, carers, social care, doctors, health visitors, teachers and even young people (aged 16-25) themselves can make a request for an assessment. The Local Authority has 20 weeks from the date they receive the request to give you the final EHC Plan.
As parents and carers you know your child best. If you feel something is not right or your child continues to fall behind, go with your instinct. Don't place all the responsibility with your child's school, instead express your concerns, book a meeting with the SENCO, share your observations and make a plan that you both agree to. Before you leave the meeting book in another in 3-6 weeks to review what has been put in place.
It can be difficult knowing what to do, knowing the right questions to ask or knowing where to turn when you are struggling to get the support you need. You are not alone. Remember, every child is entitled to a quality, inclusive education where they have the ability to thrive with daily experiences of being inspired...... It is never too late.