SEN Departments in local authorities in England are currently (or should be) working feverishly on a new “Graduated Response” document aimed at identifying and helping children with special educational needs.
In the current system, the graduated response is based on the familiar levels of SEN of School Action and School Action Plus. Then, if after a period of time it looks like a child isn’t responding adequately to these increasing levels of intervention, a school or more likely a parent, will seek a Statutory Assessment of the child’s special educational needs.
Tania Tirraoro founder at the Special Needs Jungle shares her views on the impending changes and whether she feels that schools are ready for this change. The reason why there is currently little detail in the forthcoming Code of Practice about thresholds and criteria, says the DfE, is because they want to remove as much ‘prescription’ as possible and give talented and dedicated SENCos more freedom to use the methods that work for their pupils as individuals. This is, of course, Person Centred Planning and although there will be no Individual Education Plans (IEPs) teachers will still have to keep records, which is where the Buzzphrase “Assess, Plan, Do, Review’ comes in.
Assess, Plan Do, Review shouldn’t really be new as a concept to good teachers and SENCos. It should be what they are doing anyway – identify what the core problem(s) is and plan an appropriate strategy, taking into account how the child learns the best. Then carry out the plan and review how it’s working. There are no set number of APDR cycles needed before it’s decided a statutory assessment for an Education, Health and Care Plan is required. An EHCP is called for where the need and cost of support to ensure the child’s planned outcomes are achieved, can no longer reasonably be met by the school from its own resources.
Tania also mentions the difficulty in how to involve 'parents as partners', she suggests that parents be involved in co-producing, along with their child, a one page profile or student passport giving the teacher a good excuse to sit down with the parent, listen to their and their child’s views and build up a visual plan; although she highlights that there are two potential difficulties – firstly, if the teacher/SENCo does not embrace the spirit of the reforms and secondly, if the parent does not want to be involved in this way. Parents reading this are probably engaged and active in helping their child, but there are many parents who either do not want or are not able to participate.
There are just a few weeks left of the current term and the Code of Practice is still a draft – the final version for submitting to parliament for approval is not yet published, although it cannot be far away.
Tania states that the future of our special needs children will be even more reliant on the skills of education professionals to recognise and take action when they see an educational or social deficit in a child. There isn’t much time until these changes come into force, although for those children with existing statements, nothing will change until they are moved over to an EHCP at the next transition point or if their statement needs to be updated.
Tania's blog makes for interesting reading and goes into much more depth - to read the full article please click on the link below: