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A look at the two new MA in Leading Inclusive Education modules

Following the successful launch of the Leading Inclusive Education MA, Maddie Ralph explores the forthcoming Learning Differences and Communities and Culture modules.

Learning Differences

This module will enable delegates to get to grips with a broad range of learning needs – including SEND, EAL, gifted and talented, and pupils with literacy difficulties. It enables them to focus on needs that are useful to their practice and setting. Delegates will understand how contemporary thought, guidance, legislation and research in this area apply in their setting. They will evaluate, understand and apply their learning, and will think about how best to lead staff to make a difference to children and young people with learning differences.

Strand one of this module concentrates on understanding learning differences and inclusion. As well as refreshing their understanding of learning theories and typical cognitive development, delegates will explore different perceptions of learning differences and inclusion, and models of disability, and consider some controversial issues around difference. This will enable them to build a picture of various learning differences and the provision currently made for them in their setting. They will also be able to learn about the national picture, (re learning differences and inclusion) and reflect on responsibility, accountability and leadership.

Strand two will enable delegates to review provision for an area of learning difference, by first revisiting the waves of intervention model of support for children and young people with learning differences. They will go on to learn about the graduated approach to SEN support, how this is applied to other groups, and consider how well their setting implements this. Delegates will work with their colleagues to select an area of learning difference where practice could be improved. They will research it, make provision for it in their setting, share their findings and obtain feedback.

In the third and final strand, delegates will build on their learning by developing an action plan for change in their setting. They will reflect on their learning and progress as a leader of inclusive practice, and will look at the next professional development steps that they need to take.

Communities and Culture

This module will allow delegates to develop their understanding of the impact of culture and community on pupils and their families, and the implications of these for education settings. They will encounter a range of cultures and communities that are relevant to them and will get to grips with vital issues around community, culture, identity and multiculturalism. They will learn about the community-based resources that can support their practice, and will think about how best to lead staff and evolve a cohesive approach for a diverse pupil population.

Strand one is based around delegates’ understanding of communities and culture. They will explore their own culture and that of their setting, they will consider a range of perceptions of the concept of community and will reflect on education settings as communities. They will not only consider how identity is defined and shaped, but will also explore issues surrounding community cohesion, examine culture and cultural diversity, and investigate the relationship between diversity and inclusion in communities.

Strand two will lead delegates to a deeper understanding of practice in relation to communities and culture. Through researching diversity, social capital and what it means to be British, they will develop their knowledge of how education settings (particularly their own), can support individual identities and promote a universal sense of belonging. By understanding the role of supplementary schools, and the kind of education that will equip children to participate and achieve (both in school and beyond), delegates will be in a good position to apply their knowledge in the final strand.

In the third and final strand, delegates will focus on leading change in their setting. To conclude their learning, they will work with colleagues to develop an action plan for change in their setting. In common with the previous module, they will reflect on their learning and progress as a leader of inclusive practice and will look at the next professional development steps that they need to take.

 

To find out more about this programme, take a look at Middlesex University’s website.

A Q&A with Jalak Patel – our new senior educational psychologist

We recently welcomed Jalak Patel to Real Group. As an educational psychologist (EP), she has wide-ranging experience of working with young people in both the UK and Hong Kong. We spoke with Jalak about her time in Hong Kong, what led her to her new role and how SEND challenges differ between the two landscapes.

As an EP, what are your areas of interest?

‘Recently I’ve spent a lot of time working with children and young people who experience social cognition challenges (which might be known as social thinking challenges). These individuals find it difficult to understand that other people’s perspectives may differ from their own, and this disparity can have a huge impact on their social lives, their academic lives and their academic work. I am interested in helping this group achieve their individual social goals. These goals may include the ability to share space, work effectively with others and be more effective in reading the social environment around them, learning how to work as a member of a team, or developing and maintaining relationships with others.’

You have broad international experience as an EP (having worked in both Hong Kong and the UK). Can you tell me about your recent time in Hong Kong? What took you there and what did you do there?

‘I worked in Hong Kong for four-and-a-half years and in Coventry for eight years before that – so two very different places. Throughout my career, I’ve always been interested in how different cultural backgrounds and experiences impact on how we think, feel or behave, and how that might then influence a student’s emotional well-being or their academic progress. So, for me, the opportunity to live and work in a completely different culture was just thrilling really.

‘In Hong Kong, I worked as an EP for the English School Foundation, which is a foundation of 22 settings covering pre-school children up to secondary level. During this time, I was also the foundation’s advisor for SEN training and development. In this role, I worked with schools to find out what their development needs were, wrote and delivered training based on these needs, supported others to do the same, and then worked with different settings to embed their new learning and skills. What was particularly interesting about the position was that my work was not just limited to the English School Foundation’s pool of international schools. We were keen to broaden our remit to support and influence the practice of other schools within South East Asia. In this way, through inter-school discussions and conferences, we shared good practice.

‘Of course, living in Hong Kong was such an amazing experience: the food is delicious and I’ve developed quite a taste for dim sum. And at the weekend, there’s so much to do too: you can go hiking or you can go to the beach – so life was really good fun there. I had so many opportunities to travel and feel really lucky to have travelled to every South East Asian country on my list.’

Before this, you were in the UK. In the world of SEND, what are the similarities and differences between the two landscapes?

‘I think both the UK and Hong Kong have an increasing understanding of the importance of ensuring that the needs of all students are met (whether they have SEND or not). In the UK, we have a long-held understanding that we have a part to play in this, and I did wonder before I went whether it would be the same. I’d say that in Hong Kong, there is also an understanding that we need to meet the needs of all students, and educators are becoming even more interested in how this can be done, especially when thinking about meeting the needs of children and young people with SEND.

‘In Hong Kong, there is often a high expectation for children and young people to succeed academically.  However, there is also a growing awareness of the links between these expectations and increased levels of stress, (or decreased levels of emotional well-being). This is in line with the UK’s recognition of the importance of mental health challenges and how these can impact on students. The raft of new legislation that’s come out and the kind of discussions that are taking place, are illustrative of how much the UK has developed in this area in just the few years that I worked abroad.

‘Differences: I suppose that the main difference would be in terms of behaviour. In the international school context, we saw a lot less of what might be termed in the UK as challenging behaviour. People in South East Asia tend to have a real respect for education and they very much expect their children to do well – sometimes to their detriment. They can be a little bit pushy or work their children very hard. In general, however, children and young people have a healthy respect for education and want to do well. So, if they are exhibiting challenging behaviour, it’s not from a desire to get out of the classroom, or to cause problems. More so, it’s because they are genuinely experiencing difficulties stemming from other challenge areas – such as, say, social cognition challenges, or mental health issues.

‘I suppose that one of the other big differences is that the curriculum that we worked towards in our particular schools was very concept-based, rather than skills-based. So, children and young people were really expected to think in an abstract way. In this context, some children with SEND faced challenges because they found flexible thinking difficult, or weren’t able to access a language-heavy curriculum. In contrast, the curriculum in the UK is a lot more skills-based, so it’s much easier to differentiate. But just to clarify, not all curricula in Hong Kong or South East Asia is concept-based, that was just the case in the foundation that I worked for.’

At the time of the interview, you have only recently touched down in London. What drew you to this role?

‘Well, Real actually came out to Hong Kong. Jen [Wills] flew over, and delivered the Certificate of Competence in Educational Testing (CCET) to a number of staff within our foundation. We contacted Real because we’d heard about them and their reputation. During that time, I held a dual role, one part of which involved advising the foundation on SEN training and development. Following the course, I spoke to staff to find out what they thought about CCET: they were struck by the clarity and rigour of the training, and could clearly see how this was going to help them and how they could move forward. The knock-on effect was that I was very impressed with the quality of the course and Real’s reputation. After conversations with EP friends back in the UK, I became more aware of the organisation’s positive reputation, the forward-thinking nature of the company, and its willingness to embrace new ideas and thinking.

‘I felt that I’d learnt a lot from working in Hong Kong, and wanted to make sure that my wealth of international experience would benefit and complement any organisation that I worked with in the UK. I got the sense that Real would be willing to harness some of that, and bring that on board with what they were doing. So, all in all, it seemed like a good fit!’

As you start your role with us, what areas are you particularly looking forward to working in?

‘I’m keen to get involved in delivering some of Real Training’s courses, as training is something I really enjoy doing. I’m eager to share some of the ideas and approaches that I’ve come across whilst working in Hong Kong, some of which aren’t really being used in the UK. I’ve been quite heavily involved in the training, implementation, and evaluation of certain approaches, and have delivered good outcomes for students. I would like to develop that further here. And of course, I am looking forward to getting to know everybody at Real too!’

Finally, in the coming months, you will tutor on some of our courses (e.g.: the Certificate of Competence in Educational Testing). With this in mind, why is assessment and educational testing training so important to education professionals and young people with SEND?

‘First and foremost, there are a lot of reports that are written and sent about different individuals, and it’s really important that we are able to fully understand them. There are many different tests available, and they are standardised in different ways, so it’s vital to be able to read a report, understand it, and know what that test was specifically focused on. This will allow us to know what those outcomes mean for a young person – in terms of next steps and how best to support them. To put that another way: you have to know where you are, to know where you need to go! Education professionals are willing to do the hard work and they want the right thing for their students, but aren’t always certain what information they need and/or how to use what they do know. So, coming on these kinds of training courses and gaining that knowledge, experience and understanding, is vital, because it provides certainty and enables us to be sure that everything we are doing is right for each individual student.’

 

Jalak will be working with both Real Psychology and Real Training in her role.

What SEND practitioners must know about the latest Joint Council for Qualifications’ (JCQ) regulations – a clarification

Alan Macgregor discusses the latest JCQ requirements for SEND practitioners

Since Alan Macgregor’s previous blog, we have received a number of calls about the 100-hour requirement.

We stated in the previous blog that:

‘…all access arrangements assessors need to have a postgraduate qualification at, or equivalent to level 7; and, as part of that qualification, they are also required to have carried out at least 100 hours relating to individual specialist assessment.’

We have realised that this wording seems to imply that the 100 hours all has to relate to individual specialist assessment. This was unintentional. In fact it is the course that has to exceed the 100 hours criterion, so a better phrasing might have been:

‘…all access arrangements assessors need to have a postgraduate qualification at, or equivalent to level 7; and, as part of that qualification, they are also required to have completed a course of at least 100 hours relating to individual specialist assessment.’

It was our intention to highlight and clarify the first option below listed in the JCQ regulations which states:

A head of centre will appoint:

  • an access arrangements assessor who has successfully completed a postgraduate course at or equivalent to Level 7, including at least 100 hours relating to individual specialist assessment. An access arrangements assessor may conduct assessments to be recorded within Section C of Form 8; and/or
  • an appropriately qualified psychologist registered with the Health & Care Professions Council who may conduct assessments to be recorded within Section C of Form 8 and where necessary undertake full diagnostic assessments; and/or
  • a specialist assessor with a current SpLD Assessment Practising Certificate, as awarded by Patoss, Dyslexia Action or BDA and listed on the SASC website, who may conduct assessments to be recorded within Section C of Form 8 and where necessary undertake full diagnostic assessments.

So we would like to be really clear that the first bullet point above means that the course, whichever course that is, must cover at least 100 hours of study relating to assessment this doesn’t mean 100 hours of psychometric testing. While at Real Training we generally do not give an exact number of hours that any course will take, as different people progress at different rates, the CPT3A course is accredited in such a fashion that it comfortably exceeds this requirement. In summary, by completing and passing CPT3A delivered by Real Training, you can be assured that this requirement is met.

The other thing we would like to clarify is that this change does not apply to HCPC-registered psychologists or to those that hold an Assessment Practising Certificate (APC), who are still covered by the second and third options on the list. We had not anticipated that either of these groups would think that they might be affected, but we are happy to reassure them that they do not have to take notice of this change.

Please accept our apologies for any confusion, which was not our intention. And please do contact us if you would like to discuss this further.

What SEND practitioners must know about the latest Joint Council for Qualifications’ (JCQ) regulations

Alan Macgregor discusses the latest JCQ requirements for SEND practitioners

With only ten months to go until the JCQ qualification requirements come into force, Alan Macgregor (one of Real Training’s directors) highlights the key changes that every practising access arrangements assessor must meet before 1 September 2017.

Every year, the JCQ brings out new regulations that affect teaching professionals who assess candidates with SEND for exam access arrangements. In recent years, the adjustments have been gradual and it’s been easy for practitioners to adapt to them. By 1 September 2017, however, all existing access arrangements assessors (formerly specialist assessors) must comply with two critical elements if they are to continue to practise.

The two critical changes that must be met

Before 1 September 2017, all access arrangements assessors need to have a postgraduate qualification at, or equivalent to level 7; and, as part of that qualification, they are also required to have carried out at least 100 hours relating to individual specialist assessment. So, if the person responsible for exam access arrangements in a setting does not meet these essential requirements, then they will need to ensure that they meet them before 1 September 2017. If they do not do this within this timeframe, then all access arrangements in their setting will need to be carried out by someone else who meets the new requirements – either an internal member of staff or an external consultant.

Who is likely to be affected by these changes?

We’ve received quite a few calls from SENCOs who have a postgraduate SEND qualification and have carried out assessments in their setting for many years. However, come 1 September 2017, they will simply not be able to practise, because either their postgraduate qualification is not level-7-equivalent, or their level-7-equivalent qualification did not include at least 100 hours relating to individual specialist assessment.

What about Form 8?

The latest Form 8 has caused a few problems for those who do not have a postgraduate qualification at, or equivalent to level 7, with at least 100 hours relating to individual specialist assessment. Why? Because there used to be a section for them to complete in Form 8, which has since been removed in anticipation of the 1 September 2017 deadline. Access arrangements assessors who do not meet the key requirements will not be able to complete Form 8 and their setting will need to employ someone else who meets the new requirements – either an internal member of staff or an external consultant.

What course can access arrangements assessors take to fully meet the new requirements?

Access arrangements assessors who need to upskill between now and 1 September 2017, can take our Certificate in Psychometric Testing, Assessment and Access Arrangements (CPT3A). This course is made up of the Certificate of Competence in Educational Testing (CCET) and the Access Arrangements Course (AAC), both of which can be studied online or intensively. This joint course will enable delegates to learn how to use psychometric instruments effectively (CCET) and apply them in exam access arrangements (AAC) confidently and competently. Those who already have CCET, can take AAC on its own.

If you have any queries, or would like to know how we can help you navigate these changes, take a look at our website, or get in touch.

Read the JCQ’s latest assessor criteria.

Should initial teacher training include specialist autism training?

Editor’s note: towards the end of last month, there was quite a bit of chat about whether or not initial teacher training should include specialist autism training. With that in mind, I approached Dr Sue Sheppard, our resident specialist educational psychologist, renowned autism expert and friend and colleague of the late Lorna Wing. With customary clarity, Sue sets out her thoughts on this important question.

A word from Dr Sue Sheppard

The complexity and broadening out of the autism spectrum has significantly increased the number of individuals diagnosed and this brings many challenges within increasingly inclusive education systems. This, coupled with a recognition that there are many females who have previously not been identified, means that the numbers of students that a teacher may encounter has risen in recent years. Many newly qualified teachers find themselves in a situation where they are having to cope with the demands of a student who requires more personalised approaches and adaptations than they expect.

It is for this reason that those completing initial teacher training require a basic level of awareness, which enhances their understanding of the autism spectrum and provides knowledge of some principles relating to appropriate intervention and management techniques. There has to be a balanced approach within initial teacher training as many domains need attention. Within a school there clearly need to be staff with specific responsibility and enhanced skills who can support and advise their colleagues and signpost them to the most suitable ways to manage students on the autism spectrum. However, within the current Code of Practice for SEN there is a strong emphasis on ‘all teachers being responsible for ensuring individual needs are embraced within their daily planning and practice’. This means that teacher training has to ensure that there is adequate preparation to begin this process; one that will evolve once a teaching career begins.

When teaching undergraduates who were following initial teacher training, I have always found high levels of motivation when I have presented lectures and workshops relating to autism. The main feedback has tended to focus on the fact they would like more training and opportunities to learn. They especially enjoy hearing the insider view and are interested in the sensory difficulties experienced and the high levels of anxiety which may present in school settings. Many teachers in training have been educated in inclusive schools and learnt alongside students with autism. Others have personal experience of family members with a diagnosis. This tends to mean that they bring their own insights, which can be shared as part of the learning process.

Maybe there is the scope to ensure that all teachers in training have a basic level of autism training, while recognising that others may be more strongly motivated to become autism ‘champions’ and ‘specialists’ and wish for something additional within their training. Perhaps, in recognition of this natural variation, a range of optional modules could be created that meets the teachers in training at the particular level that they need to enhance their career.

About Dr Sue Sheppard

Sue is a senior specialist educational psychologist who is a consultant to the Lorna Wing Centre for Autism (part of the National Autistic Society). She has been a specialist ASD advisor/EP for a number of London boroughs for over 20 years and has also worked as a specialist teacher. Sue has been instrumental in setting up provision for children and young people with ASD across early years, primary and secondary, and has an eclectic career portfolio covering lecturing, training, consultancy and diagnosis and assessment. She is a specialist speaker in autism for EPs in training at University College London and has worked in collaboration with other universities – her doctoral research focused on autism outreach services.

Sue has significant experience of supporting learners online and has been a module leader on a number of ‘special needs’ programmes for various universities. Sue works with Real Psychology to provide extensive specialist EP services across London. She is also the module leader for Real Training’s Autism Spectrum Conditions: Skills & Knowledge (S&K) and Application & Reflection (A&R) modules, which are part of Real Training’s MEd SEND Programme.

Find out more about our modules on Autism Spectrum Conditions.

Useful websites

The importance of developing flexible programmes of support for learners in schools

Dr Sue Sheppard, our resident specialist educational psychologist, discusses the key notes of her forthcoming talk at the Autism Show

[Hear Sue speak about this and much more at the Autism Show on Friday 17 June 2016 at The Hub: Theatre 1 – from 10.25–10.55.]

I’m looking forward to speaking at the Autism Show about the importance of developing flexible personalised programmes for students on the autism spectrum. This area is explored in-depth on Real Training’s two Autism modules, where the following areas are prioritised:

  • Profiling – creating school-based pro formas.
  • Developing holistic personalised programmes that integrate the findings of the profiles.
  • Autism audits – whole school/staff skills.
  • Case studies – creating a narrative around ‘personal journeys’ to help with solutions.
  • Measuring the impact of interventions on ‘real’ students in ‘real’ schools.
  • Comparative work on interventions.
  • Developing school-based action/research plans.

During the talk, I will highlight pertinent examples of good practice by teachers and support staff, some of whom have overcome great challenges – perhaps due to gaps in their school-based provision, the complexity of their student groups, or a lack of external support services. Such good practice is even more admirable when one considers the fact that delegates on the Real Training programmes are based in diverse settings and include international delegates.

There will be some exploration of the tensions that can emerge as schools strive to measure outcomes and track data using evidence-based practice, while also trying to personalise and support students on a day-to-day basis. The limitations of research into ‘what works’ will be examined to promote the idea that an intervention is only effective if it works for a specific student in a specific setting. I will discuss important dimensions such as resilience, motivation, personal insight and rigidity as being significant factors that can both aid and limit the impact of interventions. The high incidence of secondary mental health issues among young people with autism spectrum conditions means that there is a real need to carefully balance high expectations with young people’s actual capacity to engage and sustain a programme, while maintaining emotional well-being.

I will also draw on my direct experience of working in a range of schools, where my current interests include:

  • Exploring and recognising the impact of learning styles and uneven cognitive profiles on student progress in schools.
  • Dimensional frameworks for understanding and assessing those with autism spectrum conditions.
  • Working with students who ‘school refuse’ (or are at risk of refusing to attend school) in order to analyse the underlying reasons for this pattern of behaviour and identify solutions to move forward.
  • Listening to pupils and, where necessary, using structured and unstructured frameworks to support students in reflecting on and prioritising their goals to help them increase motivation.
  • Addressing anxiety across their day-to-day and assessing levels of personal insight.
  • Working collaboratively with parents to create solutions.
  • Adapting interventions to support the girls in schools who are now increasingly recognised as being on the autism spectrum.

Finally, I will be encouraging those who develop support programmes to build on the available good practice and valuable research around interventions, while remaining focused on the ‘individual’ and dynamic interaction within the learning environment and the broader social context.

About Dr Sue Sheppard

Sue is a senior specialist educational psychologist who is a consultant to the Lorna Wing Centre for Autism (part of the National Autistic Society). She has been a specialist ASD advisor/EP for a number of London boroughs for over 20 years and has also worked as a specialist teacher. Sue has been instrumental in setting up provision for children and young people with ASD across early years, primary and secondary, and has an eclectic career portfolio covering lecturing, training, consultancy and diagnosis and assessment. She is a specialist speaker in autism for EPs in training at University College London and has worked in collaboration with other universities – her doctoral research focused on autism outreach services.

Sue has significant experience of supporting learners online and has been a module leader on a number of ‘special needs’ programmes for various universities. Sue works with Real Psychology to provide extensive specialist EP services across London. She is also the module leader for Real Training’s Autism Spectrum Conditions: Skills & Knowledge (S&K) and Application & Reflection (A&R) modules, which are part of Real Training’s MEd SEND Programme.

Find out more about our modules on Autism Spectrum Conditions.

Useful websites

The HE White Paper

In mid-May, the government published its higher education White Paper. The mixed reception that it received hinged on legislation that will, ultimately, enable new education providers to confer their own degrees. While the university sector, including the NUS and MillionPlus, responded warily to the publication, other voices were more positive.

So, what are the government’s key proposals and why are they controversial?

New universities, improved standards and greater choice

The government states that the ultimate aim of the legislation is to improve the quality of teaching standards by ensuring that universities are more accountable. Through this, the government hopes that this will not only enable graduates to benefit from enhanced standards, but will also ensure greater choice and access when alternative education providers are able to confer their own degrees. Understandably, the notion of new providers being given degree awarding powers strikes its critics as the next step towards marketisation/privatisation of the higher education sector. To them, the prospect of alternative institutions/corporations offering learning courses in ways that undercut the traditional higher education sector’s prices and modes of delivery threatens the very fabric of the university structure and its world-renowned reputation.

To counter this claim, the government has stated that each new university that wishes to enter the higher education ring will be rigorously tested for quality. As an additional safety and enforcement measure, the government stated that each new awarding organisation will be policed by a newly created regulator called the Office for Students. This ombudsman-type entity will have the regulatory power to take action whenever and wherever needed.

A regulator and watchdog with teeth

As mentioned, this regulatory body, in partnership with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), will replace the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) – something that was most probably set in train in 2011, when teaching funding was taken out of its hands and replaced by tuition fee loans. To the chagrin of its critics, this organisation will promote student choice and competition and, even more dangerously in their eyes, will be funded not by the government, but by the universities themselves, prompting questions around the importance of regulators being independent.

A new framework to drive up teaching quality

The government claims that more than 60% of students are unhappy with their course [editor’s cheeky note: this is in stark contrast to our courses, which enjoy exceptionally high approval ratings from past delegates]. To mitigate this perceived shortfall, they intend to introduce a Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). This form of assessment will be student-focused and will look at the standards of teaching, the teaching and student experience, etc. Through this, they not only want to give each student as much information as possible about each institution, when they are going through the selection process, but want to also ensure that each university’s performance is directly linked to the fees that they can charge. This new focus is intended to ensure that the quality of teaching (of each course and of each student outcome) is directly linked to the funding that each university can set. In addition, the government also hopes that such a move will encourage universities to do as much as possible to enable their students to find employment after graduation.

Improve accessibility and social mobility

To improve accessibility and encourage social mobility, the government will demand that all universities produce detailed demographical information on their students. This announcement has been received positively by some groups. However, critics of the aim state that charging students higher fees via student loans will reduce accessibility and put poorer students off degrees.

This is just a snapshot of the changes envisaged in the government’s recent HE White Paper.

To find out more, read the government’s HE White Paper.

If you have any questions about this topic, or any suggestions for future topics, please email the editor: edward@realgroup.co.uk

The SEN reforms and The SEND Practitioner: a health check with Brian Lamb OBE, Channel 4’s Educating the East End and Mark Blois

We were really pleased to welcome Brian Lamb back to The SEND Practitioner well over a year since he first graced the pages of our inaugural issue. Since then, the SEN reforms have made some qualified progress. However, on balance, the sheer scale of the cultural change that is afoot reflects on a timescale more rooted in years than months. And it is against this background that a health check of the state of the current reforms reveals both positives and negatives.

More specifically, as Mark Blois pointed out in the ninth issue, Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) and personal budgets continue to cause concern for some of our readership, against a broader palette of ongoing tweaks, adaptions and reinventions that many schools will need to make over the coming years.

However, what is interesting, and what comes across in Brian’s analysis, is that ‘many’ does not mean ‘all’. In that, I mean that there are some schools who have not been troubled by the reforms at all. One such school was Frederick Bremer – the brilliant institution at the heart of Channel 4’s Educating the East End.

When we interviewed Emma Hillman (deputy head) and Francesca Richards (SENCO) towards the end of last year, I asked them whether their person-centred approach had enabled them to navigate the SEN reforms more easily. Because of their inclusive person-centred practice, they both responded with a resounding ‘yes’. Francesca Richards stated that:

‘Yes, it’s been pretty smooth for us. This is because a lot of our SEN practices were already person-centred. For example, our annual statement reviews already constructed a person-centred approach that puts the child and the child’s voice at the heart of the process, alongside rigorous support systems that foster this child-centred approach. So, the practice that we have put in place has allowed us to adapt to the changes quite easily.’ Francesca Richards in the eighth issue of The SEND Practitioner

Of course, no school is the same. However, the type of whole-school person-centred approach that an inner-city school like Frederick Bremer follows has reaped extraordinary dividends — echoed by the words of Brian Lamb in our latest issue:

‘At root, it’s about adopting a quality first teaching approach. Get that in place and you will get parents onside to help your whole-school approach really take off. It’s a big investment upfront, but very big rewards will follow if you get it right.’ Brian Lamb in the 11th issue of The SEND Practitioner

The challenges are huge; the rewards are great; and, over the coming months, we hope that The SEND Practitioner will help you on your way.

Read issue 11 of The SEND Practitioner.

Sign up to The SEND Practitioner.

The SEND Practitioner: one year and ten issues later

This month, The SEND Practitioner is 13 months old.

In a year of seismic education reforms, we’ve published ten issues, have thousands of subscribers, and have interviewed a host of experts in their fields.

From:

  • A leading lawyer to a top person-centred planning expert.
  • The stars of Channel Four’s Educating the East End to the chief executive of nasen.
  • An outstanding SEN author to a highly regarded SENCO.
  • The director of the Autism Education Trust to one of the DfE’s leading civil servants.
  • The former chief executive of nasen to one of our country’s most influential SEND experts and author of the highly regarded Lamb Report.

It’s been an utterly illuminating ride, one that has been made even greater by our genuinely engaged readership, who have asked us questions every step of the way.

To celebrate over a year of The SEND Practitioner, we were delighted to speak to Brian Lamb OBE for the second time yesterday. Brian took centre stage for our inaugural first issue and we thought that it would make perfect sense to talk to him a full nine months after the SEN reforms took place.

The 11th issue Q&A with Brian will publish before the month is out and will be followed closely by June’s 12th issue – featuring an interview with a world-class Cambridge University academic, psychologist and working memory expert.

If you already subscribe to The SEND Practitioner, thank you for reading. If you don’t and would like to, please sign up to our free-zine here.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a selection of quotes from some of our more recent contributors.

Gareth D Morewood on adapting and preparing for SEN reform

‘As with any change, a lot of potential issues may arise. However, with change comes great opportunity. There is an awful lot of information and support out there, so embrace it and you will find that being a SENCO doesn’t need to be a lonely job.’

Read the fifth issue of The SEND Practitioner.

Natalie Packer offers a few final words on preparing for SEN reform

‘Don’t panic! Remember, 1 September is the start of the process. To that end, schools, local authorities and the DfE are all anticipating at least a three-year transition period. It’s an organic process, so we aren’t expected to do everything at once. Develop an action plan to help you prioritise.’

Read the sixth issue of The SEND Practitioner.

Jane Friswell speaks about the post-SEN reform landscape

‘Keep calm and don’t panic. If you’re confident that you’re providing good quality provision for all children in your setting, then the new SEN requirements should not be a great challenge for you.’

Read the seventh issue of The SEND Practitioner.

Exploring Channel Four’s Educating the East End and the SEN landscape

‘[Our] inclusive approach, combined with effective classroom support (particularly in maths and English), means that we are able to meet the needs of our students.’

Read the eighth issue of The SEND Practitioner.

Mark Blois looks at the SEN legal landscape

‘If SEND practitioners get hung up on the pitfalls and negatives, rather than seizing the opportunity to try and push through cultural change, then we probably won’t see the level of change that most would acknowledge that we should.’

Read the ninth issue of The SEND Practitioner.

Colin Newton explores person-centred planning

‘Let’s use the person-centred planning way of working as tools to enable us to reach a truly inclusive society built around the needs of its most challenging and vulnerable young people.’

Read the tenth issue of The SEND Practitioner.

 

The SEND Practitioner is five months old

 

This month, The SEND Practitioner will be five months old. And if you said in response: ‘that’s not old’, well, you’d be absolutely right. It is, however, a milestone that we’re rather pleased to have reached. Why? Because in the deepest darkest depths of winter, when the germ of The SEND Practitioner was being discussed in our London office, we knew one thing – that we wanted to produce a monthly free-zine for SEND practitioners containing informative guidance from some of the best SEND practitioners and experts around.

To date, we think that we’ve done that. Just a few short weeks past the summer solstice – and many months from the winter one – we’ve produced four free-zines packed full of insights from some of the leading SEND experts in their fields. We’ve asked our experts the questions that our SENCOs want to ask and have looked at the prospective SEND reforms from a broad range of perspectives. Not only that, hundreds of SENCOs and SEND professionals have joined our list since we first published The SEND Practitioner – which we like to think is a pretty good ‘thumbs up’.

To mark The SEND Practitioner’s fifth month – equal to the lifespan of the dragonflies that flit around Greenwich Park just a stone’s throw from our London office – we are pleased to include a few choice quotes from the marvellous experts who have graced our pages. Thank you to our SENCOs, to Brian Lamb OBE, Lorraine Petersen OBE, Stephen Kingdom, Steve Huggett, and our loyal band of readers – we couldn’t have produced it without you.

From the author of the influential Lamb Inquiry 2009, to the former director of nasen; from the DfE’s most senior SEN civil servant, to the director of the Autism Education Trust, The SEND Practitioner has featured the voices of a host of SEND luminaries.

I’ve jotted down a few author grab quotes from each of our issues to give you a taste of their thoughts. If you want to find out more, simply click on the link that follows each quote to read the actual issue.

Brian Lamb OBE on preparing for the new Code of Practice (Issue one)

‘The Code of Practice is about a change in culture. It sees children with SEN as the school’s responsibility, delivering a personalised approach that recognises that they might need additional specialist support.’

Read the first issue of The SEND Practitioner.

Lorraine Petersen OBE on the Children and Families Act 2014 (Issue two)

‘It’s a time of great opportunity and yet it’s a long journey that we’ve been on since 2011. It will probably be 2016-2017 before we start to see the fruits of this. However, in the long term, I really do feel that it will be better for our children.’

Read the second issue of The SEND Practitioner.

Stephen Kingdom on SEN reform (Issue three)

‘This isn’t a big bang, a lot has been going on over time to help the teaching profession increase its capacity and capability to support children with SEN.’

Read the third issue of The SEND Practitioner.

Steve Huggett on SEN reform (Issue four)

‘The proof of the pudding will be in the eating. It’s what we do about it – rather than what we say about it – that will be critical.’

Read the fourth issue of The SEND Practitioner.

We’ve got a couple of interesting summer issues lined up – and we’re also arranging discounts to a key SEND reform conference this autumn for all of our readers.

So, if you’ve stumbled across this blog and would like to receive it in your in box every month, you can sign-up here. Or, if you have any comments, queries or suggestions, do get in touch.

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