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Snapshots from the world of SEND

June

  • 16 June: issue 16 of The SEND Practitioner published (a special issue for the Autism Show featuring Dr Temple Grandin, Steve Silberman and Dr Sue Sheppard)
  • 17 and 18 June: exhibited at the Autism Show, where Dr Sue Sheppard spoke about the innovative work in schools supporting learners with autism
  • 22 June: ‘What parents told the government’s review into the SEND reforms’
  • 23 June: the Brexit vote fell in favour of the UK leaving the European Union by a slim majority.
  • 23 June: ‘Poor pupils are still let down’, warns Ofsted boss
  • 24 June: Dr Mark Turner (our director) responded to the Brexit vote
  • 27 June: ‘How will Brexit affect children and young people with disabilities
  • 27 June: our learning design and psychology team popped over to Krakow for EU-funded project: Q-Tales
  • 28 June: ‘Two-thirds of parents fear child’s mental illness a life sentence’
  • 29 June: Ofsted considers scrapping outstanding grade, says new chief inspector
  • 30 June: Real Group reviewed the reforms with colleagues at London’s SEN Policy Forum.

July

  • 1 July: the DfE sent an update on the EU referendum result and its impact on the DfE
  • 4 July: concerns raised that special schools are being ‘left out’ by the academy system
  • 7 July: delegates encouraged to enrol on our new one-day face-to-face Assessment and Access Arrangements Update (AAU) course
  • 8 July: Nicky Morgan presses ahead with the process of appointing Amanda Spielman as the new Ofsted boss – despite concerns about her suitability.
  • 13 July: our delegates graduated from Middlesex University
  • 13 July: Dr Sue Sheppard penned a super piece on the importance of developing flexible programmes of support for learners
  • 14 July: SEN finally to be part of England’s core teacher training
  • 15 July: Kay Bedford OBE left Swiss Cottage School, after 21 years at its helm.
  • 16 July: Edward Timpson MP confirms that he will remain Minister of State for the DfE.
  • 25 July: DfE updated its SEN statistics

August

  • 3 August: DfE published the July edition of their SEND newsletter
  • 3 August: we interviewed the Children’s Commissioner for England (Anne Longfield OBE) for issue 17 of The SEND Practitioner.
  • 4 August: Sue wrote an important piece on whether initial teacher training should include specialist autism training
  • 15 August: a poll of education staff suggests that too many pupils with SEND in England lack crucial support
  • 19 August: an excellent overview of exam access arrangements and the key role that they play
  • 22 August: sad news about the recent passing of Brian Rix. He made a huge contribution to Mencap and SEND during his lifetime
  • 23 August: Ofsted boss in Isle of Wight row quits
  • 24 August: during July and August, the DfE published five outcome letters from inspections of local area services for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities
  • 25 August: we officially welcomed four new colleagues to our growing organisation (Hannah Fairall, Abby Grieve, Andrew Heap and Katie Hickmott)
  • 31 August: the European Commission signed off our Q-Tales collaboration in Luxembourg.

We welcome new colleagues to our growing organisation

This summer, we’ve employed new members of staff to meet the growing demand for our training and services. We’re therefore delighted to bolster our psychology and operations departments with four capable individuals.

Hannah Fairall, Assistant Psychologist (Greenwich)

Before joining us as an assistant psychologist, Hannah completed an MPhil in Psychology and Education at the University of Cambridge. She feels that her new role has been very interesting and varied so far, which involves tutoring for the Certificate of Competence in Educational Testing (CCET), CCET course development, publishing MEd SEND and National Award for SEN Coordination (NASENCO) delegate assignments, and planning projects for future work in schools.

Abby Grieve, Assistant Psychologist (Greenwich)

Prior to joining our team, Abby worked in a school as a learning support assistant. As an assistant psychologist, she is a CCET tutor, while working to develop the course itself. Abby also works in schools, and assists in publishing the assignments of MEd SEND and NASENCO delegates.

Andrew Heap, Head of Operations (Canterbury)

Previously, Andrew was head of student operations at a language school based in France and Italy. His role is to work with the directors to continue the improvement of operation efficiency, understand the student journey, and enhance our customer services. Andrew will work closely with our marketing team to ensure a consistent approach across the business that drives operations and marketing performance.

Katie Hickmott, Administration Assistant and Receptionist, NASENCO Tutor and Course Developer (Canterbury)

Katie started out as a classroom teacher and for the last six years has been working as a SENCO for schools in special measures. She has an MEd in Educational Research Practice from the University of Cambridge, and jointly led the Good to Outstanding Teaching Programme in her school. She’ll split her role between the administration of NASENCO and the MEd SEND, tutoring NASENCO students, and helping to develop the course content.

A word from one of our directors

Siobhan Mellor emphasised that the need for the recent recruitment drive is in direct response to the growing requirement for more training among teachers:

‘We are keen to support the current growth of the company. We are proud of our reputation for providing great practice-led courses, with flexible learning solutions and high-quality tutoring, leading to positive outcomes for our delegates in their work with children, and young people with SEND. The Real Group team has always focused on providing great support at each stage of the process for delegates, and now that we have 1,617 delegates studying modules with us, we are committed to maintaining our services, to deliver excellent quality in the support and advice we provide.

‘We have expanded all departments within the company, and this will also enable the directors to focus on developing the strategy and approach for Real Group in the next few years, so that we can respond to the new challenges and exciting opportunities that lie ahead in our sector.’

Discussing safeguarding children’s rights with the Children’s Commissioner

We were pleased to have the opportunity to interview Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield OBE on 3 August, for next month’s issue of The SEND Practitioner.

The interview will feature in issue 17 of the free-zine and will give an insight into the progress being made when safeguarding children’s rights and the impact that Anne and her team have had so far.

Anne’s statutory duty is to champion and safeguard the rights of every child in England in line with the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child. The role has been strengthened by the Children and Families Act of 2014 and this has seen the organisation’s duty of care shift to protecting and promoting the rights of children.

A number of pressing questions were asked regarding mental health issues, CAMHS cuts, and SEN school exclusions. Among these vital issues, we also discussed SEN GAG funding, how legal aid has changed, and what the post-Brexit landscape could mean for children and young people’s outcomes.

Issue 17 of The SEND Practitioner will publish in September.

Read previous issues of The SEND Practitioner.

Sign up to The SEND Practitioner.

The DfE updates its SEN statistics

Just a few days ago, the DfE updated its statistics for pupils with SEN. According to the data, those pupils who receive SEN support are falling. We will look at these stats in more detail and will publish a blog piece in September.

Find out more.

We’ve recently launched a brand new one-day update on assessment and access arrangements

We’re delighted to have launched our one-day Assessment and Access Arrangements Update (3AU). This face-to-face refresher will enable delegates to ensure that they meet the latest Joint Council for Qualifications’ (JCQ) regulations. It will also help them to fine tune and refresh their skills in assessment and access arrangements.

The inaugural course will be held in London on 28 September, closely followed by one in Manchester on 5 October.

Find out more.

Our delegates graduate at Middlesex University

Our talented delegates graduated at Middlesex University today. It was great to meet them and to hear their stories.

We were really pleased to speak with National Award for SEN Coordination (NASENCO) graduate Lynsey Rooker and her parents. Lynsey is the SENCO at Chesterton Community College and has been inspired to enhance her continuing professional development. She is determined to complete her PGDip and will count the 60 Masters-level (M-level) credits gained from NASENCO towards the 120 M-level credits required.

We’re in Krakow for EU-funded project: Q-Tales

Sarah Norris and Jonathan Bond have worked with a host of European partners to help build Q-Tales.

This project aims to increase children’s engagement with the written word. At its heart is a demographic approach to curation that is needs-focussed and develops specific literacy skills. Q-Tales aspires to become the largest vertical approach in the European e-book and app industry by producing a complex quality book-based app that will make children’s books a more attractive play for publishers.

In their work, Sarah (senior educational psychologist) and Jonathan (senior learning designer) helped to devise the curation strategy objectives that lie at the very heart of the project.

‘The objectives are to:

  • Provide a way of rating the pedagogical quality of a product to ensure that it is appropriate for a given reader and that it helps to improve the literacy of that reader.
  • Develop tools that will not only evaluate a product, but will also provide data metrics that users can access, understand and contribute – creating a virtuous circle.
  • Evolve a curation network to facilitate the above, to support the launch of Q-Tales and inform its ongoing development.’

It’s been a fascinating pan-European project and promises to have a great impact on children’s literacy across Europe.

Editor’s note: Sarah is meeting with our EU partners in Krakow today (27 June 2016). While the recent EU referendum vote will have an impact on our involvement in this project, we are pleased to report that we will continue to support the project until such time as we are unable to do so.

In the wake of the EU referendum result

A word from one of our directors

‘While we’re still trying to work out the implications of the Brexit vote, we’re secure in the knowledge that our two main courses are a firm favourite with schools. In times of uncertainty, people tend to upskill to ensure that they are future-proofed. So, with all of this in mind and with many unknowns ahead of us, we will continue to carry on what we are doing well while the dust settles.

‘Clearly, the result will have an impact on the EU projects that we are working on. We will keep you posted, but please be aware that these projects are a small part of our operations and will not have a negative impact.’

Dr Mark Turner

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