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Corrections and clarifications

An article by Brian Lamb OBE in issue 18 of The SEND Practitioner has been amended.

One sentence of Brian Lamb’s piece (‘The SEND reforms: Where are we now?’) was changed and an additional sentence was added as follows.

From:

‘A survey carried out by the parent carer forums found that 84% of parents were fully or largely engaged in the strategic planning and co-production of SEND services…’

To:

‘A DfE survey of local authorities found that 84% of parents were fully or largely engaged in the strategic planning and co-production of SEND services and that 83% of parents were fully or largely engaged in making decisions about their own SEND provision. The DfE survey of parent carer forums found lower satisfaction: 64% felt that parents were fully or largely engaged in strategic planning, while 51% felt that parents were fully or largely engaged in decisions about their children – the latter an improvement on the previous survey.’

Read issue 18 of The SEND Practitioner.

If you have any questions about this amendment, please contact the editor.

The government confirms funding for SEN support

The government has recently announced a new multi-million pound fund to support children and families with SEN.

Edward Timpson announced this news on [Monday] 9 January at the Department for Education. The funding, totalling almost £60million, will be available from April of this year.

The government’s recent SEN support press release

‘The funding announced includes:

  • £15 million for the Independent Supporters programme in 2017 to 2018, run by the Council for Disabled Children, this has been a real driver of change for families navigating the SEND system and improving the experience for them
  • £2.3 million for Parent Carer Forums in 2017 to 2018, who bring parents together and provide a voice to influence local decision-making
  • £1.8 million to Contact a Family, to support individual Parent Carer Forums and their National Network, and to run a national helpline for families

The package also includes funding for councils worth £40 million, which the minister wrote to them about shortly before Christmas. This investment, an increase of £4.2 million from last year (2016 to 2017) will support them to make effective plans for this important final year of the transition to the new SEND system.

Minister Edward Timpson said:

“These reforms are the most significant we’ve made to the support for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities in a generation and we know that they are making a difference, thanks to the passion and dedication of all those involved.

“As we enter the final year of the transition, I know there are still challenges to overcome, to ensure that the inspiring work going on in many parts of the country is shared with areas where improvements still need to be made.

“That’s why I’m delighted to be able to confirm this additional funding for councils and for the groups playing such a vital role in supporting children with SEND. All children, no matter the obstacles they face, should have the same opportunities for success as any other.”‘

Editor’s note

Read the government’s press release in full.

In addition to this, our recent interview with Edward Timpson MP appeared in issue 18 of The SEND Practitioner.

Read the latest issue of The SEND Practitioner.

Issue 18 of The SEND Practitioner published recently

Issue 18 published on Sunday 8 January 2017 and features a cornucopia of expertise.

Edward Timpson MP (Minister of State for Vulnerable Children and Families) and Dr Adam Boddison (CEO of nasen) answer our readers’ questions on the Code of Practice, early identification, nominal budgets, the new national curriculum, the Rochford Review, SEND and teacher training courses, and 2017 and beyond. While Brian Lamb OBE looks at the SEND reforms and asks where are we now?

There’s a summary of  a recent research study that we carried out with hundreds of our Certificate in Psychometric Testing, Assessment and Access Arrangements’ (CPT3A) delegates and a couple of Q&As with two of our most recent CPT3A graduates.

Read issue 18.

Real Group welcomes new head of marketing and sales

We are delighted that Stuart Curry has recently joined the company as Real Group’s head of marketing and sales.

Prior to this, Stuart worked across a variety of sectors, including not-for-profit, consumer and business publishing, membership bodies, and finance. He is based at our Greenwich office and will support the marketing and sales team, while working closely with all departments and directors to continue Real Group’s financial growth. He will also assist with the development of new business propositions and areas of activity.

Stuart emphasised how much he has relished working with the team and learning about the positive aspects of our work:

‘I am really enjoying working with an incredibly dedicated and committed small team and getting to learn about the fantastic, valuable work that the company does in the sector – helping to change lives.’

He looks forward to working with Real Group to expand and meet the many challenges facing education professionals and their pupils.

The Rochford Review: final report is out

On 19 October 2016, the Rochford Review: final report published. It sets out the recommendations of the independent Rochford Review group and follows on from the Rochford Review’s interim recommendations, which were published in December of last year.

The government aims to consult on the recommendations of this review in early 2017. Final decisions will be made in the wake of that consultation.

In the interim, the government suggests that ‘schools should continue to use the pre-key stage standards and P scales for the statutory assessment of pupils working below the standard of the national curriculum tests’.

The ten recommendations of the Rochford Review: final report are set out verbatim below:

Recommendations

‘The review makes the following recommendations to government for the statutory assessment of pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests at the end of key stages 1 and 2:

  1. The removal of the statutory requirement to assess pupils using P scales.
  2. The interim pre-key stage standards for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests are made permanent and extended to include all pupils engaged in subject-specific learning.
  3. Schools assess pupils’ development in all 4 areas of need outlined in the SEND Code of Practice, but statutory assessment for pupils who are not engaged in subject-specific learning should be limited to the area of cognition and learning.
  4. A statutory duty to assess pupils not engaged in subject-specific learning against the following 7 aspects of cognition and learning and report this to parents and carers: responsiveness, curiosity, discovery, anticipation, persistence, initiation, investigation
  5. Following recommendation 4, schools should decide their own approach to making these assessments according to the curriculum they use and the needs of their pupils.
  6. Initial teacher training (ITT) and Continuing professional development (CPD) for staff in educational settings should reflect the need for teachers to have a greater understanding of assessing pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests, including those pupils with SEND who are not engaged in subject-specific learning.
  7. Where there is demonstrable good practice in schools, those schools should actively share their expertise and practice with others. Schools in need of support should actively seek out and create links with those that can help to support them.
  8. Schools should work collaboratively to develop an understanding of good practice in assessing pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests, particularly across different educational settings. Schools should support this by actively engaging in quality assurance, such as through school governance and peer review.
  9. There should be no requirement to submit assessment data on the 7 areas of cognition and learning to the DfE, but schools must be able to provide evidence to support a dialogue with parents and carers, inspectors, regional schools commissioners, local authorities, school governors and those engaged in peer review to ensure robust and effective accountability.
  10. Further work should be done to consider the best way to support schools with assessing pupils with EAL.’

Read the Rochford Review: final report.

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.

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