|What key impacts will the SEN reforms have on each SENCO’s setting and role?
“First, and foremost, the role will shift from an operational one to a strategic one. SENCOs will need to make sure that they take these steps:
- Work with the senior leadership team to develop or refine their school vision for SEN.
- Monitor what’s happening.
- Coordinate provision.
- Provide professional development for other members of staff to ensure that teachers can meet the needs of all pupils within the Code of Practice.
- Make sure that members of staff have the appropriate attitude, knowledge and skills to fulfil their responsibilities towards pupils with SEN.
“They will also have the following key impacts:
- Require schools to review their SEN register and their setting’s definition of SEN – particularly as part of the transition from School Action/School Action Plus to SEN Support.
- Compel schools to define Quality First teaching more clearly – the better the Quality First teaching, the fewer children should require additional provision through SEN Support.
- Raise the overall quality of teaching and learning for pupils with SEN.
- Motivate each SENCO to look at what is in place in schools that will help nurture strong working relationships with parents – to empower parents to make better decisions as a result of their closer involvement in the process.
- Encourage some schools to revisit the most appropriate ways of reviewing plans with parents so that they are able to meet the requirements within the Code of Practice.
- Promote the co-production of Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) through a joined-up approach between parents, schools and other professionals.
- Focus on an outcome-based approach that places the child and family at the centre.”
How can schools ensure a smooth transition?
“Schools need to really reflect on what SEN means to them. They need to have clear criteria as to what constitutes SEN and SEN Support and what it looks like. For example, some schools might not have reviewed their SEN register in the last few years and, as a result, may not have had a conversation about ‘what is SEN’ and ‘what is underachievement’? In this way, they might find that some of their children on School Action no longer require SEN Support and can be removed from the register. Of course, because the Code of Practice’s definition of SEN hasn’t changed, this shouldn’t apply to too many children.
“Also, in terms of records and management systems, each school needs to decide what is going to work best. This is because there will no longer be a distinction between School Action and School Action Plus. Despite this, schools may still want to retain a record if, for example, a particular child is still receiving external agency support.”
Come September, where will you start?
- “Read the Code of Practice (particularly Chapter Six if you are a SENCO in a school) and identify the other sections that are most relevant to you and your setting.
- Have a conversation with your school’s governors and senior management team to ensure they are up-to-date.
- Publish your SEN information report on your school’s website, because there is a statutory requirement to do this.
- As part of your ongoing strategic process, you will need to determine your school’s contribution to the local offer, and review your SEN policy.
- Provide professional development to staff, so that they are up-to-date with the key changes.
- Speak to parents – e.g. one-to-one, through a parent forum, or pre-arranged parents’ meetings – to ensure that they are clear about the changes and the impact on their child.
- Review your SEN register (vis à vis the shift from School Action/School Action Plus to SEN Support).
- As part of the ongoing transition, provide your staff with regular updates to make sure that they understand exactly what to expect and what is going on – particularly what Quality First teaching means – and support them to deliver the changes.
- Finally, it is important that you engage with your local authority, to make sure that you are clear about the transition arrangements for prioritising children who are going to be moving from statements to plans in the first year.”
What is your main message to SENCOs?
“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.”
Do you have any closing comments?
“The nasen gateway is an absolutely essential resource that no SENCO should do without. Also, during the summer, I updated my book (The Perfect SENCO) to reflect the changes – so you might want to take a look at that too.”