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

Edward Farrow

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 SEN-reform health check with Brian Lamb OBE

‘If you stick with the values behind the Code of Practice – with its real focus on outcomes (not provision) and on parental and young people’s involvement – you will see real, improved outcomes. … Let these positive outcomes determine your path and your provision will follow.’ Brian Lamb in the 11th issue of The SEND Practitioner

We published the 11th issue of The SEND Practitioner with Brian Lamb yesterday – nine months to the day from when the SEN reforms kicked into play.

Read issue 11 of The SEND Practitioner.

Sign up to The SEND Practitioner.

Issue 11: The SEND Practitioner

The SEND Practitioner
Issue 11
The SEN reforms
May/June 2015
A health check and Q&A with
Brian Lamb OBE

Editorial

Nine months ago, to the day, the SEN reforms kicked-off. During this time, the sheer scale of the cultural change demanded by the legislation means that a lot of dust has still to settle. The fact that this is the case has worried some practitioners and parents. More particularly, issues around the content of the Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) and personal budgets continue to be raised.

As it stands, the Act and the regulations pose more questions than answers and, in the wake of this uncertainty, we thought that Brian Lamb would be the best Q&A port of call to help steady our readers’ anxieties. Brian, author of the widely respected Lamb Inquiry: Special educational needs and parental confidence, is an eminent expert in this field and took part in the inaugural issue of The SEND Practitioner. It’s wonderful to have him back and to take comfort in the certain cogency of his analysis.

I do hope that you find this issue useful and want to thank those of you who contacted me directly with questions for Brian.

As ever, if you have any queries, thoughts or suggestions, please do get in touch.

Kind regards,

Edward Farrow
Editor
editor@realgroup.co.uk

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We’ve just had a great time at nasen Live

We had a super time exhibiting at nasen live on 20–21 May. It was great to meet so many people and to introduce them to the merits of our Professional Assessment Programme; National Award; CCET and MEd SEND. We also enjoyed attending excellent talks by leading education lawyer Mark Blois and nasen chief executive Jane Friswell – both of whom have featured in our online publication: The SEND Practitioner.

Sign up to The SEND Practitioner.

The SEND Practitioner: one year and ten issues later

Edward Farrow

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.

 

Colin Newton sheds light on person-centred planning

‘Let’s make inclusion happen between us, nobody else is going to do it. Don’t wait for the government, and don’t wait for the DfE. We have got to do this together really. Let’s move forward and 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.’ (Colin Newton)

In our March/April issue of The SEND Practitioner, one of the UK’s leading inclusion pioneers highlights the importance of person-centred planning at a particularly prescient time – one where inclusion and person-centred planning have very much taken centre stage.

Read issue ten of The SEND Practitioner.

Sign up to The SEND Practitioner.

Issue ten: The SEND Practitioner

The SEND Practitioner
Issue ten
Person-centred planning
March/April 2015
A Q&A with inclusion expert
Colin Newton

Editorial

To celebrate our one-year anniversary we are delighted to feature our recent conversation with Colin Newton – one of the UK’s leading inclusion pioneers. Colin’s interest in this area was sparked by a lecture tour that he helped to organise in the mid-90s. As part of that programme, he brushed shoulders with two of the world’s foremost inclusion gurus. Since then, he hasn’t looked back – writing and publishing many books on the subject and forming one of the country’s most respected inclusion companies.

More recently, the new Code of Practice and the inclusive approach that it espouses, has led to inclusion and person-centred planning taking centre stage. In light of this, there are few better people to talk about this subject and answer your questions.

We hope that you enjoy this issue and want to thank you for continuing to subscribe to The SEND Practitioner. In the last year, we have interviewed many respected SEND practitioners and are delighted to have increased our readership by more than 1,000 since our launch.

As ever, if you have any questions, queries, thoughts or suggestions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me.

Kind regards,

Edward Farrow
Editor
editor@realgroup.co.uk
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Exploring the SEND legal landscape with leading education lawyer Mark Blois

‘As a lawyer it’s easy to highlight the weaknesses and vulnerable spots in the legislation and the risks and the legal pitfalls that we have discussed. However, 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 I think most would acknowledge that we should.’ (Mark Blois)

In this month’s issue of The SEND Practitioner, leading education lawyer Mark Blois answers your questions on the complexities of the legal landscape and SEND practice with clarity and verve.

Read the ninth issue of The SEND Practitioner.

Subscribe to The SEND Practitioner.

Issue nine: The SEND Practitioner

The SEND Practitioner
Issue nine
The SEN legal landscape
January/February 2015
A Q&A with leading education lawyer Mark Blois

Editorial

In issue five of The SEND Practitioner, Gareth Morewood emphasised the fact that SENCOs should prepare themselves for the raft of legislative changes by really getting to know the law. However, at the time of writing (July 2014) the legislative changes were yet to come into effect. As a result, much commentary of the time was, by its very nature, circumspect.

Since then, five challenging months have elapsed in which SEND practitioners have begun to adapt to the new framework. And whilst aspects of the new framework are short on detail and require case law decisions to clarify the legal guidance that can be given, there has been some progress as the dust has begun to settle. However, it’s a long journey ahead and will take years, not months, to embed this cultural change.

With this challenge and the words of previous contributors to The SEND Practitioner echoing in my mind, I was thrilled when Mark Blois said that he would be happy to talk to me. I had seen Mark speak at a key SEN framework conference towards the end of last year and had been particularly struck by his calm, cogent and rigorous analysis of the legal landscape and his rare ability to communicate legal complexities with clarity and verve.

Before you read on, I should warn you that this is a tome of an issue, containing a decent selection of the reader questions that some of you have sent to me. Mark was kind enough to give me over an hour of his time and this Q&A is the distilled fruit of a very large interview transcript. However, ultimately, one should not cut corners with the law and it is in this legal spirit that I am really pleased to offer you Mark’s illuminating analysis.

I hope that you find a few moments in which to read it and, ultimately, I hope that you find it useful. As ever, please do get in touch if you have any comments, queries or suggestions.

Kind regards,

Edward Farrow
Editor
editor@realgroup.co.uk
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Exploring Channel 4’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.’ Francesca Richards (Frederick Bremer’s SENCO)

From senior management, to school staff; from pupils, to parents; Educating the East End is a singular triumph that champions the nurturing power of a school that really does place the pupil at the heart of everything. To bear witness to the school’s holistic approach and to see the joy that its staff and pupils gleaned from each other was a rare privilege. To see the progress that each pupil made – whatever their background, ability, or disability – was remarkable.

Against a landscape of ever-present change in education, it is genuinely inspiring to see what a pupil-centred approach really looks like. To speak to Frederick Bremer’s deputy head (Emma Hillman) and SENCO (Francesca Richards) and realise that this has also enabled them to navigate the SEN reforms relatively easily was instructive.

If you haven’t already done so, we hope that you might take a few minutes in which to read our latest issue of The SEND Practitioner. We also hope that, if you haven’t already seen the series, you might take some time to watch an episode or two. Believe us, it’s worth it.

Read the eighth issue of The SEND Practitioner.

Subscribe to The SEND Practitioner.

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