Continuing last week’s inclusion theme, SENCO Week provides a downloadable checklist to help you achieve an inclusive classroom environment
SENCO Week Help Sheet 5 – Checklist for a inclusive classroom.pdf
Last issue we looked at some definitions of inclusion and the importance of a shared ethos throughout the whole school. This issue we consider some of the practicalities for SENCOs supporting teachers in the development of inclusive practice.
The Helpsheet provided this week (remember to download this) could be a good way of getting colleagues to consider the learning environment in their classrooms − and provide a ‘safe’ starting point for self-evaluation of inclusive practice. Any physical shortcomings may be placed firmly at the feet of the HT and board of governors, but there is a lot that individual teachers can achieve without embarking on an extensive building programme ! Use their responses to kick off a staff meeting about inclusive practice.
Alternatively, the principles enshrined in the National Curriculum offer a good starting point for CPD with staff:
- set suitable learning challenges
- respond to children’s diverse needs
- overcome potential barriers to learning.
Ask them what they feel they need, in order to be able to do these things effectively (this can be discussion in a staff meeting, or a questionnaire − or both). You could offer a ‘menu’ with options such as those listed below, for staff to request:
- printed/website information on…(eg autism, ADHD)
- training (eg from speech and language therapist, dyslexia expert)
- classroom resources (eg suitable books, activity sheets)
- technology resources/training (eg different keyboards, software programmes)
- meeting time with SENCO (SEN ‘surgery’) to discuss issues and solutions
- adult support in the classroom (specify the exact purpose)
- help with designing intervention programmes (e.g. a buddy system or ‘circle of friends)
- opportunities to observe one-to-one or small group teaching by an experienced teacher
- ideas for effective differentiation, etc.
By conducting this sort of survey, you will be able to determine the perceived needs of individual staff, and find ways of meeting those needs (your own observations and feedback from children and parents however, may not always match teachers’ own evaluation – some proactive professional development may be called for). For many SENCOs, effective differentiation is key to making good inclusive provision in mainstream classrooms. Colleagues may need reassurance about being able to describe different (realistic) learning objectives in their lessons for different pupils, and help with breaking down new learning into smaller, manageable steps. For some, explanation and exemplification of the P scales will be very helpful. Knowing about different materials, support strategies and ways of capturing what children know, understand and can do, will also benefit many colleagues. Differentiation techniques are second nature to most teachers, but reminders and the occasional ‘new trick’ are always useful. Taking some time in departmental/phase meeting to compile a list can be really valuable (especially for newly qualified teachers and TAs).
We can differentiate by:
- reviewing the readability of texts used in the classroom and employing strategies to support weak readers (rehearsal before reading aloud, paired reading, highlighting/explaining tricky words)
- enlarging print and/or using coloured paper or overlays
- making adaptations to equipment and/or providing special equipment
- using visual props, signing and/or symbols to support understanding (PECS, Makaton – liaise with neighbouring special school for training)
- providing writing frames to support recording (speaking frames/prompts too!)
- introducing alternative means of recording – eg audio tapes, voice recognition software, diagrammatic/mind map recording, digital photographs of completed work and investigations in progress
- using touch screens, switches and large-format keyboards
- using software such as Clicker (Crick Software) to support writing
- adapting tasks or providing alternative activities – breaking down new learning into small chunks
- using multi-sensory approaches
- providing and managing support from adults or peers
- allowing extra time for completion of tasks and/or providing opportunities for preparation time, perhaps with the help of a teaching assistant (remembering that children with special needs often have to make a lot more effort than other children to understand a new concept, complete a task, concentrate on what is being said).
Technology can transform learning experiences for pupils with SEN, but keeping up to date with new equipment and software can be difficult at the best of times. Releasing staff to attend regular training events is costly and the long-term benefits of short-term training are often hard to be certain of AbilityNet have created an online training portal at www.abilitynettraining.org offering training materials, the best of those available on the web and links to related areas such as free ecdl courses.
The AbilityNet elearning approach combines online resources with personal support through a course tutor available by email and skype and access to courses can be incorporated into a menu of services purchased though a service agreement. For more details contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Listening Books provides a postal and internet-based audiobook library service to people who cannot read in the usual way. It is the only national audiobook charity offering such a wide range of MP3 CDs, internet streaming and audio tapes and is a valuable resource for anyone aged seven–adult, with visual impairments, learning difficulties such as dyslexia, or physical impairments which make holding a book or turning a page difficult.
The ‘Sound Learning’ list covers the National Curriculum from Key Stage 2 to A-level, providing set texts and study guides for English, as well as books to support other areas of the curriculum such as citizenship, science, history, religious studies and geography. If you are introducing students with learning difficulties to the works of Shakespeare, something like Shakespeare without the Boring Bits by Humphrey Carpenter (catalogue number 9036) is a great place to start.
Find out more:
> Articles on special educational needs
> Special educational needs publications
> Back to SENCO Week index page
This e-bulletin issue was first published in November 2007
About the author: Linda Evans is the author of SENCO Week. She was a teacher/SENCO/adviser/inspector, before joining the publishing world. She now works as a freelance writer, editor and part-time college tutor.