Offers info on the legal requirements for CPD for SENCOs and advice on using CPD to improve SEN provision practised by other members of staffpdf-8558558

CPD Week Info sheet – CPD for SEN.pdf

Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.
Robert Collier

With Happy Days’ Henry Winkler fronting a new DCSF campaign focused on improving attitudes towards children with SEN, now is a great time to explore the ways in which all professional learning in your school feeds into enhanced SEN provision. This week’s CPD Update helps you to do just that…

There is no doubt that the driving force behind special educational needs provision in a school is the SENCO, but every member of staff has an influence over the experience of children with special educational needs. For this reason, all professional learning might usefully be viewed through a SEN lens to help establish ways of continually improving what goes on in your school.

  • Since September 2009 it has been a requirement for all new SENCOs to undertake necessary M-level professional learning in order to gain the new National Award for SEN Coordination (see below). While this undoubtedly boosts the ‘position’ of SENCOs in a school, there’s an obvious requirement for schools to facilitate this learning. Funding is available for TDA-approved courses (but clearly time is the most valuable commodity here – how will your school cope?) It is not, however, available for experienced SENCOs who may wish to undertake the training to enhance their work.
  • Regardless of whether your school’s SENCO undertakes the training or not, what mechanisms do you have in place for the ways in which the SENCO can support other members of staff in their work with children with SEN? Do you use coaching and mentoring where appropriate? How are NQTs supported in their work around SEN? Is there a culture where learning is shared through mutual contributions to the knowledge pool in your school, as opposed to top-down ‘cascades’?
  • What can your school learn from others in the area about supporting children with SEN? Kickstarting these kinds of professional dialogues and pooling expertise is not only cost-effective – it can potentially enhance provision for children with SEN, too.
  • Does your school know where its greatest successes regarding SEN lie? How have you analysed those successes? Do you know how they can be replicated and the kind of support and development required to facilitate this? Often, great professional learning isn’t about looking outwards, it’s about gaining a sense of why what’s going on is working and driving that forwards according to the needs of the children you’re working with.
  • What role does your school’s SEN governor play in assisting the SENCO to evaluate successes to feed into professional learning? Explore ways of cementing this relationship so that knowledge of the way in which children with SEN are supported is shared and valuable ‘critical friend’ questions are asked.
  • So, you may be great at identifying your successes with SEN and using these to further professional learning, but what about real areas of expertise among staff. How do you ensure that you have specialist knowledge on tap? Think about the real and present issues in many schools concerning challenging behaviour, autistic spectrum disorders, attachment disorders, dyspraxia and dyscalculia, to name just a few. Who has expertise on these in your school? Is that widely known?
  • Are there any gaps in knowledge about how to liaise with other agencies, about the remit of agencies you work with and about how the Common Assessment Framework works? These kinds of gaps lead to sound opportunities for professional learning.
  • Do all members of staff know about the major interventions for children with SEN in your school and about their relative success? This is almost certainly going to be picked up by Ofsted, so all staff need to know where the (relatively) weak links are.

Just some ides for starters here, but the core message remains: professional learning to enhance provision for children with SEN might most usefully be both explicit and implicit in all professional learning undertaken in your school.

Find out more…

  • February’s issue of CPD Update carries an extensive feature by Christopher Robertson on CPD for SENCOs. To subscribe, click here.
  • More details on the National Award for SEN Coordination can be found on the TDA website
  • This info sheet explores the My Way! campaign, fronted by Henry Winkler.

This e-bulletin issue was first published in January 2010

About the author: Elizabeth Holmes qualified as a teacher at the Institute of Education, London and is the author of several books specialising in the areas of professional development and teacher well-being.