This issue focuses on planning ahead to create the most effective provision for the next academic year through reviewing what’s happened so far this year, using provision maps and communicating effectively with staff

Coordinating provision
The days are getting longer and spring is almost sprung, so that means that we are nearly two-thirds of the way through the school year. Time to start thinking about arrangements for the next academic year, and the approaches and interventions you will put in place to meet the needs of pupils with SEN and/or disabilities. This week, we provide some pointers on coordinating provision.

Support for SENCOs
This term we have been mirroring some of the national training programme for new SENCOs. In our last issue, we considered using analytical evaluation of existing arrangements, alongside knowledge of research and published good practice, to shape the SEN provision in your school. If you have an effective system for evaluating your own provision, it will be giving you an indication, by the end of this term, of what is working best. Success may be measured by a number of different outcomes – some more easy to quantify than others. As well as looking for improved attainment (using standardised tests, SATs, IEP targets, examples of work, GCSE etc) you might also collect information about:

  • improved attendance
  • fewer incidences of bad behaviour/ fewer exclusions
  • pupils moving off School Action/School Action+
  • numbers attending voluntary study support sessions
  • higher levels of parent involvement and support
  • more positive pupil attitudes and higher self-esteem
  • increased motivation/cooperation.

Having ascertained what works (best), you will be able to look at the pupils on your SEN register for September (including the new intake), the staff to be deployed and the school budget. Where timetables are central to your planning, you will obviously need to wait a while before you can get into detailed arrangements, but it’s not too soon to be thinking about recognising and utilising particular strengths and expertise among staff. You can then identify any gaps in experience/expertise and consider training options or recruiting new people (more on this in the next issue).

Most SENCOs use some sort of provision map to provide an overview of interventions being used, detailing who is responsible for planning and delivery, times/venues and which children are included in each one. All additional provision should be listed (see below for examples) and you can use a highlighted copy of this to show the provision accessed by an individual pupil, and use it to show parents, classteachers etc.

Examples of interventions:

  • Small group intervention (social skills, language development, reading, phonics, writing, spelling, numeracy – outside/additional to classroom provision).
  • One-to-one tuition (eg Reading Recovery, specialist dyslexia teaching, precision teaching).
  • One-to-one support for learning and/or behaviour (TA, reading buddy, mentor, counsellor).
  • Speech and language therapy.
  • Motor coordination programme (‘balance at breakfast’).
  • Nurture group.
  • Circle of friends/ ‘buddy groups’.
  • Lunchtime/after school reading/study club.
  • Keyboard skills training.
  • Anger management.
  • Peer tutoring/mentoring.
  • Parent workshop (eg SHARE).
  • Family literacy.
  • Story sacks.
  • In-class support (general/specific).
  • Life skills group.
  • HI/VI support service input.
  • Special resources, hardware, software, large format books.
  • Computer based learning eg Wordshark, Successmaker.

This is a wide range, and many schools include most or all of these types of interventions. How then, do you coordinate all of this and communicate to colleagues information about the various approaches? You need to have clear, concise information about each activity (its aims, length of intervention, type of child/specific children it is designed to help) to share with colleagues (and governors/parents). This can also help you to prioritise in terms of staffing, allocation to different children, etc.

It’s essential that teachers understand the support work being carried out, both within the classroom and in withdrawal groups/one-to-one sessions – and how to link with this in their own planning and target setting with pupils. I saw a maths lesson recently with pupils whose IEP targets focused partly on telling the time. The actual lesson was about measuring length, but there were obviously plenty of opportunities for the teacher to draw attention to the clock (as there might be in any lesson) and contribute to helping pupils achieve their smart targets. But this didn’t happen. Those targets were not on her radar. Until you can influence everyday ‘first teaching’, any intervention you implement is going to be less effective than it could be. So think about how you communicate with teaching staff and assistants, on a regular basis, to keep everyone in the picture. When a child is supported by a TA, taught in a small group for literacy, withdrawn from lessons for speech and language work – it comes as no surprise that his class teacher begins to think that he is other people’s responsibility. Good communication, monitoring and feedback, among all concerned, are essential to prevent this happening.

This e-bulletin issue was first published in March 2010

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.