Forward planning and prioritising are the topics for the last two issues of SENCO Week this term. We provide you with some ‘to do’ pointers to help you finish off the school year in good shape and consider some forward planning for next term
Help Sheet 12.doc
Support for SENCOs Taking time to decide on what needs to be done, and in what order, is a useful starting point (those of you who are experienced or well organised may well have done this already of course – but it’s worth scanning through our list to make sure that nothing has been forgotten). You need some proper time for this so negotiate with the SLT and make sure that ‘time bandits’ don’t manage to steal it.
First, make a list – perhaps using the help sheet as a checklist to tick off (isn’t it satisfying when you can tick off something?)
Second, decide on priority. Be realistic – what can be done a) by the end of term, b) in the first week of the holiday c) left until the last few days of the holiday d) left until the new term begins. Guard against falling into the trap of doing all of the short/easy/more enjoyable tasks first and leaving the more onerous jobs till last – alternating them is a good strategy.
Third, delegate! Think about who can help with the list and who can take over individual tasks. It may seem that explaining something to a TA, for example, will take almost as much time as doing it yourself, but usually it doesn’t – and of course you are ‘banking’ for the future.
Fourth, work smarter not harder. Use technology when it saves time, reuse anything that still works, negotiate some ‘admin hours’ from a school secretary, or a competent student for typing, entering data, etc. Two heads can be better than one so consider working with a colleague (perhaps from another school or LA advisory/support service).
Last, declutter. Archive or throw out old papers/books/journals/pupil records and clean up your computer files too.
The help sheet provides a checklist for you to use or amend, with some additional notes below:
Have you evaluated 07/08 interventions and written up/disseminated your findings? This job can easily stall in the end-of-term mix of exhaustion/euphoria/relief; the data is there but never gets summarised in a way that’s useful to anyone. If this sounds like you, set aside some time to write a brief report. You will probably have at least started your provision planning for the autumn term and be in the process of updating the SEN register, adding names of some pupils identified in previous settings (though it can be important to make your own assessment before allocating support) and taking off the names of children who have made good progress. When you get around to the support staff timetables and allocation of in-class support, remember to share this information with the class/subject teachers concerned. If the new term begins with a training day, can time be found for teachers/TAs to meet and discuss the upcoming work to be covered? Give careful consideration to training for both support and teaching staff; if you want to secure an outside speaker, you’ll need to work well in advance. An ongoing programme of regular, well-planned, short sessions for support staff is often very effective and can react to particular needs identified as the term goes on. Make a note of all the known dates of meetings/events you will hold/attend next term. If there are any double bookings, decide where your priorities lie. Meetings of different kinds can take up a lot of time, especially if travelling is involved, so consider each and every meeting on its merit – what will be in it for you? If you are invited merely to provide information, can this be sent in written form? Could someone go in your place? Would a telephone call or conference achieve the same outcome in shorter time? Try to draw up a timetable or at least an outline plan for yourself for September (and the autumn term). This is especially important for non-teaching SENCOs who can find their time eroded in the first few weeks of term by various ‘trouble-shooting’ activities, helping out colleagues, talking with parents and even providing ‘cover’ for absent teachers. This is not to say that this is not worthwhile employment – always allow some flexibility when you can – but too much ‘flexibility’ can work against you. Decide what you/the school want to achieve next term/year and what needs to be done to achieve it; then plan accordingly and construct a schedule to help you fit everything in (hopefully without too many evenings and weekends!).
Therapeutic Storywriting is an intervention designed to help children and young people with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. It provides opportunities for them to explore who they are and what they feel, and express themselves in a non-threatening way.
The Centre for Therapeutic Storywriting is currently collaborating with the University of Chichester on Story Links (supported by the TDA and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation), a project that involves parents of pupils at risk of exclusion. For many of these pupils the emotional difficulties that are getting in the way of their learning are related to attachment difficulties. Story Links is a solution-focused systemic programme delivered in weekly sessions, during which the parent/carer and the child are facilitated to co-create a story that is then used as the child’s reading text during the week.
The project includes the delivery of five three-day training courses to educational professionals (SEN teachers, SENCOs and school counsellors) in the south of England. The three-day training course can count towards MA(Ed) module accreditation at University of Chichester.
This e-bulletin issue was first published in July 2008
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.