It’s that time of year when SENCOs are planning for SEN provision for the next school year. Reminders can be helpful, so this week we provide some pointers for you to bear in mind.Support for SENCOs Planning for next year’s SEN provision

The first point to make is that SENCOs should know exactly how much money is in the school budget for SEN provision. Local authorities delegate significant resources to support children with SEN/AEN in mainstream schools, including resources for children with statements. In 2007-08, budget information collected by the DCSF from local authorities showed total planned spend on the provision of education for pupils with special educational needs was almost £4.9bn: £2bn of which is delegated directly to maintained mainstream schools. The total amount for SEN in a school budget will influence the number and type of staff engaged, the extent of services that can be ‘bought-in’ (eg speech and language therapy) as well as non-human resources such as specialised equipment, adapted furniture and hardware/software. Remember that the personalisation budget also crosses over into the realms of SEN expenditure. As SENCO, you should be involved in the strategic planning for provision − including staffing, and participating in decisions about ‘one experienced teacher, or three TAs?’ (See the News section below for more on this.) However you choose to draw up your provision map, it should be updated annually and enable you − and others − to see:

  • all the different forms of support available in school
  • which provision will be most appropriate for a particular child
  • that the provision children receive is coherent over time; showing up contexts where the provision that children receive is the same year-after-year-after-year (eg working on a particular reading scheme and/or the same phonics software in Years 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  • the provision the child has received each year (highlighted copies in a child’s file provide a useful record of interventions over time and demonstrate to parents exactly what is being provided for their child, often revealing a greater range of group and individual interventions than other forms of recording, such as IEPs. This can also be invaluable for using in a SEN and Disability Tribunal)
  • how support staff are deployed
  • that support is distributed fairly.

In drawing up a provision map, you will need to consider:

  • which pupils, including the new intake, will need additional help and support: individuals (including those with a statement of SEN), small groups and whole classes
  • the type of support/therapy to be provided and how this will be allocated*
  • the school budget for SEN and costings for different staff
  • resources and equipment to be bought/serviced/repaired. Site licences for software
  • CPD for teaching staff, assistants and non-teaching staff where appropriate (lunchtime supervisors etc) and any associated costs.

*Support/therapy may be provided by:

  • a specialist teacher (reading recovery, dyslexia expert)
  • a teaching/learning support assistant
  • an outside agency: learning support service, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, behaviour support team, counsellor etc
  • volunteer ‘reading buddies’
  • other pupils: peer tutoring, circle of friends, buddying (any of these will require careful planning, possibly some ‘training’ and a nominated person to steer and monitor).


When to schedule intervention work and when and where to timetable in-class support can involve some difficult decisions. School situations are too diverse for any generic guidance to be very useful, but I will venture to mention two important issues:

  • Think carefully about the relative merits of in-class v withdrawal support: social consequences; pupils’ levels of concentration/distractions; providing good role models; quality of experience.
  • Make sure that pupils withdrawn from lessons for individual or small group support do not regularly miss something happening back in the classroom that they enjoy/are good at.

Quality first teaching

Remember the importance of being proactive in your role of supporting children who do not learn easily. It’s understandable that SENCOs concentrate on various ‘catch-up’ approaches, but working alongside colleagues to help them develop effective inclusive approaches in the classroom can help to minimise the number of children who may later need additional help. Technology can also make a huge difference to improving access to the curriculum for children with SEN. Why not designate a TA to look into this thoroughly, perhaps attending a training course by a specialist provider, such as Inclusive Technology, and disseminate to the rest of the staff how software such as Clicker can really enhance teaching and learning.

SEN News The Audit Commission has produced a resource pack encouraging schools to bring together the financial information they hold in broad terms in a more structured way. It also encourages schools to identify in detail the total amount spent on SEN/AEN derived from individual interventions and provision maps, both at the end of the financial year and during the financial year. This approach builds up the overall spend on SEN/AEN by costing all the activity and interventions provided for individual pupils and groups of pupils.

The resource pack is a voluntary improvement tool. It includes a seven-stage model for SEN/AEN value for money, covering budgets and spend, needs assessment, provision and evaluation. Its self-review format prompts information gathering so that schools can bring together all relevant management information and build a picture of their current practice in one place. Papers linked to the questions provide explanation of the themes and real examples of good practice in schools, gathered through fieldwork. The papers include hyperlinks to other websites and to documents providing further information, including statutory guidance and relevant legislation. An action plan − the final stage in the process − is generated from responses to the self-assessment.

This e-bulletin issue was first published in May 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.