Provision maps are a tool used regularly by SENCOs — they enable you to detail the range of support provided for children with SEN in each year group. Linda Evans outlines what you need to remember when preparing thempdf-9004086

SENCO Week – Helpsheet 23.pdf

Many SENCOs are now very familiar with the use of provision maps for listing interventions and detailing the ‘who, where and exactly what’. To a large extent these have replaced individual education plans (IEPs) and have resulted in a welcome reduction of paperwork. This issue we provide some timely reminders of what to consider when drawing up your provision maps for next term.

Support for SENCOs
In your planning for the new school year, you’ll obviously need to consider pupils in the new intake who will need additional support (especially those with a Statement of SEN). In some cases, particular needs will emerge only as the term progresses — this is particularly the case in secondary schools where pupils in Year 7 can struggle to cope when they were not necessarily a ‘concern’ at primary school. You may need to keep in reserve some capacity rather than fully allocating support resources from the word ‘go’ in September — and be able to review regularly, especially where there is a significant transient population.

Where to start? It can be tempting to keep the status quo – but a new school year can be an opportunity for fresh thinking and introducing new ideas. You need to consider:

  • the children whose needs you are addressing. The school tracking system should identify underachieving groups and individuals as well as those who have obvious learning difficulties. Emotional, behavioural and social needs will also need to be addressed.
  • your evaluation of this year’s interventions and their impact on pupils’ progress. If something didn’t work, why didn’t it? Maximise the successful interventions and scrap those that didn’t produce the results you were after. Look at the ‘What works for pupils with literacy difficulties’ from the National Strategies.
  • that interventions should be short-term; try to avoid the situation where a child begins a new school year with the same sort of support delivered by the same person as last year
  • resources – you should know the extent of the whole school budget for SEN and personalisation as well as costings for different staff. Training needs also need to be taken into account
  • books, resources and equipment to be bought/serviced/repaired. Site licenses for software.

Interventions can involve a range of individuals:

  • Specialist teachers (eg for dyslexia; Reading Recovery teachers)
  • Specialist learning support assistants
  • Speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, behaviour support staff, counsellors etc.
  • Mentors
  • Volunteer ‘reading buddies’ and parent helpers
  • 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).

Drawing up a provision plan will enable you to detail the range of support provided for children with SEN in each year group, identify any gaps and show ‘at a glance’, the resources made available and how they have been used, this is a valuable document for governors to use in their annual report to parents. It will also provide succinct and accessible information for Ofsted inspectors. Most local authorities have suggested formats for provision maps, but if you adopt a template, make sure it works for you by amending as necessary. (See example outlined in Helpsheet 23.)

A provision map can also show what support a school is providing for an individual pupil and will avoid having to duplicate this information again and again. The type of support a child is receiving can be highlighted or ticked and will then form the basis of an individual record of intervention. This format also enables you to see exactly how many different kinds of support a particular child is receiving. In most schools, there will be more children likely to benefit from various interventions than there are places available, so a ‘must, should, could’ approach will help you to prioritise, and provide a ‘stand-by’ list if and when new places become available in a group.

There will be some tough decisions to make about when to schedule intervention work and when and where to timetable in-class support. School situations are too diverse for generic guidance to be very useful, but there are some important issues to take on board.

Think carefully about the pros and cons of in-class support versus small group work in a withdrawal situation; both have their strengths. In-class support works better when particular children are the focus of support; the support assistant knows them well and also knows what is going to happen in the lesson. In secondary schools where there is competition for classroom support, you may choose to favour those lessons delivered by teachers who make best use of support by liaising effectively and working in partnership with the supporting adult.

Small group work and one-to-one tuition can deliver expert, targeted teaching in a distraction-free environment. 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, and plan for their re-entry into the classroom.

This e-bulletin issue was first published in July 2009

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.