Our school has introduced the position of strand manager this year, one for each of the four strands of need: communication & interaction; cognition & learning; social, emotional & behavioural; sensory, medical & physical needs. They have been an innovative additional support mechanism for our students.
The communication and interaction strand manager has developed bespoke speech and language programs, which are to be delivered each term to specifically selected groups of students. Prior to establishing these groups, observations of students were undertaken in class, and an initial assessment written up to provide base-line data. Upon completing the group work, students are then assessed again and a report is written, feeding in to the annual review process and providing targets and further information for IEPs and parents/carers, so that can provide support at home.
This model of providing ongoing intervention, in conjunction with specialist work from the therapists attached to the school, is part of our developing provision and something I am very excited about. Similar work will be undertaken by the sensory, medical and physical strand manager, Jane, who has recently returned from maternity leave.
Jane will work with small groups of identified students on fine and gross motor skill development, initially using a program developed by LA services in conjunction with two newly appointed occupational therapists. We had a great initial meeting with the new therapists last week and I was really impressed with Jane’s understanding of the work and ability to liaise with the professionals so well − especially as she is only just back to work and straight into this new post!
It is important to have a clear goal from which specific interventions grow and work, and these therapeutic interventions stem from my, as always, centred objective of inclusion. As a member of the Alliance for Inclusive Education for the whole of my teaching career, I have always looked for solutions in order to find ways of removing barriers to participation and learning; it has never really occurred to me that we cannot find a solution. Sometimes we just need to think even more creatively.
I look forward to seeing how the SALT (speech and language therapy) groups and the OT (occupational therapy) groups develop over the remainder of the year, and how they fit into our strategic plan for an even more inclusive school environment. My aim is to respond to need pro-actively, with a rage of bespoke, additional interventions unique to our school and our students.
I look forward to reporting on the progress of these innovative approaches to support over the next year. But rest assured, the right people are in post to take the lead. Staff are so very important, and I am lucky to have some truly excellent members to work with.