What are your colleagues’ priorities for CPD in terms of SEN and inclusion? Linda Evans discusses how SENCOs can help them in this areapdf-2908736

SENCO Week – Helpsheet 20.pdf

Over the next few weeks we will be providing some specific ideas for supporting pupils in reading, handwriting and study skills development, but first suggest that you survey colleagues to find out what their priorities are for CPD in terms of SEN and inclusion.

Support for SENCOs
Whatever the rate of staff turnover in your school, there is always a place for regular updates on good practice for supporting children with SEN. New staff, especially NQTs, can be supported both in general terms, and in respect of particular pupils, and even if you have a stable staff, colleagues benefit from an occasional staff meeting to refresh their memories and bring new ideas to their attention.

Previously we suggested how you might use the information we provide and the different ways of sharing it with colleagues. Alongside this however, there is a place for more formal, planned CPD and you might consider using some sort of questionnaire to help decide on priority areas. (See Helpsheet 20; amend/extend this to suit your own situation.) If you know about your new intake for September and can alert staff to the fact that they will have a child with a specific difficulty or syndrome in their class, this may well influence their priorities for training.

Once the audit sheets have been returned and collated, you will have a good idea of areas in which colleagues are least confident. There is little chance of course, that your response, whatever it is, will please everyone. Some teachers will prefer a ‘light touch’ response – perhaps some written information or a detailed IEP written for one particular pupil; others will look for an INSET session where you (or someone else) do the work and they play a relatively ‘passive’ role in listening. This second option is often very effective – but always consider an activity which requires colleagues to think/plan/analyse in some way. Just as with children, we learn and remember best when we have been active participants.

Who delivers the CPD session will depend on several issues, but in planning (perhaps for the next school year), consider the following possibilities:

  • Yourself as presenter/facilitator: obviously this is the most straightforward option in many cases. You are experienced, know the school, know the staff, know what’s needed etc. If you are inexperienced in ‘presenting’ to other staff, prepare carefully and make time for a rehearsal with a trusted friend or partner. Timing is crucial, so a practice run can be really helpful in making sure that you have enough material to fill the time slot, but not so much that you have to race through it.
  • A fellow SENCO (from a neighbouring school or who is following a course of study with you). It can be easier to ‘perform’ for teachers who are not your day-to-day colleagues. Consider planning ‘swap sessions’ whereby you present a session in each other’s schools.
  • A representative of a specialist organisation, eg BDA.
  • A colleague from a nearby special school or unit.
  • A teacher from your own school who has introduced new material/ strategies to good effect in the classroom (this can be one of the most effective forms of CPD).
  • A local speech therapist, occupational therapist or educational psychologist.
  • An LEA adviser.
  • A national speaker whom you have heard at a conference, (see news item below) or who is highly recommended by a trusted colleague. They often charge considerable fees but can be worth it for an INSET day – team up with another school/schools to share costs.
  • A parent who can speak articulately about their child’s difficulties.
  • A supplier/provider; specialist technology providers for example, will often provide on-site training with software.

Always approach prospective speakers in plenty of time (some national speakers work more than 12 months ahead in planning; local advisers usually need at least one term’s notice) and confirm the arrangement in writing or by email. Be as specific as possible in your request; outline the school context and the exact outcomes you are looking for.

This e-bulletin issue was first published in April 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.