All SENCOs must take the lead in their colleague’s professional development in relation to special needs – in this issue we focus on evaluating how well you manage this, and offer a helpsheet to assist in managing the CPD of teaching/support assistantspdf-4092871

SENCO Week – Helpsheet 28.pdf

Leading development and supporting colleagues
In this issue we focus on the important part of a SENCO’s role: leading, developing and supporting colleagues in their approaches to pupils with SEN. We have touched on this in previous issues this term as it’s such an integral part of your work, so now we offer a self-evaluation tool for you to use in considering your effectiveness.

Next term, we’ll cover the topic of ‘partnership working’, looking at how you build and sustain positive relationships with pupils, parents/carers and other professionals.

Support for SENCOs
Use the questions below to evaluate your effectiveness in providing professional direction to the work of others.

How do you:

  • take a lead in reviewing and developing workplace policies and practices concerning pupils with SEN and/or disabilities
  • promote inclusive practice in teaching and learning throughout the school
  • provide examples of good practice for teachers and support staff in identifying, assessing and meeting the needs of pupils with SEN and/or disabilities
  • encourage all members of staff to recognise and fulfill their statutory responsibilities towards pupils with SEN and/or disabilities, and achieve constructive working relationships with pupils and their parents/carers?

Fulfilling this part of your role will involve:

  • identifying CPD needs in relation to SEN and providing some in-house information and training (see issue 145)
  • knowing about a range of professional development opportunities available for staff to help them improve their practice in working with pupils with SEN and/or disabilities and advising/encouraging take-up of appropriate opportunities
  • providing feedback and support to teaching and non-teaching colleagues on effective teaching, learning and assessment strategies (including modelling of effective practice, with coaching and mentoring for some colleagues)
  • planning support and training for trainee and beginner teachers and teaching/support assistants, where appropriate, in relation to relevant professional standards.

The TDA has recently produced new training materials for ITT providers to use with trainee teachers. This is freely available from their website and could be really useful if you’re planning to deliver some in-house training on SEN/disability – whether to trainee/newly qualified teachers, or more experienced colleagues. Of particular note is the subject-specific guidance for teachers (primary and secondary), offering starting points for minimising barriers to learning and achievement in different areas of the curriculum. Useful checklists are provided for teachers to use in evaluating their practice and developing their skills.

Grouped under eight main headings, the areas addressed are:

  • maintaining an inclusive learning environment (sound and light; seating; resources; displays; health and safety)
  • multi-sensory approaches, including information and communication technology (pupils’ preferred learning styles; alternatives to written recording; ICT accessibility)
  • working with additional adults (consulting students; planning support’ evaluation)
  • managing peer relationships (groupings; managing group work and discussion; developing responsibility)
  • adult-pupil communication (using clear, unambiguous language; questioning; alternative communication models; visual aids; student-teacher interaction)
  • formative assessment/assessment for learning (understanding the aims of the lesson; focusing on how students learn; giving feedback; understanding assessment criteria; reviewing progress and helping students to improve; gathering assessment evidence)
  • motivation (understanding the structure of the lesson; relevant and motivating tasks; rewards)
  • memory/consolidation (recapping; reducing reliance on memory; consolidating learning; independent study/homework)

Planning and delivering CPD specifically for teaching/support assistants is often a major endeavour for SENCOs. As a starting point, it might be useful to define different aspects of the various roles and identify areas for development (the list can also be used to take account of the strengths of different candidates for new appointments).The helpsheet provided lists some areas you could consider, with suggestions about the skills required to be effective: amend and add to it to suit your own requirements.

The national occupational standards for supporting teaching and learning in schools (STL NOS) replace the national occupational standards for teaching and classroom assistants (TA/CA NOS). The guidance offers useful support in identifying and providing training for different aspects of the TA role and defining responsibilities.

This e-bulletin issue was first published in March 2010

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.