Learn to say NO! Many local authorities are asking SENCOs to undertake the transfer of statements to Education, Health and Care Plans – this is a local authority duty and should not have to be undertaken by the school. Schools have a duty to co-operate with the local authority by providing information and evidence but the local authority is responsible for the “transfer review”, the EHC needs assessment and the production of the EHC Plan.
More information can be found in: Transition to the new 0-25 SEND system – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/send-managing-changes-to-legislation-from-september-2014
All staff within your school will need support and guidance in the identification and intervention of pupils with SEND. This is a key part of your strategic role BUT remember “Teachers are responsible and accountable for the progress and development of the pupils in their class, including where pupils access support from teaching assistants or specialist staff” (6.36 SEND Code of Practice 0-25). If the question is “what are you going to do about….” The answer that should follow is “What have you already done…..”
Your key role in this will be to offer high quality professional development for all staff. You may need to think about how the school will ensure that the voice of pupils and parents is at the heart of the SEND Policy and how information about pupil progress will be shared.
Information required in the 2015 January census will reflect the changes in the SEND Code of Practice 0-25. The expectation is that schools will have reviewed their cohort of pupils that were SA and SA+ and any new or reviewed pupils will be recorded under the SEN Support category in the January census. In the same way, pupils who were identified within the old category of Behaviour. Social and Emotional Difficulties should be re-categorised. Many will directly transfer to the new category of Social, Emotional and Mental Health Needs but schools should consider the primary need of each individual and categorise accordingly (eg: this may be a Communication and Interaction Need).
More information can be found in: Part 4.5 of the School census 2014 to 2015: guide for schools and LAs – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-census-2014-to-2015-guide-for-schools-and-las
The changing role of the SENCO under the new SEND reforms means that you now have a much more strategic role to play and you need to evaluate your effectiveness in terms of the progress being made by pupils with SEND across the school. You may wish to review:
- how you monitor the progress of SEN pupils
- how this is recorded and shared
- how you monitor if high quality differentiated teaching is being delivered in every classroom
- how you support staff who may be having difficulties
At a time of immense change it is very easy to immerse yourself in the tasks you feel must be completed without taking time-out to reflect on your practice and seek support and guidance from other like-minded professionals. The SENCO role can be very lonely – in most schools there is only one of you and therefore we must find ways of seeking networks of support from each other. It is possible that Local Authority SENCO Network meetings have ceased due to lack of funding/personnel to manage them. If this is the case establish contact with SENCOs within your cluster, academy chain or through a local Teaching School. A termly meeting after school with other SENCOs will give you an opportunity to share good practice, discuss concerns and seek advice on individual issues.
There are only so many hours in a day that you will have to carry out your SENCO duties and therefore you need to decide what tasks can be done and what will have to wait. You also need to assess whether the time you are given to carry out your SENCO duties is reasonable and if not discuss this with SLT or your SEN Governor.
The SEND Code of Practice: 0 – 25 (6.91) clearly states that “ the school should ensure that the SENCO has sufficient time and resources to carry out these functions. This should include providing the SENCO sufficient administrative support and time away from teaching to enable them to fulfil their responsibilities in a similar way to other important strategic roles within school”
It is very easy to forget about your own health and well-being when faced with a plethora of tasks that need completing. Take care of yourself!