The January census in 2014 highlighted that nearly 1.5 million children and young people in England were identified with a special educational need and/or disability. It can therefore be assumed that every teacher at some point in their career will be a teacher of those with SEND.
Section 6.36 and 6.37 of the SEND Code of Practice:0-25 years (DfE, 2014) is very clear that:
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.
High quality teaching, differentiated for individual pupils is the first step to responding to pupils who have or may have SEN.
I was delighted that The Carter Review of Initial Teacher Training published in January 2015 indicated that “all teachers are potentially teachers of SEND” and therefore it is very important that all new teachers should receive training on how to support pupils with SEND. Currently this training is optional and many ITT providers do not offer intensive SEN programmes to support the work of our future teachers. In my opinion, this should be made mandatory.
I was also delighted to read in the same review that child and adolescent development should form an intrinsic part in the initial teacher training programme. As a primary trainee teacher in the 1970’s I do not believe I would have been an effective teacher without the knowledge I acquired about child development within my teaching certificate programme.
However, even if we do see the recommendations of the Carter Review come to fruition it will be a number of years before we begin to see SEND trained teachers in our schools. The question we need to ask ourselves today is whether our school workforce is trained to meet the complex and diverse needs of children identified with SEND in our schools?
The introduction of the single category of SEND Support and the graduated approach means that every teacher must take responsibility for the teaching and learning of every pupil. It is not someone else’s responsibility. Schools must recognise the importance of high quality professional development for all staff to ensure they have the knowledge and skills to meet the challenging complex needs that are now being identified within our school population.
In practice this is demanding, both in terms of time and resources, but a well trained and experienced team will offer outstanding teaching to all pupils and will have long term effect on pupil and school performance.
This is not about staff having to go on expensive training courses or having to use whole school training day or twilight sessions to upskill staff. There are many ways that we can support our colleagues in school.
A ten step guide to SEN CPD
Here are my suggestions as to the steps to undertake in order to ensure that SEN professionals develop in line with the changing demands of current requirements:
- Audit the skills and expertise of the current school workforce
- Audit the whole school professional development needs for SEND based on the current cohorts of children and young people
- Using the information from the two audits develop a CPD programme using internal staff to deliver wherever possible
- Offer opportunities for teachers to observe each other, teach alongside each other, visit other classrooms and visit other schools
- Offer opportunities for the SENCO to meet with other SENCOs to share good practice across a number of schools
- Offer opportunities for staff to reflect on their practice and feel comfortable in sharing both the positive and the negative moments
- Organise at least one training day per year to support SEN and Inclusion – One-in- five for One –in – five!
- Establish an ethos that values everyone’s expertise including how children and young people might be able to contribute to training sessions
- Develop a relationship with your local Teaching School to share good practice through school –to-school support or to help develop a CPD programme for your area
- Use on-line training packages that staff can undertake in school
- Offer every member of staff access to high quality professional development that meets their needs and enables them to deliver outstanding teaching to every pupil every day.
Statistical First Release – SEN in England: January 2014
The SEND Code of Practice:0-25years (DfE, 2014)
The Carter Review of Initial Teacher Education January 2015