Surprisingly, despite the ever changing circumstances that we find ourselves in the education community, I have had a very good autumn term. This is because I’ve had the privilege to speak to many of you who are in the Ofsted window about your practice for pupils with SEND.
With every new Ofsted framework, we are given another slightly different lens to look through; allowing us to review our practice in a different light. I like this particular lens, as we are clearly able to look at the pupils with SEN in terms of their curriculum and the way in which teachers are the experts, who know the pupils and the way they learn best.
It has been a real privilege to listen to each of you talk about your practice, your curriculum and your support of pupils with SEN. To understand the passion, you have to make sure they access a broad and balanced and exciting curriculum in the same way as their peers.
Each of you have said that whilst preparing for Ofsted can have elements of challenge, the ability to talk about pupils with SEND in this way rather than how you are trying in many ways, to fit a square peg into a round hole, has been liberating and allows you show case your particular ways of working.
Each of you have examples of a personalised curriculum for those pupils who are working very differently than their peers which are extremely well researched, well developed and implemented with an emphasis on learning at the pupils’ pace and learning what they need for the future. With regard to the pupils who require SEN support each of you have ways in which you tailor the overall curriculum to make it inclusive or have identified key elements to strip back the curriculum to ensure that pupils with SEN support are part of the whole class experience following the same sequence as their peers. At the same time allowing the pupils to progress at the speed and in the way that their needs dictate.
One of the key themes that has come out of the conversations is how we shift the emphasis, when we need to, to proactively planning at the early stages putting together a curriculum for all pupils including those with SEND to reduce the need for differentiation for some learners at the delivery stage. We will be doing some more work on this with curriculum leaders, planning together with specialist support agency colleagues e.g., speech and language therapist to look at what can be done when taking a topic for a non-core subject to Key Stage Two. This piece of work will be shared at the SENDCO forums in January.
With regard to reading we have discussed the range of approaches that can be employed in the wider curriculum for pupils with SEND. In support of this we have secured Megan Dixon a specialist literacy teacher, consultant and teacher trainer with 20 years’ experience, working with children across a variety of schools in both primary and secondary education settings, who works with the National College. Over two days, Thursday 24th and Friday 25th February, Megan will host workshops for all schools. Megan will share what the research in `how children learn to read’ teaches us for pupils with SEND and for you to have a chance to discuss further, you will be able to book two places per school via Camden Learning CPD.
I have been lucky too, to spend time within or in conversation with the special schools. In the specialist sector we find ourselves in the privileged position, as of all but one of our special schools are in the Ofsted window! The conversation about SEND and the curriculum within the specialist sector is one we have been waiting for. As one inspector said to the Royal free hospital school in 2019 ‘this framework was written for this school’ highlighting the fact that our special schools have always known their pupils forensically well and delivered a curriculum that meets their needs for now, the next stage and their future which Ofsted is now acknowledging.
So, thank you to those schools who I have visited over the autumn term, my own practice has benefitted as well as being able to share your practice across our school community. I look forward to many more meetings with our schools to talk about either pending Ofsted inspections, good practice, as we in Camden Learning also reflect and revise our SEND practice offer and approach with schools.
Senior Adviser – SEND