The Spring-term SENDCO

It’s a strange time of year. Too late to set an initiative up for the academic year; too early to write something off until next academic year. Here’s 7 things to be considering as you embark on the Spring term as a SENDCO.

  1. Recall your successes

Think back to the Autumn term and all that went well. Remember an individual success story, a parent meeting with a positive outcome, a training delivered or some useful feedback to a teacher. Be proud of what went well.

2. Revisit your development plan

Have a look back on the priorities you set yourself at the beginning of the year. Now is the perfect time to begin working on a priority that you haven’t been able to focus on so far. It’s also a good time to acknowledge the progress made in some areas already. Keep your development plan as a live document – make notes on it of the things you have already achieved and the things you would like to achieve this term. Discuss this with your line manager in school, so the priorities become shared with others in school.

3. Reflect on your statutory compliance

Make sure you’re compliant with the Code of Practice. As a quick (but not exhaustive) checklist –

  1. Are your annual reviews of EHCPs all calendared, with invitations sent for any coming up this term?
  2. Are you (the school, not necessarily yourself) on track to have at least 3 parent meetings for all children on the SEND register about their child’s needs and progress?
  3. Are parents informed whenever their child is in an intervention/comes on or off the SEND register?
  4. Are you providing all the interventions listed in Section F of the EHCPs?
  5. Do you have an assess-plan-do-review process in place in some form?

4. Book in some self-evaluation

You might choose to use the excellent self-review guides from Whole School SEND. You might ask senior leaders in your school. You might decide to have a review where parents are the primary stakeholders giving you feedback about your provision. However you do it, make sure there is a chance to gather some feedback, and reflect yourself, on where your provision is at the moment.

5. Write down your stakeholders

If you’re aiming for SEND to be a whole-school issue, consider how widely this is happening in practice. Which groups of colleagues would consider themselves stakeholders in your SEND provision? Would your Governors, senior leaders, middle leaders, pastoral staff, support staff, parents and pupils consider themselves stakeholders in your SEND provision? Pick one or two of these groups to get more invested in SEND provision this term. What can you do this term to increase the amount of people who consider themselves accountable for SEND outcomes (in the broadest sense) in your setting?

6. Gear up for exams

We don’t currently know in England which sets of exams will take place in the summer. But this is the time of year to be reflecting on our preparedness for exams, should they happen. Are you compliant in terms of exam access arrangements (especially urgent for secondary)? Where revision sessions are scheduled, have students on the SEND register been included? Can they access these sessions or is some work needed, either to work with the teacher to differentiate or to provide additional/different sessions? In nations where exams have already been cancelled, are we confident that students with SEND in exam years will get results they deserve? What more can be done to ensure this, either through the way pupils are supported with coursework or the way they are supported to prepare for mock exams?

7. Don’t forget transition

For students leaving your school in the summer, is their next school known? Where they have an ECHP, have you invited the next setting to this term’s annual review? Where they are finishing year 11 or 13, what support can you or colleagues give in terms of applications?

For students arriving in your school in September (where this is known), would they benefit from a lengthy transition programme? Would a monthly visit, starting in the Spring term, be an appropriate lead-in for them joining your setting?

With so much currently unknown, the list above doesn’t even mention the complications this term brought about by COVID. The balance between focusing on the COVID-response and driving provision is a difficult one at the moment for all school leaders. As the SENDCO, keeping your eye on your priorities and on your statutory compliance should ensure your provision can continue to improve, even in challenging times.

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