SEN teaching changes: What you need to know
With the forthcoming amendments to the Children and Families Bill, the way that children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) are supported is soon to change.
Additionally, the government plans to implement a code of practice and has got as far as completing a draft version.
At the heart of these changes are the following aims: firstly, to make the pupil himself or herself central to the planning of his or her teaching and support; secondly, to ensure that SEN teachers are given greater responsibility and accountability for the pupil’s progress.
With the new system likely to be in place by September 2014, let’s take a moment to consider some of the key factors that promise to make the changes beneficial to all stakeholders.
Greater input from pupils and their families
Reflecting the government’s belief that parents know the best for their children, they will be placed at the heart of the discussions and planning.
Teachers will be expected to be proactive in liaising with parents, sharing with them as much information as possible as to how the child is developing.
They will also be required to involve parents in the creation of school policies relating to children with SEN.
Children will have more rights than previously, and this will extend to teachers consulting them directly from the age of 16 onwards, with the child’s opinion being given more weight than that of their parents.
Education, Health and Care Plans
Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans will be introduced to assist children and young adults right up to the age of 25. Over a 3 year period, the EHC plans will replace the current SEN statements and Learning Difficulty Assessments.
They are expected to be more helpful than the current offerings in helping all SEN children to reach their maximum potential.
One School Based Specialist Support Scheme
A single school based specialist support scheme will replace the existing School Action and School Action Plus schemes. This is expected to simplify the system and maximise its effectiveness for all pupils who require such assistance.
Teachers will be required to inform parents if a pupil without an existing EHC plan is supported by the scheme.
An Optional Personal Budget
If the pupil and parents wish, they can opt to accept a personal budget, which will be funded out of the high needs funding block. They can then use this budget to purchase the assistance that they feel will be most useful to them.
Used in deliberation with teachers and other caregivers, the personal budget promises to give pupils and parents unparalleled flexibility and control of their support to maximise its effectiveness.
Teachers are required to ensure that every pupil progresses
Even if the SEN pupil is supported by specialist staff, the teacher will be held accountable for his or her progress.
Thus, the onus will be on teaching staff do be especially proactive in identifying any children with SEN and in monitoring their progression, even in those situations where they are not directly doing all the teaching of and caring for the pupil.
As you can see, the changes in SEN Teaching promise to empower pupils and parents more than ever before.
If utilised effectively, they could bring us a few steps closer to the day when every single child, regardless of physical or mental obstacles, fulfils every bit of their potential.