The first step to supporting children or young people who have, or may have, special educational needs is high quality teaching which is differentiated for individual pupils.
Additional intervention and support cannot compensate for a lack of good quality teaching. Schools should be regularly reviewing teacher’s knowledge of the special educational needs most frequently encountered, and reviewing understanding of strategies to identify and support children and young people with special educational needs.
Bolton's SEND Handbook provides nurseries, schools and colleges with guidance around identifying dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, moderate learning difficulties, speech language and communication difficulties, autism, and ADHD. The handbook also provides guidance help classrooms be set up to support children with a range of additional needs.
Good quality teaching, from a teacher who plans lessons, interventions, assessments and differentiates work where necessary, is the first step in identifying and supporting children with special educational needs.
Through accessing good quality teaching, it may become evident that a child or young person isn't progressing as expected. A child or young person may need some additional provision or support putting in place to help them progress. This is referred to as SEN Support.
SEN support is an approach to supporting children and young people using an ongoing cycle. The cycle is referred to in the Send Code of Practice as the graduated approach, using an 'Assess Plan Do Review' method.
Breaking down SEN support - waves
Bolton's SEND Handbook breaks down SEN Support into waves:
- Wave one is good quality teaching
- Wave two builds on good quality teaching to introduce additional provision for the child or young person
- Wave three would build on wave two, putting in increasingly specific and detailed support
Wave two and three should follow the ‘Assess Plan Do Review.’ This cycle gradually builds up support and by using a cycle that regularly assesses progress it can be identified what is working and what isn't working and, where more, or different, support may be needed.
Assess, plan, do and review
Bolton’s SEND Handbook provides visuals of 'Assess Plan Do Review' cycles with suggestions of interventions, provisions and training for the following categories of need: cognition and learning, speech language and communication needs, social communication an interaction needs (including autism,) social emotional mental health needs (including ADHD,) visual impairments, hearing impairments, and physical difficulties.
Settings should record the 'Assess Plan Do Review' cycles, and parents or carers should be involved at most stages. The SEND Code of Practice suggests that schools should meet with parents or carers at least three times a year, this can include parents evening; therefore, it seems reasonable that this support should be shared with parents or carers on at least a termly basis. Schools have not been provided with a specific way of recording the SEN Support cycles, it maybe that they use 'Individual Education Plans (IEP'S) Individual Behaviour Plans (IBP's) or Pupil Passports.
Additional support to settings
Nurseries, schools and colleges can all access funding to support this first level of additional provision required for children and young people with special educational needs. SEN Support can provide a wide range of additional provision for children and young people depending on what their needs are. The wave visuals all include suggestions of support and provision that can be funded by the setting.
Where a child or young person is being supported via SEN Support, it would be expected that their setting would also involve outside agencies to help identify the kinds of provision required. Agencies such as Speech and Language Therapy, Ladywood Outreach, Behaviour Support, and Educational Psychology can all be accessed while a child or young person is being supported at some support. (Some outside agencies have age criteria)
Nationally, the vast majority of children and young people who have special educational needs are supported under SEN Support. A small percentage of children and young people may have needs that require an additional level of funding on top of the funding that their setting is expected to provide. Where this is the case, an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment can be requested from the local authority. This assessment may lead to a child or young person being issued an Education, Health and Care Plan.
If a parent or carer has any concerns about the identification of special educational needs, or the support a child or young person is receiving, in the first instance, they should speak to the class teacher or SENCO. For additional advice and guidance parents or carers can contact Bolton's Information Advisory Service. To access parent carer workshops that include SEN Support specific workshops parents or carer can contact Bolton Parent Carers.