The Rochford Review and its implications for our learners with SEND is such a significant landmark for those of us who work in the sector so when news of the conference held at Swiss cottage School came up with the opportunity to listen to Diane Rochford, Barry Carpenter, Richard Aird and others came along – it was too good an opportunity to miss. This blog is a brief summary of key points from the day.
Before I start detail some of the points raised I feel it is important to say my over-riding feeling about the day was one of positivity in the sense that all speakers have a genuine desire to get this right for the full range of our learners with SEND and are striving to do this in their ongoing work as a group and listening to practitioners such as those present at the conference yesterday.
Diane gave an overview of the work and outcomes of the review panel making it clear that their work and any assessment process which result encompasses all sectors of the population. They were also clear that they wanted to focus on ‘stage’ rather than’age’ related expectations meaning that the framework should incorporate and celebrate the achievement of our learners who do not reach age – related expectations. A framework which acknowledges and measures the uniqueness of learners. She also spoke about the assessment framework being a vehicle to bring together different aspects of SEND strategy including EHCP and Code of Practice .
Diane was clear that there is still work to be done including the thorny issue of accountability – a principle which underpins the work we all do as we are all responsible for the outcomes of our learners, but how exactly this will be done is yet to be developed. Diane also encouraged us all to respond to the DfE consultation on the review and it’s outcomes which is scheduled in the Spring term to help shape what is finally implemented. A question about Ofsted was raised by an attendee and Diane reassured the panel that there was an ongoing dialogue with Ofsted and Mary Rayner HMI is part of the review panel.
Richard Aird OBE
Richard was also part of the Rochford Review group and spoke equally passionately about wanting the best outcomes for our full range of learners. He talked about us being ‘pioneers’ of a new way of working with learners with SEND and acknowledged the heated debates that took part during the work of the panel on different aspects of the review but always with the learner and their outcomes at the heart.
The point of the recommendations for him is all about minimising barriers to learning and achievement. He spoke about changing the culture of teaching , learning and assessment to re-discover the ‘magic of teaching’ with a workforce that is fully turned on and tuned in – CPD for staff at the heart of this so we can share our insight and understanding of our pupils and make assessment come alive. The relationships between the adults in the classroom and the pupils at the core of enabling an engagement and real learning to take place
The ‘labelling’ of children e.g. SLD / PMLD and how this can be unhelpful was discussed for as we know two children with the same label, despite any clinical diagnosis might be v different in terms of teaching and learning. Without engagement he stated, learning won’t happen. Motivators, concepts and skills, practical application and generalisation – ‘no point teaching stuff if you can’t use it!’
In terms of accountability, he spoke of the need for schools to be really clear on their own systems and a belief that peer review is the best way of demonstrating accountability ensuring that ‘no school is an island’
He too encouraged practitioners like us to make our voice heard in the consultation – it is too important to let this opportunity pass us by
Barry Carpenter OBE, CBE
Barry spoke about his desire for an assessment process which acknowledges a child as an active learner rather than sitting on the periphery of the system. Barry spoke about how our school population has changed and will continue to change in terms of complexity of needs and for needing an assessment process which is responsive to the changing needs of our learners. He also spoke about the importance of consideration of the mental health needs of our learners and how this can have a significant impact on their overall learning outcomes.
The Rochford Review have used and incorporated aspects of the DfE funded Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities Research Project within the review recommendations, in particular the Engagement Profile . He also spoke highly of how the Rochford review has built on previous initiatives relating to SEND such as the Green Paper on SEND.
Barry encouraged us to further consider the concept of personalisation and engagement as fundamentals for learning. He talked about how differentiation is not enough…he introduced the ‘meet and greet’ principle in which differentiation allows the learner to ‘meet’ the curriculum but it is personalisation which enables the ‘greet’ the engagement in which learning is most successful- engagement is the glue that ties the student to their targets and that as adults we need to adjust our lens of the 7 areas of engagement (responsiveness, curiosity, discovery, anticipation, persistence and imagination) to respond to the child
In the afternoon, the 3 workshops for which we were able to attend 2 enabled us to explore some of the issues around the Engagement in more detail
Workshop one – gave a more detailed case study based overview of using the Engagement Profile and scale with our learners who have profound and multiple learning difficulties
Workshop two – allowed us as a group to explore and discuss some of the issues of monitoring and evaluating teaching and learning in the context of the review recommendations
Workshop 3 – focussed on some of the issues of Initial Teacher training in the light of Rochford review recommendations
Finally – Panel interview
The day ended with a panel interview of 4 school leaders ( of which I was pleased to be one) who were asked questions about implications of the review recommendations for their own schools and how they were responding
As you would expect, the day raised a number of questions as well as giving more clarity on some aspects of our way forward, however, I share in the belief that this is our opportunity to make a real difference for our learners with SEND and I will certainly be contributing to the consultation. It was an interesting, thought provoking and useful day – thank you to Swiss Cottage School for hosting and for everyone who presented and attended for their enthusiasm and engagement.