Tag Archives: #EHCPs

‘Preparation for the next stage of education’ Supporting pupils with SEND in their transition to high school

Whilst we all accept change is a part of life and change can be a good thing, never the less change can be hard. We all find comfort in things which are familiar and have ways that we prepare ourselves for changes ahead of us.

In the context of school life, transition from primary to secondary school is one of the biggest changes and whilst opening up lots of new  and exciting opportunities, can also provoke anxiety for all pupils. For pupils with SEND, this is particularly the case. It is often in our experience a really difficult time for families too as they worry about their little ones making this next big step.

In this blog I write from our own experience @camberwellpark  school in supporting our pupils and their families through the experience in order to make it as positive and successful as possible.

Whilst this blog is focussed on the change from primary to secondary school, managing change is something we support our pupils with throughout their time in school from day to day changes of time – table  / rooms / activities through to changing to new classes at the end of the year. This can include use of visual schedules, now and next cards, social stories, circle time activities – what ever is relevant, appropriate and useful for individual pupils as like us, all of our pupils respond differently and need different levels and methods of support.

With regards to transition to high school, our positive and collaborative  relationship with @NorthRidgeSch  where most of our pupils move on to is integral to making our pupil’s transition successful. The headteacher or other senior colleague from the school attends the annual reviews for all of our year 5 pupils to start to get to know them and to share information about the school with their parents. She also  welcomes families of year 5 pupils to visit the school. We find families value the opportunities to talk to us about their child’s move to high school as over the years we build a relationship of trust and support, as well as talking to staff from the high school so that they can feel reassured and have any questions they have answered directly.

Whilst the transition plan follows a general format of a programme of visits  for the pupils in year 6 to their high school during the summer term, it is important for us to consider the individual needs of the pupils and where needed offer additional visits / support or indeed recognise for some pupils the programme of visits may be unhelpful in terms of them managing the change. It is our knowledge of the pupils that enables us to work with them in a way which is most helpful to them. We ensure we staff the visits with staff from our school who know the pupils well and who are best placed to share relevant info with high school staff as well as support the pupils on their visits. The visits are gradually increased in length from a short visit with a drink in the community cafe, extended over a period of weeks to include lunch and eventually full days. This is accompanied by relevant work back at own own school in relation to the change – work on feelings as well as practical aspects of the move to the new school.

Pupil voice is very important to us and whilst through our observations of the pupils and informal conversations with them we felt our transition programme was positive and effective, we wanted to investigate this further so we set about doing a pupil questionnaire – completed during year 6 before the move  to high school and repeated during year 7 after the move.

Here is a case study of one of our pupils

Transfer to High School  :  Case study  

M was a Y6 pupil in Summer 2016 who was transferring to Northridge High School in September 2016.

He had been on 7 visits to his new class/school, starting with a one hour visit/tour of the school and finishing with a full day visit. 

M had been asked during the start of his transition visits,  ( Easter 2016 onward) a few simple questions.  Familiar symbols were used to support M understanding the questions. His answers are in bold below written as they were said.

·         How was your first visit to your new school? ‘I liked it and was excited.’

·         What did you like? ‘I like the radio room they had a real microphone and I like the cafe’

·         What did you not like? ‘ I liked everything’

·         Are you worried about anything?  Why? ‘ I am a little bit nervous it will be hard to know where to get the fruit and milk from’

The answers that M gave were then discussed with him, and strategies put into place to further support his anxieties/transition process.

M was then asked some questions in November 2016 once his move to high school was complete.

·         Have you settled into your new school? ‘Yes’

·         What do you really like about your new school? ‘The “cafe, mugger and the football”’

·         Did you have enough visits to Northridge when you were at Camberwell? ‘Yes’

·         Would you have liked some visits to last longer? ‘No ok’

·         Could Camberwell Park have done anything else to help you move to your new school? ‘ “A nufer day”

The responses from M and the other year 6 pupils have been used for us to continue to shape and develop our transition processes for all of the pupils moving on to high school so that we can confidently feel they are effectively prepared for the next stage of education.

We are discussing how we support our pupils to manage changes of all different sorts on @SENexchange at 8 – 8.30 p.m. on Wednesday 14th June 2017. It would be great if you could join us and share your good practice too

 

 

To P or not to P? That is the question : My response to the Rochford Review final report

So after a long time waiting the Rochford Review final report has been published bringing with it a series of 10 recommendations to be considered for implementation by the DfE (summary on page 7 of the report).

The report and it’s recommendations has been a big topic of conversation  with practitioners on SLD forum and some colleagues have blogged on the report already such as this helpful review from @cherrylkd. I am sure it will be something we will want to chat about on @SENexchange too!

It would be hard to disagree with the underlying  / guiding principles outlined on page 11 of the report – principles which underpin the work we are so passionate about with our learners with SEND. I appreciate however how they are spelled out for us, reminding us of their importance. It is hard to pick out ‘favourites’ from the list of 11  guiding principles however, the ones I highlighted reading through were that ‘every child should be able to demonstrate his / her attainment and progress’, ‘Parents/ carers should receive meaningful information about the achievement/ progress of their child and should be involved appropriately in assessment procedures’, ‘ Curriculum should drive assessment and not the other way round’, ‘It should be possible to assess the application of knowledge, understanding and skills in a range of different contexts’ and ‘The language used to describe the achievements and progress of these pupils should always be positive, inclusive and should be jargon free’.

The central focus of the report and the one we have all been waiting for is the recommendation regarding the future of P levels. We have been grappling with trying to use P levels for summative assessment of our pupil’s progress and this has become increasingly challenging with their mismatch with the revised National Curriculum. The majority of respondents to the review consultation agreed that P levels are no longer fit for purpose and it has been music to my ears to hear recommendations that any future system should acknowledge lateral as well as linear progress made by our pupils. Removing the statutory requirement to assess using P levels (recommendation 1, Pg 13 – 14) is welcomed.  In addition, Recommendation 3 ( Pg 16 – 17)  which  acknowledges the value of achievements in all 4 areas of need. At Camberwell Park School whilst continuing to use P levels as the statutory measure for core subjects, we have invested in developing our enhanced  curriculum ( how aspects such as being a Unicef Rights respecting school add value to our school) and our personalised curriculum ( giving teachers autonomy to be more flexible  in their timetables to respond to individual and small group pupil needs). This is particularly important to my mind when ensuring that we work towards the outcomes outlined in the child’s EHCP – something we are proud to say is embedded into our every day practice as identified in the peer review  we commissioned on this aspect of our work last year. Our holistic assessment therefore includes what for us is a ‘Gold standard case study’ which demonstrates progress in 9 areas: Core subjects, Foundation Subjects, mobility, Life skills, PSD, SMSC, Communication, Behaviour and Characteristics of learning. Our job now is to align these to the 7 area of engagement outlined in recommendation 4 (page 18 – 19 of the report).

I whole –  heartedly agree with the review with the review group members that where ever possible pupils should be included in the mainstream statutory assessment arrangements and as a school we had already adopted the recommendations from the interim review  including using Pre-key stage expectations for pupils working above P8. I also feel lucky that we have a good network with both mainstream and special schools in Manchester and with special schools across Greater Manchester where practitioners from our school moderate assessments / judgements made about pupil progress and attainment.  Recommendations 7 and 8 ( pages 24 / 25) reinforce the need for sharing good practice and quality assurance processes to be rigorous as we move forward in order for our judgements to have any credibility. I would urge mainstream and special schools to forge and strengthen these challenge and support relationships – there is so much we can learn from each other.

At this stage the review findings are recommendations – we await consultation and agreement from the DfE which I understand will be  in early 2017 with a view to implementation in summer 2018. There is clearly lots more work to be done – not least to decide as a school / school sector how we will apply the principles of assessing the 7 indicators of cognition and learning ( page 22) and assess these for pupils not engaging in subject specific learning ( a danger  if we are not careful of replacing one inappropriate linear assessment system with another!) – however – my vote is definitely – not to P! The Rochford review is a step in the right direction so come on DfE – give us the go ahead so we can get on with our work!

 

 

Measure what you value not value what you measure: Some key messages for SEND

Yesterday was our annual Greater Manchester special school leadership conference and we were really pleased to have Mary Rayner HMI there to speak to us about the implementation of the Common Inspection Framework in the special school context, the implications of national working groups on achievement and evaluation of progress and the Local Area Inspection Framework with regards to schools being part of the local area.

The 50 or so people that attended the conference found Mary’s presentation informative, helpful and reassuring and therefore I felt it would be useful to share the key points she spoke about to a wider audience.

Mary is one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors ( HMI) and is one of Ofsted’s National Leads for SEND. Mary’s substantial leadership experience in the special and mainstream sector gives her immense credibility and her knowledge and experience of the full range of childruen and young people we work with was evident throughout her presentation.

Mary began by emphasising her belief in ‘removal of labels’ such as SLD / PMLD in the sense that geographically these can mean different things to different people. What counts is the individual child, their individual needs and how we can meet them. How could anyone disagree with that?

Common inspection framework – key messages from Mary

  • The CIF is intended to provide coherence, clarity and comparability – schools judged against the same set of standards

Teaching Learning and Assessment

  • Assessment is now in the right place as assessment SHOULD be informing Teaching and learning
  • As inspectors must take account of learning, Mary challenged us as leaders to really consider what it is we value in our school ( e.g. in special school context independence / self help skills, developing of friendships etc) and if we value these things – how do we measure them / show evidence of progress? We need to decide what is good progress for our learners. Inspectors can only take account of information if it is evidenced and moderated to ensure judgements are consistent. The CIF gives us an opportunity to be able to state what we value as part of our ethos – but we have the responsibility to evidence how it impacts on our pupils.
  • We need to tell our school story very clearly and concisely – e.g. if our cohort of pupils has changed and it has meant we have responded and changed our practice – how? why? impact?
  • There is no requirement for ‘data’ to be in a certain format – it can be in many forms – including where relevant and appropriate video evidence for example. As long as you show and evidence progress in a way that is relevant and appropriate to your school and your pupils – that is fine. Important to also take account of pupils for who may have conditions which mean for them there is regression in skills. Make sure their story is told.
  • Define in your own school what pupil ‘work’ is – what does it look like? where would you find it? where would you look for evidence of progress over time? DVDs? Displays?
  • Most important – school practice MUST reflect school policy! e.g. there is no requirement for particular systems of marking – however – if policy says particular requirement then that is what should be seen.
  • Assessment – doesn’t matter what you call it in your school – how do you know it is right? How do you baseline? Measure? moderate to ensure consistency? – using trusted professionals from other schools is sensible to support the process. Don’t avoid moderation with others in other schools even if using different systems – using them to check your systems are robust
  • Need to ensure breadth / depth / range of evidence – if teaching some curriculum areas within others on the timetable – that is fine but needs to be clear
  • Are you sure that all your teachers have the same high expectations?
  • Who are your groups in school – you can decide  within your own context – how do you define them?
  • Baseline is really important. Age, starting points AND time in school are all important as part of measuring and judging progress. Make sure for your own school you have considered what the judgements are and why
  • This is our opportunity to measure all the things we value and present them in a way that is meaningful  AND informs next steps
  • Assessment is linked to curriculum but doesn’t define it

Personal development, behaviour and welfare

 

  • Think about what is must be like to be a pupil at your school – kneel down – see it from their perspective
  • Ensure you are considering preparation for the next stage of education
  • Only use B code in register for actual teaching when you as a school know what is happening and you are monitoring it as a school
  • Improvement in behaviour? How do you know? What are you measuring?
  • You can consider resilience, self – help and independence in this category

Outcomes

  • No longer rule of 3 years of data
  • Professional judgement is important alongside other information you will provide
  • Rochford review – interim report – tried to fill gaps between P8 and what were National curriculum levels. Rochford review have been considering P levels – recommendations currently with ministers and should be published soon
  • P levels can be just a reporting tool. Many schools also use as an assessment tool but don’t have to.
  • Use networks to create comparative information which can be used to evidence progress
  • Can talk about regression and for some children sustaining  achievement

Leadership and management

  • What you do, why do you do it and what is the impact?
  • What is uncompromising ambition in your school ? Define it for yourselves.
  • Do governors share same passion and understanding? Do they understand pupil groups? Do they challenge and support leadership ?
  • What is the effectiveness of SMSC
  • Is vision and ethos clear on website? What information is on your website and what messages does it send about your school. Remember – inspectors will look at this before coming into your school to consider their ‘lines of enquiry’

With regards to Local Area inspections, Mary was just urging us to play our part in the overall information gathering in relation to SEND when inspectors come into school to look at EHCP plans and talk to various stakeholders about their experience of the process.

What was interesting was that after Mary had spoken, there were very few questions. The reason for this was that everybody had felt that Mary had answered the questions they had wanted to ask during her presentation. I hope sharing this with you has answered some of your questions too.

With my best wishes

Mary Isherwood

 

 

Supporting meaningful ‘pupil voice’ for children and young people with #SEN

When @Cherrylkd and I discussed establishing @SENexchange, we were very concious of how broad an area SEN is and we wanted to ensure that it is relevant to the whole SEN community. For this reason we invited our @SENexchange folllowers to suggest possible areas for discussion which we collated into a blog http://wp.me/p5Qdrj-1q. At this time, I added a discussion topic of my own: Pupil voice

Pupil voice is something I am very passionate about and something we have done alot of work on in my own school @Camberwell Park camberwellpark.manchester.dbprimary.com. If our pupils are at the heart of our school , then for me, pupil voice must be an integral part of the school ethos. For us, this starts with being a Unicef Rights Respecting School and ensuring appropriate access for the children to all articles within the UNCRC http://www.unicef.org.uk/Documents/Publication-pdfs/UNCRC_summary.pdf. Indeed Article 23 of the UNCRC spells out our responsibility to ensure children with a disability play an active role in their community, for me having a voice is an important part of this and as @MaryMyatt reminded us in a recent tweet to @SENexchange, it should also be considered as part of ‘British Values’ and SMSC in the school.

As the pupils in my own school have a range of learning needs ranging from more moderate learning difficulties, right through to profound and multiple learning difficulties, sharing their views is not always quite so easy and I believe it is up to us to find a way of supporting and enabling their voice to be heard not just within the school but beyond the school.

A couple of years ago, as a school we appointed a person with a ‘teaching and learning responsibility’ (TLR) to look at how we support pupil voice in their own learning and how we meaningfully implement it across school. What emerged was our 7 stages of pupil voice (video clips and other resources held in the school exemplify each of the stages):

Stage 1- Adult to notice child’s reaction to activity/ experience and give the child the language to describe this

Stage 2- Child to eye-point to demonstrate choice

Stage 3- Child to reach towards or touch object/ symbol/ switch to indicate choice

Stage 4- Child to independently indicate choice by grasping and moving object/ using voice/ signing

Stage 5- Child to say what they have done well or need to try harder with

Stage 6- Child to say what they could do next time to improve

Stage 7- Child to comment on their peer’s achievements

These 7 stages are mainly about children being involved in their learning and their involvement in setting the priority targets for learning and having child friendly Individual Education Plans is part of this too. Pupil self-evaluation of their own learning is now embedded into all classrooms.

Over the last few years in the school, we have developed pupil involvement in whole school self evaluation and school improvement and how we hear the voice of our pupils in a range of ways including developing the running of the school council to ensure pupils have opportunities to discuss a wider range of whole school issues and involving pupils on our learning walks around school to hear their views on aspects such as displays, behaviour and safety, total communication etc, Our pupils are now also regularly involved in recruitment of new staff. The school council have written their own person pupil person specification which goes out with information / application packs. Where appropriate pupils are involved in interview panels asking questions relating to their person specification.

It is also important to me to consider how the views of our pupils are represented beyond our school. I appreciated a tweet from @anameescapesme when the discussion topic regarding pupil voice was first tweeted on @senexchange reminding us about the challenges of LAs listening to the views of our children and young people. At Camberwell Park, the pupils have always been involved in their annual reviews of their Statement of Special Educational Needs, and we have ensured this continues with the change over to Education, Health, Care Plans ( EHCPs). Our pupil voice booklet http://tinyurl.com/np5vjfw  is prepared by the pupils supported by one of the classroom staff prior to the review and the pupil attends their review to share their views with others. Their views are included in the minutes booklet is attached and forms part of the appendices in the EHCPs.

Another important area we have been exploring and developing in terms of pupil voice is that of safeguarding. Our children and young people with learning difficulties are very vulnerable. Giving our pupils the vocabulary and enabling them to have a voice about what is safe, not safe, tell us when they are worried, scared, upset, being bullied etc is really important. Our frustration at how the views and experience of our pupils are disregarded when there have been allegations of abuse has led us as a school to look at how we can support our pupil voice in this area too.

Our ‘pupil voice’ work is by no means a finished product and we are concious of how in our best endeavours to allow pupils a choice, for our some of less able or more complex children the choices we give them are often guided and limited by those which we offer. We would of course use our knowledge of the children and information about the children by others that know them even better than us such as their parents in the choices we have available. We continue to explore however, how we can make pupil voice more meaningful with the bank of strategies we have available. In addition to total communication strategies of signing and symbols, the range of AAC ( Augmentative and alternative communication) products open up new possibilities for us: Ipads,  E-tran frames http://www.communicationmatters.org.uk/page/e-tran-frames  use of PODD ( Pragmatic Organisation Dynamic Display) Communication Books:http://www.inclusive.co.uk/podd-p6023 and more recently exploration of how we can use Talking mats http://www.talkingmats.com/ are just a few examples. Use of P4C ( Philosophy for Children) throughout the school has also very mjuch supported the ability of our pupils to express their views on a range of important topics.

To end where I started this blog – Pupil voice is an area I am very passionate about and keen to discuss with others – I know there is alot we can ‘exchange’ and learn from each other in this area so really hope that people will join with us on @SENexchange at 7.30 p.m. on Wed 29th April to chat further. My blog only represents my views and the experience of Camberwell Park School. Would be so good to hear from the experience of others  – both mainstream and special and from parents / carers too about how they would like to work with schools to get the views of their child considered.

Our children and young people deserve to be heard  – it is our job to ensure they are!

Thank you