Tag Archives: #Statutory Assessment

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!

 

 

#SENreforms: One year on – a special school perspective

The revised Code of Practice for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disability has now been statutory for a full academic year. On the publication of the Final Impact research report from the pathfinder Local Authorities I wanted to record the story of Camberwell Park School .

There was a general consensus that the statutory assessment process for children with special educational needs needed to change – an over bureaucratic and excessively lengthy process in which often the child and their needs was a by-product (that was my experience of it).  All of the  messages about the new Code of Practice in which we move away from Statements of Special Educational Needs towards Education, Health and Care Plans -The philosophy of  a more child / family centred process right from 0 – 25 years which is responsive to local need and has all agencies working together for a fully co-ordinated approach – what’s not to love?

Whilst I fully acknowledge it is not yet a perfect system – far from it – despite the challenges we have faced, our overall experience and the feedback we have had from the families, has been of a much more positive way of working – the children, their needs and their outcomes are now much more at the forefront. Let me tell you our successes, challenges and next steps…………………..

As a Manchester headteacher I was pleased that the Local Authority took a proactive approach. They had been a pathfinder for the reforms for young people with SEN from 16 – 25, but also established a multi-agency working party during summer 2014 to prepare for implementation of the reforms the following September.I was pleased to be invited to represent the special school sector in this group. During this term we also wished to be proactive as a school – training key staff in person centred planning and identifying a small cohort of families for us to pilot the revised annual review process. Where ever possible we already included our pupils in annual reviews and they prepared their own report prior to the meetings using symbol communication where needed. We set about updating our pupil booklet however in line with person centred planning tools and requirements for what was then the draft Code of Practice as well as establishing a parent voice booklet.

As a special school, all of our children have already had a statement of special educational needs so our year has been one of conversions of statements to Education, Health, Care Plans. We embarked on an ambitious programme to complete conversions for all of our 93 children in one year!

Our key successes

  • The annual review meetings in the new person centred format have been fantastic! They are very child centred and we have had much more open, honest and informative discussions enabling us to establish meaningful and relevant outcomes for the children and their families. The feedback we have received from parents / carers have included these comments in the most recent parent / carer questionnaire:

‘I think the way the new EHCP have been conducted was a lovely change. Having everyone to contribute was effective and positive.’

‘School meetings have always been informative. The teachers have always wanted to know my thoughts and feelings on subjects that have been discussed.’

  • As already mentioned, pupil voice has always been important but we have worked hard on developing further the tools the children have to express their views  and they continue to amaze us with their ability  to express their likes, dislikes, aspirations for the future and what others can do to help them using their pupil views booklet as a framework. Parents / carers too we have found have valued the family views booklet to help them prepare for discussions in the reviews
  • We grappled with how we relate the outcomes set in the annual reviews / EHCP match to our existing Individual Education Plan programme in which personalised targets focussed on ‘barriers to learning’ are established. The timing of the two things were not marrying therefore the process was not co-ordinated enough. We needed to find a way of setting targets following annual reviews and making sure we follow up  on progress each term including parents / carers and other agencies. We have now established a programme of holding all annual reviews in the autumn term following which all pupils have personalised ‘My Learning Targets’ set using EHCP / annual review outcomes. These are then updated each term including feedback / discussion from parents / carers at parent’s evening and information from other agencies where appropriate and then updated / amended as necessary.
  • We are have worked closely with the high school which most of our pupils move to in terms of the transition reviews to ensure that the move from primary to high school is as smooth as possible for both the child and their family. We have recently included gaining pupil views on their transition programme into our questionnaires to see how prepared the pupils feel for their next stage of education and to inform any changes we might want / need to make to the process.
  • We have worked hard on the SEN Information report on our website – consulting with parents / carers on what they wanted included and trying to make it  as user friendly, informative, relevant and meaningful as possible

Our main challenges

Whilst the results of the changes have been mainly positive, I cannot pretend the year has been without it’s challenges – some of which we have resolved and some are work in progress!

  • Each of the annual reviews are taking much more time – on average one and a half hours, plus all the preparation time and putting together paper work afterwards. Not for one minute am I complaining about giving what is essential and valued time to the children and their families and as has been said, the meetings are one of the biggest successes, however, we feel that the meetings are important enough to ensure it is always a member of the senior management team which leads them, therefore, logistically it has placed a much bigger challenge on our time – not insurmountable but has needed lots of adjustments of roles / responsibilities and timetabling
  • The administration is a nightmare! We haven’t  got this one fully sorted yet and I would be delighted to know if anyone out there has cracked this? We are paying for additional admin time to minute the meetings, however, the meeting format does not lend itself well to direct minuting and doesn’t match directly to the paperwork required by the LA so is requiring a lot of additional time for us proof reading and amending after the meetings have finished
  • Multi- agency involvement continues to be a challenge – one of the central themes of the reforms is that it is a ‘health and care’ plan in addition to education. We have had lots of support from other agencies in trying to find ways forward and for the most part we are now getting multi-agency reports to be included in meetings. There are two key reasons for this challenge – one is that multi-agency team members are much less available than they were due to cut backs in services so often are not able to allocate the time to attend meetings. In addition, when are families are so complex and have many agencies involved, it is difficult to schedule meetings when everyone is available, even well in advance. Working with our multi agency teams we have had some improved success for the forthcoming year identifying the priorities for each child and who it is most essential to attend e.g. nurse, speech and lang therapist, with others contributing a report  – but as the discussion is so valuable at the meetings, in an ideal world they would all be there!

So our next steps……………

I think the honest answer is that it all continues to be work in progress!

Our programme of annual reviews for 2015 / 2016 is already in place and all members of multi-agency teams have had the dates. We will continue to be Passionate about ensuring our pupils achieve the best outcomes possible, be Respectful of all of the individual needs of the pupils and their families, be Organised in making sure everyone has the information they need to contribute, be Understanding of individual circumstances and how we can best support and be Dedicated in ensuring we are the best we can be. Camberwell Park continues to be a school to be PROUD of

Supporting pupil and parent voice in Statutory Annual Reviews : #SEND Reforms

The pupils are firmly at the heart of Camberwell Park School and having established ways of including pupil voice in all aspects of our work is something already embedded into the school.

We already had a ‘pupil voice’ booklet as part of the statutory annual review process. This included sections about what the pupils like, dislike about school, their achievements, what helps them to learn and what they have to look forward to in the future. The booklets were completed in the classroom supported by a member of the pupils’ class team prior to the review using symbols and other total communication strategies to ensure meaningful access where necessary. Where ever we have felt it appropriate and possible the pupils have attended part of their annual review meeting to present their report and their report has always been included as part of the annual review minutes. Considering how we could build on and develop ensuring the voice of our pupils into the Education, Health, Care Plan (ECHP) process was therefore a natural progression for us.

Our starting point was to consider the information required by the Code of Practice and Local Authority including annual review paperwork linking in to all of the areas to be discussed as part of person centred planning reviews and other aspects about our children that we felt it is essential to include. This includes likes / dislikes, what is important to the child now and in the future, things they are good at / not good at and how best to support them, how they communicate and make decisions and how to keep them safe, healthy and learning as well as their hopes and dreams. We have also included in the booklet, entitled ‘A meeting all about me’, information presented in a child friendly form about who will be present at the meeting to support their understanding and preparation for attending. The booklet is on our school website: http://tinyurl.com/np5vjfw

The pupil voice booklet has been discussed and agreed with the School Council who have in turn discussed and agreed a slightly more simplified version for our youngest children in school.

The children continue to make us proud and amaze us with their ability to share their views on what on the surface may seem really difficult questions for them to consider. Examples of their views include:
“I talk alot and can sometimes make decisions on my own. I sometimes need to be told to do things a number of times’” Pupil quote, Autumn 14
They have also told us what they think about sharing their views at meetings, for example:
“I like joining in meetings. I feel happy because people say how well I am doing. They listen to me. My ‘all about me booklet’ helped me to say what I wanted to say” Pupil quote, Spring 2015
Whilst pupil voice is imperative and for us is a starting point, it is only a part of the holistic person centred planning process. It is about ensuring that throughout the process, everyone involved keeps the child and their needs central at all times in a very genuine way. We believe that as a school, through our policy and procedures, we set the tone for making sure this happens.
Information about our EHCP meetings and process is a part of our SEN Information Report on the school website http://tinyurl.com/kjp9p22 ensuring even before starting at the school expectations are clear. Our SEN Information report links in turn to the Local Offer for our Local Authority (Manchester) in order to place what we are providing in the wider context of other provision available. http://tinyurl.com/kl8mj5n We are working in close liaison with the Local Authority throughout this process of transition from statements to EHCPs making sure what we are doing meets statutory requirements but in a way that is constructive and helpful for the school and others involved.
Parents and carers, their views and involvement are a key part of the EHCP process and our SEN Information report outlines some of the ways we inform, listen to and involve parents / carers in the process. As with the pupils, we provide a parent / carer views booklet to enable them to prepare for the review meeting http://tinyurl.com/nnxtdxu . As with the pupil booklet, the family booklet is based around the information to be discussed and shared at the review and that is required by the Local Authority review paper work for the EHCP. We understand that not all parents /carers find it easy to articulate and represent their views so where needed the pupils’ key workers from their class teams support the parents /carers in completing their views booklet and in helping them prepare for the reviews generally. Parent / carer workshops and coffee mornings have also supported their understanding of the new process, how important their views are and how they can share their views.

Parents /carers have told us how much they like the new person centred planning approach to reviews, for example:
“The review meetings are very informative and helpful. I can ask or put forward any worries I have about my child’s education, health or wellbeing’ Parent quote, Autumn 14
As we are talking about and Education, Health and Care plan, in terms of a holistic understanding of our pupils others involved with the pupils including health staff such as physiotherapists, school nurse and social care staff including social workers, family support workers and short break providers should also be included. To ensure we do not miss anyone important involved in a child’s life from a family perspective, as part of the invitation process we ask parents /carers who they would like to be invited. The importance of co-ordinated multi-agency working to ensure outcomes identified are appropriate and met Members of the multi-agency team have also told us how much they have valued the new ways of working, for example:
“The EHCP meetings I have attended are informative and clarified the important issues for all present supporting the setting of appropriate short term and long term targets. The meetings also celebrated the successes, achievements and progress to date”. Quote, teacher for the deaf, Spring 15

The review meetings themselves are run as Person Centred Planning reviews as established by Helen Sanderson Associates http://tinyurl.com/qgrt5ot . We have found that this organisation, format and style of review has enabled all involved to share their views in an open and confident way which truly does ensure we keep the child and their needs as the central focus throughout.

Our current development in school is around how we ensure that actions relating to outcomes identified for the pupils are fully implemented and met. For this purpose, at Camberwell Park, ‘My learning targets’ (MLTs) have now replaced the previous Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and fully consist of the action plans from the review meeting. In order to ensure the children are fully involved, a child friendly version of MLTs are used in the classrooms and as well as copies being shared with parents / carers following the annual review, a parents’ evening for each of the subsequent two terms ensure families have a chance to discuss and contribute to monitoring of progress towards outcomes. As a school we liaise closely with members of the multi-agency team ensuring information relating to other aspects of a pupil’s holistic action plan are considered throughout the year.

At Camberwell Park we are Passionate about ensuring we fully embrace and respond to the opportunities the SEN Reforms have opened for our pupils. We Respect the individual needs of each and every one of our pupils. We are Organised in the systems we have put in place. We Understand that the pupils’ needs should be seen in the context of their families and we are Dedicated to ensuring our pupils receive and achieve the best outcomes possible. We are PROUD and privileged to be able to work with such amazing pupils and their families