Stranger hailed ‘hero’ after helping Farnborough autistic child on train

The mother of a five-year-old boy with autism has hailed a young man a “hero” after he stepped in to help calm her son during a difficult train journey.

Gayna Pealling hailed Daniel Ball, 21, from Farringdon, “my hero” after he distracted her son Jack when he became distressed on a train to Farnborough.

She posted images on Facebook of Mr Ball playing with Jack, which have been shared hundreds of times.

The pair have since began campaigning to raise awareness of autism and ADHD.

Ms Pealling, a single mother from Farnborough, Hampshire, was travelling home from Portsmouth when her son Jack began having a “meltdown”.  She said:

“I can’t thank Dan enough for what he did that day.  Strangers just think my child is misbehaving but it is just his condition. I got a lot of bad looks from a lot of people on the train – which didn’t help the situation.”

Dan helped distract Jack, who was shouting and swearing, by asking him to come and draw with his sister Amy, Ms Pealling added.

The pair have since set up a campaign to help raise awareness of the condition with the help of Mr Ball’s mother Barbara, who has worked in the special needs sector since 1976.

Mr Ball also has a fundraising page for the National Autistic Society which has already exceeded its £1,000 target.  He said:

“I thought that, as people have taken the time to like and share the post with the photos of me in, they might be able to share a few pounds and – hopefully – we can make a bit of a difference”

The team has created badges which say “The Rescuer” and “Come to my rescue” which they are urging people to wear on public transport to help bring attention to parents with autistic children who may need help.

Mrs Ball, said:

“Judging by the response to Gayna’s Facebook post, most parents would be grateful for a smile, a nod or a word of support or even an offer to help in an extreme situation such as Gayna and Dan found themselves in.”

Christmas video 22: 10 year old girl Kaylee Rodgers sings brilliant version of Hallelujah

A 10-year-old girl from Northern Ireland has gone viral after a video of her singing a variation on Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ for her school choir performance was posted on Facebook.

Kaylee Rodgers, from Donaghadee, County Down, has autism and ADHD, and began singing as a way to build her confidence.

The video of her singing the Killard House school choir’s version of ‘Hallelujah’ has attracted more than 200,000 views from people around the world.

It was originally posted by parent Nichola Martin, who was proud of her son Blake who also took part in the choir.

Kaylee told ITV that she was excited just to be singing, but that it was also “amazing” that the video had received so much attention.  She said:

“I just loved doing it.”

Colin Millar, head teacher at Killard House, said:

“For a child who came in P4 and would really talk, couldn’t really read out in class, to stand and perform in front of an audience is amazing.  It takes a lot of effort on Kaylee’s part.”

The alternative lyrics sung by Kaylee were written by contemporary Christian rock band Cloverton, who are based in Kansas.  Their version was posted on YouTube in 2014

A Makaton Nativity Play

born-this-nightRebecca Thompson created a wonderful Christmas resource a couple of years ago that is designed with Makaton symbols as part of it.  She is Mum of Jacob, a young boy with Downs Syndrome, and a Primary School teacher.  She’s now brought out a second Christmas resource.

The resource, called Born This Night, includes seven delightful songs, a simple humorous rhyming script and adaptable parts to suit small or larger casts.  The songbook is easy to use and contains everything you need to stage an enjoyable and memorable performance.

the-gold-star-inn

The Gold Star Inn tells the traditional Nativity story with the help of a donkey who likes to hum! It includes the ten fabulous new songs and two scripts, one for younger children and a longer script suitable for older children. Both stories can be adapted to suit the needs and abilities of groups of children and have proved popular with pupils and teachers in mainstream and special school.

It includes a professionally recorded CD with full performance tracks to listen to the lyrics and backing tracks for the children to sing along to when they have learnt them.  Price with licence for use in school £30.

Alternatively, parents and carers can buy the book and CD to learn and sing the festive songs at home (no licence required).  Priced at £20.

For more information about the plays or to order your copy visit Jacob’s Ladder Productions.

How to support siblings of children with additional needs

Caring for siblings of children with special needs

This is a brilliant blog post by Phoebe on the challenges siblings of children with additional needs go through.  Read and share this with others:

“She ruins everything!” I said to my mom when I was six and my big sister bumped into an art project I’d been working on all day.

And again when I was twelve and she wanted to hang out with me and my friends at my slumber party.

And again when I was seventeen and she snuck upstairs when I was watching a movie with a boyfriend.

Being fourteen months younger than my sister with Down syndrome wasn’t always easy. We were a grade apart in school, in a town where everyone knew everyone else. I was occasionally referred to as “Syble’s sister” instead of by my own name. When people made jokes about the kids on the short bus or “retards” I had to decide if I was going to stand up for my sister and bring more attention to myself or just let it go. And even at home, I tried to be perfect and low maintenance to make up for the extra work and attention my parents had to put into her.

And that’s why when I look into the eyes of my son David after he’s just said “He ruins everything!” referring to his brother with autism, I get it. I so get it. I get the frustration and the fear. I get the exhaustion and the embarrassment. I relive the moments I had at each stage I went through as a special-needs sibling. And it’s because of that experience I try to remember a few things.

Go read Phoebe’s blog for her advice on what she tries to do for her son, it includes:

  • I don’t shame my typical son for the way he is feeling in the moment.
  • I remind him our feelings can lie to us.
  • I celebrate the accomplishments of both boys.
  • I give him opportunities to grow in areas of interest.
  • I make sure we have one-on-one time together.
  • I say thank you every day.

23 Ways To Communicate With A Non-Verbal Child

Non-Verbal-Communication

The key to working with children and young people often centres on communication.  But how do you do this with non-verbal (or mainly non-verbal) children and young people.

Parents of children and adults with special needs contributed their best tips to Scope leading to these 23 ways to communicate.  This is a really useful read for those of us living with or working with non-verbal (or mainly non-verbal) children.

Here’s a few of my favourites:

2. Level it up

Playing and talking are easier if you can see each other. Sit so you are at the same level.

3. Talk about it

Eddy can’t speak and also has limited understanding but it is important to keep talking to him about what’s going on.

4. Eye contact

I put stickers on my forehead as a target for my son to look at.  This reminds him to look at people’s faces, so people feel more like he is engaging with them.

8. Find other means of expression

Give your child an opportunity to express themselves. Dance, music, drawing, painting, messing with textures, banging drums, shaking maracas – and join in too. Don’t be afraid to lay down with them on the carpet and see the world from their point of view.

9. It’s not obvious

Therapist often ask you to keep eye contact with them.  We (Aspies – people with Aspergers syndrome) often avoid eye contact because it helps us to focus on what someone is saying.  I find it hard to process verbal information and think about signals from someone’s face at the same time.

11. Create social stories

I have been creating my own social stories using pictures of my son and clip art pictures. You can find images of most things through Microsoft Office and easily type up your own personalised stories.

12. Make ‘flash cards’

Take photos of a non verbal person’s favorite toys, family members, objects eg cup, biscuit etc. Choose the most motivating items to begin with. Print and laminate them postcard size. Giving a choice of no more than three cards at a time, encourage them to choose by pointing or touching. May also be helpful to put the relevant sign on the back of photo as a reference for others

19. Communication passports

A communication passport is a one page document that the child has with him or her all of the time. It gives the people they meet basic information about how they communicate and what support they need. You can find out more about communication passports at www.communicationpassports.org.uk

22. Personal portfolio

Cerebra provides a free service to help parents create a personal portfolio for their child aged 16 and under. A personal portfolio is a user-friendly booklet about your child to introduce them to others. It is especially helpful when your child has communication difficulties. Very useful for teachers & professionals. www.cerebra.org.uk

23. Intensive Interaction

I have two children on the spectrum, aged 7 & 5. Intensive Interaction helped me stay sane and unlocked the barriers so I could communicate with them. www.intensiveinteraction.co.uk

 

 

 

 

Sally Phillips on parenting a child with additional needs in church

Sally PhillipsRuth Jackson from Childrenswork Magazine has done a great interview with actress Sally Philips on parenting a child with additional needs in church.  Sally and her husband have three sons and Olly, their eldest (aged 11) has Down’s syndrome.

RJ: Not every church has the necessary resources and manpower to serve children with special educational needs (SEN). Do you have any advice for churches and children’s workers?

SP: Good will is a good start but it’s often not enough. Generally, children’s workers are not prepared enough and the activities not differentiated enough so that kids with SEN can access them. There’s also a lack of volunteers. In school, Olly has one-to-one support. In church, he doesn’t, even though he still needs it. In school, his lessons are adapted, in church, he has to do the same as the others. If you prepare the lesson with multi-sensory options, all of the children will benefit, as there are many typically developing kids who prefer different ways of learning.

Incidentally, more traditional forms of church are much easier for SEN adults to access than ‘as the Spirit leads’ churches. The ritual and physicalisation of worship and prayer, the prayer book that they can follow, the same pattern every week, the weekly Eucharist etc are very helpful for people whose primary mode of communication may not be verbal.

Sally goes on to give some really helpful practical ideas that churches can use to be more inclusive to children with additional needs – it’s well worth taking the time to read this.

SEN Conference – Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants

The last session of the Hampshire County Council SEN Conference was entitled “Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants” and led by Rob Webster, Principal Special Needs Officer

HCC governor services

Working in HCC since April 2013.  Was at the Institute of Education in London before that.

Some aims:

  • Understand why schools need to examine how TAs are used
  • Take a closer look at factors that affect TAs effectiveness
  • What is the role and purpose of TAs?
  • Explore things shcools could do different.  Maximising the impact of TAs.

Background

There is an assumption that TAs help raise pupil standards, but there had been little systematic research on impact over long-term and under everyday classroom conditions – there had been bits on literacy interventions etc.  The Deployment and Impact of Support Staff (DISS) project (2009) focussed on all support staff, especially TAs.  This then led to the Effective Deployment of TAs (EDTA) in 2011.

Scale of the DISS project

  • 17,800+ biennial national questionaire survey.
  • Analysis of impact of TA uspport on 8,200 pupils in 153 mainstream schools.
  • Observations of 680+ pupils and 100+ TAs in 114 schools.
  • Detailed case studies in 65 cschools.
  • Interviews with 280+ heads, SENCos, teachers and TAs.
  • Analysis of adult-to-pupil talk (teacher and TAs) in 16 lessons

Comparison of TA Support verses non TA Support within a classroom environment.

Year National Curriculum sub-level
English Maths Science
1 -1.5 -1
2 -1.5 -1 -1
3 -2 -2
6 -1 -0.75 -1
7 -2 -1.5
9 -1 -0.75 -1
10 -1*

 

  • expressed as 1 GCSE grade

 

  • Pupils with Statements profoundly affected by current arrangements: those with the most TA support, made the least progress.
  • Used statistical techniques that control for variables known to affect attainment (e.g. SEN, FSM, prior attachment).
  • It is NOT the fault of TAs
  • Organisational and structural factors over which TAs have little or no control.

Issues of

  • Conditions of employment
  • Preparedness
  • Characteristics

DISS: Which pupils do adults work with

 

Interaction by pupil level of SEN Teacher TA
Non-SEN 55% 27%
School Action 24% 32%
School Action Plus or SEN statement 21% 41%

TAs rarely worked with middle and higher attaining pupils.  The higher the level of need, the more interaction with TAs and the less interaction the teachers.

  • Teachers spent more time explaining concepts.  TA explanations were sometimes inaccurate or confusing.
  • Teachers provided more feedback.  TAs more likely to prompt pupils and supply answers.
  • Teachers linked current lesson to pupils’ prior knowledge, promoted pupils’ thinking and cognitive engagement in a task.  TAs more concerned with task completion.
  • Teachers ‘open up’ talk; TAs close talk down.

Preparedness

  • 75% teachers have no training to work with/manage TAs
  • 75% teachers no allocated planning or feedback time.
  • Teacher-TA meetings depended on TA’s goodwill.
  • TAs underprepared: having to tune into teachers talk for content/instructions.

Key messages from the research

  • Pupils with SEN receive more support from TAs than teachers
  • TA support is alternative to teacher support – not additional
  • Pupils with SEN separated from classroom, teacher and peers
  • TAs have main responsibility for teaching pupils with statements
  • Training for teachers key factor in current arrangements
  • TAs pedagogical input is well intentioned, but unlikely to narrow attainment gap
  • Currency of statements seem problematic as written in hours for TA.

Implications for practice

  • A fundamental rethink is required if schools are going to get the best use from their TAs – and help pupils.
  • Organisational and strucutral factors need attention:
  • Deployment of TAs (and teachers)
  • Practice: TAs interactions with pupils
  • Preparedness of teachers and TAs.

Rethinking the TA’s role

  • Pupil Premium is built on spending the money leading to outcomes, but that isn’t the case.  It is how and on what you spend it than can cause outcomes to be met.

Effective Deployment of TAs Project

  • Collaborated with 40 teachers and TAs in 10 schools (20 pairs) with the aim to develop and evaluated alternative strategies to TA preparedness, deployment and practice under normal funding.
  • Developed over one academic year, spending one term on each of the three areas.
  • This has become the basis for Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants which has a programme of work that any school can work through and examine how they use TAs.

Conduct an audit

  • Changes cannot be decided until you know what requires change.
  • Decision-makers: make sure you know what you think you know.
  • Obtain objective and subjective pictures of current practice.
  • Opportunity to identify and build on existing good practice.
  • Check out www.schoolsupportstaff.net/mitatools.html

Decisions about deployment

What do you want the role and purpose of TAs to be?  Teaching role and non-teaching roles (admin, SEAL, mobility, class organisation).  This is a collaborative process of challenge and change – not about assessing how effective TAs are.  The problem arise when TA role “drifts” from non-teaching towards teaching.  25% of the school workforce are currently TAs.

Key questions

  • Can/should TAs be as effective as teachers without the same professional development?  Or pay?
  • Should TAs routinely teach pupils with the most demanding SEN?
  • If TAs can be as effective as TAs then teachers should be worried as they cost a lot less!

TAs and Pupils with SEN

What OFSTED are looking for:

Quality of teaching – Inspectors must evaluate the use that is made of TAs.

The Teacher is responsible for progress and development of all pupils.

TAs and Interventions

When TAs lead interventions they often get positive outcomes.  Why does this impact get lost in the terms of wider/annual attainment?  There often seems to be the world of the Classroom and the world of the TA with the pupils having to make the link themselves.  Teachers and TAs need to help them make sense of this.  An interventions health check:

  • Are we using good intervention programmes, are we using good programmes badly?
  • Do we need to update the training?
  • How effective are our reporting mechanisms to teachers?
  • Do teachers engage with interventions and progress data?

Making best use of TAs time

A third of the time teachers are just being part of the classroom audience – that raises questions around value for money.  The TA repeats word-for-word the teachers instructions for a specific child, creating “stereo-teaching” – the child is now trying to listen to two voices instead of one.

Decisions about Practice

Set TAs free from unhelpful patterns of behaviour that underpin less effective types of talk:

  • The impulse to complete tasks
  • Not allowing time for pupils to think and respond
  • Taking peer role of “talk partner”

Teachers use more open ended questions than TAs who used closed questioning.    Need to reflect on forms of questioning that keep responsibility for learning with pupil.  Pupils can become dependent on TA, they can almost not engage with work unless TA does the work for the pupil.  Changing this helps to avoid spoon-feeding and pupils developing independence.

Key Findings

All the schools involved made widespread changes “no going back” to how things were.  Teachers spent more time with pupils with SEN – a professional satisfaction.

  • Teachers made better use of TA time in lessons.
  • TAs questioning improved.
  • Quality and clarity of lesson plans improved; less “going in blind”.
  • TAs feel more valued, appreciated, more confident about role.

 

Questions, Comments, Discussion

  • In your research were TAs more effectively used in Primary than Secondary given they more often stay in 1 classroom?  The research seems to suggest not, but there are greater challenges in secondary schools moving from classroom to classroom, where inconsistency is much more of an issue according to the research.
  • Where were the schools located?  The first study was from England & Wales and representative of the population, e.g. rural v urban.

 

Further reading

  • Reassessing the impact of Teaching Assistants – that’s the research
  • Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants – designed for Head Teachers and Teachers
  • Teaching Assistants: A guide to good practice – download at www.oxfordprimary.co.uk

SEN Conference – Pupil Premium

The third session of the Hampshire County Council SEN Conference was entitled “Pupil Premium” and led by Glynis Wright, County Inspector/Adviser (PDL)

HCC governor services

Outcomes, outcomes, outcomes

What do we want for all of our young people?

To maximise potential, to be self-assured, confident, enthused with great aspirations with life skills prepared for adult life.

Interestingly when we talk with parents they don’t include academic achievement.

The Pupil Premium has been given to this to help resolve this.

FSM, Service Children, CiC, SEN

In each school we will have pupils on FSM, pupils entitled to FSM but parents haven’t completed paperwork.  The news this week about pupils in Infant schools gaining FSM will change this, especially if widened to .

CiC may be worth double funding if they’ve been registered for FSM – £900 for FSM Ever 6 and a claim for being in care for 6 months plus.  Service children can claim £300.  Under Ever3 you can claim for 3 years after the parent(s) have left the forces.  So are you asking the questions that need to be asked.

SEN children some of whom gain additional funding, and some you find funding for from the budget.  If you have Service Children with SEN there is a concern over the delay in getting them assessed – the issue of turbulence contributing.

Who are the vulnerable groups in your schools?

What characteristics might they show?  Traveller families, SEN, CiC, high turbulence, young carers, EAL, BME, boys.  OFSTED will want to know how you’re addressing these issues, and what individual teachers are doing to address these needs.

For those CYP who are vulnerable but as yet gained no funding how can you scoop up and help them benefit from what htey’re putting in place.  218 out of 581 schools responded to Pupil Premium survey – used a small portion of Pupil Premium to better train Teachers and Staff, e.g. in doing 1-2-1 or peer educators – that is how it will be sustainable post 2015 if the funding stops.

Background to Pupil Premium

Introduced in April 2011 for FSM only at £450.  No real pressure on schools, and so an ad-hoc system developed with some schools putting it in general budget.  £623 in 2012.  £900 in 2013 with the proviso of accountability.  Only 47% of HCC Schools have anything on website in March 2013.  Will be £1,300 for Primary only on 1st April 2014.  Josie Matthews at HCC says still no news for Secondary, but £500 catch up for every child who arrives in school with no Level 4+ in English and Maths.

Sutton Trust EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit 2011 “What works”

  1. Effective feedback
  2. Metacognition and self-regulation
  3. Peer tutoring
  4. Early intervention
  5. 1-2-1 tutoring
  6. ICT
  7. Phonics
  8. Parental involvement

Sutton Trust Research 2013

  1. Effective feedback ££ +8mths
  2. Metacognition and self-regulation ££ +8mths
  3. Peer tutoring ££££ +6mths
  4. Early Years interventions £££££ +6mths
  5. 1-2-1 tutoring ££££ +5mths
  6. Homework (secondary) £££ +5mths
  7. Collaborative learning £ +5mths
  8. Phonics £ +4mths

What else

Sometimes schools are too focussed on academic – more of the same that has already failed them.  We need to help unlock their lust ofr learning.  Some of these soft interventions do make a real difference:

  • Breakfast clubs
  • After-school programmes – e.g. ROC challenge, school productions
  • Multi-agency teams in school
  • Parenting support
  • Allocate best teachers to disadvantaged children

Yes you need to show progress but there are other ways of measuring in addition to levels of progress.

OFSTED Report January 2013

Pupil Premium: How schools are spending the funding successfully to maximise achievement is the follow up to the report published in September 2012.  Need to use the Pupil Premium Analysis & Challenge Toolkit for Schools:

  • Governor’s knowledge and awareness
  • Leaders and managers actions
  • Pupil’s progress and attainment

Overall, will governors know and be able to intervene quickly if outcomes are not improving in the way that they want them to?

The Government have been very clever putting the onus on Governors and have parents as sentry’s checking up on this via the info you have to place on your website.

 

SEN Conference – The Local Offer

The second session of the Hampshire County Council SEN Conference was entitled “The Local Offer” and led by Tesni Mason, Parent Partnership Officer.

HCC governor services

Check out www.hampshirelocaloffer.com for more information.

Andre spoke about the need for people to have clear information – not just contact details, but information on how to access services.  The Local Offer is not just for education, but education, health and care, for CYP with SEN and/or disability.

The LA has to publish that information, but also comments on the Local Offer – so it is very transparent system.  In addition they have to publish their response to the comments developing a clear link between commissioning and clients.

The Local Offer is a live set of information which will be reviewed and amended regularly.

Hampshire has worked with the other LA in the SE7 Pathfinder Authorities.  Parents want to compare information to be able to understand the Local Offer.

Regional Principles

  • Co-produced – working with CYP, Parents and Schools to create a sensible way of moving forward together.
  • Holistic – all information has to cover 0-25 – that is a big challenge as most info is 0-16 and 16+.
  • Accessible – partly about the language that is used – much is not new information but information that is hard to find and understand.
  • Factual – only want to know things that are actually there – they want to know aspirations but also what the current situation and service is.
  • Empowering – accessing those services ASAP – important not just for families but also for professionals.
  • Sustainable – get up-to-date, asking schools to help with this.
  • Transparent – much more information about how decisions are made, what eligibility is.
  • Widely available – start with easy access that require no further assessment then moving onto specialist support.

Schools, Social Care, Health, Parents, Adult Services – links to housing, employment etc.  Spent a lot of time developing the guidelines, now putting into practice, in an implementation stage.  Specific groups looking at specific issues – schools, parents, but no governors, services such as Ed Psych, Early Years.

Publishing the Local Offer

Developed a partnership with Parent Voice to deliver and develop the IT for the Local Offer, linked to the Parent Voice and Hampshire Gateway websites.  Hampshire Parent/Carer Network, NHS and others have developed the web site.

Aiming to publish the first version of the offer in January 2013.

Research on Parental Journeys

Research on parental journeys – to understand how parents find information – what works well, what is hard to find, and what the emotional impact of the information is.  Sent out a questionnaire, receiving 117 response, anonymous, and then selected 40 families (5 from each of the 8 Districts, with age 5-22 year old children, and mild, moderate and more complex needs).  Interviewed 31 families, and completing analysis, with report coming in the next few weeks.

Key findings – What Works Well

  • A single point of contact with someone they can talk things through with.
  • Having information prior to appointments – knowing who’s who and what to expect.
  • Effect signposting – often when not eligible they aren’t signposted to an appropriate resource.
  • Shared decision making and being listened to.
  • 80% of parents send they were left to their own devices, trying to find the information, professionals assumed knowledge.
  • Felt some information was hidden – especially around Statementing and Social Care assessment.
  • They felt they had to learn to be pushy – threaten legal action or exaggerate symptoms to be heard.  Conflict could be avoided if greater transparency.

In December develop a prototype of website, publishing in January, and by March a full version of the Local Offer with further info to follow.

What do you need to do?

Questions for schools have come from what parents said they want to know, and link to SEN Information Regulations which state what schools legally have to publish.  Piloted with a number of schools and realised that some questions led ot professional language and are producing guidance which will be finalised by the end of October, with briefings for schools from 11th November.

All schools will produce their own Local Offer including the roles of LA, Schools and Governors.  The LA will produce their guidance on the offer under School Action and School Action + until the Draft Code is published.  Gosport have looked at it as both individual schools and clusters – looking at who else you engage with to support children with SEN and Disability.

How do we do co-production?  Can be a scary idea, but quite simple, invite in a couple of parents to review the questions, some supportive and some who challenge you quite a bit.  That can be quite small and simple.  Then build on that by adding detail to the headings – some further broadening of parental survey.  Important that everyone has some say in that.

Discussion

The Local Offer is what is already done and in the SEN Policy – so surely we’re just creating another document from existing documents.  It is slightly more parent friendly but surely the policy should be written in a better way.  Sharing information of services would be beneficial but that seems like an LA role not local schools.

  • How much freedom in your final Local Offer?  It will need some prescriptive questions as there are some things which are important and we want some
  • When does it have to be done, and who do we submit it to?  Can start doing it now, have to do it by the end of the year.  It can take several drafts.  Working out the quality control, and when publish the guidance that will be included.  Will be circulated to Head Teachers.
  • How do you share across a consortium?  Gosport has devised a shared Local Offer which is then adapted by each individual school.
  • It seems an example of creating more work, and not streamlining a service?  The responsibility of each school is to produce a Local Offer in partnership with parents.
  • But if you’re a mile apart you would end up replicating the same document as the other school as the same services would be there.  Yes but we need to allow individual schools to share their views.
  • Surely one needs a standard document if it is to benefit parents give they’re not the same.  There will be a form, containing guidance, which will provide uniformity.

SEN Conference – Implementing the SEN reforms – the next phase

The first session of the Hampshire County Council SEN Conference was entitled “Implementing the SEN reforms – the next phase” and led by Andre Imich, SEN & Disability Profession Adviser for the DfE.

HCC governor services

£5.9bn spent per year on SEN in Education.  It has undergone little change whilst the rest of public services, education and the voluntary sector has seen much change.  The focus now is less on assessment and more on outcomes.  The Government wanted a review so that people felt listened to and involved in the change.

In 2011 Councils were asked to be pathways which Hampshire and Southampton have tried – it’s been challenging and led to robust dialogue.  Much of the forward agenda is based and supported through pathfinders.  Change has been where possible evidence based.

In February 2013 the Children and Families Bill was published with the hope that it becomes an Act next year.  Since March 2013 published Draft Codes.  The 1996 Education Act is only a spine, it is the Code and Regulations which affect the day-to-day.  Talking to Parliament has been a long and challenging process – it is due in the House of Lords next week, and expecting some debate.  SEN dominates two thirds of the bill, and getting most of the interest in Parliament.

Our Vision

  • Children’s SEN are picked up early and support is routinely pt in place quickly.  //  Change to funding should bring clarity of roles, the more schools are given money the more they can put things in place outside of bureaucratic processes.
  • Staff have knowledge, understanding and skills to provide the right support for CYP who have SEN or are disabled.  //  What makes the difference is what staff do in the day to day work rather than staff in County Hall.
  • Parents know what they can reasonably expect their local school college, LA and local services to provide, without having to fight for it.  //  Focus on parents rights but process has been so complex they haven’t been able to mobilise their rights.
  • Aspirations for CYP is raised through an increased focus on life outcomes.  //  The SEN gap has not narrowed at all which is an issue, children with SEN are 8 more times likely to be bullied, they are more likely to be excluded, more likely to have poor attendance, more likely to be in the NEET population – we need to focus on supporting older young people to get into a productive situation when education drops off the agenda.  We need to focus on the outcomes we are striving for.
  • For more complex needs, an integrated assessment and a single Education, Health and Care Plan from birth to 25.
  • There is greater control for parents and young people over the services they and their family use.

Children and Families Bill 2013 – 7 Key Highlights

1. Involvement of children, young people and parents at the heart of the legislation.

This is a cultural change.  Came out with a Green Paper in 2011 with the vision for the future which was welcomed by many people – mainly because like through a stick of rick parents, children and young people were the focus.  With the Bill it was clear this had become lost – this is hard to write into statutory language.  People obey law without grace – they do it because they have to.  But we want to see the way we interact with families and they interact with us.  We all have room for change on this front.  Also tried to include parents at the heart of other parts of the agenda, e.g. Local Offer requires CYP and parental involvement by law.  At school level we want to see reviews to be genuinely personal, involving parents and CYP in the policy and new approaches, e.g. the new National Curriculum.

2. More co-ordinated assessment process; new 0-25 Education, Health and Care Plan

The system works but it is clunky, mechanistic approach that is not really about the individual, but a group of professionals writing a report which the LA Officer has to make sense of, write to the family and the family write to the LA.  These are challenging children which challenges the views of professionals – we need much better sharing and dialogue.  We need discussion of provision for outcomes – practices that actually work – it’s too easy to recommend x, y, or z because that’s what we’ve always done without thinking about how it helps the child’s learning.

Assessment and Planning

31 LAs working as Pathfinders – each allowed to do it how they want which led to diverse ways of doing.

  • We need to see assessment as genuine reviews that are person-centred.
  • A “tell us once” approach to sharing information – many families complain about having to say their story several times – this is idealistic but we can certainly improve.
  • CYP and families at centre; involved in making decisions throughout – amazing how often the child’s voice is not heard in the statement or the professional advice.
  • Effective co-ordination between education, health and care services – we’ve not got there yet – something we need to continue to work on.
  • Practitioners engaged and committed to single assessment and planning – it’s often quite easy to change parental ways of working but practitioners still struggle to change, e.g. writing about child’s views.
  • Key-working approaches to provide a single point of contact – working with families with most complex needs, warmly welcomed by families, very good in early years but problems with rules and laws in school system mean it hasn’t worked their properly.  Having someone dedicated to them to help them work through the system.

EHCPs – different from statements.

  • Personal centred, focussed on outcomes, specific about provision – some examples are first person as though written by the young person.
  • Clear, concise, readable and accessible.
  • Fulfill statutory duties and support portability across areas.
  • Support preparation for key transition points.

3. LA, health and care services to commission services jointly re: SEN & disabilities.

  • New duty for health to work together with education and care to provide and arrange local services for CYP who have SEN.
  • Amendment to Bill (March 2013): a legal duty on Clinical Commissioning Groups to secure the health services that are specified in EHC Plans.  //  A duty for the individual child.

 

4. LAs to publish a clear, transparent local offer of services for all CYP with SEN

  • Fantastic bits of work in LAs and voluntary sector but often not clear what services are available and how to access them.
  • The LA will be statutory required to work with local families and parents to develop the local offer.
  • Every school, health and care service is under a statutory obligation to co-operate and share with the LA.

5. New statutory protections for young people aged 16-25; stronger focus on preparing for adulthood.

School system of statements, School Action and School Action +, and a system called Learning Difficulty Assessments for those in College and FE.  Not much in common between the two systems so creating a single system, bringing in statutory protection and rights for 16-25 year olds.  Young people will be allowed to appeal to tribunal for the first time.

In terms of definition:

  • Children is 0-16 – up to statutory leaving age which is still 16 years old.
  • A young person is those aged 17+.  Their rights are invested in themselves not their parents, e.g. correspondence will be directed to them, discussion primarily with them, the only party who can appeal to the tribunal unless the YP lacks capacity – which is a legal minefield.

6. Offer of a personal budget for families and young people with a Plan, extending choice ad control over their support.

At the end of the plan will be a list of costs/resources that are required – which will sometimes include additional support beyond what is normally available within education.  It is an area of controversy.

This is an optional thing – not many families actually want to take it up – not really about money or purchasing equipment, but about the personalisation of their programme – having a greater degree of control over the provision.

7. All SEN duties to apply equally to all schools, incl. Academies and Free Schools

Parents and children should see no difference in treatment regardless of schools.

 

Further Key Developments.

School Governing Bodies 

Must ensure there is a qualified teacher designated as a SENCo.  In a Free School, only 1 teacher by law has to be qualified – the SENCo – that is how important the SEN agenda is.

Publication of information changing from 17 to publish on their website about the implementation of the Governing Body’s policy for pupils with SEN, must be updated annually, the information required to be set out in regs.

 

SEN Support

  • In accurate identification of School Action and School Action +.  Now having a single category of SEN Support – refocus on genuine SEN that require additional support.
  • 1.25mn children are on School Action and School Action + so need a large-scale review.

 

BESD – Behaviour and Emotional Support Difficulties

  • 52% of respondents judged the current category as a catch all and focussed on poor behaviour.
  • The new Code will have a redefined category.

 

The new (0-25) SEN Code of Practice

  • The new SEN Code will be a draft for consultation.
  • It will be a single piece of statutory guidance to replace the current Code of Practice, the Learning Difficulties Assessment guidance and the DfE’s Inclusive Schooling guidance.
  • It will cover 0-25.
  • Everyone has to have regard to it – you must do what is in the Code of Practice unless you can demonstrate a reason for doing it a different way that is equally as good or better.

Implications for Governors of schools and colleges

  • New Code of Practice will be in place for Sept 2014 – the final code will come in April or May following Parliament.
  • Reinforced role of SENCo
  • Application of Additional SEN Support Category
  • Putting parents and children at the heart of the system
  • Greater clarity about what school/college provides – clearer info published on each school/college’s website.
  • Work with LA on local offer
  • Working with Education, Health and Care Plans – used instead of Statements, will look different, more person centered which affects Annual Reviews.
  • Improved transition planning and arrangements.
  • Support families in using personal budgets.
  • Outcomes / outcomes / outcomes

 

Timetable for Reform

  • 2013 – improved Bill in Parliament
  • Spring 2014 – Royal Assent
  • September 2014 – reforms go live (meeting original green paper commitment).

 

There will be a graduated transition over a 3 year period, with the LA responsible for planning that.  All new assessments from September 2014 will be done the new way.  LAs can start doing it this way now, there are no barriers or legal issues with doing it this way.

Change of School Action to SEN Support could be done in 1 term due to the termly review all pupils have.

 

Questions, Comments, Discussion

  1. In terms of the practitioners being involved in the assessment – how often – and who will be reviewing it to ensure the outcomes are met?  The day-to-day level will be managed by the school, and school governors have a duty to ensure that it is done.  Requirement for an annual (at least) review, and requirements on professionals to co-operate so should see much healthier reviews.  Schools will be co-ordinating the reviews, not the LA.  Schools have always had to manage their process – it is some of the services who will feel the pressure.
  2. How will parents be informed about the changes, and how iwll they be advised to implement the budget to gain the outcomes?  Worked with lots of voluntary organisations who will communicate alongside government.  Will have a Code of Practice for CYP and Parents.  Since the last Code of Practice Parent-Carer Forums have come into play.  Hope published info on local offer will also help.  The LA have to provide support from trained people if parents wish to take the budget up.
  3. Multi-agency work seems to be lowering with a focus instead on SENCo and Schools.  Schools don’t want to exclude children but feel they’ve done all they could and their is a limit of services.  The Local Commissioning Groups, should identify gaps of provision and increase the provision over a number of years.  Not an overnight formula, but should work at the general level of local provision and also individual children.
  4. What support is their for CYP and Parents who don’t have the capacity to engage with the process?  Who will help them?  Parent-Partnership services have held their hands through the progress, there will be an announcement on the theory of key-workers – that needs targeted to the families who you refer to.  We genuinely believe there isn’t a parent out there who doesn’t want the best for their child.  Unlike CAF key workers there will be greater support for these, and will be funded.
  5. Can parents still request an assessment?  Yes, wasn’t clear in the original guidance, made clearer.
  6. All very well, but if professionals not in place how will it work, e.g. physiotherapists and speech therapists aren’t accessible currently.  The market will need to develop and will take time, but sometimes we provide services, e.g. TAs without thinking how to get the best value, rather than using evidence based assessment.  Some children now who are seen as requiring therapy who probably need better support in classrooms.  There will always be issues of quantity and supply, most schools want Educational Psychology time, they’re willing to pay for it but it is still difficult to gain it.  Schools will choose how they spend their money.
  7. Work within Health, hear what you’re saying, want to get into schools, but more cutbacks coming which will challenge it, Commissioners need to talk with Education to resolve this.  The Duty on Health will help this, and CCG’s will have to react.  There are 212 CCGs compared with 252 LAs which will lead to some challenges.
  8. Secondary Governor, in one of the most deprived areas in the country, the concept of trialling for after 16s is critical – we need more apprenticeships – it is only up to firms good will.  Put in place supported internship, expect employers to take on apprentices as per Disability Discrimination Act.  They may require longer time at school to develop basic skills such as literacy, which will have flexibility, especially in the 16-19 Agenda.  One fifth of schools are secondary in the country.
  9. Do parents have a duty to undertake an assessment, do parents have the right to stop an assessment going ahead.  They have the right to voice an opinion if it is requested by the school.  The LA then has to make a decision on whether or not to proceed.  They can proceed without parental permission.  However, it is a long-time since when an LA has done this given the assessments own’t work without parental support.  The LA find that time works – time to dialogue and reach a consensus.
  10. Little confidence that health would engage financially – what power would a key worker have to bring health to the table, and what financial incentive is there for health?  Key workers don’t have powers, they are there to support parents.  DOn’t underestimate the challenge but driven it through the legal framework, so it will happen.  On a general level there are struggles.  There is no funding, but they have t reflect on their priorities – SEN CYP are one of the few groups that have a legal standing as a priority for health care services.