Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Reviews (From the Teaching Schools Council)
Meeting the needs of children and young people with special educational needs is the responsibility of all school leaders whatever the setting. The School Inspection Handbook makes this very clear and as part of any inspection, inspectors will consider the progress of disabled pupils and those with special educational needs in relation to the progress of all pupils nationally with similar starting points.
To support schools the London Leadership Strategy (which was originally part of London Challenge), worked with schools, parents and the third sector to develop an SEND Review similar in approach and format to the Pupil Premium Review. David Bartram, Director of SEN at the London Leadership Strategy has lead a team to develop a SEND Review template which schools can use to ensure their SEND provision effectively supports school leaders to ensure they are effectively meeting the needs of their vulnerable learners whatever their setting. The team has included a member of the Teaching School Council.
The reviews will be for all phases and settings and their purpose is to help ensure all children and young people, reach their potential and achieve the skills and qualifications that they need for successful transition, further education and employment.
What is a SEND Review?
All schools will shortly receive a free copy of the SEND Review Guidance and SEND Review Template. Schools can use this to review their own provision.
Some schools may wish to commission a Review from another school and Teaching Schools may want to consider offering Reviews as part of their range of programmes.
Any school is able to commission a SEND review in order to evaluate the effectiveness of its provision for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities. A SEND review should help to ensure that all children, in all educational settings, reach their potential and achieve the skills and qualifications that they need for successful transition, further education and employment.
The review process normally takes 2-3 days. This includes the preparatory work before going into the school, the time needed to collected evidence during the school visit, and the report writing and feedback that takes place after the review. Many schools will establish an ongoing relationship with their reviewer who can provide follow-up support and advice. The timescale for a review would normally be 2-3 weeks from preparation to reporting. Follow-up visits may vary from intensive weekly visits to visits spread across the academic year.
Special schools, AP providers or specialist provisions may want to have a focus within the eight principles outlined in the document to inform the evaluation of the provision’s effectiveness. The review is expected to take place within the same process and timescale.
What are the benefits of commissioning a SEND review from a system leader?
Commissioning a SEND review from a system leader means that both the ‘supporting’ and ‘supported’ school benefit from working together. The school receiving the review benefits from an experienced practitioner with knowledge and expertise in SEND who as a track record of improving outcomes for children with additional needs. Reviewers, including National Leaders of Education (NLEs) and Specialist Leaders of Education (SLEs), also benefit from the process; they gain experience of schools in different contexts and settings and often learn a great deal from the schools that they work with. It is a rewarding and enriching experience that supports professional development, develops knowledge and inspires new ideas and ways of working. As a result, the opportunity to engage in such work can also offer a powerful retention strategy for schools involved.
School-to-school SEND reviews also offer real opportunities for special schools and mainstream schools to learn from each other. If they are to collaborate effectively, then a planned, meaningful and trusted partnership is essential.
Reviews can be commissioned for a variety of reasons including:
• Raising attainment and improving progress.
• Improving the quality of provision for pupils with SEND.
• To support effective implementation of the SEND reforms
• Reviewing the quality of inclusive practice at a school.
• Increasing attendance and reducing exclusions.
• Gaining a better understanding of the well-being for pupils with additional needs.
• Identifying SEND as an area for development through self-evaluation.
• Wanting a fresh perspective on provision from an experienced system leader.
• Significant change in the demographic of the SEND population in the school.
• A change in leadership and management at the school.
• External validation of a school’s evaluation of its SEND provision.
Better Together Teaching School Alliance are able to lead this service for any school who wishes to commission this.