Podcast Ep 5: The Future of SEND

February 27, 2020 Arun Bharij

How do we put the child at the centre of all we do? How do we effectively involve parents in decisions about their child? What innovative solutions provide improved outcomes? Andy Mellor (National Immediate Past President, NAHT) chairs this inspirational panel discussion on the future of SEND. On the stage with him, Amanda Richardson (MBE, CEO, Action Cerebral Palsy), Professor Adam Boddison (CEO, nasen), Morten Jacobsen (Teacher & Technology Scout, Skolen ved Nordens Plad). This panel discussion was recorded live on 14 November 2019, in the Main Stage of the Schools & Academies Show at the NEC in Birmingham.

Listen On
Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify

 

Transcript

Andy Mellor
00:27

Start with what I'd really like to do is to thank our panel for joining us this afternoon. Some of whom actually come quite a long way. And but before I say anymore, I'm just gonna wait around and ask our panelists to introduce themselves. Tell us a little bit about themselves and what drives them.

Amanda Richardson MBE
00:47

I'm Amanda Richardson. My background is in teaching primarily teaching children with complex needs. And I have had what I consider a fantastic career in teaching I have loved every minute of it, it inspires me. And the some of the families and the children that I've worked with over the years have taught me so much. I'm always sort of feeling that children, the children with SEND and their families always sort of on a back leg. And so my role as a current role as Chief Executive of Action Cerebral Palsy, I'm trying to look at how we can really represent not just children with cerebral palsy, but all of those children that have those really significant, complex needs that are often not understood by the profession, not just the profession, but out there and in the community as well. So I'm very pleased and proud to be here and looking forward to our discussion.

Andy Mellor
01:52

Adam.

Professor Adam Boddison
01:53

Good afternoon, everybody. My name is Adam Boddison, Chief Executive of nasenm and that's National Association for Special Educational Needs and also chair of the Whole School SEND Consortium. If you don't know what that is, that's the group of organisations, which is delivering the the government's workforce development strategy at the moment on a very tight budget. But hopefully we're punching well above our weight with the limited results we've got. In terms of my background, I started life as a secondary school math teacher, which was quite interesting because I then ended up teaching in primary schools, which was a real learning curve going from teaching sixth form to teach in year one with with zero training. I also got a background in teacher training and education research, but the thing I suppose that drives me is that whatever setting that I've been at been involved with it's youngsters with SEN that often end up being the focus of the discussion. And there are two principles that I've kind of come to realise the first is when we get it right, for youngsters with SEN that's often good practice for all youngsters. And so remember, as you know, when I was planning lessons what I used to do was plan my lesson and then think, how do I make it work for those with SEN? And I'll do it completely the other way around. I look at all the individual needs that I've got. And I start with that. And usually what I end up with is something that works for everybody. So that's the first thing. The second thing is, I think, nasen is an organisation that really stands up for professionals and those working in the sector. And I think sometimes as professionals, we get a bit of a bad press. You know, you hear about what's happening and the challenges on the workforce. But there's one thing I've realised is that I've never met anybody who gets up in the morning working in a sector and says, today I'm going to give a bad deal for youngsters with SEND. Sometimes things don't go to plan. And you know, there's all kinds of challenges in the system, but that's not because of the people. And so for me, I just want to make sure I'm a voice for those people and speaking up for them whenever I can.

Morten Jacobsen
03:54

Thanks for having me. My name is Morten and I come all the way from Denmark. I work at a school for children with special needs in Copenhagen. And I'm a dedicated teacher and I've been working there for the past 10 years. And actually my job title just shifted yesterday. I had one yesterday but I found out what all the presentations that you have you use so many acronyms here in the UK. So I had to come up with a new one yesterday I learned about SEND now SEND, there's MATH, ITT, CPD, SKAE, SENCO, HQT and so on and so on. So I guess my new title is actually pepped TECHO, which translated means that my pedagogical technical coach, and that means that I teach my students how to use new technology. I teach them how to code and so on. And I also try to teach my colleagues to use technology with older students. And the school I work at is a pretty big special school in Copenhagen. We have almost 200 students. A lot of students with ASD, and we have students with severe learning disabilities, and also students with social emotional issues. So they have a lot of difficulties. But what they all have in common is that same passion for using technology, and actually pretty good at it. So I try to take that into account when I plan the teaching. And in my everyday job, my focus is on to plan, some teaching that take into account all the students individual needs. At my school, we practice what we call mentalisation based teaching, which basically means that instead of focusing on the students behavior, we read, we try to look beyond that behavior and see what causes that. And if we do that, if we're curious, we can actually teach those students in quite large groups, but we need to be curious. And I think the problem in the regular primary and secondary schools in Denmark are that the teachers are so stressed, so they just look at the top of the iceberg. They just look at the students behavior, and they're not curious about what causes that behavior. I think that's one of the main issues. My other focuses naturally on how I can use technology. And for me, it's not so much about what we in Denmark refer to as welfare technology, but more about how can we use everyday consumer technology. To help those students. We focus a lot about robotics and how we can use that about virtual reality, and also about how can we use the students smartphones to assist them in their everyday school life. I think when we give them some specialised ICT solutions, that's great as long as they're in school, but they don't want to use it at home, because they just want to be like the normal friends. So they need to use the technology that everybody else is using. So for instance, instead of having specialised structure apps that we use, we just use Google Calendar. And then we just use emojis instead of boardmaker, or picture selector, or whatever you can use. So that's also my focus.

Andy Mellor
06:56

Thank you very much. Now there's been a theme throughout the day, the word beginning with F, its funding. And it's been through every single panel that we've had. And the first question I'm going to ask is, is around funding. So I recognize more than you might find this difficult in terms of being in Denmark, but it would be intereting to see what the funding levels are like, comparatively, how did how do schools fully meet the needs of send pupils when budgets have been cut so heavily?

Amanda Richardson MBE
07:30

I think that is a challenge. And I have been, I have, you know, in communication with my colleagues across all types of schools, that funding is a is an issue. I know that one of the big worries for many serving teachers is getting the right health at the right time. For pupils whether or not they they have any HCP or they're not at that stage yet. And so the sort of concept of early intervention is one that is key. But if you going to get it right for individual pupils, that early intervention needs to be very targeted by people who really know what, you know, understand the nature of those needs. And I do feel that to be able to if we're going to be using what limited funding there is available to to schools, to enable head and school leaders to have have direct access to that funding and targeted by collaborating with experts that already there in their community, whether that is collaborating between academies, other schools, special schools, pupil referral units, whether there's a sense that we can bring together teams of experts who have the ability to really assess the needs of those pupils accurately. You number one, number two is to get intervention in quickly sought it, or if necessary, refer on but do it quickly. Pupils are waiting too long to get support, whether that's a an issue about the different agencies working together or funding through NHS agencies or educational agencies, local authorities, there is too long wait for that first important assessment of need.

Professor Adam Boddison
09:31

I'd agree with all of that. I think it's really interesting. If I take a step back, and think about how we fund our overall education system. I think it's really interesting that if you look at early years, on a kind of per pupil per head basis, they received the least amount of funding and then gradually as you go through the system, the amount per head increases, I would put FE as a bit of Further Education for your benefits. Further Education is a bit of an exception to that. And I think that's really interesting because actually, if We get, you know, to build on your points around timely intervention, if we get it right, in the early years with early identification, that there's an argument to say that by investing there, you would save a lot of money later on, because by the time we're picking some of the problems, you know, the the challenges are, it's, you know, youngsters who are aged 12-13, sometimes, actually, no matter what resource we put in, it's going to be a really hard challenge to get some of these answers back on track through no fault of their own, and through no fault of the professionals, actually, because they're working within the resources they've got. So I'd advocate actually doing it the other way round. I don't mean, by the way, reducing funding later in the system, but I mean, increasing the amount of funding so that you end up having something which starts larger and kind of tails off, if you like. So I think that would make a difference. The second point I'd make and I made this earlier on in my talk, was that if we're going to put more money into the system, which I think we all agree it needs more funding. We've got to be clear about where we're going to put it that's going to make a difference and I'm not sure at the moment that everybody who's responsible for spending that money knows definitely the areas that have the most impact. And I'll give you an example of that. If you think about pupil premium, every board of governors in the country, if I asked them about people premium would be able to tell me how many instance there are on people premium in their school, how much money spent on what the interventions are and what the impact is because they get a report that tells them that every year, which means it's in the minds of school leaders, as well as Board of Governors, do we do that same thing for say, how we spend the SEND notional budget? Well, first of all, there's an arguments about whether it exists or not. And then once you get past all of that the answer in general is no. So I think, yes, more money, but we've got to be making sure that we're putting that money into the right places to make sure it can make a difference.

Andy Mellor
11:47

Absolutely. And you do have cost pressures, funding pressures in Denmark?

Morten Jacobsen
11:51

It's almost the same in Denmark, but I think it's not so much about how much money we get. But as you said, how we spend it and I think there's a tendency that we always talk about how much time a certain teacher should have in class or how many teachers or singles, there should be in each class, I think is more about which skills should they have? Because the more skills you provide them is, the easier it is for them to cope with more than one SEND students. So instead of talking about time, I think we should talk more about the education and the cases of sinkholes and also just teachers in general. Yeah, I mean, Denmark, for instance, when you study to become a teacher, it's not mandatory to learn anything about how you handle students would SEND. And I mean, maybe that was okay 10 years ago, because we didn't have that many students would SEND in the regular classes. But if I look at my daughter's class, he's 11. There's that's a normal class in a regular school. There's one student with ASD, there's two students that suffers from anxiety that is one highly functioning, and there's one with ADHD and then there's the rest. And that's one teacher and she don't know what to do because you doesn't have the tools. Nobody told her that when she started to become a teacher and I think that's a huge problem, at least in Denmark.

Andy Mellor
13:08

Yeah, we were very fortunate in back home in Blackpool with our teaching school. We, we have a module on, SEND within teach training, we've got a mental health module. And I think that genuinely provides our teachers, new teachers with a really good grounding. I guess the bigger question is, how do we convince and how do we train all our teachers in the profession, whether they be primary teachers, or secondary specialist teachers? How do we how do we train them all to be teachers, children with SEND?

Amanda Richardson MBE
13:40

And my view is that it's impossible for us all to be experts in SEND. There are already experts out there. But I do think what would help perhaps, is for us to be as a profession, to be more have a better understanding of child psychology, child development, adolescent development, know the basics, know, the triggers, things that we should be looking for the indicators and some of the things that would raise concerns. And I do feel we put perhaps too much pressure on the classroom teacher to be an expert. It's impossible what and not only that, but of course, in reality, it is often the teaching assistant, that is the one that spends the most time with the children with with special educational needs. And I do question whether perhaps we need to look at the skill sets of those people who, who often spend the most time with with children with SEND in school. So it's a it's a team effort.

Professor Adam Boddison
14:55

I think it's a really interesting point you make there because what you're saying is that if you like you're putting the least qualified part of the workforce with the most complex, young people. And that's a real challenge. And I don't mean that in a disrespectful way to teaching assistants because I think that they're very, very good job. But I think it's very challenging for them in that circumstance. I think the point I'd make around workforce development is I came into the sphere of SEND in a formal sense four years ago, with a relatively low base of knowledge. I still think I have a relatively low base of knowledge. And I'm always suspicious of people who say they're experts. I'm not convinced actually are any experts out there because it's so complex, it's worlds within worlds, you know, if you just take, just take autism in its own right, you know that one of the first lessons I learned in enjoyed in the world of SEN was actually Adam, if you've met one child with autism, you've met one child with autism. And that's kind of stuck with me. I think that's actually true, probably all said and actually, you know, these are individual children and in some ways, the labels are helpful in some ways because it helps to kind of articulate some of the kind of commonalities but unhelpful in many ways as well because it brings with it lots of misconceptions and and fear is one thing I've learned and this is from professionals and people outside the sector, people are really afraid of getting it wrong. I've seen it with Ofsted inspectors sometimes rather than ask the question when they're coming in about a certain type of provision, they'd rather steer clear of it for fear of causing offence to somebody or making a mistake. And I think we do a great disservice to our young people. I remember when I was growing up as a young person, my parents always said to me, if we saw someone with a disability in the street, don't stare, you know, because they said something was impolite for me to do that. I remember going to a theater performance in North Wales, and it was there was a disabled person acting in the play. And it was the first time I was almost if you like, given permission to actually look at somebody properly with a disability. And it was a real moment and actually I'm making a slightly different point now about actually the arts. Because the arts for me is a great way in, often across the piece in terms of how we get proper inclusion in our sector. So I've kind of gone off on a bit of a tangent there, my apologies. But yeah, hopefully the point was clear.

Morten Jacobsen
17:20

I agree with you Amanda, about the teacher's assistants. That's what I meant earlier, when I said the SENCOs I just get all the acronyms wrong, but I meant the teacher's assistants. And I think if you look at the Danish system, and when I talked about how it's not mandatory to learn about how to teach children with special needs, I think it should be mandatory when when you go to a teacher's college in Denmark, for instance, it should be mandatory to do an internship at a school for children with special needs because, I mean, you can have some kind of professor who's, who's teaching you about SEN. But if he hasn't taught SEND students for the past 10 years, he doesn't know actually what works, I think, really know how what works. I exceeded the teachers that works every day, which sends students and especially at this at the special schools. So I think it should be mandatory to go to special schools and get the tools there, and then use it. And I think when you talk about I think it's great that you have TAs. And I think I think it's great that they can assist the students. But I think it's also important to look at the overall goal for the students because it's great that we can assist them all the way through their primary and secondary school. We also do that in Denmark, that's great. But we don't make them independent. So when we ship them off to college, or university or whatever, we don't give them any tools because they're used to us assisting them and then we just give them nothing. It's like if you have a student that's in a wheelchair, I mean, you can train him to walk all his school life and then when he goes out the door, you just take the wheelchair away from him and say good luck. So I think it's important that the TAs they learn how to provide the students with the tools that they can use on their own when they go on with the life.

Professor Adam Boddison
18:59

A just wants it comment on something you said there, which I thought was really interesting. So this idea about everybody having an experience in a special school actually think both ways we need more migration, if that's the right word between our special schools and our mainstream schools, I don't actually don't even like saying that I like to think of it as one continuum of provision. But it's really interesting, I sometimes help schools support him with leadership recruitment. And it's happened to more than one occasion, where I've been the most recent one was in a special school, and they were appointing a new head teacher. And it got down to the last two candidates. And they had a choice between a very experienced head teacher from a mainstream background wanting to move into special or they had a relatively inexperienced deputy head but was very experienced with the special schools background. And basically, the comment was from the board, well, we couldn't possibly take someone from mainstream because they don't understand our kids. And I've seen it the other way around as well. And for me, that's indicative of a problem where we don't have enough movements across the spectrum all the way through the system because if we had that, it would spread the expertise executives you're talking about right across the system. Because when you look at youngsters with EHC plans, 50% of them are in special schools, but 50% are not mainstream schools as well at the moment.

Morten Jacobsen
20:10

I think it also has to do with promotion. If I look at my school, we have in our municipality, we have, I think, 10 regular schools and one special school. And five years ago, nobody took us seriously. And nobody even knew about the work that was going on in our school. But because of some of our technology based projects, we have had a lot of the present a lot of reports in the media and we won some prizes. And we are involved in a lot of new projects with the normal regular schools. And suddenly now the politicians look at our school and see that they can actually benefit from the work that we do, and especially in schools and actually use it in regular schools, but we need to promote it at special schools. We need to we need to think that we're also doing something that is great and we can also we can also give that to the regular schools.

Amanda Richardson MBE
21:00

I've spent a lot of my career working in special schools and and working with children that are both moving between special schools and mainstream schools. And I actually feel one thing that we could perhaps learn from our special school colleagues is the importance of meticulous planning. Having that goal insight, what is the goal, the goal is independence, participate, full participation, you know, making sure that those youngsters not only thrive within the school, but can thrive with outside of the school and their community as well. And so I do think that in order for that to work, that the planning has to be absolutely meticulous. And that's where you, you think ahead about the solutions focus. Basically, you're thinking ahead about those issues that are going to confront the child and the people within the school but also during those periods of transition between schools and whether or not there is some way in which we can be very creative in that in the experiences and opportunities, we offer those children who may do well within a special school environment purely because of the smaller group sizes, perhaps the specific expertise that might be available, but also whether there's more collaboration we can do with mainstream partners.

Professor Adam Boddison
22:22

So the goal isn't to get a really good progress 8 score then?

Andy Mellor
22:27

I'm really interested. I'm really interested in hearing you talk about creative ways of meeting the needs of our youngsters and particularly youngsters in with SEND how I don't know you Morten did quite a lot of work with with technology. Can you tell us a little bit about your experience in terms of the technology work within the way to support youngsters with SEND?

Morten Jacobsen
22:54

I think it's all about instead of just focusing on the on the end goal, focus on what's the best way to get to that goal for each individual student at least at my school, we found out that if we use technology instead of just regular analog teaching, we can we can actually get those students to work. So i think it' important to identify the goal, and then not focus on the goal but say, okay, if we want to reach this goal, we can reach it this way, or this way, or this way, and then find the best way for each individual student. Last year colleague and I, we did a presentation at the education show in London about a method we invented called the 'I work schedule'. And the reason why we call it that is because every time it's something, I people think of an Apple product and think, Oh, this is great. But it's all about that if you work with some kind of a topic instead of saying, okay, now you have to solve this assignment and this assignment and this assignment. It's about okay, this is what you're going to learn and you can learn it this way or this way or this way. Then choose for yourself. And if you use that method, also in the regular school, All students can learn that way, because it's all about motivation. So that doesn't exclude the SEND student, it just makes them work on the same terms terms as the rest of the students. And I think it's the same with technology that if we use technology, suddenly a lot of our students, especially the one with ASD, they actually better than the regular students, because they have like a special interest in use of technology. And I think we should benefit from that. But then again, we should also always have focus on what are the needs, and what are we going to learn and how are we going to use technology to learn that?

Andy Mellor
24:33

Yeah, absolutely.

Professor Adam Boddison
24:35

It's really interesting, so nice, and we've been working on a project called gaming for good. So let me say something about that. So the concept is this when you hear about gaming in the press, and I think there's actually been a national center for gaming addiction set up recently by the NHS, and it gives you an idea, it's usually about something bad Isn't it too much screen time. Usually these games which are, you know, inappropriate and bad language and inappropiate behaviors and so on. But what you don't hear so often about the elements of gaming, which are actually being used in a therapeutic way. So I gave a couple of examples. After the Manchester arena, bombing attacks, virtual reality was used to help some of the victims revisit the scene without having to physically be there. So they could actually be in a room with a counselor to help them get over some of that. Some of the games which have a very social elements, which is sometimes what we hear about in the press, I've heard of youngsters with autism who have particular issues around being social in the playground situation and so on. Actually using that as almost a dry run for some of the conversations they want to have seen how people react, then using that, so almost influence what they might do when they do it for real the next day. Now, we don't hear about all of that stuff. And and I think we need to shift to a position which is rather than saying, well, this technology's okay, and this technology is bad. Actually, all technology could be good or bad, depending on how it's used. And it's what's your point, really, let's focus on making sure that we rather than just ban it actually, how do we harness the potential of that technology for good

Morten Jacobsen
26:08

We have a project going on at the moment where we use Minecraft to train social skills with the students. And I think it's one of the only activities in school where we can gather 20 or 30 students from the different from different parts of the schools, both with ASD and Down Syndrome and social emotional issues, they can all work together. And there's actually only one teacher with them. That's the only activity and that's because we use something that they're so motivated for. And then we put some social goals in it and actually achieve a lot by using that.

Amanda Richardson MBE
26:42

I absolutely agree with all of that. And I do know, particularly with some of the young people I have worked with that actually, the online gaming community is is an essential part of their well being because actually, as a member of that community, nobody knows that you're in a wheel chair. Nobody knows that you are nonverbal. But you are on equal member of that of that community and you can offer your your skills and talents.

Professor Adam Boddison
27:09

You're so right. It's really interesting. My son plays FIFA and it's really interesting because he found out the other day that one of the people he plays against is actually someone with a physical disability, who I know just when they were chatting online, and they realised that actually the reason he really enjoys playing FIFA is exactly the point you make Amanda which is he's an equal on the in the sports match in a way that he finds really, really difficult in the day to day reality. And the fact that it was two years before my sudden realise this, I think, you know, it's a testament to that really

Andy Mellor
27:42

Fabulous, thank you for that. Now we're going to open it up. You've waited patiently to ask questions, and there is a hand up.

Audience Member 1
27:59

Hi, I am moved from FE into secondary education. In FE, I use technology a lot the students own technology, the phones that they brought with them the tablets to engage them in learning. And it always worked with disadvantaged students. They even had the most basic of smartphones. And then to go into secondary education, where they're not allowed under any circumstances to get their phone out or embrace technology that they would have at home in any way. And so my question, I suppose, is, how when schools don't have funding, can we exploit it in a positive way their own use of technology in the classroom?

Andy Mellor
28:41

Using their own device?

Audience Member 1
28:42

Yeah, using their own devices, because, yeah, behaviour policies don't allow them but it's the easiest way in my opinion, to answer that lack of funding. And kind of what technology is out there to make sure they're like won't be on Facebook or anything else inappropriate.

Morten Jacobsen
29:01

It all has to do with the teachers and the schools mindset about trying to use new technology. And it's funny because when you talk about training social skills, we all know what that is about. That's about how we talk to each other. How do we look to look at each other? What do we do when we argue and so on. But training social skills today for the young people is actually to teach them how to behave on social media, on the phones and so on. And that should be enough to say that we should include those kind of technologies in include in in the education but I think.

Audience Member 1
29:34

Yeah, somebody mentioned earlier that digital skills should be embedded in every subject the same as English and Maths. But how can you do that? If you say, do not get your phone out, you know, you will face the consequences. If you do, how do you get around that.

Morten Jacobsen
29:49

You need to convince the teachers that they could actually benefit from using that and that I think that's the difference.

Audience Member 1
29:55

I see the benefit in using it because my experience and the way that I've gone through the sectors but I don't think it's seen in any secondary school as a positive thing to bring in technology.

Professor Adam Boddison
30:08

Do you know it's really interesting because I often when it comes to these kind of cultural questions, which I think is what you're asking about, I think it comes from the top. Right. So you got to think about the way our school leaders are, are held accountable by government and, and so on. And there's an element there of distrust in my opinion, which is, the automatic assumption is if we don't keep an eye on what you're doing, you might do something which we don't like. So therefore, we're kind of going to, you know, keep an eye and I think that goes all the way through the system right down to youngsters. My view would be that if school leaders and teachers were given the freedom to do it the way they want to do it, and we're trusted as professionals, we probably wouldn't have the issue that you're talking about.

Andy Mellor
30:55

Yeah, I have to say I've come very nearly come to blows with Nick Gibb on several occasions. Every time there's something about use of mobile devices, he'll say they should be locked away and they shouldn't be used. And I'll always defend the rights of schools to make that decision for themselves. Because to ban them for every school means that there are some schools, you've got good procedures in place, which allow them to be used safely. And it's about any other type of risk. You wouldn't ban children crossing the road, just because it's a risk. It's about how you use it sensibly, isn't it?

Amanda Richardson MBE
31:28

Sorry, I agree with all of that. And I think it's all about what's the goal? What's the goal of it? What are you trying to achieve? And, you know, it's part and parcel of teaching and learning now, so it's not, you know, it's about making sure that we're doing it in a way that has relevance for the curriculum and learning teaching and learning.

Morten Jacobsen
31:48

I think one place to start could be with the SENCOs because, I mean, one thing they is that they can coach about pedagogics and so on, but but if they could also have some kind of technical skills and about how you could use technology in a pedagogical way, then maybe they can teach the teachers and, and convince them actually to use it. So maybe that's the place to start. Give them some more technical knowledge.

Professor Adam Boddison
32:11

We'll have to make sure we have more SENCO time to be able to do that, if I may say so. I mean, we did a survey last year of SENCOs, and it showed the three quarters of SENCOs feel they don't have enough time to meet the needs of children with SEND, you know, that gives you an idea that as soon as they're spending all their time on paperwork at the moment. Yeah. So yes, I agree with the sentiment. But I think there are some practical considerations.

Andy Mellor
32:33

Yeah, I think I think there's enough technical out there in terms of technical support for schools, but you can actually block particular websites so that the kids can actually use their devices. It may well be that they come across another website that you haven't thought of, because there's so much out there since

Audience Member 1
32:51

The gap that they were saying that there's going to be in a future for the digital literate employees. If we are telling them don't use technology then how are they not going to view technology negatively? Yeah. moving forward into adult education or FE.

Andy Mellor
33:10

Absolutely. Absolutely. Thank you for that, that was a good question. And we're going to move on now to Jimmy's question. Do schools need greater SEN training and support? And would this reduce the number of exclusions for students with SEN?

Professor Adam Boddison
33:26

I don't mind starting off on this. It's really interesting. So one of the things that schools do every January is they submit the information about the census about primary areas of SEN needs. I think what I don't see very much of his use of that data to make it to inform strategic decision making. Now the reason I mentioned that is that there's a couple of categories in there, which are along the lines of no specialist assessment or SEN but not identified as something like this, you know, and, and the reason I point those out is because in terms of the link with exclusions here, if you look, the four if you look at the four areas of primary need that are most likely to result in a permanent exclusion, and two of those are around behavioral, social, emotional, mental health type needs. The other two are to do with youngsters who don't have any specialist assessment. So there's a direct link between not been tight enough and accurate enough on the identification, and then that lead in at the end, however many years down the line to a permanent exclusion. So any school I think, is looking to reduce permanence exclusions. The starting point would be actually do we have too many youngsters where we haven't done enough to identify the need because we don't identify the need.

Amanda Richardson MBE
34:40

I think it also comes back in terms of the two schools need greater SEN training and support the support is the key there. And I think if we look at the lack of educational psychologists within the system, what we what we need is ready access to educational psychologists, all sorts of psychologists or people who have data set conditions, specific expertise, to be able to come and provide that support and training, not just once, but to have that as a sustainable journey through that pupils life within the within the school because we've all been in that situation where you have somebody who comes in doesn't assessment of need, provides advice into the classroom, then you don't see them again, you know, and and that's very difficult thing for for the average teacher to have to fulfill those those expectations. So it's both it's having access to specialists in a timely manner, educate really good high quality assessment, educational psychologists working directly with the SENCO and the classroom staff. And then it's the follow up and support throughout throughout the pupils' school life.

Andy Mellor
36:02

Thank you. Now, I am hoping we've got a red light down here, which I think is telling us that we're, we're close to time. But we do have one more question. Am I okay, we okay to take this question? Got the thumbs up excellent. Our school environments meeting the needs of pupils with SEND?

Morten Jacobsen
36:23

I think some schools at least in Denmark, I think if you if you look at the how the classrooms at least in primary schools in Denmark and the regular schools how, how the tables are set up and so on, I think, I think it begins to look like how it looks in the special schools and instead of all the students sitting around one big table, they actually have their individual workspace that is actually sealed. And I think that's great for all students. So I think in the regular schools, I think it's it's better now than it was five years ago. And I think the important thing is to realise when you work in a regular school, that normal students, they also benefit from from this kind of workplaces. For instance, my daughter when she comes home, see often have a headache because there's so much noise so she actually prefer to sit and work in a corner and she doesn't have SEND. So I think every student could could benefit from that.

Amanda Richardson MBE
37:20

Absolutely, there was a very interesting presentation prior to this one on behavior. And obviously one of the key areas for many, many speakers now in terms of conducive environment is that calm, structured environment. And what absolutely any, any pupil does not need is chaotic, noisy working environment. So that's number one. So there's the physical environment and but there's also I think, the the environment, the place of safety of positivity. I was also think the opportunity for people's with with special educational needs to take part in the broader opportunities of school, whether that's music, drama, sport. And again, that goes back to that meticulous planning, how do we make those areas inclusive? How to make them accessible for those youngsters? Who may find that challenging? So it's around that thinking things through right from the beginning.

Professor Adam Boddison
38:24

I'll make two very brief points, the first one reasonable adjustments in the Equality Act. But I think when children and families came in, some people thought that that replaced the Equality Act for some reason I that's what I've been, you know, so so I keep going around reminding people the equalities act is still you know, it's still the law and we still need to make reasonable adjustments and I think some sometimes that's not actually happening consistently unfortunately. The second thing I point I would make goes back to all this technology we talked about earlier on, you know, you talk about the room and whether we should we have a busy room with work on the walls and all of this kind of thing, should we have a very much plain room so not that having sensory overload for some young people will actually different young people might want different things. But imagine where we had technology were actually what the experience of that room was, was actually directly linked to what that young person wanted or needed. That would be a great use of technology for classroom environments. We're not there yet, but wouldn't it be great if we had it?

Morten Jacobsen
39:21

It's really not about children with SEND it's really about children with individual needs.

Andy Mellor
39:28

Absolutely. Absolutely. And that's a good note to finish on.

Advertisement
39:33

Don't forget to register for your free place and our upcoming show in London on www.schoolsandacademiesshow.co.uk.

Join the Community
Keep up to date with the latest developments in School and Business Leadership.