In 2019, the Opportunity Area in Stoke on Trent commissioned Blackfriars Teaching School Alliance to review the quality of education for pupils with SEND in Stoke schools and to support colleagues in school to identify best practice, areas for development and next steps to ensure SEND learners are provided with the very best education and “acquire the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life…and are prepared for the next stage of education and their adult lives.” (Ofsted’s Inspection Handbook 2019)
The aim was to develop a model of best practice in Stoke, by completing SEND Reviews as part of the Whole School SEND (WSS) Agenda. Each review was based upon the school completing a self- review using the Whole School Reflection Framework and then a trained WSS Reviewer would come into school and peer review the strengths and areas for development in the school’s SEND provision, helping the setting to develop an action plan to promote inclusive whole school practice.
The project aimed to:
· Work with 8 schools and 1 Multi Academy Trust who would experience the review process
· Train the 8 schools’ SENCOs to become SEND Reviewers
· Establish a Reviewer Hub so that best practice could be shared and colleagues keep current with regards to latest research and available support from external agencies
· Have a colleague from a MAT who becomes a trained Reviewer and completes the Review process across their Trust schools to model effective practice to other MATs
· Have all schools signed up to the Whole School SEND Community and utilising the resources available
· Develop a series of case studies to share the very best approaches being used across the city to raise standards and improve outcomes for learners with SEND.
Blackfriars Teaching School Alliance trained a group of System Leaders from across the Alliance to support schools as Peer Reviewers. A smaller group of these reviewers became the Case Study writing team. They were mindful, when writing the Case Studies of the ethical principles discussed by Hammersely and Traianou to ‘minimise harm; respect autonomy; protect privacy, offer reciprocity and treat people equitably’ (2012 ) Each Case Study is based upon the Self Reflection documentation of the participating schools and their Peer Reviewed action plans. No school is identified by name and the identity of all individuals have been treated as confidential.
The six case studies that have been written as ‘finger-tip’ guides to inform and enrich schools’ support for students with SEND. Each is based upon the findings derived from the Peer Reviews undertaken. Each offers an accessible, evidence-informed summary of advice. This support is both immediately actionable and can be used to enrich further discussions. It is based upon what is being used currently and effectively in schools that were reviewed in Stoke-on -Trent. All the case studies are aimed at supporting busy professional colleagues so that they can further develop their inclusive educational practices. The series of case studies include:
· Case Study 1: Supporting Students During a National Emergency
· Case Study 2: Supporting Students with Social, Emotional and Mental Health Needs
· Case Study 3: Appreciating the Role of the SENCO
· Case Study 4: Improving Attendance, Behaviour and Inclusion
· Case Study 5: Supporting Vulnerable Groups of Students in Our Schools
· Case Study 6: Supporting the Identification and Assessment of Needs
Each case study follows the same format. They are divided into six short sections, the first being a summary as to why this particular study might be relevant to school practitioners. The next section shares selected professional knowledge that could help to inform school’s context. The third section offers a summary of key motivations for change. Section four offers some ways to address these. The final two sections build on this by highlighting how professional support can be further developed, including identifying selected further sources of support.
It is hoped that the development of this series of case studies sharing the very best approaches being used across the city will be used to help raise standards and improve outcomes for learners with SEND.
Sources of further information:
Hammersley, M. and Traianou, A. (2012) Ethics and Educational Research. British Educational Research Association on-line resource.