Improving outcomes for
special educational needs
seen as integral to
rise in SEN pupil results
This year sees three major National
Strategies programmes for improving
outcomes for the lowest-performing pupils
with or without special educational needs
(SEN) brought together for the first time.
Achievement for All, launched this autumn,
fuses initiatives for attaining academic
targets, engaging with parents and achieving
wider outcomes. The National Strategies has
accessed data on progression for children
from P1 to GCSE. This has been used to
develop guidance for schools, local authorities
and school improvement partners (SIPs) to
help them set appropriate targets.
Schools, SIPs and local authority staff can
now also use a new e-learning professional
development resource, recently launched
on the National Strategies web area at www.
Hands up if
Progression Guidance professional
development course is designed to help users
make effective use of data when working with
children identified with SEN.
The National Strategies and the Audit
Commission have developed a Value for
Money resource pack for schools. It will
enable users to examine SEN funding,
evaluate impact and plan provision using
value for money judgments.
New this year to the Inclusion Development
Programme is work looking at behavioural,
emotional and social needs, which is building
on the existing programmes and leading to
next year’s final, unification phase.
TES editor: Gerard Kelly A greater number of children with SEN are At secondary level, results show in 2008
Supplement editor: Fiona Salvage reaching expected levels of achievement 11.8 per cent of pupils identified with SEN
despite an increase in the number of children achieve at least five A*-C GCSEs including
Produced by TSL Education Limited identified with learning difficulties, according English and maths compared with 8.6 per
to a brief agreed with the National Strategies. to the latest National Strategies data. cent in 2006, against a rise from 17.5 per cent
Paid for by the National Strategies. Thirty-four per cent of children identified to 19.8 per cent of children identified with SEN.
All editorial content commissioned with SEN reached expected levels of André Imich, a senior director, SEN, for the
by TSL Education Limited. achievement at KS2 with English and maths National Strategies, says the mainstreaming
To give us your feedback or to suggest ideas, combined in 2008, compared with 28 per cent agenda of “ensuring more of our teaching
contact firstname.lastname@example.org in 2006. During that time, the percentage of force have got the skills and knowledge to
For sponsorship or advertising opportunities, primary school children classified with SEN apply in the classroom for all children rather
contact email@example.com rose from 18.9 per cent to 19.5 per cent. than treating special needs as a separate skill
New Achievement for All programme
uses a three-strand approach to target
pupils with SEN and disabilities
is cause for great
Achievement for All is a new project that aims authorities. National Strategies is working
to improve outcomes for pupils identified with with these local authorities through the two-
special educational needs. Launched in year project, including delivering training.
September, it has been commissioned by the Local authority project leaders will ensure
DCSF and is being led by the National the training is extended across their area,
Strategies with the National College for while leading teachers for Achievement for All
Leadership of Schools and Children’s Services will work with schools to help them develop
and the University of Manchester. It is split inclusive practice that will support the
into three strands. programme. In addition, the NCSL is running
The first strand aims to raise teachers’ conferences for headteachers on the
aspirations for pupils and is an inclusive characteristics of an inclusive headteacher.
approach improving outcomes through good Steven Pugh, programme director of
assessment, tracking and appropriate Achievement for All, says: “Headteachers
intervention. from each of the local authorities have spoken
The second strand focuses on increasing passionately about why they wanted to take
parents’ engagement with their child’s school part in Achievement for All and the difference
through better communication to share the they feel it will make, not only for their target
raising of aspirations and achievement of all pupils but for all pupils in their school.”
and a separate group” played an integral part. pupils. Achievement for All is providing The first year of the two-year programme is
“The Government’s SEN strategy, launched training in active listening skills for teachers targeting pupils identified with special
in 2004 (Removing Barriers to Achievement), to support them with this. educational needs in four year groups: Year 1
recognised that ‘helping children with SEN Finally, the third strand focuses on for their first school experience; Year 5 for the
to achieve is fundamental to sustaining improving children’s wider outcomes through end of a key stage; Year 7 for the transition to
improvements in schools’ performance’ and specific school-designed activities around secondary school; and Year 10 for the
pledged to do more to ensure they make bullying, improving attendance and behaviour, introduction of GCSEs. The University of
progress,” says Mr Imich. “We are now seeing forming positive relationships and Manchester will be independently evaluating
improvements in outcomes and are committed involvement in extended school activities. the programme’s performance.
to narrowing the gap between the attainments Achievement for All is a £31 million project, www.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/nationalstrate
of those with and without SEN. We expect taking place in 460 schools across 10 local gies/sup1/afa
outcomes to continue to improve as a number
of national measures embed themselves.” Three into one does go
The Every Child a Reader programme is
in the second year of a three-year national
roll-out. Results in 2008/09 showed schools
that had an experienced Reading Recovery
teacher made more progress at the end of
KS1 assessments, in reading and writing at
Level 2B and above. It has also seen 1,806
trained Reading Recovery teachers reach
more than 20,000 children through the
programme’s intensive support element,
Reading Recovery or another intervention.
Most of these children are the most hard to
teach and achieve in the lowest 5 per cent of
children nationally. Previous results indicate
that, after Reading Recovery, 81 per cent will
read at a level that matches their age.
New survey shows that teachers’ belief in their ability
to satisfy special needs is on the up as the Inclusion
Development Programme boosts self-assessment scores
New programme is a ‘can do’
A survey of more than 1,000 staff who have recognised, the school’s own inclusion
worked through the Inclusion Development checklist provided effective strategies for
Programme (IDP) has revealed that they now teachers, though staff also found the IDP’s
feel much more confident about meeting the links to other resources and websites useful.
requirements of pupils with special needs. One valuable spin-off for staff has been
Previously, 37 per cent had placed the desire to deepen their understanding of
themselves at a basic “focusing” level, but pupils’ difficulties. Mr Norwood and one of
after IDP training on dyslexia and/or speech, his colleagues are now enrolled on a speech
language and communication difficulties this and language course at Kingston University.
figure shrank to 6 per cent. The percentage Thanks to the IDP, staff at Penkridge
who felt they were operating at an Middle School in Staffordshire are feeling
“enhanced” level rose from 6 to 27 per cent. increasingly positive about offering a
The statistics emerged from self- dyslexia-friendly environment.
evaluations completed by teachers and “Theyaremoreconfidentbecausetheyhave
teaching assistants before and after IDP moreknowledge,”says DiHinton,theschool’s
training. Stephen Norwood, deputy head specialeducationalneedsco-ordinator
of Chennestone Primary School in Sunbury- (Senco).“Theynowhavetheinformationthey
on-Thames, Middlesex, thinks the self- needtochangetheirstyleofteaching.”
evaluation is valuable because it encourages New practices include better planning and
staff to analyse their skills and abilities. differentiation for pupils with dyslexia.
“It didn’t matter too much whether their “The needs of these pupils are taken into
self-assessment was completely accurate at account at the planning stage as well as by
the beginning,” he says. “Some staff initially responding to situations which might arise
rated themselves higher or lower than I during the lesson,” says one science teacher.
expected, but by the end of the course they According to a teaching assistant, some
knew enough to make a more realistic staff have improved differentiation by using
assessment of what they needed to learn.” a variety of worksheets, changing homework
Mr Norwood found that one of the main and recording work in different ways. They
benefits for his school was the more rapid also found simple techniques such as using
and accurate identification of children who different colours on the whiteboard and
were displaying signs of dyslexia or speech, displaying an aide-mémoire of instructions
language and communication difficulties. at the start of lessons benefited all pupils,
“The training modules on identifying not just those with dyslexia.
pupils with dyslexia and with speech, “I like the way the teachers use different
language and communication difficulties coloured pens on the boards,” says one
were key in raising staff awareness of the Year 6 pupil. “It helps everyone in the class.”
issues for pupils,” he explains. “Teachers Another important development is that
felt enthused that they were able to identify staff expectations of dyslexic pupils have
pupils’ difficulties for themselves.” been raised.
Once children’s specific needs were “We know that these pupils have to work
A lesson in inclusion
‘It has improved the way we do things’
Margaret Cornes, assistant head at St Paschal worked through the IDP disc in pairs, using
Baylon Catholic Primary in Liverpool, was twilight sessions and a half-day-off timetable.
determined to implement the IDP after At this point, normal school life – Sats,
hearing about it at a Sencos’ meeting. The illness, the school play, an Ofsted inspection –
objectives – making schools more inclusive started to get in the way, and the project lost
and removing learning barriers – impressed momentum until the IDO helped Mrs Cornes
her, although she felt daunted at first. push it forward. After a second self-evaluation,
“When I looked at how big a job it was going she noticed teachers were using their new-
to be, it would be fair to say that my heart found knowledge to meet pupils’ needs, and
sank. But the inclusion development officer received an email from the parent of a pupil
(IDO) supported me from start to finish.” with dyslexia, praising their expertise.
After a staff self-evaluation, the school “This has without doubt improved the way
drew up an action plan and a timetable. Staff we do things for children,” she concludes.
approach to SEN
Programmed to progress
l 84 per cent of children with SEN
statements are in the lowest-achieving
20 per cent of pupils.
l The SEN gap is growing wider at key
stage 4; less than 12 per cent of pupils with
SEN achieved five or more GCSEs in 2008,
compared with 57 per cent of their peers.
l The Inclusion Development Programme is
part of the Government’s strategy for SEN,
outlined in 2004’s Removing Barriers to
Achievement. By increasing the confidence
and skills of teachers, it hopes for earlier
identification and more effective support.
l E-learning materials online or on DVD.
l Phase 1 focuses on dyslexia and speech,
language and communication difficulties.
l Phase 2 focuses on the autism spectrum.
l In 2010, phase 3 will deal with behavioural,
emotional and social difficulties.
harder to reach their potential, but we know
that they can do it,” says Mrs Hinton. “Some
need an amanuensis, but they may still be
capable of achieving science Sats level 5.”
Crucially, staff now believe they know
when to seek extra support for pupils.
“I am of the opinion that every teacher
is a teacher of SEN,” says a key stage
co-ordinator. “I am not an expert, but I do
know when I need help and when I need
to refer. I know who to ask when trying to
support parents. I have even bought a book
on dyslexia to read on the beach.”
But teachers are swift to stress that the
most effective way to use the IDP materials
is in conjunction with expert support.
To back up the IDP, Di Hinton has been
able to draw on her expertise in dyslexia –
she holds a certificate in specific learning
difficulties – and on Senco updates and
workshops provided by the local authority.
These provided a simplified staff evaluation
and a Staffordshire IDP Toolkit, which
identified tiny URLs to enable quick location
of topics in the e-learning programme. The
navigation problems with phase one of the
programme will be simplified in the
consolidation phase next year.
Meanwhile, in Surrey, Chennestone School
has benefited from involvement in the local
authority’s IDP focus group and a local
schools’ confederation. Both schools are
now looking forward to using the latest IDP
materials, which focus on autism.
The National Strategies’ ‘Progression Guidance 2009-10’
has given teachers the power to set targets and
raise expectations for children with learning difficulties
Data enables a
National benchmarks have been used for expectations of pupils who are working
years to set targets for pupil achievement. within what are known as P levels, who
By 2020 it is expected that 90 per cent have special needs, learning difficulties and
of pupils at key stage 2 will be attaining a disabilities. The system will help them to
level 4 or above, and that a similar track their progress and set targets, just as
proportion of key stage 4 students will be they would for any other child.
gaining five or more A*-C grades at GCSE, The spur for the publication came from
including English and maths by age 19. the Children’s Plan 2007, which stated a
For some pupils, though, such levels of commitment to improve data on behalf of
achievement are difficult, if not impossible, children who were performing below age-
and the absence of national data on their related expectations. It said: “We will
attainment has made it hard for schools to provide better data for schools on how well
gauge their progress. children with special educational needs are
In July, the National Strategies published progressing.”
its Progression Guidance 2009-10, a Pauline Pitman, a National Strategies
document detailing how schools can raise senior regional adviser for special needs,
says work on the guidance had been taking
Status symbol place over the past year.
It will provide national data for schools that
‘Every pupil is treated can be used to draw comparisons with the
work they are already doing in tracking pupil
in the same way’ progress. She said there would be no formula
set by the National Strategies by which
At Hurworth School Maths & Computing schools should set targets, but they should
College in Darlington, about 10 per cent use their existing assessment procedures,
of pupils perform below age-related such as Assessment for Learning.
expectations. But teachers use the same The aim is for children to be supported
system to assess every child, regardless and guided towards narrowing the
of their ability. achievement gap between pupils who do not
Staff in each subject meet monthly have special needs and those who do. their academic ability, social background or
to discuss every pupil’s performance, Ms Pitman says: “The Children’s Plan learning problems.
including their work, any test results, their made clear there was insufficient data to “They also need to have good assessment
behaviour and effort, and set each child support schools in setting targets and processes in place to ensure that they know
levels to which they should be working. The evaluating the educational outcomes. exactly where each child is in terms of their
projected grades give a picture of where Existing national curriculum data was of learning, and so that appropriate teaching
each child is and where they are heading. little value to children who struggle to reach and interventions can be implemented to
Every pupil is also assigned a mentor – age-related expectations. enable progress to take place.
a member of staff who talks to them about “The Progression Guidance aims to “Schools should also take into account
their targets and keeps them on track. support schools and local authorities on the child’s age and prior attainment as a
“The status of our pupils is very aspects such as assessment, target-setting, starting point when considering what
important to them – they feel it defines tracking and whole-school improvement, so progress the pupil needs to make.”
them,” says Eamonn Farrar, chief executive they are not making a distinction for SEN The statistics gathered by the National
of Hurworth School. “Our assessment pupils, but ensuring all children are being Strategies to enable schools to make
system does not take it away from them taught effectively and are making progress.” comparisons have come from a number of
because they can see that every pupil in She says the policy was based around sources, although they will not be complete
the school is treated in the same way.” three key principles. The first was to have for another four years when a complete
high expectations of all pupils regardless of cohort passes through the key stages.
However, currently it includes data from The good child guide
teacher assessments, which has allowed
some plotting of progress of pupils working ‘We have expectations as high as any other teacher’s’
at level 1 at key stage 2 to achievement at
key stage 3, as well as some national P level Staff at the Holbrook Centre of Autism in academic performance and the areas
figures collected over the past two years. Derby (above) have been working with that can place barriers in the way of
The information comes from local their own version of Progression Guidance achievement. We identify where they need
authorities and commercial organisations for the past five years. to improve and give each one an individual
that monitor pupil attainment, and will allow Every child is assessed on entry to the education plan.
schools to see how their pupils are faring school on their attainment in English, “Our pupils tend to be better at reading
when compared with children elsewhere. maths, science, PSHE and IT. They are and writing than speaking or listening, and
This means schools can work with also assessed against the school’s own better at number work than applying maths.
school improvement partners on their autism-specific curriculum, which includes We want to overcome those barriers and have
attainment levels and look at guidance data independence and ability to manage expectations as high as any other teacher’s.”
to support some of the discussions they emotions, behaviour and stress levels. Teachers review progress on the autism
have about individual pupils and what they Caroline Bell, deputy head at Holbrook, core curriculum three times a year, while the
need to help them to progress. says: “We look at the whole child – their P scales are reviewed once in May or June.
The Lamb Inquiry reinforces the
Disability Equality Duty to increase
inclusivity and parental confidence
Trust in the system
Every parent wants the best for their child Shining lights
at school, but for parents of children with
a disability or SEN, getting what’s best Chailey School, East Sussex have some form of SEN, but are included in
hasn’t always been easy. Even before Chailey School put in place school life – the classroom, extracurricular
Brian Lamb, chair of the Special its disability equality scheme (DES), it had activities and school trips – as much as
Educational Consortium and the man been recognised by Ofsted for being “very possible. “We celebrate diversity here,” says
tasked with finding ways to improve inclusive” in supporting its 200 pupils with Anna Foxwell, the school’s inclusion manager.
parental confidence in the SEN assessment some form of SEN. The school was quick to put in place a
process, summed up the situation in a letter The school began developing its DES in DES but, says Ms Foxwell, “Our practice
to Ed Balls, Schools Secretary, in August: 2006 with a working party that included was already in place – it was more a case of
“Throughout the inquiry we have met some children with SEN and their parents. making a few adaptations and documenting
of the happiest parents in the land – and It came up with several what we already did.”
some of the angriest.” recommendations that resulted in some Parents and pupils were involved in the
At the time of going to press, Lamb’s final changes to the curriculum and physical scheme’s development. The school likes to
report hadn’t been published, but he has environment: the painting of steps for be welcoming to parents, even in simple
already made several Government-endorsed visually impaired children, for example. things, such as letting them pick their child
recommendations to raise confidence It also set up a student body through up from the classroom, rather than waiting
including a right of appeal for parents if which pupils could have their say. outside the school gates.
a local authority decides not to amend a Recently, two deaf parents were looking
statement after a review, and a requirement Alfred Salter Primary School, around the school for their child (who
that Ofsted reports on the quality of education southeast London doesn’t have a hearing impairment) and the
provided for children with a disability. Alfred Salter has an excellent reputation for school provided a teacher who could use
Parents’ confidence should be further inclusion. About a quarter of its 400 pupils sign language to help with communication.
increased by the knowledge that schools
have a duty to promote equality for children
with a disability or SEN under the Disability Chailey School in East Sussex, which have scheme, parents will be more confident in
Equality Duty (DED), which came into force embraced not only the law, but also the spirit the school as a whole,” says Mr Imich.
in December 2006. Among other things, of it,” he says. “They have a positive, vibrant Victoria Furness
this requires schools to publish a disability culture where people go the extra mile to
equality scheme and involve disabled people take account of everyone’s needs.” l National Strategies: www.standards.
(pupils or parents) in its development. The National Strategies visited one school dcsf.gov.uk/nationalstrategies/inclusion/
André Imich, a senior director for SEN at in each local authority last term to ensure specialeducationalneeds/sup1
the National Strategies, admits he wasn’t they are complying with the Disability l DCSF Guidance – Promoting Disability
sure what difference these schemes Equality Duty and to identify good practices. Equality in Schools: www.teachernet.gov.uk
would make at first. A self-evaluation resource for schools will be l What Works Well: www.standards.dcsf.
“That was until I visited schools like published this month. “If a school has a good gov.uk/whatworkswell