Saturday, 23 April 2011

School Governors’ duties towards children with SEN What is SEN?

School Governors’ duties towards children with SEN

What is SEN?

Special educational needs are defined by the Education Act 1996 in the following way:

A child has special educational needs for the purposes of this Act if he has a learning difficulty which calls for special educational provision to be made for him.

A child has a learning difficulty if he has:

a) a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of children of his age (for example emotional, behavioural, communication or cognitive difficulties)

b) a disability which either prevents or hinders him from making use of educational facilities of a kind generally provided for children of his age in schools within the area of the local education authority, or

c) he is under the age of five and is, or would be if special educational provision were not made for him, likely to fall within paragraph a) or b) when of or over that age.

Special Educational Provision are educational provision which is additional to, or otherwise different from, the educational provision made generally for children of his age in schools
maintained by the Local Authority”

Support for children with SEN within in school

School based stages

Support for the special educational needs (SEN) of children in school who do not have a statement is provided at two levels:

School Action (SA) and School Action Plus (SA+).

Increasingly extra help for children with high levels of SEN is given under the school stages as LAs make no secret of the fact that they are aiming to restrict statements to a smaller proportion of children with SEN.

Children making adequate progress (definition in the SEN Code of Practice:

paragraphs 5:42 for primary and 6:49 for secondary) may still need additional support but do not fall into SEN category.

School Action (SA)

Triggers for receiving help at SA include the concern of teachers or others (including parents) backed by evidence that:

• Child is making little or no progress despite targeted teaching strategies

• Child has difficulty developing literacy and/or numeracy skills resulting in poor attainment

• Child has persistent emotional and/or behaviour difficulties, not improved by normal behaviour management

• Child has sensory or physical problems and is making little or no progress despite specialist equipment

• Child with communication/interaction difficulties, making little or no progress despite differentiated curriculum.

School Action Plus (SA+)

Despite extra help at SA, one or more of the following applies:

• Child is still failing to make much progress in specific areas over a long period

• Child is still working at National Curriculum levels well below his or her age group

• Child continues to have difficulty developing literacy and numeracy skills

• Child‘s behaviour substantially and regularly interferes with his or her learning and that of the class despite an individualised behaviour management programme

• Child with sensory or physical difficulties needs more help

• Child has ongoing communication/interaction difficulties which are impeding social relationships and learning.

• Provision at SA+ is characterised by the involvement of external support, e.g.specialist teaching or LA educational psychologist who may provide general advice, specialist assessments or advice on different strategies or materials.

There is no requirement that a child must progress through SA and SA+ to statutory assessment, although that may happen. A child may need help immediately at SA+ and may proceed immediately to statutory assessment.

Similarly, a child at any level of help may require more or less as they go on.

Individual Education Plan (IEP)

This is a working document which records the help for any child with SEN,including those with statements, and which should be reviewed at least twice a year (three times for under-fives) in consultation with parents. Unlike a statement, an IEP is not a legal requirement although the Code expects a school to use them or have an alternative method of fulfilling the same duties. If an LEA uses an alternative approach i.e. Provision Mapping, it must contain the information required under the SEN Code of Practice in order to be accepted as being an effective way of recording support given to a child and progress made against measurable objectives.

Reviews of the IEP should be informal and parents‘ views actively sought.

An IEP should include:

• 3 or 4 short-term targets

• teaching strategies

• extra help

• date of review

• success and/or exit criteria

• outcomes of action taken IEP targets should be SMART:

Specific, Measurable , Achievable , Relevant, Time-bound

As a School Governor asking to see and review a sample of the IEPs for children with SEN within your school is a good way to fulfil your duty to ensure needs are being met.

A Statement of SEN

A Statement of a child‘s Special Educational Needs is a legal document setting out:

Part 1 The child‘s & parents personal details as well as a list of the reports that were used as evidence in drafting the statement

Part 2 All the child‘s educational needs identified in the parents‘ and professionals‘ report as being different from those of their ordinary developing peers.

Part 3 Section 1 Details the objectives for the child

Section 2 The special educational provision which has been identified as being needed to meet each of the child‘s special educational needs. This must be specified and quantified. This should be dictated by the child‘s needs not the LA‘s or school‘s available resources. This is the special educational provision which a child must receive by law.

Section 3 The arrangements for monitoring the statement

Part 4 Names the type of provision that a child should be educated at i.e. Maintain Special primary school Names the actual school where a child will receive their education.

Part 5 Non education needs (not legally enforceable against the LA)

Part 6 Non education provision (not legally enforceable against the LA) The legal entitlement only has worth, however, if the Statement is written in accordance with the law and provides detailed information about the child‘s difficulties and the help to address those difficulties.
There is no duty on the LA to provide help listed in Part 6 so it is important to check whether difficulties described in Part 5 should appear in Part 2 and whether the help in Part 6 should appear in Part 3.

Sometimes LAs list provision such as speech therapy, occupational therapy or physiotherapy in Part 6 in order that they are not held responsible for providing it. The law is clear that such therapies are special educational needs so should be clearly set out in Part 3 and properly specified and quantified.

The full report for School governors understand their legal duties to children with SEN from IPSEA can be downloaded from here

IPSEA is a registered charity offering free and independent advice to parents of children with special educational needs in England and Wales on:

• local authorities’ legal duties to assess and provide for children with special educational needs;
• exclusions of children with special needs/disabilities;
• actions or inaction
by local authorities and/or schools which discriminate against children with disabilities

Website Twitter @IPSEAcharity

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