Janet Goring: supporting SEND pupils

Applying the positives of lockdown learning – supporting SEND pupils more effectively back in school.

The second lockdown enabled us to apply what we learnt collectively as a team from Lockdown 1, although we didn’t get the same notice period to get appropriate resources to pupils to take home to facilitate their learning. 

Personalising the Approach to learning

“Pupils and parents have responded positively to the lessons and parents listening in have been able to work on key areas with the children.”

LNSS Teacher

Like all SEND practitioners, our teaching starts with the pupil, assessing their needs and working with them to find the best approach to maximise learning. Remote learning magnified the need for personalising the approach as not only is each student different in terms of the learning, but there were a number of other considerations to factor in such as the policies and delivery preferences of each school, access to different platforms and devices and availability of adults, whether at school or at home to facilitate or support. 

Our approaches varied from school to school and pupil to pupil in order to find the best way of reaching each and every one of our pupils. Where we haven’t been able to teach pupils through live online lessons, we found the best way of reaching our pupils through other means, whether by uploading to the school’s platform, prerecording video sessions or sending work by email or physical packs. In many cases a blended approach was possible and feedback suggests this was usually the most effective medium. 

New Opportunities for working

In some schools we have supported pupils beyond the usual caseload by providing access to online resources. The ability to train online enables us to reach more staff. We have provided a series of free training sessions for schools on delivering remote learning for pupils with SEND in five separate sessions to different audiences, alongside our usual training offer of supporting pupils with Literacy and/or Maths difficulties. We have also been able to provide more bespoke training for support staff, such as a pilot project on delivering precision teaching.

Evaluating the Positives

Whilst there have been challenges, we have seen a number of positives which we are building on back in schools.

It was great to have TA in lesson in order to model strategies that (she) could use outside our one-to-one session.

LNSS Teacher
  • Increased communication with school staff and parents using online platforms.
  • More effective ways of sharing follow up work for pupils
  • Increased uptake of follow-up work between sessions due to messages on online platforms
  • Greater access to online resources, particularly for follow-up work
  • A wider range of resources which meet the specific needs and interests of our pupils

Feedback from a survey of 35 Wandsworth SENCos mirrors national findings on the positives of remote learning for SEND students

I prefer remote learning because:

It’s more interesting
I get to do it at home
There is always someone to me at home
When I finish I can other things I want to do

Wandsworth SEND pupil
  • Pupils may be able to work at a time to suit them and at their own pace
  • Lessons can be completely differentiated 
  • Pupils can revisit a session again
  • They may have one to one support at home 
  • They may be using different learning methods that suit them better
  • Technology may enhance the experience

Applying lessons learned

Going forward it is important that we don’t lose the momentum of the positives gained from new ways of working. We will continue to deliver teaching sessions using the methods that engages and benefits each individual pupil most effectively with a focused approach on using more online resources, particularly during follow-up work. We also hope to sustain the stronger working relationships with support staff and parents developed over the recent months. We will also be moving to a blended approach to some of our training sessions, with fewer face-to-face sessions and increasing our menu of webinars whether live or on demand. However, we recognise the importance of bringing teachers and support staff together outside their settings for certain training.

A time to increase the use of Assistive technology

We hope that schools will similarly reflect on the lessons learned in supporting SEND pupils and a final plea: – How can the increased number of devices in schools be deployed to support SEND pupils? Schools are reporting that they have up to 3 or 4 times the number of devices that they had a year ago and are now making decisions about the best use of those going forwards. Assistive technology plays a key role in supporting pupils to be more independent and maximise their potential is used effectively. Some initial thoughts about how the devices might be used.

  • Alternative recording on a regular basis for all pupils
  • Text to speech technology (e.g. Dictate)
  • Graphic organisers for planning
  • Access to online reading resources
  • Immersive reader to access texts beyond reading ability
  • Online manipulatives for recording work in Maths

If you would be interested in a working party on supporting SEND students using your school’s devices or for any aspect of our Service please book a Head to Head meeting.

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