Developing best practice in the Early Years: Meeting the needs of children with Special Educational Needs

Background:

The way children with special educational needs are diagnosed and supported has changed significantly, particularly following the implementation of reforms to the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) system in 2014.

Government figures show that since 2010, the proportion of children with special educational needs has fallen sharply from 21.1 per cent to 15.4 per cent. However, the proportion of children with Education, Health and Care Plans or statements of special educational needs has not fallen in that time, so the apparent decline is solely among children with less severe difficulties, who may no longer be included on the SEN register.

‘The proportion of children with special educational needs and disabilities has not necessarily changed, but teachers are now looking more carefully at how they may be able to use quality teaching to better meet individual needs,’ ‘If the needs can be met by better teaching, then those children should not be included on the SEN register.’ – Dr Adam Boddison, chief executive of the National Association for Special Educational Needs (NASEN).

For schools and early years settings, these changes have introduced new ways of working and fresh challenges. However, in a research report published by the DFE in 2017, it was identified that these, “new ways” of working are very varied when comparing settings to settings.

Rationale:

The purpose of this network is to provide a supportive, participant driven, learning community through which schools and settings can analyse the effectiveness of their provision for children with Special Educational Needs, enhance their own practice through action research and deepen their understanding of how to best meet the individual needs of the children in their care.

Venue Overview of activity
Tuesday 6th November 2018 (9.30-3pm) Gearies Primary Session 1: “The End in mind” Effective pedagogies and professional development involve clear thinking about longer term learning outcomes as well as short-term goals. (Husbands, C and Pearce, J. 2012)

To make an effective difference, this professional development must start by analysing pupil’s needs and analysing the effectiveness of our current practice in meeting these needs. From this point we can begin developing an understanding of how this analysis will/should directly influence what we need to learn over the programme.

Tuesday 27th November 2018 (9.30-3pm) A Partnership school Session 2:   “Something different” Effective pedagogies and effective professional learning depend on behaviour (what teachers do), knowledge and understanding (what teachers know) and beliefs (why teachers act as they do). (Handsome, G; Harris, A; Husbands, C; Pearce, J and Stoll, L, 2012)

In the morning: We will engage in a learning walk around the host schools early years provision.

In the afternoon: In this session participants will review the most effective early years pedagogies and research reviews of practice in relation to meeting the needs of children with Special Educational Needs. We will compare them to our current practices, critique how such pedagogical and practical approaches may support the needs identified in session one. Finally, each participant will create a, “New theory of practice” for their own setting.

Tuesday 15th January 2019 (9.30-3pm) A Partnership school Session 3: Why Action research?

In the morning: We will engage in a learning walk around the host schools early years provision.

In the afternoon: In this session participants will be supported in understanding the methodology and methods connected to developing an effective action research project. These small scale projects will provide the supportive conditions for participants to develop classroom professional learning which may solve a teaching or learning based problem which is affecting children’s progress.

Tuesday 5th February 2019 (9.30-3pm) A centre of excellence

(To be confirmed)

Session 4: Here we will be visiting a centre of excellence to observe best practice.

The most effective professional learning comes from linking external expertise to work based learning in the classroom. (Handsome, G; Harris, A; Husbands, C; Pearce, J and Stoll, L, 2012)

Tuesday   5th March 2019 (9.30-3pm) A Partnership school Session 5: So what did our projects tell us? Effective pedagogies and professional learning focuses on developing higher order thinking and metacognition, and makes good use of dialogue and questioning in order to do so. (Handsome, G; Harris, A; Husbands, C; Pearce, J and Stoll, L, 2012)

In the morning: We will engage in a learning walk around the host schools early years provision.

In the afternoon: In this session participants will share their learning developed during their mini action research projects. As part of a collaborative learning community, they will identify successes, discuss challenges and question why one strategy may be more effective than another. Alongside colleagues, each participant will begin to “co-construct” deeper understandings around ways of developing their own practices, promoting a sense of empowerment, control and ownership. Following this session participants will conduct a second small scale action research project designed to meet the needs of their children by exploring a new pedagogical technique or approach which they believe, as an outcome of this session’s analysis, will better meet the needs of the children in their setting.

Tuesday 14th May 2019 (9.30-3pm) A Partnership school Session 6: Leading on change. Effective professional development requires effective leadership to create the necessary conditions. (Handsome, G; Harris, A; Husbands, C; Pearce, J and Stoll, L, 2012)

In the morning: We will engage in a learning walk around the host schools early years provision.

In the afternoon: This session will focus on how as early year’s teachers we uniquely find ourselves constantly performing as a small/medium/large scale team leader. What are the implications of this? And how can we develop the dispositions and attributes best suited to ensure we can deliver the change we plan?

This session also provides an opportunity for participants to share the progress of their action research, identify issues, share challenges.

Tuesday 21st May 2019 (9.30-3pm) Gearies Primary Session 7: A return to the concept of: “The end in mind”

In this session participants will share their professional learning from the large scale action research project, identifying the improved pupil learning, achievement and well-being.

In this session the group will collaborative write up the programmes impacts and outcomes as a piece of educational literature (Journal, master module style piece)

We will also agree how we celebrate the programmes impacts and a share its professional learning with colleagues from all participating schools. (and beyond)