What is the role of the SENDCo?
The 2014 SEND Code of Practice (see below) states that the SENDCo must be a qualified teacher and must achieve the National Award in Special Educational Needs Co-ordination within three years of appointment. In collaboration with the Headteacher and governing body, s/he determines the strategic development of SEND policy and provision. In addition, s/he also oversees the day-to-day operation of the school’s SEND policy – supporting the identification of CYP with SEND, co-ordinating provision for this group of CYP, and monitoring their progress and how they are taught. S/he also liaises with both the parents of CYP with SEND and with other agencies providing SEND support. Finally, s/he ensures that the records of all pupils with SEND are up-to-date.
Does statutory guidance exist?
The 2014 SEND Code of Practice (‘The Code’) provides statutory guidance for Education, Health, Social Care and any other services that work with CYP. It is based on The Children and Families Act 2014 and the Special Needs and Disability Regulations 2014.
Who is covered by the Code?
Any CYP between the ages of 0 and 25 who is considered to have SEND is covered by the code. It states that a CYP has SEND if s/he requires “special educational provision to be made”, has “significantly greater difficulty learning than same-age peers”, and/or her/his “disability hinders using facilities”. To avoid discrimination, institutions MUST make necessary adjustments and/or provide provision.
What are some of the key ideas included within ‘the Code’?
- SEND should be identified as early as possible.
- CYP and parents should be provided with information, choice and control so that they can fully participate in decision-making processes regarding the support required.
- Local authorities must publish their local offer (the provision available) and schools their SEND Information report and accessibility plan (which outlines how they are implementing the code).
- Education, Health and Social Care should collaborate.
- CYP with SEND should be prepared for adulthood, independent living and employment.
- High-quality differentiated and personalised teaching is more effective than any intervention.
- All adults should set high expectations, ambitions and targets for CYP with SEND.
- All support should be evidence-based and carefully monitored.
- Schools must be equipped to deal with main 4 areas of need: (1) Communication and interaction; (2) Cognition and learning; (3) Social, emotional and mental health difficulties; (4) Sensory and/or physical needs.
- A graduated approach should be adopted. This is a cyclical process composed of 4 repeated steps: (1) Assess – CYP’s needs or the impact of support; (2) Plan – adjustments that need to be made to support; (3) Do – implementing plans; (4) Review – the impact of the support.
- If a CYP is still not making sufficient progress despite additional support, the school may involve specialists. If even this level of expertise does not have sufficient impact, the school may consider requesting an Education Health Care Needs Assessment.
What is an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP)?
An EHCP is a legal document that may be issued if a CYP has a high level of need. The purpose of an EHCP is to make special provision to secure the best outcomes across education, health and social care, so that the CYP is prepared for adulthood. The EHCP includes:
- The views, interests and aspirations of parents and CYP.
- A full description of the CYP’s needs.
- The outcomes based on her/his needs and aspirations.
- Details of the provision needed, and how the sectors will work together to meet needs and support achievement outcomes.
All parties must follow the plan and the local authority must review it at least every 12 months. Alison Varndell qualified as a Secondary Teacher of English at the Institute of Education in 2001. After teaching and leading English in a number of secondary settings in and around London, she became particularly interested in SEND. Initially working with young people experiencing social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, she then became Director of Subject for Inclusion (which included the role of SENDCo) in a large secondary school, achieving her SENDCo accreditation in January 2013. Alison then became an Assistant Headteacher for Inclusion, assessment and data at a primary school. Currently, she works as an Assistant Headteacher and SENDCo at a three-form junior school located in outer London.