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Top 10 tips for SENCOs at the start of the academic year

Lorraine Petersen, SEN Consultant and former Chief Executive of nasen

    • Ensure that all staff are aware of who their SEN pupils are, what interventions are in place and what additional support is available and offer support and advice where necessary.

    • Establish a SENCO Surgery – a specified time during the week when staff can meet with you to discuss SEN issues – try and reduce the number of “on the hoof” questions and queries.

    • Read the recently published DfE advice “Transition to the new 0-25 special educational needs and disability system”. Although this is advice is targeted at LAs, it will give you an understanding of their duties and what you need to do to support the processes. Continue to work with your local authority but be clear about duties and responsibilities – say NO if you think you are being asked to undertake tasks that you are not accountable for.

    • Produce a timeline for all of your transfer and annual reviews and circulate to all the relevant people. Have a timeframe for reports and evidence to be completed so everything is ready in good time.

    • Continue to develop good relationships with parents especially of new children and young people coming into your school for the first time. Make parents aware of the dates of annual/transfer reviews so they can attend any meetings and gather their evidence. For those parents of pupils on SEN Support, ensure that there are three pupil progress meetings per year planned and teachers are aware of these.

    • Undertake an audit of the skills and expertise within the school workforce and an audit of the needs of the pupils. This will enable you to effectively deploy your support staff.

    • Work with SLT to ensure sufficient funding is available to support SEN across the school. Review your whole-school provision map to determine the effectiveness of the spend to date.

    • Arrange to meet with your SEN Governor to discuss the review of your SEN Information Report and SEN Policy. Set up a focus group of staff, parents and pupils to support this review process.

    • Primary SENCOs analyse the results from the Baseline Assessments (if your school is taking them this year) and the Phonics Screening Check from the end of Year 1 to identify pupils who may need additional support. Work with teachers in Year 2 and Year 6 to ensure that there is a clear understanding of the implication of the new KS1 and KS2 tests in 2016 for pupils with SEN.
      Secondary SENCOs read the JCQ document “Adjustments for candidates with disabilities and learning difficulties”. The SENCO has a much wider remit within this guidance. Review all those pupils who require access arrangements – ensure that their “normal way of working” is embedded in all lessons where required.

    • Develop good relationships with external professionals – know who to contact. Think outside the box and begin to develop your own team of experts in school, share expertise across schools and link with your local special school to establish a comprehensive team that you can seek support and advice from.


Follow Lorraine on Twitter @lorrainep1957


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