What deaf children need from SEN reform #4: Better assessments

NDCS - Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research

Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research

We’re on day 4 of our special week of blogs on special educational needs reform and what needs to happen if implementation is going to be a success for deaf children. Today, we’re highlighting the need for better assessments of deaf children’s needs.

Another positive of the big changes is the Government has really emphasised the importance of high quality assessments. In the classroom, assessments are seen as the bedrock of SEN support. All teachers are now meant to follow a cycle called “assess, plan, do review” when working with children with SEN.

And if children need more support, through an Education, Health and Care Plan, then a full and rigorous assessment to identify children’s strengths and weaknesses and where support is needed, is highlighted as vital.

This is an area we’re keeping a close eye on as some of the earlier Plans that we saw in the pilot were not great, to put it mildly. I saw a few that were vague on the child’s needs. I came to call them “fluffy happy-smiley” documents. Information about the child’s likes and dislikes are important – but not at the cost of detailed information about their abilities, strengths and weaknesses.

NDCS. Deaf children at Hacton primary school in Hornchurch, Essex, in class with othed deaf children and also hearing children, being helped by signing assistant and teachers with sound field mic's and visula aids.

Happily, there are lots of great resources that professionals can use to make sure assessments are high quality. Top of the list is a resource developed by the National Sensory Impairment Partnership called Better Assessments, Better Outcomes, Better Plans, which outlines all the questions that should be considered when carrying out assessments. Our new campaign briefing for local authorities, co-produced with Blind Children UK, RNIB and Sense, highlights this resource and others.

You can help us make sure that local authorities follow best practice on this and other issues by taking part in our new campaign action. We’re asking our campaigners to take action and forward our campaign briefing to local authorities. If you haven’t already, pop to our website for an easy thingybob that works out who to contact in your local authority, making it easy to get in touch and ask them what steps they’re going to take to make sure deaf children benefit from these reforms. You can also join our campaigns network for the latest on our campaign actions.

Our week of SEN reform blogging comes to an end, tomorrow, sadly. Tune in again for tomorrow for what the 5th key issue on SEN reform and deaf children is.

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