Although almost 1 in 5 pupils in schools are recorded as having special educational needs (SEN), we are very disappointed there is not one mention of them in the main annual report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills issued this week. However, the supplementary Ofsted annual report on schools issued at the same time makes a small reference to how well schools are meeting the needs of children with SEN. Three of the document’s ninety five paragraphs contain a commentary on SEN. Below are the key points contained in these three paragraphs:
- Many children with SEN come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Pupils who are eligible for free school meals are twice as likely as others to have special educational needs.
- Pupils with SEN fulfil their potential when there are high expectations of what they can achieve and when there is an uncompromising drive by senior leaders to ensure that teaching is effective.
- The best schools have a thorough understanding of their pupils’ needs and make sure that the right teaching support is available to them at just the right time.
- Pupils with SEN do best when they are supported by excellent teachers. Unfortunately, however, they are often supported by staff with the least expertise in subject areas and teaching methods.
- Teaching that is not tailored appropriately to pupils’ individual needs – for example giving them work that is too difficult or too easy – can have a severe, long-term impact on their progress and confidence.
- Most schools monitor closely the progress that disabled pupils and those with SEN make in their academic subjects, especially in English and mathematics. However, less attention is paid to the progress they make in developing personal and social skills and in becoming more independent. Parents value these achievements highly and success in them can make a substantial difference to the young person’s future. More attention should be paid to supporting pupils in these important aspects of their personal development.
NDCS has recognised these and other factors as being critical in ensuring that deaf pupils make good progress in school and reach their full potential. NDCS guidance for schools on raising achievement include:
- Supporting the achievement of deaf children in primary schools
- Supporting the achievement of deaf children in secondary schools
- Supporting the achievement of deaf children in special schools
- Support the achievement of deaf pupils in secondary schools video clips
- Teaching deaf children’s phonics
- Creating good listening conditions for learning in schools
- Assessing language and communications (guidance produced with the National Sensory Impairment Partnership)
Given the significant reforms to SEN contained in the Children and Families Act 2014, we would expect the next annual report to comment on the effectiveness of education services in implementing these changes.