Seeking greater clarity by fine tuning actions through a
Record of Actions, Discussions or Decisions, Interventions and Outcomes
(RADIO, in case you missed it!).
Building an individual case study.
Essentially, SEND practice describes a sequence of events, which seek to refine the actions and focus of attention, to identify, quantify and qualify the exact nature of a problem. Once this has been established, remedial action can take place. The longer the gap, the greater the problem can become, as further complications can become built into the experience, not least of which is learner self-esteem, affected by adult and peer responses to the circumstance.
Every teacher is a teacher of individual needs, which often identify themselves as little concerns when a learner either exceeds or does not grasp what is being expected.
The SEND framework 2014 does state that poor teaching approaches will handicap decisions on a child’s special educational needs. SEND is not a substitute for poor teaching or poor teachers. High quality teaching and learning should identify, describe and track needs within a classroom. Work sampling, annotations and record keeping will all contribute to good decisions. Some may say that this is additional work. However, it could be argued that well planned, well focused activities, with good oral and written feedback, to identified needs, in itself constitutes a reasonably clear start point of a record. An annotated personal record, for discrete individuals, as describe below should also be kept.
Teachers receive their classes from someone else, even at the earliest stages, where a parent or nursery member of staff has already become aware of little foibles, or gaps in understanding, or an area where there appears to be extra talent.
The parent is the child’s first teacher; it is to be hoped that their relationship is such that they get to know their children really well, through interactions at home and in places of interest that generate speaking and listening skills. As a Governor of a school in Gosport, as well as my own education career, I know that this is not the case, with children arriving operating at two year old levels, of speech and socialisation.
The adult role, teacher and support staff, is to be vigilant in spotting the child reactions in different situations, noting areas of concern, but also of achievement, so that a balanced picture can be built. The profiles built up during the Early Years stage is a more refined document than may have formerly been available.
If concerns emerge, there are likely to be three phases;
- Short (wave) term, classroom based. The teacher and other adults become aware that an area of need exists. They develop a short term plan to address the issue and agree a monitoring approach that allows them to spot and track the outcomes. Where feasible, discussions with the learner might deepen the adult understanding of the learning issues. Outcomes are checked carefully to deduce any patterns arising, which are then shared with parents and decisions reached about next steps.
- Medium (wave) term, involving internal specialist colleagues. Where an issue goes beyond the current capacity of the classteacher, the school internal specialist, the SENCo, should be involved to oversee the record, to discuss with the teacher and the parent possible ways forward and to agree a new plan of action in the classroom. This may involve using a discrete approach to the identified problem, with some specified time need. For example, a child with a specific reading issue might need some individualised time with an adult, whose role is to undertake a miscue analysis during each session to deduce with greater accuracy the nature of the problem. The SENCo may be involved in classroom observations, keeping records of on/off task behaviours, relationships, task application, with outcomes being photocopied and annotated to deepen the understanding of the problem, thereby refining the classroom action. Interventions strategies must be SMART targets. Too often in SEND situations, classteachers operate at too global a level, so that the refined needs of the individuals are missed, until they become more critical. There is a need for regular work sampling and annotations to describe the learning journey and issues still arising. The lack of such a record could handicap a child and the teacher, as it will be requested before specific help can be offered, especially if the school SLT has to allocate additional funding/adult support to address the issue.
- Long (wave) term, the school will involve a range of specialist experts, to support the diagnosis of the issue. Diagnosis depends on the quality of record keeping in the classroom and the school, if patterns are to be describe and the area for investigation is to be narrowed. As a result, a programme of action is likely to be agreed, timescales set and evidence needed identified. This is likely to be similar to the needs above, but within a refined remit.
Over time, a case study emerges, with a record of actions, discussion, decisions, interventions and outcomes. It may be, at this stage, that the collective wisdom is that there is a problem that is greater that the system capacity to identify and remediate the need. In the new SEND framework, schools will apply for consideration of an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
The evidence file is sent to a panel for consideration, along with other applications. Each case is judged on its merits and there is no guarantee that awarding an EHCP will be the outcome. Equally, an EHCP may not guarantee extra funding or alternative education placement. The EHCP, if awarded, is quite likely to be a tighter descriptor of the learner’s individual needs, the education response to be allocated by the establishment, the timescale and regularity of reviews.
SEND issues cause teachers to become worried. In another post, I have suggested ways in which a teacher can expand their understanding of teaching and learning outcomes across the range of learners they are likely to encounter.