The Teacher Handbook: SEND

“An essential companion for all teachers.”

Whole School SEND have created a fabulous resource to support all teachers to consider, understand and better meet the needs of learners within the school setting. The handbook is intended to support staff in primary, secondary and specialist settings from teaching assistants to headteachers and CEOs.

By way of helping colleagues access the handbook, Kenny Wheeler created two blogs. In the first blog Kenny signposts suggestions on how schools and settings may best implement the guidance to get maximum benefit from the handbook. In the second blog there is a precis of each chapter with a synopsis of key points raised Please read on!

​Downloading the handbook: The Teacher Handbook: SEND can be downloaded from here: Teacher Handbook: SEND | SendGateway

Please note that this is a 2-part blog – The second article by Kenny can be accessed here. In part 2, Kenny outlines the key points raised in each chapter of the report.

Schools Alliance for Excellence – Supporting inclusivity and excellence

Our Mission at SAfE is to be an inclusive partnership where all children and young people have the opportunities to flourish, enjoy learning and achieve the best possible outcomes through excellent education.

We believe that the Teacher Handbook: SEND can support schools and their staff to continually develop and improve approaches to teaching so that learners are better understood and are able to engage more within the learning environment.

Teachers will be able to refer to the handbook over time, drawing inspiration and ideas from it in order to further develop their high-quality inclusive teaching practices.

I have provided some key observations in this first blog, the second blog follows with a precis of each chapter of the handbook. I do hope that this overview is a helpful tool for you and your staff to maximise the learning that we can all take from the handbook.

Moving forward and making use of the handbook

I firmly believe that this is going to be a really useful resource. However, at 185 pages it is one which will need careful consideration with regards to how it will be introduced and implemented within school settings.

Much as we talk about cognitive load theory for learners, we also need to consider that such a weighty document could be overwhelming for staff if they are given it with little guidance on how they can make best use of it.

A handbook for all: not just for the SENCo

This is a holistic document that really considers learners as a whole, what their barriers may be and what teachers (staff in schools) can do in order to support learners to better access the curriculum. The content covers pastoral issues including safeguarding, subject-specific and condition-specific guidance as well as looking at the wider educational landscape.

Whilst the title has SEND in it, this handbook is aimed at every teacher with the aim to reinforce that meeting the needs of learners with SEND is everyone’s responsibility and not just the SENCo. Over time, the document is intended to support professional reflection and offers additional guidance as to what strategies might work in the classroom by subject and in relation to learners having specific needs.

Linking to the school vision

The handbook needs to tie in with the overall vision the school has for teaching and learning with clear steps on how it will be used to further develop inclusive practices. Senior leaders will need to consider which aspects of the handbook might be the most appropriate starting point for their own setting. Sections of the handbook can then complement professional development and learning that is already underway in schools so it enriches what is in place rather than being seen as a bolt on, additional consideration.

One suggestion is for the teaching and learning leads, pastoral leads and SENCo to work together in order to ensure there is one, clear and consistent message being communicated with regards to the handbook. This is a handbook to consider the holistic learner and support teaching and learning across the school, it is not a bolt on after thought for SEND.

Chunking, applying and re-visiting content

It would be helpful to chunk some of the content with clear plans as to how topics will be introduced and when they will be re-visited in order for professional learning and practice to be consolidated and built upon. The EEF have produced a useful report with guidance to support schools in delivering Effective Professional Development

Distributing leadership

In terms of distributing leadership there is the potential for teams of staff to take responsibility for specific sections in order to reflect on current practices and seek out further developments and improvements.

For example:

  • Pastoral teams may wish to look at intersectionality and focus in on particular learners in order to create a holistic overview of vulnerabilities. This work can then be shared and discussed with subject teams to explore how vulnerabilities may well be impacting on the learner within the classroom setting. Additional strategies and reasonable adjustments can then be explored and put in place to help address and remove barriers.
  • Subject teams can review the strategies that are suggested within the handbook and trial them in lessons. The impact of strategies can be discussed in team meetings with staff sharing their experiences with one another and suggesting how approaches may be refined. Over time the list of strategies can be added to so that further developments in high quality inclusive teaching can be made.
  • Teaching assistants can share strategies that they use in order to support learners to engage within lessons. Their insight can contribute to additional strategies being adopted by teachers and other colleagues so that good practice is shared across the school. Equally, teaching assistants can discuss and share strategies that have helped learners to become more independent and include them in updated one-page profiles to highlight what the learner can do to support themself.

Considerations for humanities and secondary reading and writing

The handbook does not address what can be done to develop inclusive lessons in humanities. However, staff from these subjects can review the guidance given to other subjects and adapt it for their own subject area. Over time humanities will then have clear ideas and guidance on what can be done to create inclusive lessons, inclusive environments, curriculum considerations and strategies to scaffold learning.

Whilst there is a focus on phonics, reading and writing at a primary level these are not covered at a secondary level. A study by GL Assessment has shown that nationally 25% of 15-year-olds have a reading age of 12 or below, 20% a reading age of 11 and below and 10% a reading age of 9 and below. Secondary teachers therefore need guidance on how they can support reading within their classrooms. Reviewing the primary guidance on reading and writing will be a useful starting point, these strategies can then be refined to suit secondary aged learners. How staff introduce and reinforce vocabulary in lessons can also be added to these strategies as learners face more complex and subject specific terminology. Read all about it: Why reading is the key to GCSE success

SAfE professional development to support inclusive practices

We have a range of high quality, professional learning opportunities that complement The Teacher Handbook: SEND, our offer can be found here: Schools Alliance for Excellence | Our Offer

Networks to support inclusive practices : We will also be promoting this handbook through our dedicated professional learning networks which can be found at: Booking Schools Alliance for Excellence

Supporting pupils with SEND through QFT in primary English
Strategic leadership of inclusive practice Whole School SEND
SENCo leadership programme
Primary Assistant HT / Phase Leader Pastoral Network
Secondary Deputy Heads Network
Heads of Sixth Network
SENCo Update for Surrey schools
Primary Pupil Premium Network
KS3 Pastoral Network
KS4 Pastoral Network
Secondary English Network
Secondary Maths Network
Secondary Science Network
Secondary History Network
Secondary Geography Network
Secondary MFL Network
Secondary Computer Sciences Network
Secondary Music Network
Secondary PE Network
Secondary RE Network
Secondary Art / Photography Network

Please note that this is a 2-part blog – The second article by Kenny can be accessed here. In part 2, Kenny outlines the key points raised in each chapter of the report.

Our thanks to Kenny Wheeler, SAfE Inclusion Lead for contributing this article.

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