Primary Special Needs - A Day In The Life of a SENCO
What the resource is
A video set in a Primary School following the SENCO through her day. The school community encompasses a range of pupil experience from bereavement to drug abuse, with over 30 different languages.The SENCO explains her vision of inclusion and her understanding of the role.Consideration is given to time management, organisation and communication skills. She discusses her role as inclusion manager, classroom practitioner and member of the senior management team. She highlights the importance of networking with support services and the school's vision of ‘true inclusion'
The aims of the resource
To define the range and scope of a Primary SENCO's role as a skilled communicator and senior manager who promotes inclusive practice.
Key findings or focus
The programme focuses on the work of a SENCO in an inner city school that deals with 25% of the children identified as having a special educational need. The children have a large variety of languages as their mother tongue and there is a high degree of pupil mobility, as well.
The programme demonstrates the:
- Extent of the SENCO role in a primary mainstream setting
- The need for the SENCO to be part of Senior Management Team.
- The effective communication skills that are a key element for the role of the SENCO
- This primary setting has an emphasis on full inclusion, with the rights of the individual to be educated within their local community underpinning this individual SENCO role.
The quality, authority and credibility of the resource
This is one perspective on the role of the SENCO which may not be representative of experience across the primary sector.
The video focuses heavily on general organisation skills and gives little detail of skills related to the role of the primary SENCO or a detailed account of classroom practice.
The programme begins with a meeting between the SENCo, a teaching assistant and a literacy expert from an ebd unit focussing on a child described as having severe literacy and behavioural difficulties. Clearly, this child appears to present very challenging needs and the expert compliments the SENCO and the school on their success at keeping the child in lessons. The discussion focuses on the negative expressing surprise at the school's success with the disconcerting phrase "you are sitting on a time bomb here because his behaviour is going to deteriate" raising very negative expectations of the likely long term prospects for this child rather than considering specific behaviour management techniques that might enable the child to participate more fully in the lesson. He needs warrant 15 minutes individual time with an adult per day but it is unclear from the discussion how that valuable resource will be employed to best effect.
Tutors might like to discuss the extent to which the dialogue is really about promoting the expertise and future longevity of the EBD unit than enhancing the mainstream schools capability to deal with this child's needs.
Later on a multi agency meeting discusses the same child and it explained that the parent is unable to be present. It would be very brave for a parent of a child with the needs as described to appear on this programme but without her there or a parental advocate there is little advocacy for the child. The first issue of attendance is made to be negative. He is achieving 90% per cent attendance which could be quite high for a child at a school facing such a high degree of challenge but this is regarded negatively and, without the parent being present, a strategy for this and the reported frequent lateness can't be fully explored. The voiceover identifies that the meeting's conclusion was to seek statutory assessment. This is a strategy that can be used by schools to move child to specialist provision or gain more specialist resources and advice for the school to help the child.
The SENCO stresses the importance of her being part of the senior management team so that she is able to contribute to the whole school approach to inclusion. She emphasises that any special educational needs support should not separate a child from his/her peers.
Tutors might like to discuss what forms of special need support such can best involve peers and if any individual support can be implemented to avoid isolation from peers.
It is reported that as part of the inclusion policy each class termly reviews all children to see if any are not making expected progress. This might be considered to be what is expected as standard practice in assessment for learning. It is also supported by the existing Code of Practice (2001) which has an expectation that class room teachers are alerted to the children in their class not making expected progress.
The implications for ITE tutors/mentors
This could be used as part of SENCO training [CPD] to promote discussion in relation to the inclusion agenda and resource management in a mainstream setting. The programme highlights the extent of the role and the need for good pastoral support for staff as well as pupils. This will give ITE students one perspective of the role of the SENCO and open up discussion on inclusion.
The relevance to ITE students
This will give ITE students one perspective of the role of the SENCO and open up discussion on inclusion.
N.B this is an example of how inclusion is tackled in one setting, The examples of how resources are managed and deployed may be a useful focus for discussion.
Julia Kender and Allison Goddard
The following might be useful to read in conjunction with this resource:
Cowne, E. (2003) Developing Inclusive Practice: The SENCO's Role in Managing Change London: David Fulton
N.B the following journal may assist in the understanding of the role of the SENCO: NASEN (2005) Support For Learning Vol.20 , No.2
Inclusion, SENCO, Primary SEN management, Pastoral Support
Article Id : 13788
Date Posted: 23/10/2007