Policy guide: Draft SEN Code of Practice

Jane Friswell, interim CEO of Nasen, outlines how the new document will change the way that SEN needs are met

The draft Code of Practice (along with draft regulations) was published on 4 October and is out for consultation until 9 December.

Nasen welcomed the draft code of practice and the SEN regulations that sit alongside it. The document clearly and concisely sets out the statutory guidance for all those working with, and caring for, children and young people with special educational needs. For the first time, this Code of Practice covers the age range from 0 – 25 and is very clear about the expectations from education, health and social care to ensure that every individual has their needs met across all services.

What is the significance of the new Code of Practice?

The Code of Practice will come into force on 1 September 2014 and from that day onwards all professionals engaged in supporting young people with SEN will have to have regard to the document. Some elements will be a statutory requirement (must) and some will be best practice (should).

Although the Code of Practice sits across all age ranges and all services and is very clear about the roles and responsibilities of local authorities, health and social care, chapters 6, 7 and 8 will be the key sections for early years, schools, colleges and other education and training providers. Within these three chapters are a number of themes that will need to be embedded within educational practice.

What are the categories of need?

There are still four categories of need but the behaviour, social and emotional category has been replaced with social, mental and emotional health. This is to ensure that teachers and the wider school workforce address the underlying needs of a young person and do not concentrate on the behaviour.

Will training requirements change?

The key message for schools and colleges within this draft code is that every teacher is a teacher of every pupil, thus reinforcing nasen’s Every Teacher campaign. The Code of Practice states that:

‘Special educational provision is educational or training provision that is additional to or different from that generally for others of the same age. This means provision that goes beyond the differentiated approaches and learning arrangements normally provided as part of high quality, personalised teaching.’

This has wide implications for schools as they will need to offer high-quality professional development and training to ensure that their workforce has the knowledge, skills and expertise to deliver personalised teaching for all pupils.

How will interventions be put in place?

The Code of Practice reinforces the need for early years providers, schools and colleges to put appropriate evidence-based interventions in place quickly once a young person has been identified with SEN. These will be provided as part of a graduated response that will include regular reviews of progress. Any planned use of additional support should be outcomes-focused, with relevant academic and developmental targets, and progress towards these targets should be tracked and reviewed regularly, at least termly.

What is the graduated approach?

The graduated approach is based on a four-step model of actions that need to take place.

Assess – during the course of their everyday teaching, the teacher will have assessed a pupil’s needs in many different ways. These assessments should be regularly reviewed. Support from the SENCO or other agencies that are involved with young person may also inform this assessment stage.

Plan – if it is decided that the young person requires SEN support then parents must be notified. A programme of interventions should be developed with the teacher, SENCO and parents and shared with all those who may be working with the young person. The support and intervention must be based on reliable evidence of effectiveness and be provided by staff with appropriate skills and knowledge.

Do – the class or subject teacher remains responsible for working with the young person on a daily basis. Where an additional adult is providing the support, the teacher will still have overall responsibility for that young person’s learning and progress.

Review – pre-planned reviews should take place regularly and monitor the effectiveness of the support and the impact on the child’s progress. The views of the young person and their parents should also be taken into account. The teacher, working with the SENCO, should revise the support and intervention in light of the review and set fresh outcomes.

This new Code of Practice, sitting alongside the new SEN legislation, will give early years providers, schools and colleges the opportunity to rethink and revise their practice to ensure that all young people are receiving the very best education in every school.

There are still many questions left unanswered and aspects of the Code of Practice that may need further clarification. Nasen will be compiling a detailed response to this very important document and will be sharing our findings at nasen Live 2014 http://www.nasenlive.org.uk/.

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