Archive | Special Needs RSS feed for this section

Ofsted Annual Report 2015/16

1 Jan


Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools (HMCI), published his fifth and final Ofsted annual report on the education system in England on Thursday, 1 December 2016.  He retired 30 days later.  In presenting the report, Sir Michael said “a world class education system is within our grasp – but only if serious capacity challenges are urgently addressed”.

Sir Michael stressed that a north/south ‘geographical divide’ meant the ablest pupils in the North and Midlands were less likely to reach A/A* at GCSE. He said: “Standards can only truly be considered high if they are high in every part of the country and for all pupils regardless of background or ability.”

However, his report is, in the main, positive.    The country’s schools/academies, he avers, had made progress over the last five years. Educators could be justly proud.  “Young people are getting a better deal than ever before,” he said.  School/academy leaders responded well to the changes in the system.  The decision to replace the “satisfactory” judgement with “requires improvement” led to schools/academies upping their game, making a greater effort ensuring that pupils are offered the very best possible education.     Of the former 4,800 satisfactory primary schools/academies, 79% were now good or outstanding and, of the previous satisfactory secondary ones, 56% were good or better.

Continue reading

Pupil Exclusion: Legal Requirements and Good Practice

28 Aug

I           Introduction

The most daunting and challenging aspect of school governance after that of appointing a headteacher, is dealing with the aftermath of a pupil exclusion by the headteacher.  Governors are exhorted to develop policies where all pupils may thrive.  An implicit requirement is the promotion of inclusion. Youngsters should feel part and parcel of the school community, where they are safe and happy.  Yet, it is open to the headteacher to exclude a pupil that does not fall into line with the school’s behaviour policy.   Theoretically, the concept is anathema to the running of an outstanding school.  In fact, Ofsted inspectors raise quizzical eyebrows whenever they make judgements on schools if pupils are ‘turfed’ out routinely.

Yet, there are some pupils, for a multitude of reasons who make it impossible not only for them to thrive but also their peers.  They are disruptive, aggressive, inattentive and, altogether, unwelcome to the school community.   How often have I heard it said that such-and-such a pupil is like a virus or bacterium to the school-body politic and has no place in education.   Yet, we have a legal (if not moral) responsibility to educate all our children – if the parents of a child so choose to have them educated at school (and not otherwise with home-tutoring).

So how can governors deal with this burning issue without getting themselves burnt? At the outset, the governing body has to establish a pupil behaviour policy.  In an academy or a multi-academy trust (MAT), the trust, per se, will determine who is responsible for constructing such a policy.

A good policy will set out the school’s/academy’s expectations of pupils.  It will describe strategies for promoting good behaviour – especially opportunities for children to learn how to live in amity with one another and adults – and the rewards they may expect.

The policy will describe the measures the school will take to bring them to heel where, despite the best efforts of the staff, pupils misbehave.  It will be a hierarchy of sanctions.  In extremis, pupils could be excluded for fixed-term periods, and after that, permanently.

Statutory guidance from the Department for Education states that permanent exclusion should be used as a last resort, when all other methods for promoting the child’s good behaviour fails. It must be lawful, reasonable and fair. The policy should explicitly state the kinds of behaviour which will result in permanent exclusion, such as peddling drugs – in or outside the school – and bringing a weapon to school.

A school may not discriminate on the basis of protected characteristics such as disability, race and/or gender.  It must give particular attention to vulnerable pupils treating them fairly.    It also states that only the headteacher may exclude, unless, of course, s/he is unwell or the post vacant, in which case, the deputy headteacher or acting headteacher is empowered to exclude.  Continue reading

Changes in provision for young people with special needs

25 Aug

I           What are the changes?

Changes in the provision we make to provide for pupils with special educational needs (SENs) in our schools and further education took effect from 1 September 2014.  These arrangements will cover young people from the time they are born to the age of 25 (instead of 18 as it formerly was).

The Department for Education (DfE) issued a new Code of Practice for Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) on 30 July 2014 to which all schools, local authorities and health authority must adhere.   The Code is in accord with the Children and Families Act 2014.

The nine important changes in the Code are on pages 13 and 14 of the document. These are as follows.

(a)          There is a clearer focus on the participation of children and young people and their parents/carers in decision-making at individual and strategic levels.

(b)          There is a stronger focus on high aspirations and on improving outcomes for children and young people.

(c)           The Code includes guidance on the joint planning and commissioning of services to ensure the education, health and social care agencies closely co-operate.

(d)          The Code includes guidance on publishing a Local Offer of support for children and young people with SEN or disabilities.

(e)          There is new guidance for education and training settings on taking a graduated approach to identifying and supporting pupils and students with SENs (to replace School Action and School Action Plus).

(f)           For children and young people with more complicated needs a co-ordinated assessment process and the new 0-25 Education, Health and Care plan (EHC plan) replace statements and Learning Difficulty Assessments (LDAs).

(g)          There is a greater focus on support that enables those with SENs to succeed in their education and make a successful transition to adulthood.

(h)          Information is provided on relevant duties under the Equality Act 2010.

(i)            Information is provided on relevant provisions of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Continue reading