SEND Support

SEND Support

The journey started with a simple question in 2007, whilst I worked at Alder Community High School in Tameside, as Head of Geography, ” If I give you a few extra free periods next year, will you run a nurture group with six year 8 students and try and to make sure they don’t all get permanently excluded before they get to year 11? Oh, and I’ve booked for you to take them indoor climbing next week to bond”. No training, just a headteacher’s belief and trust in my innovative abilities. Just for the record, they all got to year 11 and some even went to the Prom. We achieved this through a combination of outdoor activities, such as climbing, mountain biking (I’m a British Cycling qualified mountain bike leader and Go-Ride coach), team-building and the old faithful – manhunt, but alongside this we developed tailored support, qualifications within the alternative curriculum and also a programme of preparation for adulthood, before the Wolf report was published in 2011 and blew the house down (couldn’t resist sorry) the year following my nurture group’s Prom.

 

After such a fulfilling time the next step was to use the strategic experience I had gained to become a SENCO at Harrytown Catholic High School in Stockport, during 2012,  and broaden the range of children’s needs which I could support. In the post-Wolf era, the outdoor activity was now more along the lines of having the car window open on the way to various meetings, but the belief that I could be a voice for a greater number of disadvantaged children and their parents helped maintain my motivation.

 

The experience gained over the first few years, followed by quadrupling numbers of children with SEND joining Harrytown meant that we needed to rapidly adapt our approach to supporting their needs. With the backing of a very supportive headteacher and some amazing support staff we managed to develop a dynamic model for working to meet need with a relatively small increase in expenditure.

 

So after all the experience gained throughout my teaching career I find myself working out my last four weeks as a public servant. I took the plunge and decided to set up my own business as a SENCO consultant. If there is one thing that being a SENCO has taught me it is that it is one of the loneliest jobs in teaching. Everybody knows how to do your job but nobody wants to do it, but they all want to tell you how to do it! The business is aimed at helping stressed out SENCOs to have some time to themselves, so that they don’t have to work 60 hour weeks to get all the meetings, paperwork, marking, planning and assessing completed. Instead some of the strategic and smarter ways to work that I have used can be shared in the hope that they can get a life back.

So I plan to be writing about some of the funnier conversations and experiences I’ve had over the years to lighten the mood, but also to give some concrete examples of things that work and SEND Support (pun only applies to UK mainland) to save you time as you work alone in your SENCO world!

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