13. How do we maintain a high level of expertise, training and experience of school staff in SEND?
Staff are skilled in supporting children with the various types of SEND. Our SENDCo holds the National Award for Special Educational Needs Co-ordination. As well as this, she maintains her knowledge on all aspects of SEND through attending regular training and reading specialist publications, etc. She also attends Local Education Authority SENDCo forums and meetings, and SEND conferences.
We utilise staff meetings and in-service training days to keep all staff informed and up to date on new SEND-related initiatives and to deliver instruction on identified areas of training need. SEND training is provided either by the SENDCo or by outside specialists such as an Educational Psychologist. Governors and parents are also invited to develop their understanding of the strengths and needs of SEND pupils through accessing training that school staff have undertaken, a recent example of which is the delivery of training in understanding and supporting dyslexic children by our SENDCo. School staff also recently received training from the ‘Your Healthcare CIC Hearing Impaired Team’ in order to enable the staff to be confident with strategies for promoting inclusive teaching for hearing-impaired pupils.
In order to further support the needs of pupils on the SEND register, the school currently employs an OCR Level 5 Specialist Literacy Support teacher who provides small group or one-to-one tuition for pupils having difficulty in acquiring, retaining or applying literacy skills. We also have an Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA) who assists pupils with social, emotional, mental health difficulties and receives regular ongoing training from an educational psychologist. We send our Teaching Assistants (TAs) who deliver Intensive Speech and Language Packages, colourful semantics and narrative sessions to regular training from the ‘Your Healthcare CIC’ Speech and Language team, giving them an excellent knowledge and understanding of this area of SEND. We also access specialist teaching when necessary, an example of which is the current specialist teacher for the deaf who visits on a weekly basis.
At St Agatha’s we are committed to promoting effective partnerships with outside agencies. These associations play an important part in adopting the graduated approach and aid the school identify, assess and make provision for children with SEND to ensure that adequate support is provided for children with SEND. External support services play an important part. External support services can advise teachers on new targets for Learning Support Plans and provide practical support strategies. Meetings with educational/clinical psychologists, occupational therapists, social services, GPs, the school nurse, paediatricians and speech and language therapists are held, when necessary, to ensure effective collaboration in identifying, making and reviewing provision for children with SEND.