SEND and the Secondary Curriculum
I have thought long and hard about where to start with this Secret SENCo Blog post and ultimately decided that the best place to start is with Curriculum. The new Ofsted Framework has put the curriculum right at the heart of what a school should offer to its pupils. Not only pupils who are achieving ‘age related expectations’ (what does this mean anyway?) but also for those pupils where there are special educational needs. It is the SENCos job to ensure that the curriculum meets the needs of all the pupils under their care. What might this look like? What role does the SENCo have in determining the appropriateness of a subject’s curriculum for the SEND pupils? I think it is an interesting dilemma. I was determined to become a SENCo almost from the outset of my career, the drive for this was that I wanted to ensure that the pupils in my care would leave school with the very best outcomes ‘for them’ so that they could go onto the next stage of their life with something upon which to build. Almost opposed to this personal view and drive is the need for schools to meet targets set by previous assessment data, or measured against ‘age related’ expectations where the special needs are a significant barrier to achievement. Subject leads, therefore, have to create a curriculum that has to meet these needs whilst ensuring that pupils are supported appropriately. As well as the broader curriculum aims there is a need to develop an alternative curriculum offer to help pupils meet their more specific needs. At my current, and previous, school I have actively removed many pupils from Modern Languages. This removal has allowed us to deliver high quality Literacy, Numeracy and other interventions without impacting upon the wider curriculum. This is carried out during key stage 3 and helps to build skills which allows for a pupil better able to access the school curriculum. As the pupils enter key stage 4 we select pupils for whom a full curriculum would not be appropriate and build a bespoke offer around these pupils. This offer can include one (or many) of the following: • Curriculum Support option (Entry Level English and maths, revision skills, vocabulary skills) • BTEC workskills • Range of BTEC subjects. By allowing pupils to choose non-GCSE options this enables us to give individuals support around their specific needs. This should be the driving force of the SENCo, making sure that an individual with special educational needs can make progress and achieve the best outcomes ‘for them’ within a culture of support. I think it is important to do this without worrying too much about Progress 8 measures whilst balancing the need of school to have this a one of the central pillars of school accountability. That is why I welcome the new Ofsted Framework. If the framework is applied in the way it reads then judgements will become much more balanced and not be entirely focused on the narrow measures currently used and it will be the SENCo (amongst others) who will be pivotal in showing Ofsted how the Curriculum offer for your pupils meets the needs of all pupils and how additional support/alternative curriculums ensure that progress can be made. What are your thoughts about curriculum development, the Ofsted framework and the role of the SENCo in this regard?