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20/04

Featured Q&A in SENCo Magazine

Patoss provided brief answers to the topic of "Supporting SENCos" in the February 2017 SENCo Magazine

What barriers to learning do dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties (SpLD) present in the classroom? Learners may present with varied characteristics, but teachers should be aware of impacts detailed within Sir Jim Rose’s 2009 report ‘Identifying and Teaching Children and Young People with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties’ (see tinyurl.com/rose-dld-2009), which comprehensively defines dyslexia and the impact it can have. Adults supporting children with SpLD should be sensitive to the issues that can arise from slower processing of visual and auditory information, weak short-term and working memory and poor organisational skills, and the reduced self-belief, motivation and confidence they can cause.

Learners with SPLD are increasingly being described as ‘neurodiverse’  – how can SENCos help their teaching colleagues to understand this term and its implications? Neurodiversity is a term that acknowledges neurological differences among different individuals and the multitude of variations within those differences. Teachers and TAs should be encouraged to look beyond their initial impressions of a pupil and develop a fuller understanding of their needs based on detailed observations. By building a unique picture of their students’ needs in this way, they can see where different SpLD may overlap.  Seeing pupils in terms of their neurodiversity could therefore potentially result in a more tailored approach to meeting students’ needs. The SENCo’s role should be to ensure information is accessible. Patoss recently contributed to a DfE-funded project that produced a range of free neurodiversity resources for early years, primary, secondary and post-16 learners – further details can be found at tinyurl.com/patoss-nd-res.

How can SENCOs become more confident in analysing a learner’s needs and maximising their outcomes? To make better, more informed choices SENCOs would be advised to access reliable information and utilise evidence-based interventions using resources such as the excellent Education Endowment Foundation (www.educationendowmentfoundation. org.uk). The Dyslexia Literacy and DyslexiaSpLD Professional Development Framework (see tinyurl.com/dspld-framework) provides SENCos and teachers with a wealth of resources, self-assessment modules and other information relating to professional development. For SENCos interested in learning about psychometric assessments, how to analyse reports and how to identify SpLD, Patoss runs a number of excellent day courses, details of which can be found at patoss-dyslexia.org.

How can SENCOs learn to assess for access arrangements and ensure these are consistent with the whole  school approach? Access arrangements can be provided for students with disabilities and learning difficulties who require reasonable adjustments to access examinations. They are based on a student’s needs as reported by subject teachers and support staff, alongside medical evidence, and must reflect a normal way of working. For this reason, access arrangements will require a whole school approach, with the SENCo taking the lead. Our new qualification, ‘Patoss AAA: Assessing for Access Arrangements’, will enable SENCos to assess for access arrangements and complete Form 8 Sections A, B and C.  You can find more informationabout this course at the Patoss website.

How can SENCOs help deliver effective interventions for SpLD learners? Every school should have clear principles regarding the assessment of SEN pupils. SENCos should consider what assessment tools are appropriate for their setting while taking account of the different developmental stages of learning. This will help establish a baseline of strengths and weaknesses for various individuals and pupil groups, and from there, effective interventions can be planned and agreed outcomes reviewed. SENCos should also ensure that those adults assisting the pupils in question possess an appropriate level of skill and knowledge, and that parents and pupils are involved in producing a qualitative profile of some kind (such as a one-page ‘pupil profile’ or ‘pupil passport’). This profile should contain details what has been achieved so far and any next steps that might be needed. The Dyslexia-SpLD Trust’s ‘Framework and Teaching Handbook’ (see tinyurl.com/ framework-and-teaching) is a free resource that does an excellent job of explaining how SENCos can deliver effective interventions using a graduated approach.

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