Inclusion – Support for a professional discussion

I have just read and reblogged a reply to Tom Sherringhams post about inclusion and exclusion in relation to the learning of others by the small group who inevitably thwart our behaviour systems and sanctions. http://headguruteacher.com/2015/01/04/inclusion-and-exclusion-in-a-community-school/

Since doing this I have re. read some of it and began focussing on the SEND part of the article. The partially sighted boy is a great example to use (see below for an extract) for many to understand the entitlement of these students. However, there are many others out there on the autistic spectrum etc. that are just not being recognised.  Some of this is because the class teacher knows that something is wrong/different but cannot put their finger on it, hence the book A practical guide to supporting EAL and SEN pupils. It is for these very practitioners so that they can then talk to the SEN department/ Headteacher/consultant with more evidence for a truly professional discussion.

Included in the book are tick boxes for class teachers to work out if they support the child in their classroom including asking, in relation to language development, whether the teacher speaks at a pace the child can follow, reinforces key messages and asks a range of open and closed questions.

Following on from that, is a comprehensive tick list that incorporates general learning difficulties which include all the following; Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dyspraxia, Dysgraphia, Speech,language and communication needs, Autism, Social, emotional and mental health difficulties (SEMH), and Sensory impairment – Hearing and vision. By ticking the child’s traits it is easier to start working out where the child has a building block missing. In turn this allows the professional to have a more defined conversation rather than a vague ‘This child is not learning but distracting others. I am following our behaviour policy. What can I do?’

To support this there are further ideas throughout the book including looking at the classroom environment, provision mapping and ways to record evidence for those professional discussions. If you are interested in receiving a PDF copy or paperback @15.00 you can get more information by following the link above or email lsbooksinfo@gmail.com.

Recently in school I met a very happy young man who was wheelchair bound, and had a voice recorder to express his very good sense of humour. It was quickly made clear by him that he was very able academically, and I could see that the school had in process some great practices which ensure that he can access the curriculum. He was being taught in main stream classrooms by qualified teachers and the support assistant as part of their remit ensured that tables were heightened to allow wheelchair access etc. (see the emboldening of the sections below).  Tom (Sherringham) is correct – learning what entitlement really means can be scary to start with, and mistakes will be made, but if we always start with the premise of Every child matters then entitlement/equality/diversity etc, etc are all covered as we make sure every child has the tools needed to thrive in school.

Tom writes …. I learned a lot about the principles of SEND inclusion from a boy at KEGS who was partially sighted. His parents had had to fight hard to get him into the school and then championed his needs with passion and determination thereafter. Everything we did wrong was ‘appalling’ in their eyes and that hurt.  We made lots of mistakes and learned a lot but ultimately he did extremely well at GCSE and A level.  Our main learning was to understand the concept of entitlement: we were not doing him a favour when we made special provision for him, we were just giving him what he was entitled to; we learned not to seek gratitude for doing routine tasks; we learned that his teachers needed to teach him directly, not through his Learning Support Assistants; we learned that helping him to access most work wasn’t good enough – it had to be everything, all of the time because anything less was unacceptable.  The key here was getting the resources in place and working with the student and the family, really listening to what they said without being defensive – even though that was hard at times. We got there in the end but he suffered – there’s no doubt about that.

As we start the new year I am sure that we will all strive to do our best, so I may just return to this towards the end of term when we are all tired and sometimes the basics can get lost in politics and all the other things that happen daily.

Behaviour Policy – Have you checked all bases?

I was very interested by this post http://headguruteacher.com/2014/10/04/towards-impeccable-behaviour-part-2-ready-for-launch/ by Tom Sherringham as he appears to have covered all bases, ensuring that everyone knows and understands the new behaviour policy. However what about the much-needed supply staff/cover teachers?

As term progresses the needs of schools mean the reliance on supply staff. These staff cover the lessons due to illness or planned absence. These staff are necessary for the smooth running of the school. Experienced ones are godsends, especially if they have been with the school a while. They know the schools needs, the rules, the teachers and pupils, so leading to a seamless transition between ill teacher and cover teacher. However, this isn’t always the case.

Just consider this scenario

After a late call, a Supply teacher arrives at  Highbury Grove (or any other school) a place they have never been to before. They are met by the receptionist who is off-hand (obviously having a bad start to the day), and just gives a string of instructions of where to find the cover supervisor.

It is a large site, so only the first three instructions were remembered … go through the double doors, down the corridor, outside, then keep left etc., etc. After a few conversations with helpful staff and pupils, the supply teacher arrived at the correct place to find there was no one there. They waited a few minutes and then checked with the first adult that came past, the adult went away and came back with the information that the cover supervisor had gone to cover a lesson. The supply teacher was then given more verbal instructions on where to go next.

On arrival at the correct classroom (despite wrong turns), a teacher was already there, class settled ready to start and had switched on the laptop … it looked good. They said Hi, quickly followed by here is a pack (supply staff had no time to read it) , here is the cover work (no time to read it) and I have to go now…all in one breath, and promptly left.

Cover teacher introduced themselves to the class of 30 bottom set year 8’s and tried to start the lesson. It didn’t take long until the cover teacher felt sorry for the class teacher.  The teacher had done the right thing and had set a great lesson on Power-point, but unfortunately both the supply teacher and students were set up for a failed lesson.

The computer and interactive board were not linked, and surprisingly no tech savvy pupils could make it work either. In addition there was no whiteboard/flip chart to put the information the students needed up, and so the disruption inevitably started. In response the supply teacher looks at the information given by the school, which incidentally is also the C1 etc behaviour policy as described by Tom in his blog. However it simply said C1 place name on the board, then second time add C2 to the name. There was a number to ring but no phone in the room.

The information on one side of A4 was confusing and needed time to digest, but quite simply the supply teacher did not have the time as they had to try to get the hang of it, without the tools to fully support it i.e. there was no whiteboard/flip chart to write the names down at C1 level. At the same time the supply teacher had to maintain discipline and ensure the students were learning, as they were very conscious of those students in the class who wanted to learn and the teacher who expected the work completed.

At break time the teacher reread the instructions, but there was no  clear explanation of what to do when you cannot fulfil the process. The diagram on Tom’s blog is much more understandable and clear of its expectations at all levels. I suggest for Tom and the school to be even more successful, they should consider adding the diagram to the information that I presume they already give to supply staff  re. behaviour policy and classroom expectations. For the supply teacher in this scenario, with no register to know who was in the class, (the register had to go to attendance within ten minutes of lesson start), or if they managed to find out the names, a board to write them down, what do you do?

How many reading this are now shouting, well why didn’t they go to the classroom along the way?? Such a great idea, but this was an isolated classroom and to get to the nearest other teachers/ humans you had to go up at least ten steps and along a long ramp – too far to leave a class of restless bottom set year 8’s.

The next class were bottom set year 9’s, again no way of getting help for the brilliant lesson, so using the small computer screen was the only option. At break time adults arrived to use the kettle in the back-room, so luckily these problems were resolved for the rest of the day.

Despite the students, staff and parents all being aware of this behaviour policy,  it can be complicated if being picked up for the first time, so I urge you Tom and other similar schools before implementing new policies that effect classrooms, just check how easy is it for a supply member of staff – who doesn’t know the school – to pick up, understand and use the new strategy.

Remember you are only as good as your weakest link  – in this case it could be unwittingly the supply teacher for no fault of their own.

NB to support supply/cover staff the following are always really helpful…its not an exhaustive list but a good start

  • register with picture of students
  • cover work – back up incase the link to the school intranet where the work is stored cannot be accessed if the technology lets you down
  • something else in the classroom i.e. whiteboard in-case again incase technology lets the lesson down
  • behaviour policy and a list of the terms management focus i.e. no mobile phones if so x,y,or z happens
  • map showing staff room, classroom and toilet
  • welcoming and then throughout the day helpful reception staff (They are the first people they met, so invariably if there is no one else they will go back to this contact point)
  • senior team or cover manager to look in on isolated teachers, but especially cover teachers to support and help sort out problems particularly at the beginning of the day

Have  a great term

 

Liz