CfEY - My SEND Journey
Alix Robertson, from the Centre for Education and Youth (CfEY), writes:
Over the last year I have been travelling all over England meeting teachers, pupils, parents and experts for a really exciting project. Together with the Whole School SEND consortium, a group of schools and organisations led by the National Association for Special Educational Needs (nasen), CfEY has made a suite of short films to help new teachers to better understand pupils with additional needs – and they are out today! You can watch them here.
The films address 12 different kinds of special educational need:
- Physical disability
- Acquired brain injury
- Down’s syndrome
- Speech language and communication needs
- Vision impairment
- Hearing impairment
- Social, emotional and mental health needs
As the child of a SENCO, a former English teacher and a volunteer for a charity that works with young people with disabilities, I thought I knew quite a bit about SEND. But I have learned so much from the young people and teachers I have met through this project.
The 12 films will introduce you to some amazing young people and give you a glimpse into their daily lives. The films capture their enthusiasm, humour, strengths and ambitions, as well as some of challenges they are working to overcome.
As well as providing insight into these young people’s experiences, the films provide practical, hands-on tips for new teachers to try in their own classrooms, and advice and guidance from school staff who have ‘been there and done that’. The films will be an excellent resource for teachers who are starting out, but also for those who want to refresh their knowledge about working with pupils with SEND – I really wish there had been something like this when I was an NQT!
While the infrastructure for supporting pupils with SEND is not perfect, these films show that we are incredibly lucky to have an army of ingenious, tenacious and caring teachers who are doing everything they can to support all kinds of young people to achieve to their potential. It is vital we ensure these teachers get the support they need, both from their senior leadership teams, and the education system more broadly. The great practice I have seen during this project comes from prioritising young people with SEND, rather than seeing support for them as an add on.
I’ve also learnt about the work of specialist SEND organisations and how they support schools and families. This is something I wish I’d known more about when I was teaching, as these organisations have such a wealth of knowledge, resources and guidance. The films draw on this expertise to provide new teachers with invaluable insights about supporting SEND pupils.
We are thrilled to be launching these films, but we also want them to be an interactive resource. We are therefore hosting 12 Twitter ‘surgeries’, where you will be able to speak directly with the films’ experts, as well as share your own experiences. We’ll be sharing details via the the CfEY Twitter account, using the hashtag #AskAboutSEND. You can also email me for further information about how to get involved.