LLSENDCiC - 2020 – Looking forwards upon the Policy and Guidance context for SENCOs
Leading Learning for Special Educational Needs & Disability Community Interest Company (LLSENDCiC) is the parent body of the National Award for SENCO (NASENCO) Provider Partnership. We are a collegiate group of 32 universities and private providers of the NASENCO. Membership of the Provider Partnership is based upon the provider’s course being quality assured as adhering to the regulations and learning outcomes for the NASENCO.
Our Providers work with hundreds of newly appointed and aspirant SENCOs across the country, supporting practitioners to develop their understanding of the work of SENCOs, to grapple with the everyday struggles of leading on inclusion, and develop their theoretical perspective of the SENCO role, whilst gaining a Master’s level Post Graduate Certificate.
This work places our Partners in a privileged position to understand the current challenges for SENCOs in England and the wider policy context for Special Educational Needs.
As we enter 2020, the policy context for SENCOs looks prone for change. 2019 offered us a number of significant reports on the state of SEND policy and procedures in England. These included; the Timpson Review of School Exclusion (May 2019), the National Audit Office report, “Support for pupils with special needs and disabilities in England” (September 2019), the House of Commons Education Committee Inquiry (October 2019), Ofsted & the CQC’s report (October 2019) on the completion of 100 Local Area SEND inspections, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman report, “Not going to plan? - Education, Health and Care plans two years on” (October 2019).
In 2020 we look forward to the DfE commissioned report from the “Major review into support for children with special educational needs”, and the DfE review of the SEN Code of Practice.
Helen Curran, Hannah Maloney, Anne Heavey and Adam Boddison’s recent report “The Time is Now” has highlighted some of the most pressing factors for SENCOs. This report called for a number of developments, including:
- Protected SENCO time and support to reduce the administrative burden on SENCOs
- Making all SENCOs part of the Senior Leadership Team
- Revisiting statutory definitions of SEN
- Alignment and consistency of SEN processes and practices across all local authorities
- Sufficient funding for the SENCO role
- Supervision to support SENCOs in dealing with the significant challenges of their role
In addition to looking forward to the government’s response to these proposals and the forthcoming reports, SENCOs are also expecting the final details of the “engagement model”, which are based upon Barry Carpenter’s “7 Aspects of Engagement”. The draft guidance of these changes, which will replace P Scales 1 to 4 in from the start of the 2020/21 academic year, have recently been published by the DfE.
LLSENDCiC are currently working on a revised set of Learning Outcomes for the NASENCO award. These were last reviewed in 2014 and following a rigorous consultation process the recommendations should be finalised in Spring this year, ready for the DfE to consider, with the aim of the new Learning Outcomes being operational for NASENCO courses. These are likely to strengthen the work of the SENCO as leader.
Further areas of interest for the SENCO in 2020 include:
- How the government will address the ongoing challenges of multi-agency working and the shortcomings of commissioning work which acts as a barrier to effective partnership participation of colleagues in Health and Social Care when SENCOs are working to support learners through EHCPs. Challenges of multi-agency working.
- Clarity of expectation and support for schools in relation to school Mental Health leads. This is a role which needs to be sustainably funded but is reported as frequently being allocated to SENCOs, with the expectation that it will be accommodated within their existing responsibilities and workload.
- Clear guidance on the role of the SENCO within multi-site schools and Multi-Academy Trusts.
- The need for updates on the legality and appropriateness of procedures related to school exclusion, including off-rolling, twilighting and isolation. Current legislation and guidance needs to address these matters and clearer alignment between DfE documents related to this topic and the Mental Health Act Code of Practice (2015) should be developed.
- How the government will address the areas of Early Years, Further Education, Higher Education and Alternative Provision, in relation to SEN, the Code of Practice and the Children and Families Act. Many SENCOs feel that the distinct characteristics and needs of these areas were not fully considered in the development of recent policy and guidance.
This is an exciting year for SENCOs, and LLSENDCiC have every confidence that Whole School SEND, nasen, colleagues, parent and carer groups and all interested and passionate advocates for inclusive education practices will continue to lobby the government to improve the opportunities and outcomes for all learners.
If you are interested in finding out more about the work of LLSENDCiC or would like to become involved with our work, please visit our website at nasenco.org.uk.
Tristan Middleton, Chair of Directors for LLSENDCiC