Re: Local education authority Additional Support Needs documents
As you know I am working abroad and I had not come across, nor does our school use the ‘Supporting Children’s Code of Practice’ (2010). For some reason, our Board of Directors for ECOLINT Foundation has been continually resistant to suggestions that our Foundation create an SEN or LS Code of Practice, so I do not have a comparable document from my institution to compare your questions to or to comment on.
I have read “Supporting Children's Learning Code of Practice” (2010) and I do feel that it explains well - in lay man’s terms - the reasons why some students may require additional support and what that support may consist of. I feel the main principles behind the document should be included as good practice in any school, in any country in the world, whether the institution has a statutory Code of Practice, SEN code, or not:
“All children and young people need support to help them learn…….some children and young people require support which is additional to, or otherwise different from, the educational provision that is generally provided to their peers in order to help them benefit from school education.”
As the Code states “The definition of additional support provided in the Act is a wide one and it is not possible to provide an exhaustive list of all possible forms of additional support” but it does refer to the fact support should be individualised, taking into account the individual needs and circumstances of each student with ASN, and that it is the responsibility of the school to provide an “Effective and efficient” education, especially for at risk students. My main question regarding this would be, how does a school or local authority decide what is an “effective & efficient” education for a child with ASN? The “effective & efficient” statement reminded me of the USA’s FAPE law that states it is the right of each student to a ‘Free and Appropriate Education’, but it varied wildly from one school district to another in how this was interpreted re: levels of support, and in some cases parents would have to threaten legal action if they felt their school district was not providing their child with what they felt was an ‘appropriate education.’
I digress - I appreciated that this document also encouraged “Support (be) provided in ways that are well integrated within everyday practice and do not single out the child requiring additional support” so that support be holistic in nature, and differentiation and multisensory teaching methods ultimately aid all students’ learning, not only those with ASN. As an aside, I particularly appreciated the inclusion of the following statement: “A need for additional support does not imply that a child or young person lacks abilities or skills.”
In reference to whether my ‘authority’ gives guidance about the factors that might give rise to a learner needing additional support, the new process that our school introduced this past academic year (complete with complex and rather intimidating flow charts) was that when a member of staff (or parent) suspected a student had an ASN and felt they required support out-with the main curriculum, a Student Support Group (SSG) form was completed (which is extremely lengthy) detailing the reasons for referral, the student’s educational background, medical history, and a detailed breakdown of reading, writing, maths, communication, attention & development and behaviour issues. Once submitted, the SSG team (Head-teacher, PYP Learning Support Coordinator, School Psychologist, class teacher and any other interested or involved staff) met to discuss the student and their needs. The staff who worked with the student highlighted the student’s 1) strengths, 2) weaknesses, 3) aims, 4) action/s to be taken and 5) set a review date. The outcome of the SSG may result in short term push-in or pull-out LS services for (e.g.) handwriting or long term support (e.g.) for dyslexia or dyscalculia, observation by the psych. ed. or LS coordinator, psych. ed. screening, referral to an outside agency for support (e.g. SpLTh and OT), or just a ‘monitor and observe’.
I found with the introduction of this new process and paperwork, teachers were not submitting referrals on students who I knew had ASN from working with them last year but who – under the new rules – could not attend pull-out LS without an SSG. Across the board, classroom teachers were rather hesitant to embark on this lengthy, in-depth form filling process. I feel we need a much simpler model based on the US RTI which means that the students receive support at the time they need it – which unfortunately was/is not happening with this involved and lengthy process. In brief, I feel the guidance given by the administration on factors that might give rise to a learner needing additional support has actually delayed and hindered the support system.
Finally, I have searched and searched endlessly for a suitable definition of reference to the term ‘additiobal support’, only finding use of it in relation to technology! I would like to take ad educational guess that ‘addi-‘ is from the Latin verb ‘addo-‘ which means “to bring/add/augment” and the ending ‘-obal’ refers to ‘all the parts of something’, a ‘completeness’ so to speak. So, the morphology of the word could refer to comprehensive, augmented support for a student’s needs......