By Gavin Mackintosh -
Specialists from the Special Education And DisabilIty Needs(SEND) across England are on a mission to create a network of 10,000 schools over the next two years to spread best practice for pupils with special educational needs.
Children’s minister, Nadhim Zahawi, the children’s minister, met with newly-appointed regional SEND leaders this week to talk about setting up training hubs across the country.The plan is to involve about 7,000 schools to join the network by March next year, and hit an increased target of 10,000 by March 2020, Zahawi told specialists at the National Association of Special Educational Needs annual conference this morning:
They are talking best practise and we are going together to scale it up across England. The leaders will bring schools together in regional “hubs” to share knowledge and resources about supporting pupils with SEND. The leaders will also make sure specialist provision is “embedded” within any school improvement plans.
“They’re not trying to re-invent the wheel. They’re taking best practice, and we are going together to scale it up across England,” Zahawi said.
The regional leaders initiative is part of the government’s new “SEND school workforce programme”, which will focus on building a “community of practice” across the country. It will be delivered by the Whole School SEND consortium and led by Nasen over the next two years.
Researchers at University College London will also be working with the government to look at current SEND training and continuing professional development.
“It is important for us to be able to identify any gaps in the available CPD to enable us to target the resources to those areas, and ensure all practitioners can access the CPD they need to progress.”
The national award for special educational needs co-ordination (SENCo), held by teachers in schools with particular responsibility for pupils with SEND, is under review.
The government wishes to “ensure the qualification provides the right training”, said Zahawi, who also pledged to address the “drift” of special educational needs pupils away from mainstream schools into special schools.
Zahawi said the government must “understand the causes of this and ensure our mainstream schools are supported to deliver “high-quality support” for pupils with education, health and care plans.
Schools should be incentivised to support these pupils, including being “rewarded” by Ofsted for inclusive policies.