A blog about inclusive teaching and supporting pupils with additional needs.
When considering pupils with additional needs—be it SEND, a hearing impairment, PP or AGT—the most common mistake we make is treating those needs as additional. Accounting for diverse thinking is integral to what makes teaching effective.
The reason this matters is because our aim is to close the gaps between pupils. In terms of attainment gaps, if you’ve got a pupil who starts behind it’s simple logic that they can never catch up without making more progress than everyone else. What that means is that they need to benefit from the teaching provided more than others in the group. So ask yourself a question, does my teaching benefit pupils with additional needs more than the other pupils in my class? Because if it doesn’t the gap is widening with every lesson you teach, both in terms of attainment and progress.
When we talk about inclusion, we don’t mean treating every pupil the same, we mean ensuring that every pupil can participate in and benefit from teaching equally. Often, strategies that have traditionally been used to support pupils with additional needs have inadvertently widened the achievement gap. For example, sitting a TA next to your pupil with SEND seems like the most effective strategy, but not if the result of that is the TA takes over the teaching of that child. As the subject expert in the room it is your time that children with SEND need most.
The EEF Guidance Report on SEND in Mainstream Schools makes 5 key recommendations. I would strongly recommend reading the full report and it isn’t a long read at all. You can find it here, but also these are the recommendations:
Recommendations 1 and 3 are probably the most relevant to daily classroom practice, although both are dependent on recommendation 2.
In summary, the report is in agreement with much of the other research in this area: high quality teaching that takes into account individual learning needs is by far the most effective strategy to close learning gaps. Where this is not enough, it should be supplemented (but not replaced) by evidence-based interventions and the strategic deployment of Teaching Assistants.
The Kennet Approach
At Kennet we have adopted a three step approach to meeting need:
Start with the Scheme of work and plan high quality teaching. Next, consider how to ’tilt’ this teaching to the needs of your class. Which teaching strategies should be emphasised? Finally, make sure that there are no specific barriers to learning for individual pupils. Check the advice note.
What do you mean by ‘High Quality Teaching’?
The EEF lists 5 strategies which are supported by research and that teachers should consider emphasising for pupils with SEND:
- Flexible grouping
- Cognitive and metacognitive strategies
- Using technology to support pupils with SEND
- Direct Instruction
‘Emphasising’ is exactly what we mean when we talk about tilting your teaching. How will you make greater use of certain techniques in response to the particular needs of your class.
Over the next few weeks we will be publishing a series of blogs to expand on some of the ideas above (see those in bold), so watch the blog for more information.