04 SES 10 C, Teachers’ Views I
Parallel Paper Session
This paper evaluates the impact of the TDA National Award for SEN Coordination on the Special Needs Coordinator’s (SENCO) role and practice and the implications for developing the potential of this role in leading teaching and learning and thereby impacting on pupil achievement and engagement. It is located within the growing body of literature on the role of the SENCO in English schools during a period of rapid change in educational policy reflected in new legislation and policy documents in a period of economic austerity (DfE,2011). The SENCO role was made statutory in the 1994 Code of Practice when the roles and responsibilities of SENCOs were outlined, and strengthened by the recommendation that the SENCO should be a member of the senior leadership team in the 2001 Code of Practice; although this was still not a policy requirement. Training for SENCOS was made mandatory in 2009 and funded by the government for all SENCOS appointed since 2008. The continuation of this National Award as well as the funding attached to it has become somewhat ambiguous due to the dissolution of the Training Development Agency (TDA).
Uncertainty around the status of the SENCO and their pedagogical role in English schools is identified in this study and in previous research (Szwed, 2007). This lack of clarity is reflected in a growing body of European research revealing a lack of consensus around the role and status of SENCOs and other professionals responsible for developing provision for learners with special educational needs (SEN), (Lindqvist & Nilholm, 2011; Abbott, 2007; Pijl,S.J. & De Bos , 2001).
An initial cross-sectional survey was sent out to 97 SENCOs in seven English Local Authorities (LAs) who had participated in the training for the National Award for SEN coordination organised by one university in collaboration with LAs. 56 questionnaires were returned, which represented a 58% return rate. Questions within the survey were based on gaining an understanding of the SENCo role and how this has developed from the recommendations within the SEN Code of Practice (2001). Additional questions were based on the themes identified as being fundamental to the learning outcomes of the National SENCO Award devised by the TDA (2009). This generated both quantitative and qualitative data.
Initial findings reported impact of the course on developing the knowledge and the skills for strategically managing SEN policy and provision and leading teaching and learning. In contrast, 89% of the participants made additional comments about the challenges they faced in their role and raised issues about their freedom to strategically impact on issues of collaboration, deployment and budget.
The second phase of the research explored how Appreciative Inquiry as advocated by Cooperrider and Srivastva, 1987, could be used to identify characteristics of effective practice in the implementation of the SENCO role. Finally, the potential of this approach for identifying, exploring and disseminating examples of the effective coordination and leadership of SEN in relation to improving pupil access, engagement and achievement is discussed.
Carr, W. & Kemmis, S. (1986) Becoming critical: Education, Knowledge and Action Research. London: Falmer. Cooperrider, D.L. & Srivastva, S. (1987) "Appreciative inquiry in organizational life". In R. Woodman & W. Pasmore (eds.) Research in Organizational Change and Development 1, 129-169, Greenwich, CT: JAI Press Creswell , J. W. (2009) Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches. London: Sage. DCSF (2009) The Education (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators) (England) Regulations. London: HMSO DfES (2001) Special Educational Needs Code of Practice. Annesly, Nottinghamshire: DfES Publications DfE (2011) Support and aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability. A consultation. London: The Stationery Office. Hannu et al. (2005) On the Problem of Quality in Narratives of Action Research. Paper presented at EERA (European Research Association) Dublin, 9 September 2005. Layton, L. (2005) Special educational needs coordinators and leadership: a role too far? Support for Learning, 20 (2), 53-60. Lindqvist et al. (2011) Different agendas? The views of different occupational groups on special needs education. European Journal of Special Needs Education 26 2 pp. 143-157 Pearson, S. (2008) Deafened by silence or by the sound of footsteps? An investigation of the recruitment, induction and retention of special educational needs coordinators (SENCOs) in England . Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 8 (2), 96-110 Pijl, S.J.& Van den Bos, K . (2001) Redesigning regular education support in The Netherlands European Journal of Special Needs Education 16 (2), 111-119 Rogers, C. & Freiburg,H. (1994) Freedom to Learn (3rd Ed). Oxford: Maxwell Macmillan. Szwed, C. (2007) Reconsidering the role of the primary special educational needs co-ordinator: policy, practice and future priorities. British Journal of Special Education, 34 (2), 96-104 Weddell,C. (2004) Points from the SENCO Forum: Life as a SENCO. British Journal of Special Education, 31 (2), 105.
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