Towards best practice in special educational needs and disability for teacher education
This project focuses on exploring the best way to prepare beginning teachers for working with children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in the classroom and supporting them in achieving effective inclusion in the classroom.
- Summary of methods
We explore this via a pilot programme in which a cohort of 20 primary and 20 secondary initial teacher education students are following a specialist two year route. They are following this route from 2013 to 2015. A curriculum for this route was devised following a detailed review of the literature on Inclusion, SEN and teacher education, as well as consultation with leading experts from the IOE and Swiss Cottage, including the IOE Centre for Inclusive Education and the Centre for Research in Autism Education (CRAE).
This resulted, for this group of students, in their PGCE/SD year, in a set of additional input on working with children with special educational needs and disabilities, in the form of additional face to face sessions on inclusive pedagogy, child development, language and literacy, autism, alternative communication approaches in the classroom and creative approaches to achieving inclusion. The students also spent an intensive week at Swiss Cottage school, where they observed good practice in the classroom as receiving additional specialist input from expert staff at Swiss Cottage. The programme is supported by a range of specialist resources provided on the institution intranet.
Accredited module on inclusion and SEND
This group of students then, in their NQT (newly qualified teacher) year, go on to complete an accredited 30 credit masters level module on inclusion and SEND. This includes input on making effective use of research evidence about diagnostic categories in SEND, as well as on beginning to develop a leadership role in disseminating best practice in achieving effective inclusion of children with SEND. In this regard, it is envisaged that graduates of the programme will go on to have an impact on the practice of other teachers in their own school or across clusters of schools, building on the idea of the "SEND Champion" outlined in the Lamb Inquiry report.
- Funders and contributors
Our project is funded by the Department for Education, under the National Prospectus Grant scheme, National Prospectus Grant (DfE Reference Number 414).
SENJIT has played a key role in the development and implementation of the project, as well as the Centre for Research in Autism Education (CRAE), the Department of Learning and Leadership and the Department of Culture, Communication and Media, as well as Swiss Cottage School.
SEND in ITT project materials
A range of materials, as well as the project report and roadmap, were developed with the SEND in ITT project. These can be useful to other initial teacher education providers, schools, SENCOs, school managers and local authority advisory staff. The route also known as the "SEND Additional Experience" references to this in the curriculum and other materials.
The Year 2 (NQT Year) materials were developed based on an existing module - Developing Professional Enquiry Skills, which has been used over a number of years for development of reflective practice in the NQT year. Thus the Year 2 module is named as Developing Professional Enquiry Skills - SEND or DPES-SEND.
- Curriculum materials
Module Guide for Year 1 of the SEND Additional Experience
SEND Reflective Journal
Module Guide for Year 2 of the SEND Additional Experience
A set of online materials used in Year 2, based around a series of case studies, and the areas of SEND in the Revised Code of Practice. These self study materials are designed to allow ITT students and teachers to engage with theoretical and practical aspects of working with children with SEND and to lay a foundation for further independent study and engagement with evidence based practice. Rather than replace or duplicate existing materials, they provide a framework through which students can begin to make sense of resources such as the complex needs and other national materials.
For each year, curriculum resources were made available to students on Moodle. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for access.
- Project report and roadmap
The final project report and roadmap summarizes the evaluation undertaken during Year 1 and Year 2 of the project, including the analysis of a series of questionnaires and interviews undertaken with students and school mentors involved with the project. It also reports on the outcomes of two project seminars in which a range of stakeholders (school leaders, other institutions involved in teacher education, etc.) came together to discuss the issue of how best to prepare teachers for working with children with special educational needs and disabilities.
The roadmap sets out possibilities for how teacher education in England could and should be developed to teachers are well equipped to achieve effective inclusion in the classroom.