Governors – part one
Whilst your Head Teacher or Principal is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the school, the strategic responsibilities lie with the governing board (or if you are a multi academy trust with the trustees who may have delegated to local committees).
SEND sits high on the agenda of meetings usually as a standing item or within the “head teacher’s report”. And since every school can set its own agenda; every school has its own requirements.
What do governors need to know and how can your Provision Map software help?
(The first of two blogs)
Who is the SENCO?
Are they qualified?
How often are they in school?
How long have they been in role?
How long do they get for the SENCO role?
Are they a member of the SLT, if not, who do they link to?
Well, Provision Map isn’t going to help much here, but it’s a check on the compliance with the Code of Practice. Governors shouldn’t need to keep asking for this information unless staff turnover in the school is high or perhaps the SENCO is undertaking the NASENCO award.
How Inclusive is the school?
How do I know this school is inclusive?
Do we comply with the SEN policy and Equalities Act 2010?
What reasonable adjustments are made?
Is the accessibility plan up to date?
What is extra-curricular access like?
What is the attendance of SEND pupils and what actions are taken to support?
What do exclusions look like for SEND pupils and what actions are taken to support/avoid?
What does transition look like?
If I wanted to demonstrate to a governor that my school was inclusive, I’d take them on a walk around, however, during the current situation and considering that governor meetings tend to be held early evening I need some ‘paper’ evidence of inclusion. This is where Provision Maps starts to play a role. By running the provision summary report (REPORTS>Provision Summary) you have a list of everything you have in place, why and how many students are involved. Already anonymised, so no worries about sharing confidential information inadvertently.
I advocate adding reasonable adjustments as provisions or at the very least as a box on a plan. Not only does it provide an evidence trail of what is in place for students and allow you to share this very inclusive approach with the governing board, but it also means that future staff can see what was in place. I’m sure we’ve all been on the receiving end of the student who just won’t settle when they move to a new class…only to discover the previous teacher had some really simple strategy up their sleeve that hadn’t been shared.
We know that the attendance of pupils with special educational needs tends to be slightly lower than the average attendance of other pupils. Often, this is because children on the SEN register have medical needs too. (Medical needs alone are not a reason to include on the SEN register.). For children with cognition and learning needs, missing school for one week can often put them at an even greater disadvantage than their peers. Equally so, children with communication and interaction needs, may find it difficult to settle back in to school and those with a part-time timetable struggle further. All of which means you need staff, time and resources to ensure those children do not fall further behind, communication is upheld and that a smooth pathway to return is possible. Often, we forget to map those things. The child that needs to come in 20 minutes after everyone else, the one that needs 10 minutes with a key worker to check their diary for the day, the parent who needs a reassuring phone call at break and lunch and a 5-miute update at the end of the day. Whilst your governors don’t need that detail, they do need to know that you are doing things to support attendance and also why you need 9 TAs at the beginning and end of each day who can’t be on duty! Remember if it costs time, staff or resources, you can log it as a provision within the program.
For exclusions, (either post-exclusion or avoiding an exclusion) we are often looking at behaviour programs and intensive staff support. Schools do not exclude lightly and despite the headlines many SEN children who receive an exclusion have enormous packages of support in place and staff who have bent over backwards trying everything to avoid. Whilst we report to governors regularly about exclusions data, sometimes an exclusions panel has to be formed (when the fixed term exclusions reach a certain value or when the child is permanently excluded) at which the governors have to consider whether or not the child’s needs have been identified and catered for sufficiently to avoid the exclusion in the first place. Remember, you can’t exclude a child for a behaviour that is synonymous with their needs (eg, excluding a child with verbal Tourette’s for making noises/swearing).
Quality of Teaching/Progress
Does teaching meet needs?
Are the gaps narrowing?
Is progress accelerated?
What is the effectiveness of the interventions used?
Are they value for money?
How is additional adult support used?
How is the impact of this measured?
What is the impact of the use of external agencies?
Now, this is what the program was designed for! We can’t write the narrative for you but pulling the data to support these questions is fairly painless!
REPORTS>Costs is a good place to start even for an outcomes report (if you haven’t reviewed a provision, perhaps because that’s not due for a few weeks, it won’t appear on an outcomes report, but it will appear on a costs report.)
My choice would be:
Which generates this report:
Of course, having a play with the filters and choosing the best report for you is the ideal solution. If you needed mor granular detail, you could include pupils as the third filter and then export to excel and remove their names but keep the ‘data’.
To show the use of staff, especially when trying to show you need more staff, can be done through REPORTS>Time Allocation. Whilst deceptively simple, this is a really powerful tool. I would choose to breakdown my member of staff and demonstrate how many pupils they are involved with and the number of hours they have allocated. If you include your external agencies as named staff in the provisions this report can be used there too.
This report (REPORTS>Costs):
Which generates this report:
Of course, you will need to remove ‘staff’ names…but services (external agencies) can be left on there. Not only is this report showing me the impact (progress) but also the cost of that provision.
Don’t forget to look out for part 2 of Governors on 18th December, covering Funding/Training, Identification, and External & Voices.