How to tackle Open Evening or Parents Evening as a SENCO:
So, the second week into the post. I’m pretty lucky that this is a non-teaching role as I have lots of students on the register. I need lots of time to get to know them, to advise staff and to liaise with external agencies and parents. The Bath Spa University research was really helpful in evidencing that I needed plenty of time to do the role. Mine is an all-through school but I would suggest that it is ‘average’ in size. It wouldn’t be fair to say it was ‘large’. I’d also say my percentage on the SEN register is average too, especially within the the parameters set in the table. This suggests I need 4-5 days to undertake the role. But it was interesting to look at the right-hand column and the additional information. I have 32 EHCPs which is far more than the 10 suggested. I also hold the CCET and will be undertaking the access arrangements for students in preparation for public examinations. As a result, I’ve put two proposals to the school. Either an SEN assistant/deputy SENCO, or admin support…
They came to a compromise. I have an apprentice admin assistant, called Freya (who is guided by the reception team in their role although her work is very specific to me) and I have a primary teacher, Adrian, 2.5 days a week who is currently awaiting major surgery and on crutches so unable to teach in the classroom but certainly able to work 1:1 or with small groups, or go and observe a pupil for me. That will really help. When he goes off for his surgery, I’ll have to pick up his work, but hopefully the couple of months that we have will enable me to get lots done and into a routine. We know that after the surgery he will need a phased return so the school have offered him the role for the remainder of the academic year and he has accepted. That’s fantastic!
Getting assessments completed quickly in Provision Map:
My plan is to get all the assessments completed for the older pupils and process those as soon as I can. This will enable me to get to know the pupils at the same time. Then, after October half term (once the arrangements have been submitted) I can focus on getting to know some of the younger pupils. Meanwhile, my assistant is going to start at the bottom, getting to know the Nursery and Reception pupils. Hopefully we’ll meet in the middle!
Making sure all Provisions are entered:
Most of the provisions have now been entered onto Edukey’s Learning Plans and Provision Maps. As I complete the exam concessions I’ll add those too and print it off for the exams team and for all the Heads of Department. I’m going to use School Robins (an add-on feature of the program) to collect evidence of the normal way of working across all subjects. Freya has been sending out those requests for me and they all get collated directly into the student information, so neither of us have to faff about trying to copy and paste into one document. Freya’s job in a few weeks time will be to send a few reminders out, again something that is really easily completed in the program.
Meetings logs are a handy notes tool for open evenings:
Adrian has been using the meetings log feature to record his notes about the nursery and reception pupils. This is brilliant. He wasn’t in yesterday afternoon, when one of the parents asked to see me. I was able to open up the notes whilst walking over to meet them and bring myself up to speed. It was one of those cases where the parent tried to tell me Adrian had agreed to do certain things and she was quite surprised when I was able to correct her and state that wasn’t quite correct. She has older children further up the school, so I’m going to make sure I do my observations and make some notes about them this afternoon.
Termly costed report requests- How to quickly get a costed report in Provision Map:
One of our EHCPs is from another county and they request a termly costed provision map. That meant a trip to the school business manager to make sure I had all the costs I needed, but to be honest it was pretty quick to run the report, throw it in an envelope and send it off. I’ve shown Freya how to do this in the future, although she won’t send it without my signature. We’ve used the report template feature to save the fields she needs so she hasn’t got to try and remember all the check boxes we filled in!
Handy Tips in the SEN department:
Freya and I have also been looking at the large stack of paperwork that seems to come with all my roles. The IT department have given her a desktop scanner. Now, when I get any physical paperwork in the post, she adds a handwritten date at the top and scans it directly in. We save it in a cloud-based SEN drive under the pupil name and then attach the file to the child on Edukey as well. Freya then puts the piece of paper in a tray for me to read. I could read it on the system, but that would mean Freya has to send me a list of all the children I need to open. There’s something quite nice about handling paperwork too! Once I’ve read it, I add a note and give it back to Freya.
I highlight the date yellow once I’ve read it. This means Freya knows which ones I’ve read. All will eventually end up highlighted. If Adrian needs to read it as well, he adds a red tick.
I use post-it notes to give Freya additional instructions.
BLUE – email a list of staff to inform them information has been added to the child’s record
GREEN – add the child to my ‘To Do’ list, as there is further action I need to take
PINK – send the attached reply to the author of the letter
YELLOW – add the child to Adrian’s ‘To Do’ list, for further action.
Freya keeps the paperwork in a wallet in a locked filing cabinet. Once a week she takes this and files the paperwork into the correct student files.
It sounds very strict, but I’ve learned that if you have really good processes in place it makes things run more smoothly. It is also helping with Freya whom I’m having to give lots of instruction to at the moment. Sometimes having additional support means it takes your more time than it would to do the job yourself! My theory is that if we continue to work together she’ll pick up the skills and eventually be able to work autonomously.
Prepping for your first network meeting:
We had a network meeting of local SENCOs this week too. I was asked to present about data retention. It horrifies me how many SENCOs, and more scarily DSLs, are guilty of scan and shred. Fortunately, I was able to explain the guidelines and we talked about my filing system.