Three reports on the National Award for SENCo are published by AfA

News - 08 Sep 2017

Achievement for All has published three reports: a review of the effectiveness of the National Award for SENCo, a review of the SENCo function in early years and FE, and a review of the NASENCo provider group. Their findings and recommendations are summarised here.

AfA (Achievement for All) has published the reports on their website. The first report (‘Evaluation of the impact and effectiveness of the NASENCo’) describes an independent evaluation commissioned by the DfE into the award’s impact and effectiveness on SENCos, school leaders, teachers, pupils with SEND and their parents/carers.

The key findings include:

  • A majority of award-holders and trainees felt that the award increased their confidence, particularly in professional knowledge and understanding, leading and coordinating provision, and personal and professional qualities
  • The lowest ratings were given to ‘modelling effective practice of teaching pupils with SEND’ and ‘encouraging teachers to use action research’
  • There were comments about the challenges of completing Master’s level study with employment in school, and some questioned whether the award needed to be at Master’s level
  • One of the aspects of course delivery rated most highly was networking and sharing practice with other SENCos (which you can also do via the SEND Gateway
  • School staff reported that their SENCo supported them effectively
  • Over a third pf parents and carers felt that they were ‘hardly’ or ‘not at all’ considered as an equal partner in supporting their child’s achievement or wellbeing
  • A third of pupils did not feel supported and did not have opportunities to have their voices heard

The report goes on the make recommendations, including:

  • A ring-fenced element in the funding formula that includes funding for award training and CPD for SENCos
  • Finding ways to ensure the SENCo is part of SLT
  • Funding for local and national SENCo networks
  • A personalised aware delivery to take account of trainees previous experience and offer flexible dates
  • Ensuring trainees have sufficient time allocated to undertake the work for the award
  • Encouraging potential SENCos to shadow an experiences SENCo
  • Protecting time for the SENCo to engage in networks

These recommendations would all be very positive for SENCos, and so for the children and young people that they support, if they were implemented.

The second report (‘Review of the SENCo function in early years and further education settings with recommendations for SEN coordination’) considers whether the NASENCo should be extended to these sectors. The report found that both sectors indicated strong interest in a SENCo qualifications pathway from Level 3 to Level 7, with EY being more likely to access the pathway from Level 3 and FE from Level 5 onwards. There were more mixed responses as to whether Area SENCos should do the NASENCo.

The report recommends that a SENCo qualifications pathway be created for EY and FE practitioners, as this would help to affirm the importance of the role, the professionalism of those who work within it and improve outcomes for children and young people with SEND. It suggests that wider consultation take place to secure broader views on what this pathway would comprise.

The third report (‘Review of the National Award for Special Educational Needs Coordination Provider Group quality assurance processes’) indicates that this group has been effective in ensuring the quality of NASENCo providers; it also acknowledges nasen’s support for the group : “Interviewees reported that nasen has been highly supportive of the development of the Provider Group QA processes, and has contributed in a number of practical ways since 2014; the organisation has provided administrative services, provided funding for initial Provider Group meetings, dedicated a page of their website to the National Award, hosted the list of registered providers on their website and enabled continued links with the DfE.”

A recurrent theme during the interviews was the absence of a national register of SENCOs who had completed the National Award, and it is suggested that this be set up: “it would be beneficial to liaise with the DfE to explore ways of setting up a national register of teachers who hold the National Award. Data pertaining to recruitment, training, retention and impact would assist the government to meet its responsibility in relation to the enhanced SENCO role in national SEND policy by providing definitive information to inform discussions about the supply and demand for SENCOs, and by offering an authoritative point of reference, for example for SENCO appointment panels or for possible legal challenges to the quality of SEN provision in schools.”

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