Why do we need to invest in SEN CPD for teachers and practitioners?

  • 28 Jan 2016
  • By Alison Wilcox
  • 0

In response to the question of ‘what does effective CPD look like?’, and with funding from the DfE, nasen has developed an offer of free online CPD for all mainstream settings across England.

As teachers and practitioners, we are in the business of aiming high. We must have the highest expectations and aspirations for all the children and young people (CYP) we teach. But desire and will is not enough. We also need to recognise that, as a profession, we have a responsibility to our learners to keep improving our own skills and knowledge by remaining learners ourselves.

Within the SEND Code of Practice, the responsibility for high quality provision is clearly that of teachers and practitioners. They must use their ‘best endeavours’ to meet the needs of all the CYP they teach. And this is tough! All of us in teaching have our strengths and equally areas in which we may require support and education through effective CPD.

What does effective CPD look like?

The answer to this is many and varied! What actually makes for effective, high quality practice? Part of the answer to this is about the work of teachers and practitioners; their knowledge, understanding, skills and mind-set. The other part is about how our schools and setting are structured to support the development of their staff.

What effective CPD is:

  • Prolonged; the most effective lasted for at least 2 terms, with most more than a year
  • Includes a ‘rhythm’ of follow-up, consolidation and support activities
  • Designed for participants’ needs – ensuring the ‘buy-in’ through making the content relevant to the participants’ day to day experiences of, and aspirations for, their pupils.
  • Includes activities to reinforce messages in the training and test ideas from different perspectives through collaboration

What it isn’t!

  • One-off INSET sessions
  • Content unconnected to teachers’ current experiences and self-identified needs
  • Imposed rather than arrived at through a process of reflection

Focus on SEND training

With funding from the DfE, nasen has developed an offer of free online CPD for all mainstream settings across England. This offer called ‘Focus on SEND’ is based on sound principles, identified by various research, of what constitutes good CPD.

So, given that there are existing online materials which were designed to inform teachers about SEND, how will nasen’s ‘Focus on SEND’ training offer something different?

The USP for us lies in the fact that it is an approach to teaching which we are really offering. The education landscape we find ourselves in promotes a journey of professional development which aims to produce staff who are research practitioners; who are professionally curious. Curious about learning; curious about the effect their teaching has upon the children and young people they teach and curious about their own learning and how they can be the best teachers possible.

From this starting point, nasen designed its online offer with such a process in mind. A process which encourages reflection and embeds the need for this in a framework of experiential learning which looks like the regular day to day activity of teachers and practitioners.

Few professionals are as time-poor as those who teach and so it was vital for this learning opportunity to fit in with that which is already happening in schools and settings; using this daily experience to inform and develop the best practice for meeting the needs of children and young people with SEND.

So what does nasen’s offer look like?

The CPD will take a practice led, enquiry-based approach and consist of approximately 9 hours of learning which will be available 24 hours a day.  There will be 6 modules, the first 5 of which will have knowledge based content, practical activities for the learner to work through in their setting and guidance for reflection in order to support the practitioner in consolidating their learning. Learners will record their reflections in a virtual learning log which could be used as part of their performance management process.

Our modules will cover: high quality practice and what this means for SEND, identifying needs and the role of assessment, the process for arriving at meaningful outcomes, participation and engagement, both of children and young people and of their parents and families, meeting needs and how the cycle of assess, plan, do, review can be used to best effect.

  • Aimed at mainstream settings, from 0 – 25, with a focus on improving and developing high quality practice
  • A practice led, enquiry based approach which will promote the development of reflective, collaborative practice
  • Approximately 9 hours of content which will be available 24 hours a day and be accessible from anywhere with an internet connection
  • Modular – 6 modules the first 5 of which will each have 3 sections: knowledge, practice and reflection and will cover the following areas: high quality practice, identifying needs, participation and engagement, outcomes and meeting needs
  • The sixth module will be a research in practice activity giving learners the chance to further explore concepts covered in earlier modules
  • Content will be tailored to suit the needs of each learners’ own sector
  • As well as core knowledge there will be further reading available so that practitioners can continue their learning in those areas of personal interest

For further information on why CPD for SEN is important, key principles of effective CPD and more see the Collaborative Learning for SEN resource.

Focus on SEND training will be launched at the nasen live in April 2016. To register interest and receive a notification when the CPD goes live please email a member of our Education Development team.

Alison Wilcox - Head of Education

Alison joined nasen in November 2014 as their Head of Education and contributes to the strategic direction of the Association; working to make the vision of securing the best possible outcomes for children and young people a reality.

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