Every day team managers, case co-ordinators, SEN officers, IASS staff, and support workers face varied challenges, in relation to SEND issues and procedures and to their interpersonal skills. Anyone who works in SEND knows how demanding the job can be and how it can eat away at your morale. Most candidates report improvements in their confidence and self-esteem having taken the Award, as well as expanding their knowledge and skills.
The beauty of the Award is that the majority of it can be completed from your daily working practices. Assessment is by a portfolio of evidence which can be collected and annotated from your usual caseload or work priorities. Portfolios are usually assessed by senior staff within your local authority.
In addition, you will have three one-day workshops over the course of the year when key knowledge and skills will be covered and assessed. This is the only time the Award takes place away from your office, and attendance at the workshops is not obligatory.
Candidates find that the workshops provide invaluable opportunities to share ideas and good practice with those from other authorities.
You become part of a national and regional network, giving you opportunities to see how others approach particular aspects of your job: a problem shared can be a problem halved!
Feedback suggests that some of the most useful aspects of the workshops are:
"to talk to other LA officers and find out how they operate, (and) enjoy time out in order to reflect on the work I do”
You can decide the pace that suits you. Most candidates take between 9 and 12 months to complete. They estimate that, averaged over 12 months, it takes them about half a day every 3-4 weeks, including the workshops.
Yes. If your IAS service is a charity or voluntary organisation not part of the local authority, the award will be equally applicable and accessible to you. For those of you interested in the level 4 Award, it might be that your line manager within that organisation, or within the local authority, does not have the necessary expertise and knowledge to assess you. IASS Network has a list of experienced IASS managers ready to act as your assessor.
Depending on your existing level of knowledge and skills, and your current role, you can achieve a BTEC award at levels 2, 3 or 4. As this is on-the-job accreditation, a major factor in deciding which level to take is what your current role entails. This is a national qualification accredited by Edexcel/Pearson.
L4 is aimed at the EHCP co-ordinator role, while L3 is suitable for those in a case officer role, supporting the EHCP co-ordinator in or between meetings.
There are no separate workshops for L2 candidates, as it is expected that the vast majority of candidates will be at L3 or L4.
There are obvious advantages to having an additional qualification when applying for jobs or promotions, but the benefits are more far-reaching than that. Improvements in confidence and morale, knowing that you can do the job and do it well, are priceless.
Your assessor is there to advise and support, as well as assess you. In addition, the manual and website will give you guidance through explanations of what the assessment requirements are looking for. A valuable area of support is from your fellow candidates, from within your own authority or from other authorities.