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It is important to find out the specific nature of the special need that you are going to discuss in your essay, to identify how you might plan for the individual needs, and make yourself aware of school procedures for identifying and supporting children with special educational need (SEN). Also establish what the role of the special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) is, and how s/he might support the teacher.
Individual pupils with individual needs
When writing an essay about special educational needs (SEN) it is important to be aware of the particular child or need that you are going to focus on, and to try not to speak about these children as if they are one homogenous group.
Each child will have very particular needs, and will need to be carefully assessed so that these needs can be catered for in the best possible way. That is not to say that they will never be taught in groups, or in a whole class setting, of course, but it is important to make clear in your writing that you are aware of these issues.
Common special educational needs
The most common special needs that you are likely to come across in the mainstream classroom include dyspraxia (specific learning difficulty), Asperger’s Syndrome (on the autistic spectrum), Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), speech and language disorders and general learning difficulties (the slow learner). These children may need extra or different help from that given to other children. This particular help is known as ‘differentiation’ and may involve children working in small groups, working with classroom support from an adult or their peers, or working to specific targets.
A child with special educational needs might have difficulty with:
It is important to remember that it is common for most children to have some kind of SEN at some point during their education. Schools and other organisations can intervene to provide support, which helps many children overcome their difficulties. This has huge implications for the classroom teacher, which you will need to discuss in your essay. On the other hand, some children will require additional help in school for the duration. For your essay, you should research what this might entail, and what it will mean for the classroom teacher in terms of planning, assessment and reporting.
It is important to remember that differentiation enables the teacher to be more varied and flexible in their teaching so that all children, including those with SEN are able to participate, are given appropriate challenges and are extended in ways that meet their abilities and needs. Effective differentiation involves the following:
Differentiation can take many forms:
SEN and the role of the local authority
The Education Act 1993 introduced The Code of Practice, which was revised in 2001. This endeavours to provide clear guidance about the role of local authorities (LAs) and schools in making arrangements for children with SEN. Most schools’ decisions are taken in light of these recommendations. It is advisable, therefore, that as part of your research you become familiar with the requirements of the Code of Practice, and its implications for schools in terms of individual education plans (IEPs). The requirements include extra support in school, known as Early Years Action in the Early Years setting, and in schools is known as School Action.
School Action Plus
When outside agencies need to become involved in the intervention programme (e.g. an educational psychologist, behaviour therapist or speech and language therapist etc), this is known as Early Years Action Plus in early education settings, or School Action Plus in schools. If this support does not result in satisfactory progress then the school may request that the LA undertake a Statutory Assessment of the child’s special needs. If the LA decides after the assessment that the child needs more special help, it must write a Statement of Special Educational Needs, which is usually called a 'statement'. Consider, when writing your essay, how these different stages might impact upon planning for individual needs.
Specific Learning difficulty (Dyslexia)