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Published July 2011
A collaborative approach between classroom teachers, parents, the special educational needs coordinator (SENCO), senior management, and outside agencies has proven successful in determining appropriate ways to meet the needs of learning support students.
At Redwood School they have redesigned the format of individual education plans (IEPs) to incorporate a focus on the key competencies. As they included key competencies into IEPs, they put teaching and learning goals in ‘student speak’. By using key competencies to identify teaching opportunities, the focus has changed to a programme that recognises students’ strengths and promotes next step learning.
'The change of emphasis means learning is seen as an ongoing process rather than a set of discrete steps to be mastered.'
(Kay Lilley – SENCO)
A survey was setup as parents wanted to know where their child was in relation to other students, how their child participated in activities with other students, and to see examples of progress and achieving goals.
Following the survey, staff and parents discussed the proposed changes to the IEP format. They discussed the introduction of key competencies and how they would inform a new way of thinking about, and planning for, learning.
Staff included examples to show how the key competencies were to be developed over time, and how the language of the IEPs would change to reflect this. For example, changing the wording of the areas of focus to reflect the key competencies, ‘making choices, sharing and taking turns, showing understanding of reading texts’.
'We have developed a collaborative and consultative IEP process, which we hope best meets the identified cognitive, social, emotional, behavioural, physical, and cultural needs of the student and is transparent to parents, whanau, and outside agencies. The school has endeavoured to make the IEP meeting a time to reflect on progress as much as it is to discuss issues and set new goals.'
Every six weeks the SENCO facilitates a student support meeting attended by senior management, specialist teachers, team leaders, and interested classroom teachers. They discuss students needing extra attention, those whose needs require assessing, and those who may require a referral to an outside agency. This meeting establishes how to determine the best use of resources.
This time may be used for whole staff meetings to discuss issues relating to the provision of students’ learning needs and to engage in professional development. They discuss current issues, share ideas about what is working well and examples of good practice, and build knowledge of specific topics.
Redwood provides support staff with professional development days twice a year to grow their professional knowledge and ensure that the goals outlined in the IEPs are effectively implemented. Support staff are encouraged to see their role as 'facilitators' rather than 'assistants'. They are learning to write IEPs using the language of the key competencies so they reflect the student doing the learning, achieving, and making progress.
Support staff record daily teaching and learning activities both inside and outside of the classroom in a planning book for each student. This provides an ongoing record of learning, teaching and assessments so it is clear which IEP goals students are working towards, and which have been achieved or need revisiting.
The 'tracking sheet' is a quick reference for planning the weekly activities and recording which key competencies are being targeted and which need to be further developed. The tracking sheet is like a ready reference so that daily/weekly planning can be focused on the IEP goals.