Special Educational Needs Provision in Mainstream UK Schools
Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision in mainstream UK schools is governed by the SEN Code of Practice (1994) which defines special educational needs in terms of children facing difficulty in meeting age-appropriate learning targets and/or disability which hinders age-appropriate educational development. Specific difficulties that may hinder educational progression include comprehension problems, as with dyslexia, attention and learning problems, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and pervasive developmental disorders including Autistic Spectrum Disorders and Downs Syndrome (Trisomy 21).
In terms of meeting the needs of children facing difficulties in their educational attainment within the mainstream schooling system, school based identification, assessment and action follows a staged model or key route based format. This staged model of SEN provision in mainstream schooling follows on from the SEN Code of Practice (1994) and comprises five consecutive stages with action progressing through these stages dependant on the childs development and attainment advances during this targeted intervention.
The first stage of the model for SEN provision within mainstream schools in the UK involves school-based identification, assessment and action based on the specific needs of the child. Central to the first stage is the evidence of concern as to the childs attainment within the National Curriculum, however, concerns need not only surround education, but may include social and emotional facets of development. As concerns are raised the head teacher makes the childs parents/guardians aware that assessment and intervention is required and the child is placed on the Special Needs Register. Once placed on the special needs register, the child is closely monitored to assess changes in their state of concern; the child may continue to be monitored and may come off stage one if improvements are marked, or if further intervention is required the child may progress to stage two.
The principle aspect of stage 2 of the key route model of SEN provision is the formulation of an Individual Education Plan (IEP), tailored to meet each individual childs specific educational needs.
The IEP is devised with co-operation from the childs parents/guardians, teachers within the school and the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO). The SENCO is involved in the implementation and review of the IEP and the subsequent progress of the child and further advice may be sought from other professionals such as educational psychologists.
Stage 3 marks a move to direct involvement from SEN support agencies if concerns remain as to the schools ability to meet the childs educational needs. This move is dependent on consistent review and monitoring of the childs educational development in order for the multi-disciplinary support network to remain appriased of the developing situation. An educational psychologist may review and provide input as to the effectiveness of the IEP in meeting the educational needs of the child and will gather information the progress of the child and the future outlook for continuation of mainstream education.
Following on from this, stage 4 of the SEN provision model involves the Local Education Authority (LEA) who, in co-operation with the educational psychologist, decide whether a statutory assessment of the child is required. The LEA, in performing a statutory assessment will gather information about the childs specific special needs from a variety of sources, including parents, school and educational psychologist reports and medical sources. When the LEA’s statutory assessment is complete, collated and reviewed, a decision will be made as to whether a written statement of Special Educational Needs is required.
Stage 5 is contingent upon the decision by the LEA to make a written statement of Special Educational Needs (usually with