There are currently 1.4 million children across the UK who are identified as having SEN (16% of all pupils), and this number rises every year. With a growing need for SEN support staff across schools, it’s important that we are well informed of the different needs of children in education. Lots of people think about taking the direction of SEN, but are not quite sure where to start, so here you'll find lots of helpful information on special educational needs.
What is SEN(D)?
SEN, or SEND, stands for Special Educational Needs (and Disabilities). You might also come across the acronym SEMH, which stands for Social, Emotional and Mental Health difficulties. These terms are used to describe pupils diagnosed learning, physical, behavioural or social disabilities that affect them in education which often prescribes an “EHCP” (Education Health Care Plan) for children and young adults up to the age of 25 years, along with a 1:1 Teaching Assistant. The 4 main areas of SEN are:
Communication and interaction
Cognition and learning
Social, emotional and mental health difficulties
Sensory and/or physical needs.
What can you expect?
Every day is different! Working in an SEN environment with children / young adults who have complex disabilities, you might experience challenging behaviour, or students having difficulties socialising with their peers. You can expect to work alongside professionals, such as Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, SENCO’s or Psychologists, where you can learn a lot about child development and effective learning techniques. But above all, you can expect to work in a rewarding environment where you are making a positive difference, every day!
What are the different provisions for SEN students?
Some pupils diagnosed with SEN remain in mainstream schools, where there may be an SEN unit in which there are designated Learning Support Assistants to best support the child’s needs. However not all schools have SEN provisions, in which case the child may be assigned to a Teaching Assistant on a 1:1 or small group basis, where they might have sessions outside of the classroom to ensure the education is just as accessible for them. There are also SEN Schools designed for pupils with various learning and physical needs, as well as PRU’s (Pupil Referral Unit) which is an alternative provision for students aren’t able to attend a mainstream school.
How can I support a child with SEN?
Every child is different, so there is not necessarily a one-for-all approach to supporting children with SEN. You can, however, try some of these examples which are generally known to help in their development:
Communicate in a way the child can understand, for example, visually, verbally or through symbols such as PECS.
Incorporate the child’s interests / hobbies into their learning
Make sure instructions are simple and very clear. Be patient with the child and allow them to take their time to respond to tasks
Lots of positive words of encouragement
Have a clear daily routine for the child.
Create a stimulating learning environment where they aren’t distracted, but are still excited to learn.
What training is available?
There are lots of resources available online to help you familiarise yourself with the needs of pupils with Autism and other SEN’s, through completing relevant CPD courses. More practical training can be carried out in schools that offer it, for example PECS or Makaton training, or Team Teach training, which teaches you positive restraint methods.
What experience do you need?
A common misconception is the amount of experience needed to work in a SEN school. Although some experience is always advantageous, it’s certainly not the be-all and end-all. Schools look for a genuine interest in working with pupils in an alternative provision, which can at times be challenging, and above all, a positive attitude towards working with child / young adults with complex needs.
What support is available to me?
Lots of schools provide you with training if it’s a requirement, and you’ll receive support from the team of staff within the school to help you build on your confidence in the new setting. As your consultants, we are also always here to help! We’re here to provide you with tips and information on ways to better yourself. Of course, we also offer the CPD courses that provide general safeguarding information about children in Education – here’s the link to that blog https://www.envisioneducation.co.uk/blog/2020/09/free-cpd-courses-with-envision-education
With SEN needs increasing across the board, it’s only right that we educate ourselves and ensure we are well equipped to support the youth of today! I hope this helped, and if you are interested in working in SEN, please call us today on 020 3771 1138!