The 1996 Education Act (Section 312(2)) says that a child has a special educational need if she or he has significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of children of the same age, or a disability which makes it difficult to take advantage of normal school facilities.
It has been estimated that, nationally, some 20% of all children will have special educational needs at some time in their school life. Special educational needs can be catered for in many different ways. Depending on the individual child’s needs, this can mean differentiation within the child’s normal classroom work, it can mean extra help for the child taught in a mainstream class, or it can involve teaching the child separately in a special department attached to a mainstream school. About 1% of all children need more help than mainstream schools can normally provide.
In Buckinghamshire, the LA is committed to providing all pupils with the greatest possible access to mainstream educational settings to meet their needs effectively, with some pupils having access to well resourced special schools, where appropriate.
Who’s Who in Special Needs?
Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO)
The SENCO is a designated teacher responsible for the day-to-day operation of the school’s SEND policy. He or she will co-ordinate provision for pupils with SEND, maintain the SEND register and liaise with parents, staff and external agencies.
The ‘Responsible Person’
The ‘responsible person’ has day to day management responsibility for special needs within the school. Given the sensitive and confidential nature of some of the information accessed by the "responsible person", this role is generally fulfilled by the headteacher but may also be the Chairman of Governors. The ‘responsible person’ should not be confused with the SEND Governor.
The SEN Governor
The governing body of every mainstream school is encouraged to have a SEND Governor to champion the issue of special educational needs within the work of the governing body and to have specific oversight of the school’s arrangements and provision for meeting special educational needs.
The precise responsibilities of the SEND Governor need to be determined by the governing body and so will vary from school to school. This leaflet is designed to provide a framework for the role.
Why do we need a SEND Governor?
The Governing Body has some key responsibilities towards pupils with special educational needs. Governing bodies should, with the headteacher, decide the school's general policy and approach to meeting pupils' special educational needs. They must set up appropriate staffing and funding arrangements and oversee the school's work.
In particular, the governing body has a legal duty to:
- Do its best to ensure that all pupils with special educational needs are appropriately catered for
- Appoint a ‘responsible person’ to oversee the assessment of individual pupils’ needs and to make sure that all staff likely to teach pupils with special needs are aware of those needs
- Ensure that all teachers are aware of the importance of identifying and providing for any pupils with special educational needs
- Ensure that pupils with special educational needs have the opportunity to participate as fully as possible in all aspects of school life
- Ensure that parents are notified of a decision by the school that their child has special educational needs
- Establish an SEND
- Report on how the school’s SEND policy is being implemented and how resources are allocated in the governing body’s Annual Report to Parents
- Ensure that the SEND Code of Practice is followed (see Annex B)
The majority of governing bodies have delegated some of these responsibilities to a named SEND Governor who reports back to the governing body on a regular basis.
What skills and qualities are needed?
- An interest in special educational needs
- Good communication skills, with a willingness to report back verbally at meetings or to provide a brief written report
- Time and availability – in particular to meet regularly with the SENDCO, to visit the school and to take advantage of relevant briefing and training opportunities
- Enthusiasm and energy
- A willingness to participate in the development and review of the school’s SEND policy
What does the role involve?
Developing and maintaining an awareness of special needs provision in the school on behalf of the governing board:-
- Understand how the responsibilities for SEND provision are shared within the school
- Meet the SENDCO on a termly basis to gain information about the provision made for pupils with special educational needs and to monitor the implementation of the SEND policy
- Discuss with school staff the outcomes of the school’s monitoring and evaluation of the provision made for pupils with special educational needs
- Observe at first hand what happens in school both inside and outside the classroom to ensure that SEND pupils are actively involved in all aspects of school life
- Take opportunities to meet and talk with parents of SEND children
- Keep informed about developments in the area of special educational needs, nationally, locally and within the school
Support the implementation of the school’s SEND Policy
- Be familiar with the SEND policy and involved in its review and development
- Agree with the governing body and the headteacher the indicators which should be reported on by the school to the governing body to say whether the policy is working, and the timescale for that reporting
- Ensure that the SEND policy is linked to the School Improvement Plan and the budget setting process
- Ensure that funds are allocated each year within the school budget specifically to cater for SEND pupils and to support the implementation of the SEND policy; be aware of the various headings under which the schools spends the SEND budget each year (i.e. resources, training, support assistants, SENDCO management time, medical time etc)
- Monitor and evaluate the use of these funds and other resources, considering cost effectiveness and best value for money in terms of increased progress for pupils with SEND
- Encourage the governing body to ensure that all school policies are consistent with the aims of the special educational needs policy
- Provide support and encouragement for staff with SEND responsibilities and champion their role within the school; provide a channel of communication between the SENDCO and the governing body
- Discuss the outcome of school visits with the SEND Coordinator and the headteacher
- Report on a termly basis to the full governing body on the implementation of the school’s SEN policy
- Prepare information for inclusion in the governing body’s Annual Report to Parents about the effectiveness and implementation of the school’s SEND policy, including information about how resources are used
- Encourage effective communication with parents on the school’s support for pupils with special needs – make use of newsletters, parents notice board, leaflets, school prospectus, the Annual Meeting, school social functions etc
Making the most of visits
The SEND Governor should aim to meet the SENDCO on a termly basis to keep up to date with SEND developments within the school and to review the implementation of the SEND policy on an ongoing basis. A good relationship with the SENDCO is key to the effectiveness of the SEND Governor.
The sort of issues the SEND Governor might discuss with the SENDCO and other school staff will include:
- Current numbers of the SEND register at the different stages (but not their names)
- Identification procedures for pupils with SEND
- Staffing arrangements for pupils with SEND
- Staff training
- Use of resources
- How pupils with SEND are ensured access to the curriculum
- Provision being made for individuals
- Progress on any parts of the School Improvement Plan relating to SEND
- Progress with the implementation of the SEND policy
- Whether statutory reporting requirements are being met
- Liaison with external agencies and support services
- Links with special/mainstream schools
- Communication with parents
Whilst the SEND Governor is not responsible for the day to day management of special needs provision in the school, he or she may on occasion have access to sensitive information about the circumstances of individual children, particularly in smaller schools. It is essential that the SEND Governor respects the confidentiality of such information.
CLICK HERE FOR THE ROLE OF THE SEND GOVERNOR FACT SHEET
Support for the SEND Governor
It is important that the governing body both understands the role of the SEND Governor and supports the SEND Governor in carrying out that role. The governing body will need to:
- Establish the responsibilities the SEND Governor should undertake and provide support for the role
- Take an informed interest in special educational needs issues
- Monitor, evaluate and review the SEND policy on a regular basis
- Ensure that the other school policies fully support the principle of inclusion for all pupils
- Provide an opportunity for any outgoing SEND Governor to pass on information and relevant paperwork
Termly SEND Forums held by the LA at 2 venues across the county which:
- Support the continued development of SEND Governors
- Provide an opportunity for sharing good practice and mutual support
- Provide a forum for communication between the LA and governors about new developments in the area of SEND
- Annual training for new SEND Governors on the Role of the SEND Governor from 2001/2002
- Access to advice and support, via the Governor Helpline
- Welcome pack of information for newly appointed SEND Governors including a copy of the SEND Code of Practice