S1 & S5 – SEN Placement

As part of the ITT course we were required to undertake a placement in an SEN School during which time I looked at differentiation for children with varying and specific learning needs as well as the different behaviour management techniques employed (S5 – have a clear understanding of the needs of all pupils, including those with special educational needs).

The majority of my time there was spent in a KS1 classroom of 10 children from EYFS, Year 1 and Year 2. Due to the fact that the children in the class had such a wide range of needs, it was necessary to have a greater adult to child ratio so that behaviour, which was often unpredictable, could be effectively managed and an appropriate atmosphere for learning could be cultivated. In addition, I quickly learnt that it was necessary to use behaviour management techniques that were quite different from the ones I use in my main school, particularly as many of these children had little to no language as well as more evident emotional needs. Children in this class often required more firm but gently delivered instructions as completing tasks was a stressful experience for many of them. Nonetheless, what I learnt from the classroom teacher was that, although much of the children’s behaviour was symptomatic of their various disabilities, it is still important to pick up on unacceptable behaviour such as defiance or hitting and reward efforts to avoid this behaviour.

Over the course of the two days I was asked to carry out some writing and phonics tasks with children on a one-to-one basis. I adapted my approach for each individual child, basing it on what I had been learning about that child’s strengths and difficulties. Some children were very willing to sit down and complete tasks – these tended to be the more talkative children, but I found that even those children struggled to concentrate for extended periods of time.

It was crucial to learn about the children quickly so that I could adapt my approach with each of them and contribute to effective teaching in the classroom (S5 – know when and how to differentiate appropriately, using approaches which enable pupils to be taught effectively). One particular child had difficulty staying grounded and often needed to wear a weighted jacket. During the day it was simply necessary to allow him some time to climb otherwise he would not be able to focus on any tasks at all. Another child had a real difficulty with transition and therefore struggled to move seamlessly from what she was engaged in doing to a task she needed to carry out with me. It was therefore necessary to spend time gradually introducing the task to the child and allow her, to a certain extent, to adapt to the task at her own pace (S5 – have a secure understanding of how a range of factors can inhibit pupils’ ability to learn, and how best to overcome these).

This was an invaluable experience during which I was able to observe teachers delivering lessons which were accessible to children with a great spectrum of needs. I was able to gain an insight into strategies which engaged, stretched and challenged pupils of all backgrounds, abilities and dispositions (S1).

This experience will undoubtedly impact on my practice not only because I now have a greater depth of understanding with regard to SEN, but also because I am now much more alert to the importance of differentiation in order to deliver effective lesson content and ensure the progress of ALL of my pupils (S5 – know when and how to differentiate appropriately, using approaches which enable pupils to be taught effectively).

Focused next steps:

Implement some of the strategies I learnt to further aid the SEN children in my class

Incorporate differentiation more explicitly and thoroughly in my planning for SEN children

Make full use of the resources available in school to aid SEN children, particularly those made available by the Explorer Zone.