“Why would I put myself through that?”
By: Kate Whittlesey (The SEND Advisory Team)
Early Friday morning my phone rang, number unknown.
The reason for the call was to cancel our SEND review (audit) that had been booked in for 6 weeks. I asked if they would like to re-book; in all honestly feeling a little gutted myself as I take great honour in being invited to carry out a SEND review, to which the SENCo replied “I know the government recommend yearly but I just don’t have the time and budgets are tight”.
I fully agreed with her, which took her back.
I might be running a SEND Consultative company, but I can’t deny what was said; it’s the truth.
She went on …“I am worried it will be like Ofsted coming in” and “Why would I put myself through that voluntarily?”
We chatted for a while; about work life balance, endless lists of jobs, budgets and impacts etc until we really got down to the core problem; She was afraid of someone coming into her school, criticising and pulling apart everything, then … leaving. Leaving her with a pile of mess, unanswered questions and a report resulting in… MORE WORK.
I reassured her. That is not how it should be.
We spoke about how SEND reviews are carried out; starting with a good chat about all thing SEND across the school (over a cup of tea of course!), followed by a walk around, look through books, reassure and support teachers, answering questions etc.
She suddenly seemed quite excited by the idea but it drew attention to how they can be perceived.
A SEND review should not be something to fear. An external SEND review should support the SENCo, not add to the endless list of jobs. It should be a process that you work through together, a positive experience, an experience that makes your workload easier as it provides focus points and structure for development. A process that provides value for money with a measured impact. A process that highlights the positives as well as the areas to focus on. A process that you feel empowered by, not left self- critical.
Let’s relax about them and see them as a yearly, welcoming, positive experience. Working together to develop SEND.
(Ps. Just in case your wondering what happened…The school brought forward the SEND review and gained themselves the highest-level certificate which has taken pride of place in their school reception)