30 Apr

SEN ITT: Your input is vital

The SALT report (2010) described how specialist routes had disappeared at initial teacher training level. At the same time, we are seeing an increase in the range and complexity of pupils’ needs and as a profession we are rightly challenged to perform to the highest level. So are those working in special schools being sufficiently well prepared for the challenges ahead?

We expect and need teachers to understand the wide range of needs and difficulties of those children in their class, and also to have an enhanced understanding of child development, trans-professional working, personalised learning, research methods, plus managing larger teams. So how are these skills being developed in the next generation of teachers?

Your input is now vital.

What examples of SEN ITT are you aware of? What are the lessons? Can you recruit suitably qualified staff? What is the skills gap? How many of your staff have specialist qualifications in your school, and does it matter?

Where does a SEN specialism now lie? Are special schools increasingly being expected to have a comprehensive CDP programme? This may well allow the school to prepare its staff for the specific challenges of working in your school, but will undoubtedly present challenges to both the financial and staffing structure of the school. Are there also challenges around accreditation of post qualification courses?

Are there sufficient professional development pathways for all grades of staff, leading up to and beyond ITT? Could teaching standards be supplemented with more detail of the skills and attitudes needed for teaching in special schools today? Does the lack of SEN ITT routes devalue the expertise needed to teach in a special school? How could government support the spreading of good practice?

Is ‘on-the-job training’ the most relevant way forward, or should there be access to a more academic style? Is the appraisal system facilitating the identification and acquisition of SEN professional development post ITT? And finally, is it relevant to financially incentivise teachers to take SEN qualifications, and what form might this take?