SEND Leaders

A space to share thoughts on how best to develop SEND Leaders, as well as challenge some common myths and assumptions in the system.

#2 Identifying the needs of children and young people with special educational needs and disability

According to Regulation 50 in the SEND Regulations (2014), identification of needs is one of the core tasks of a SENCO – so how well is it executed?  In this blog, published on the #TeamADL site, I unpack some aspects the system has lost over the years and how we need to regain this ground.

#1 SENCO time, workload and well being – a blog review of the SENCO Workload Survey

Background

I’ve been raising the flag for SENCO well being for over a decade, when I first spoke about this at the 2009 AGM for the National Association for Special Educational Needs (nasen).  Up until that point, it had not been on anyone’s agenda.  My interest in this topic was peaked by my own direct experience as a SENCO in a setting and as a SEN Advisory Teacher across schools in a local authority.  Since then I have worked with others across the country to continue the dialogue.  This was much easier, when SENCO wellbeing was part of strand 3 of the National SENCO Award (NASENCO).  However, since the revised National SENCO Award in 2014, this is no longer the case.  Yet many of us have persevered promoting the concept of SENCO well being, wherever possible.

My interest in this area meant I was keen to understand more about the national SENCO workload survey launched in 2018.  The SENCO workload survey was collaboration between Bath Sap University, a SENCO and nasen. There was a subsequent repeat in 2019.  Although, it should be noted The National Education Union (NEU) engaged in the first research, but not the follow-up in 2019. Of interest is also the fact that 2018 marked the end of a 7-year change cycle in England, known as the SEND Reforms.  During this 7-year period, new ideas were consulted upon, tested, legislation was rewritten several times, approved and a cycle for national change was implemented. A significant part of that was refining the role of the SENCO to have a greater emphasis on leadership and management. This also meant a more robust emphasis on class teacher and subject leader responsibility for SEND.

In this blog, I will examine the two workload surveys in detail.  My focus will be the underlying assumptions of the surveys, the findings, and the recommendations.

The initial 2018 survey stipulates four primary aims to the study (p10-11).  So, whilst there is no clear research question being addressed, it appears from how the findings are presented some aspects were given more weighting than others. The national online survey was designed and informed through online focus groups (n=15).  No breakdown of demographics of the focus groups is provided in the report and the sample represents 0.6% of the full SENCO population (BESA, 2019).

Underlying assumptions:

The 2018 research report begins with a series of questions including ‘how is it fair on SENCOS to expect the ‘same’ depth and breath of effectiveness in role with diminishing time available and smaller teams to deploy?’  Unlike teacher effectiveness (Muijs et al, 2014) SENCO effectiveness is not a concept that has been defined or even fully researched (Mackenzie 2007),  I would also argue that the role of the SENCO has changed as per the SEND Regulations 2014 and the DfE & DoH SEND Code of Practice 2015. In effect, should we be looking or ‘sameness’ or a different way of working?  Many of the research studies on SENCOs and SENCO leadership cited in the 2018 report, (except for two studies) predate the SEND Reforms and therefore relate to the previous definition of the role. The two exceptions (Pearson et al, 2015 and Curran, 2017) relate to ‘role predictions’ during a time of change and SENCO perceptions during the implementation stage i.e 2014-2015. Distinction is made between SENCO positional leadership (i.e. on the senior leadership team) and relational leadership (influence over peers) by Pearson et al (2015).  However, as Dobson (2019) demonstrates a key differential between Passey et al., (2017) who suggests 67.5% in a national survey commissioned by the Department of Education (DfE) are senior leaders, the actual data sets held by the Department, in 2018 obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, reflect 62% are not senior leaders.

Compassion in leadership is a desirable character.  This is highlighted in the introduction of the 2018 SENCO workload Survey report.  However, leadership is much more than just about being compassionate.  Leadership is complex.  The SEND Reforms brought a great emphasis on the leadership and management aspect of the role, which moves the SENCO away from being the principle doer to enabling others.  Though according to the TTA (1998), leadership and management was always one of the four core elements of the role, highlighting a mismatch between perception and reality.   It is always quicker to do something yourself, than enable others.  The latter, however produces more sustainable and capacity-building results. The 2018 SENCo workload research assumes the only dimension that can build capacity for SENCOs and therefore in settings, is time and from a union perspective, this equates to funding.  However, it is possible for a SENCO to be in a full time role and be ineffective.  Dobson (2019) highlights 71.1% are in a full time post, though in many schools he argues SENCO is not present for significant part of the week (-10% of actual figures)  Leadership in education, as well as failure in leadership has been defined through several evolving models (Gumus et al, 2018).  However, the SENCO workload study 2018 or 2019 does present a leadership and management framework for the role.  It could be argued this is provided through several resources produced afterward the research, by the individuals who conducted the research. (see Epilogue below).   More importantly, no consideration (in the surveys) is given to regulation 50 in the SEND Regulations 2014 about the 12 task dimensions of the role. It should be noted the SEND Code of Practice 2015 describes the job description of a SENCO slightly differently to the SEND Regulations 2014.

The 2019 SENCO workload survey is presented as a review of the impact of the previous report with an additional focus on current issues and priorities.  In effect, findings were presented as comparatives to the previous survey and additional information.

Both surveys focus on two constructs:

  • Workload – which isn’t defined in either report but means ‘the amount of work to be done by someone or something’ (Cambridge University Press1). This brings to the forefront two sub-factors, namely what needs to be done (quantity) and how (quality).  Again, neither are deconstructed by the survey, though there is an emphasis on quantity, rather than quality, based on pupil numbers.  In effect, crucial elements that influence the workload construct of the study that were not considered include:
    1. Experience of the SENCO. This impacts how much time a SENCO will take to complete a task.
    2. Approaches to time management. This is not taught as part of the NASENCO, yet it dramatically affects ‘how’ a SENCO is effective in their role.  It is also interesting to note that as part of the survey, attention was not given to strategies SENCOs employ to support their well being or initiatives already in place in this area.  For example, in 2016 an open access SENCO Time Management eBook was published by Optimus Education.  There is anecdotal evidence in the public domain to show impact of the book on ‘how’ SENCOs manage their time can influence their workload, motivation (Dobson, 2020) and wellbeing (Lewis, 2017). Given the study was about ‘time’, it is surprising time management questions were not included in either of the surveys.
    3. Annual calendar of SEND. Bottle neck periods of intense activity are part of the annual calendar.  As part of my own PhD small-scale study on the professional development of SENCOs, I have produced a timeline of perspective activities throughout the year (see Epilogue below).  A draft was shared publicly in November 2019 i.e. during the second survey and yet no reference is made to this dimension that affects workload.
  • The second construct is much more seriously misleading and forms the premise for subsequent recommendations. I am referring the notion of ‘protected time’ or in some instances referred to as ‘legally protected time’ or ‘allocated time’. The research team for the SENCO workload S=survey argue that SENCO should be entitled to protected time to do their job.  What is not clear is if any distinction is made between allocated time (assuming it is self-directed) and this so-called construct of protected time.  1Protected time is a term used by the medical profession to ensure health professionals engage in professional activity such as learning, teaching and administration. (Segen’s Medical Journal, 2012).  Therefore, is an agreed constant for those working in the medical profession to keep up to date with their knowledge and understanding. It is time, when contractually they cannot be involved in their medical duties, such as clinics.  In education, this equates to the policy of planning, preparation, and assessment (PPA) time for teachers.  This for the SENCO, should ideally be linked to the three strands in the NASENCO and/ or the 12 tasks of the role defined in the SEND Regulations 2014.  This notion of protected on-going professional development of SENCOs is the focus of my PhD research and I will publish more on this later.  In the workload survey, the research team turned (without detailed rationale or explanation) this idea of an agreed constant for professional development into a variable of ‘protected time to do the job’.  This, I believe confounds their study, findings and recommendations. An added confusion being a lack of definition around the construct of time.  SENCOs are employed through contracts (full-time or part-time).  In the main, they are left to ‘allocate’ their time to tasks, based on their own professional judgment.   Therefore, it is possible what the research team are proposing is ‘contractual time’ agreements. As highlighted later in this blog, this becomes tricky to manage if a contract is dependent on number of pupils, which could change year on year.  In the subsequent sections of this blog, I will deconstruct the findings, and recommendations.

Findings

In 2018 the SENCO workload survey received 1940 responses, of which 1903 consented for their data to be used. In 2019, sample size of respondents reduced to 1806, though not all participants answered every question. Some of the respondents were headteachers, which would reflect a different perspective on workload.

The table below plots the reported demographics across the respondents over the two years:

2018 2019
Total number 1940 1826
Consent granted 1903 1806
SENCOs 1601 (89%)
Female 94%
More than 8 years in post 45%
Less than 3 years in post 43%
Headteachers 50 (2.8%)
Mainstream 91% / 86% 1542 (86%)
Specialist settings 3.9%
Early years 3.7% 100 (5.5%)
Primary 67% 1135 (63%)
Secondary 25.5% (12 % male) 407 (23%)
Local authority 55% of SENCOs / 66% of primary n= 28
SENCO role mandatory setting 83%
Independent sector 4.5%
Part of academy trust 65% (Secondary) 549 (30%)
“Heard” of 2018 SENCO workload study Less than 75%
Read 2018 study 802 (45%)
Contributed to 2018 study 677 (38%)
Table 1: Comparative demographics between the SENCO Workload Survey 2018 and 2019

In terms of the SENCO role, the 2018 initial data focuses on additional responsibilities, membership on the senior leadership team, time allocation for ‘operational tasks’, perceptions of others (as reported by the SENCO) and pay scales.  Whilst interesting, these are contextual factors of the setting and so variation is to be expected. This reflects the tension of a statutory role with statutory duties in varied contexts.  Omitted from this list is time allocated for professional development. This error was repeated in the 2019 survey. The SENCO is a statutory role in school; however, this will look different in a school of 75 pupils compared to a school with 2500 pupils and in different phases, as highlighted in previous studies. In asking how much time SENCOs are allocated each week for their role, some further discussion takes place on ‘how’ this time is used i.e. what primary duties fill their time?  In both years, approx. 75% of the sample group report that administration and in particular EHCP paperwork takes up the majority of their time. Further discussion in 2018 focuses on deployable support for the SENCO to fulfill their role and in 2019, this becomes more specific around admin support.   So, is the issue about delegation skills and quality assurance?  What training is provided on effective delegation, as part of the leadership and management strand of the NASENCO?  SENCOs come into the role at different points during their career.  Some after 3-4 years of teaching, others after experience as a leader in other areas.  Dobson (2019) highlights majority of SENCOs in England are White British, middle aged women. I not sure of the demographics of the DfE SENCO Forum Advisory Group (see epilogue below).  Prior experience (or a previous career) creates a differential and unfortunately is not considered during the NASENCO as accredited prior learning (APL) – a topic for a future debate perhaps? By 2019, time allocation in the SENCo workload survey is considered in relation to the previous year. Again, many localised factors would affect that decision, and this is not provided as part of the research. Less than 10% of the 723 SENCOs (in 2019), who reported to have read the 2018 study state that this has resulted in additional time for them.  A different section in the 2019 report states 802 (45%) had read the previous year’s report. Reading does not necessarily imply impact or action taken.

Education is a field where ‘additional hours’ is considered part of the norm.  This is part of a much bigger debate.  A key question is how many additional hours is acceptable and on what level of regularity? Again, I would argue unless the SENCOs time management approach has been considered the position more additional hours means greater workload, cannot be made. A structured approach to time management empowers leaders to reflect and refine areas where time is wasted and how they prioritise. Until the dimensions of SENCO effectiveness are agreed, this cannot be considered.   In 2019, due consideration is given to ‘current’ priorities.  This is influenced by the time of the year the survey is conducted and once again these were not analysed in relation to the 12 tasks of the SENCO, as defined by the SEND Regulations 2014.

The 2018 information on SENCO workload and impact on provision for children with SEN is the most interesting outcome and this could have been extended in 2019 through a thematic approach to the 12 tasks of a SENCO defined in the SEND Regulations 2014. This would have added value to the 2019 narrative and enabled the sector to drill down more specifically on key issues.  In 2019, provision impact on pupils is stressed more in the recommendations, than the data. Strategic decision making is defended as a core element for this in 2018.  However, again no clarity is provided as how strategic decision leadership is defined and how this differs to long-term planning.

Working in isolation is a theme that has permeated the SENCO literature for decades (Lingard, 2001; Burton & Goodman, 2011 cited in Lewis 2017).  This was raised in the 2018 survey.  Yet the 2019 survey does not pick up on this.  I would argue resolving this, could be a strategic solution for other issues raised. For example, in 2019 SENCO could have been asked, do they belong to a professional community?  Why type is it and what time allocation is given to this?  How does the professional community counteract feelings of isolation?  The relevance of this is significant, as working with peers enhances motivation, thereby making the role ‘feel’ more manageable. (See epilogue below: The DfE argues ‘most’ local authorities provide a network for professionals.  However, the quality of these networks (in terms of content and delivery) has not been reviewed by the DfE).

Recommendations

In terms of influence, the research team behind the 2018 SENCO workload survey sought to influence three different stakeholders: national government, senior leaders in schools and SENCOs.  In relation to the government a minimum standard of time allocation was advocated based on factors such as school size, proportion of pupils with SEND within the school and geographical location.  The research team adopted an unpublished algorithm based on the question ‘how much time in total would you need per week to complete your role effectively?’ to create tables of time allocation based on the factors mentioned above, minus geographical location differences, which were deemed as insignificant. This is where the contractual time becomes blurred.  Again ‘effectiveness’ remains a subjective concept.   My biggest concern with this is the number of variables leading to job uncertainty or even an increase in fixed term contracts.  For example, a school appoints new SENCO (who has not completed the NASENCO).  In theory, the SENCO has three years from the date of appointment to complete it.  Let us assume, the initial appointment is a two-year contract.  In year two, numbers drop (either whole school or SEND population), would this result in an employment contract refinement or even a new contract?  I am not well versed in HR law or policies to fully comment on the implications of this.  However, a change in numbers could affect contract time either way.  How does this support sustainable capacity building, leadership planning or succession planning (Dobson, 2019)?  The research team stipulate additional training in access arrangements, for example, leads to increase workload.  However, many SENCOs would argue this reduces their stress, as they do not need to reply on external specialists and can manage their own time. In effect, the subjective element of applying the role to contexts is not taken into consideration.

These time allocation tables are only for mainstream schools.  It should be noted that they are identical in the 2018 and 2019 reports, yet there has been a steady increase in SEN pupil numbers and only 38% (n=677) participated in both the 2018 and 2019 survey.

Percentage of pupils, by SEN provision, 2015/16 to 2019/20

2015/16 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 2019/20
EHC plans/Statements of SEN (percent) 2.8 2.8 2.9 3.1 3.3
SEN support (percent) 11.6 11.6 11.7 11.9 12.1
Table 2:  Percentage of pupils 2015 – 2020 (Source: School census, school level annual school census, general hospital school census https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/special-educational-needs-in-england)

A further recommendation from the survey is to use January census to collect SENCO information data and use this as a platform to review SENCO workload, recruitment and retention.  The recommendation also implying that this is an ideal mechanism for recording who is the SENCO was and whether they have completed the NASENCO.  This is part of a much bigger debate, which I will write about later.  It should be noted that Dobson (2019) highlights how this data is already collected by central government through the workforce survey, undertaken in November of each year. This was not considered by the research team.

In suggesting recommendations for senior leaders, discussions return to ‘legally protected time’ (2018) and emphasis is on coordination of workforce development i.e. teachers.  Yet in 2019, this shifts to the effective facilitation of the SENCO role (p6); mainly at government level.  Without evidence to suggest SENCOs themselves understand their role, it becomes even more difficult to suggest to leaders to review their role.  (See epilogue below and how the research, not the Regulations) has become the basis for defining the SENCO role.

Finally, for SENCOs, proactive recommendations that some could adopt, or not and ascertaining support through a professional community (virtual or face to face) was proposed in 2018. Another job description review recommendation and sharing the algorithms tables for time allocation with senior leaders.  The 2019 survey does not follow-up on this to see which was undertaken by the 38% overlap participants. Nor is their clarity on what enabled less than 72 SENCOS in 2019 to an increase in their time allocation for workload.  Did they simple show the tables to their senior leaders and this resulted in an increase in their SENCO contract?  Personally, I find this hard to believe and if it is true, then the senior leaders need further guidance and support.  More importantly, they need to read the SEND Regulations 2014 and be clear on how regulation 50 is applied in their school.

Conclusion and summary

I want to commend the research team on their initiative for these two surveys.  However, not engaging an independent review of the 2018 survey has, in my opinion confounded the results of the second survey and third now being undertaken in 2020 (during the summer holidays).  Less than 60 SENCOs stated that the 2018 report affected their working conditions in 2019/2020 (i.e. the following year). 2019 also saw an increase in head teacher engagement in the survey.  So, it is not clear how or what aspect of the 2018 workload survey has had the most impact and why?

That aside, the construct of ‘protected time’ has been flipped from being a manageable constant to being a variable based on school numbers.  It has also changed from being a professional development initiative to capacity build professionals, to a way of ‘doing the job’.  In my opinion, this is inaccurate and a detriment to the sector.  Surely, it would be better to agree a time allocation for on-going CPD as protected time.  That way, SENCOS can up skill their knowledge and potentially be more efficient and effective in the role.

I am also amazed that the premise, findings and recommendations of the reports have not been scrutinised and challenged by central government, especially in relation to data collection.

Epilogue: A subsequent trilogy of events

#1 In February 2020, I wrote to the DfE:

I was at a meeting recently and I was informed that the DfE are looking to use the SENCO Workload Survey and enshrine it in law via the revised SEND Code of Practice.  We were also informed it is the DfE Teacher Workload team that were driving this.

I have strong reservations about this and would like to formally share these for your consideration:

  • The formula used in 2017/18 and 28/19 to derive a guidance for the number of hours a SENCO should have has not been made transparent.  So, it is not open to public scrutiny.  What is obvious is it does not consider experience and any form of quality assurance.
  • The reports that emerged from the surveys did not include other work that has been going on since 2009 to support SENCO well being.  Therefore, no alternative solutions have been considered, although they exist, and SENCOs are using them.
  • The time allocations assume an even distribution of workload throughout the year.  This is not the case, there are bottle neck periods, which rely on good will of SLT for extra time. I’m currently in the fourth year of my PhD on SENCO career trajectory beyond the SENCo Award. The attached graphic (see below) is from my research and it plots the 12 job description tasks of the SENCO role, as stated in the SEND Regulations 2014 across the year. Again, no reference is made to the annual strategic calendar of a SENCO in the reports.

Let us assume, as the research team have suggested, that the proposed time allocations become enshrined in law:

  • This would result in serious employment legal ramifications for schools.  For example, let us say a SENCO is issued a contract based on NOR and number of EHCPs/ SEN Support in school.  If this changes, will the school have to issue another contract?  Have the unions been consulted on this?  So, to my knowledge there has been no risk assessment.  How would schools raise competency issues?  Would this also mean teachers would delegate back to the SENCO and denounce their own responsibility because of the ‘legally protected time’?
  • Implementing such a model would be costly.  At a time when schools are facing financial challenges meeting the needs of children, this could be detrimental, especially if there is a high turnover of staff.  My PhD is designed to shape a way of enabling line managers to retain SENCOs in the system, by providing them with a career trajectory that is personalised and contextualised to the school community.  There is a big difference between a SENCO in a small rural school and a SENCO in a large secondary.  Longitudinal research shows SENCOS do not want to stay in role more than 5 years.  So as a sector we invest heavily in their initial training and then they move.  What a waste of tacit knowledge and resources. One of the reasons, I believe we have high SENCO turnover is there is no career trajectory for them.  So, my research is about defining a flexible pathway of support and development.  The pathway would not be about the law, but capacity building the system.
  • We were also told that these changes to the law align with a review of the National SENCO Award currently underway.  This is not in the public domain to my knowledge and the same people are involved in all of these.  This reduces the level of open challenge and scrutiny, but also could be a conflict of interest, since paid services are involved and could stand to benefit.

I would be more than happy to discuss these in person.  I just think, we need to consider the ramifications of enshrining such a policy in law.  Is that the only answer, or are there other solutions we need to consider?

Kind regards,

Anita

#2 DfE Reply

Three weeks later, I received the following reply (author’s name has been removed).  I am not sure if the DfE personnel replying to me knows that two of the authors of the SENCO Workload Survey reports hold the officer posts for WSS mentioned in their email and that they are also involved in reviewing the NASENCO as well.  To be clear, I am not implying anything by highlighting this.  Just raising the transparency of cross-project engagement, as I am sure the workload survey report authors would want and value.

Dear Ms Devi

Thank you for your email of 6 February 2020 concerning the National SENCO Workload Survey that was conducted by Bath Spa University and nasen.

We recognise the important role Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCOs) play in schools, providing leadership and support to teachers and the whole school in meeting the needs of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

You may find it useful to know that we have not made any commitment to legislate the recommendations made in the National SENCO Workload Survey.  We will consider the report’s findings and recommendations in the context of the wider SEND review along with other published research and evidence.  We will also carefully consider the points you raise in your email.

The SEND review was announced in September 2019 and is looking at how we can ensure the SEND system is efficient and effective in providing the right support for all children and young people with SEND.

We are committed to reducing teacher workload and are taking action to specifically lessen the pressures on SENCOs. We have provided funding to the Whole School SEND (WSS) consortium to develop resources to support SENCOs. This includes a SENCO Induction Pack to help new SENCOs in their role.  The induction pack can be accessed at: www.sendgateway.org.uk/whole-school-send/sencos-area.

The WSS consortium is also developing an Effective SENCO Deployment Guide to help school leaders consider how they can best support the SENCO in their school.  We are also reviewing the learning outcomes for the National Award in SEN Co-ordination to ensure it best prepares SENCOs for their role.

I hope this information is useful and that it has helped to alleviate some of your concerns.

Your correspondence has been allocated reference number xxxxx. If you need to respond to us, please visit: https://www.education.gov.uk/contactus and quote your reference number.

As part of our commitment to improving the service we provide to our customers, we are interested in hearing your views and would welcome your comments via our website at: https://form.education.gov.uk/service/Policy_official_feedback .

Yours sincerely

SEND Division

# 3 July 2020: Government Response to the Education Select Committee SEND Review

Page 14 (point 18)

The 0–25 SEND Code of Practice is clear in its expectations that SENCOs should have sufficient time to carry out their role. Schools are best placed to identify the individual needs of their pupils and consider the level of support they need. It is therefore right that schools should make decisions on how to resource their SENCO and determine whether the role should be full or part-time. The SEND Review is taking a fundamental approach to how we better identify and support children and young people including through mainstream education. In that context we do not accept that an independent reviewer to examine the role or costs of the SENCO is needed at the moment but have noted the recommendation as the work of the SEND Review continues. We have funded the development of a SENCO Induction Pack (https://www.sendgateway.org.uk/whole-school-send/sencos-area/) through the Whole School SEND Consortium, which was developed by SENCOs for SENCOs. It sets out the key requirements of the SENCO role and provides information that SENCOs will need to help them perform effectively in the role. It signposts them to a range of resources that will help deepen their knowledge and understanding. We have also funded the development of an Effective SENCO Deployment Guide (https://www.sendgateway.org.uk/whole-school-send/find-wss-resources)/ through the same contract, which is aimed at school leaders and will enable them to make best use of their SENCO both strategically and operationally, and deploy them more effectively within the school. The guide also includes a link to recommendations from nasen on the time schools should allocate to the SENCO.

Page 14 (point 19)

Most local authorities (LAs) already provide SENCO network meetings and work with groups of schools and other settings (early years and further education) to help support the needs of children and young people with SEND within the local area. Our sources Government Response to the Committee’s First Report of Session 2019 of information indicate that these meetings are equally well attended by SENCOs from maintained schools and academies. We do encourage local authorities to do this, via our network of SEND advisers.

This work includes a range of aims, including to ensure that SENCOs are up-to-date with national and local SEND developments, provide a professional development programme, and, in a few instances, to undertake moderation exercises such as to ensure that assessment or support are similar in different schools for children with similar needs or attainment. Many LAs also employ Area SENCOs who provide support, advice and training on SEND to schools and other settings including the early years sector. We also work closely with the SENCO Forum Advisory Group who provide an online peer support space for SENCOs to discuss and share practical advice and knowledge on SEND related issues. The advisory group uses the intelligence it gathers from the forum to help feed and shape departmental policy and practice. Given that there is a considerable amount of activity at local level that brings SENCOs together, we do not feel that statutory powers are needed to put this in place. In the small number of areas where it is not yet in place, we will continue to encourage this practice.

The DfE’s seem to have adopted the 5 strands of SENCO effectiveness (undefined) from the SENCO Workload Survey through the WSS resources, without questioning the premise of the research.  No reference in the WSS documents links back to SEND Regs 2014 and regulation 50. Nor has the SENCO workload survey been independently reviewed.

So, here are my questions to readers:

  • Should SENCO workload time be protected OR should they have access to protected on-going professional development time?
  • What other research should the DfE have considered in crafting their response to the Select Committee?
  • What are the ethical considerations for funding resources based on research carried out by the same network of colleagues?

Definitions

1workload (n.d.) Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press. Retrieved August 24, 2020 from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/workload

2protected time. (n.d.) Segen’s Medical Dictionary. (2011). Retrieved August 18 2020 from https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/protected+time

References

BESA (2019). Key UK education statistics https://www.besa.org.uk/key-uk-education-statistics/ (accessed 20th August 2020)

Devi, A. (2016). Take control of your time – time management strategies and case studies for SENCOs. Optimus Education

Dobson, G. J. (2019). Understanding the SENCo workforce: Re‐examination of selected studies through the lens of an accurate national dataset. British Journal of Special Education, 46(4), 445-464.

Dobson, Graeme J, & Douglas, Graeme. (2020). Who would do that role? Understanding why teachers become SENCos through an ecological systems theory. Educational Review, 72(3), 298-318.

Gumus, Sedat, Bellibas, Mehmet Sukru, Esen, Murat, & Gumus, Emine. (2016). A systematic review of studies on leadership models in educational research from 1980 to 2014. Educational Management, Administration & Leadership, 46(1), 25-48.

House of Commons (2020). Special Educational Needs and Disabilities: Government Response to the Committee’s First Report of Session 2019 https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/2067/documents/19714/default/

Lewis, Thomas Fredrick (2017). Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) Wellbeing: A Mixed Methods Exploration of Workplace Demands and Effective Coping Actions, Doctoral Thesis (University of Birmingham)

Mackenzie, S. (2007). A review of recent developments in the role of the SENCo in the UK. British Journal of Special Education, 34(4), 212-218.

Muijs, Daniel, Kyriakides, Leonidas, Van der Werf, Greetje, Creemers, Bert, Timperley, Helen, & Earl, Lorna. (2014). State of the art – teacher effectiveness and professional learning. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 25(2), 231-256.

Passy, R., Georgeson, J., Schaefer, N. & Kaimi, I. (2017) Evaluation of the Impact and Effectiveness of the National Award for Special Educational Needs Coordination [online] https://afaeducation.org/media/1301/evaluation-of-the-impact-and-effectiveness-of-the-national-award-for-special-educational-needs-coordination.pdf 

Pearson, Sue, Mitchell, Rafael, & Rapti, Maria. (2015). ‘I will be “fighting” even more for pupils with SEN’: SENCOs’ role predictions in the changing English policy context. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 15(1), 48-56.

TTA (Teacher Training Agency) (1998) National Standards for Special Educational Needs Coordinators. London: TTA.