Some good news to report, at last:
Earlier this year, we told you about The Carter Review of Initial Teacher Training and the government has this week published its response to the three experts' reports that the review led to:
- Developing behaviour management content for initial teacher training
- A framework of core content for initial teacher training
- National standards for school-based initial teacher training mentors
What does it say about teacher training for SEND?
The biggest news for our SEND community is that autism and teaching children with special needs will be a core part of Initial Teacher Training. About time too - you simply cannot state in the SEND Code of Practice that every teacher is a teacher of children with special educational needs and not give them the necessary training to succeed at it.
The detail, such as it is, says that providers should ensure trainee teachers understand they are obliged to set high standards to inspire, motivate and challenge ALL pupils for whom they have responsibility.
"This applies regardless of age, ability or aptitude, and includes pupils who might have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), and pupils for whom English is an additional language (EAL). Providers should equip trainees to be able to inspire and provide extra challenge for the most able pupils."
"Providers should ensure that trainees are equipped to identify the needs of all pupils, avoiding labelling by group, and make provision for them, including seeking the advice of colleagues with specialist knowledge and experience."
- equip trainees to analyse the strengths and needs of all pupils effectively, ensuring that they have an understanding of cognitive, social, emotional, physical and mental health factors that can inhibit or enhance pupils’ education.
- ensure that trainees understand the principles of the SEND Code of Practice, are confident working with the four broad areas of need it identifies, and are able to adapt teaching strategies to ensure that pupils with SEND (including, but not limited to, autism, dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), sensory impairment or speech, and language and communication needs (SLCN)) can access and progress within the curriculum.
- ensure that SEND training is integrated across the ITT programme. Trainees should be able to recognise signs that may indicate SEND, and support common educational needs through review of their teaching, making adjustments to overcome any barriers to progress and ensuring that pupils with SEND are able to access the curriculum. These should take the form of a
cycle or 'graduated approach' in the classroom. This should involve assessing pupil need, planning, reviewing and implementing change to support pupil progress, as referenced in the Code of Practice.
- emphasise the importance of emotional development such as attachment issues and mental health on pupils’ performance, supporting trainees to recognise typical child and adolescent development, and to respond to atypical development.
The National Autistic Society's Chief Executive, Mark Lever, said,
“The new framework will mean that, for the first time, every new teacher in England should have a basic understanding of autism and the different ways it can affect students. This is fantastic news for the autism community and will make a huge difference to the lives and prospects of generations of children on the autism spectrum.
“Children on the autism spectrum often share certain difficulties, such as struggling to understand unwritten social rules and managing change, but it affects each individual differently. Around 70% go to mainstream schools, so teachers are bound to work with autistic students at various points in their career. Yet, until now, there hasn’t been a requirement for new teachers to learn about autism.
....We’re also calling for the governments of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to follow suit. Every teacher deserves the right training, and every autistic child needs a teacher who understands them"
Three Rs of the behaviour curriculum.
The Carter Review highlighted how new teachers felt ill-equipped to teach or manage the often challenging behaviour of children with SEND. One of this week's three publications is Developing behaviour management content for initial teacher training. highlighting the "Three Rs of the behaviour curriculum."
- Routines: classroom routines as a fundamental source of high expectation, a scaffold for conduct, and a community vision of optimal habits and behaviours.
- Responses: strategies and interventions for de-escalating confrontation, resolving conflict, redirecting unproductive (or destructive) behaviours, and reacting to antisocial behaviour in a just, productive and proportional way. These include formal interventions (for example: consequences described by the school behaviour policy) and informal ones (for example: verbal/ non-verbal cues, body language).
- Relationships: regulating one’s own emotional state; understanding personal triggers in one’s own behaviour, expectations or reactions; how special educational needs and disability (SEND) affects behaviour. Understanding for example: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, dyslexia, Asperger’s; the basic psychology of: motivation; long and short term memory; concentration; learning; cognitive load, spacing and interleaving; group dynamics.
These are very vital skills for teachers to acquire and the lack of them can often lead to low expectations of children with these conditions, children being turned off learning because they can't understand the way it a subject is being taught and, at worst, exclusion both temporary and permanent.
The accompanying ITT standards for professional mentors is important because these are who trainee teachers learn from
"We have developed the mentor standards based on the evidence we gathered which are set out in four separate but related areas: personal qualities; teaching; professionalism; and self-development and working in partnership. We have also considered how the standards could be used by mentors, aspiring mentors and ITT providers"
Behaviour Management measures not fully endorsed
The DfE accepted the core content recommendations and will also strengthen continuous professional development a new Standard, published in July 2016. It also accepted the report on professional standards for ITT mentors.
However, in her accompanying letter, the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan did not give full backing to the expert report on Behaviour Management:
"While we endorse the approaches and methods outlined in the behaviour management report and strongly expect ITT providers to take account of these recommendations, the Government does not wish to make them mandatory.
"The behaviour management content developed by this group is, of course, an integral part of the framework of core content for ITT. It should be noted that, ....providers will need to demonstrate that their programmes conform to the behaviour management content that is included in the wider framework.
"We recognise that there is rarely one standard delivery method that will work in every classroom, and it would be wrong for Government to try to impose a “one size fits all” approach to behaviour management. Rather, all ITT providers should consider what is being suggested in the report and decide how the approaches outlined can best be incorporated into their programmes."
This reminds me somewhat of where the SEND Code of Practice has fallen down, by leaving too much to be developed by individual providers, rather than having mandatory standards that must be lived up to and inspected by Ofsted, which will only have a role to play in the other two areas of core content and mentors.
So let's just hope that all these ITT training providers are as expert, forward-thinking and committed to recognising best practice for SEND behaviour management as the government believes them to be.
Your thoughts, as ever, are welcomed on these developments. Do you think it will make a difference for new teachers? What kind of Continuous Professional Development for existing teachers will be needed to improve the experience of children with SEND? Let us know in the blog comments below.
She is also an experienced broadcast and print journalist & author. Tania also runs a PR, web & social media consultancy, SocialOro Media. She is a Rare Disease & chronic pain patient advocate with Ehlers Danlos syndrome.
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