Why does every school need to know about Whole School SEND? And how you can help

Tania's note: Have you heard of Whole School SEND? If you're a keen reader you certainly will be, after our posts and conversations with former director Anne Heavey, who has now moved to a role with Ofsted. If you haven't heard of Whole School SEND, it's part of SEND teaching charity, nasen, with a mission to improve the quality of SEND education across the country. You can find it on the newly-refreshed SEND Gateway website.

I'm currently a member of Whole School SEND's Impact Steering Group, which advises on WSS plans, reach and impact across the country. I'm able to offer input from a parental perspective to ensure it meets its goals, ultimately benefiting children with SEND. The WSS programme is of vital importance to our children, but it can only succeed fully if every school knows about, and uses, its resources and training.

Taking over at Whole School SEND is former teacher and SENCO, Alex Grady, who will be writing regularly about the work they are doing. In her first post today, she's talking more about the impact Whole School SEND has been having. We'd both like to ask you to send details to your school or, if you're an education practitioner, to have a look for yourself and show your school leadership.

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The impact of Whole School SEND: Does your school know about Whole School SEND, and how we can support them to improve?

by Alex Grady, Whole School SEND

Whole School SEND is a consortium of SEND-focused organisations and individuals, including Special Needs Jungle, Contact, National Network of Parent Carer Forums, the Council for Disabled Children, the NHS and nasen (National Association for Special Educational Needs) among many others. We are currently delivering a contract funded by the Department for Education (DfE), to support the schools’ workforce development in SEND. This means we create and disseminate resources and training aimed at improving the experiences and outcomes of children and young people with SEND. 

Whole School SEND Logo
Alex Grady
Alex Grady

An essential principle of our work is that it is co-produced – we know that one of the missed opportunities of the SEND reforms has been person-centred working becoming embedded across the system, as was the intention of the Children and Families Act. We want every school leader and every teacher to ask for, listen to and act upon the views and wishes of the people at the centre of the SEND system – children, young people and their families!

Whether your child’s school is primary, secondary or special, whether it has an inclusive ethos already or not, whether it has a new or a more experienced SENCO - whatever your experiences of the school are, it could benefit from joining the Whole School SEND consortium.

A selection of resources: Safe returns to school after critical incidents; Ask, Listen, Do, questions to help children and families; COVID-19 SEND Review Guide; Safe and successful returns webinar

Why does every school need to know about Whole School SEND?

You don’t need me to tell you that outcomes (in the widest sense) are still not good enough for our children and young people with SEND. WSS can help schools to improve outcomes, by improving their SEN provision.

  • WSS offers a person-centred, supportive and positive ethos which puts the needs of individual children at the heart of education, whilst empowering teachers and leaders to understand that they have and can develop the skills to meet these needs
  • WSS is a collaborative organisation that brings together a wide range of experience and expertise, including parents, young people with SEND, special and mainstream schools, local authorities, charities and condition-specific organisations [See all of our consortium partners: https://www.sendgateway.org.uk/consortium-partners]
  • WSS has a regional structure, with eight teams of SEND Leaders across England, working mostly in schools, who have direct knowledge of local issues and local strengths, which we share with the DfE to help inform their thinking around SEND. We also use our regional structures to support regional SEND networks and to commission and deliver training [Find out about the regions: https://www.sendgateway.org.uk/whole-school-send-regional-send-leads]
  • WSS can offer our support, resources and training to schools at no cost to themselves, as it is all DfE-funded – this is particularly important in a time of constrained budgets and competing priorities [Our resource listing: https://www.sendgateway.org.uk/resources and our events listing: https://www.sendgateway.org.uk/events]
  • We have been able to be flexible in our offer during the coronavirus pandemic, for example by offering online training as well as COVID-specific resources [https://www.sendgateway.org.uk/resources?title=COVID]
A selection of resources: Condition specific videos: Physical disability/SLCN /Hearing impairment / SEMH

How does WSS support schools?

  • We create accessible and useful resources, which are co-produced – these may be used by SENCOs (Special Educational Needs Coordinators; for example, the ‘SENCO Induction Pack’), by whole leadership teams (the Review Guides or the ‘Recovery, Reintroduction and Renewal: Safe and Successful Returns to School’ handbook), or classroom teachers (the condition-specific videos, for example) 
  • We offer a range of training/CPD (continuing professional development) opportunities, currently all via online webinars – titles include ‘High standards and an inclusive curriculum for all’, ‘Solution circles for staff and pupil wellbeing’ and ‘Inclusive maths: bridging the gap between abstract and concrete’
  • We provide ‘Online SEND Reviewer Training’ – developed by Real Group, this course enables SENCOs and other school leaders to train to evaluate and improve SEN provision in their own school and others [https://realtraining.co.uk/online-send-reviewer-training]
  • We offer regional networks - schools and individuals can sign up to keep in touch with the SEND leaders in their region, to highlight and share effective practice and discuss local issues [https://www.sendgateway.org.uk/whole-school-send-regional-send-leads]
  • Membership of WSS now includes FREE nasen membership - this means you can access nasen’s resources, sector updates and wider networks and opt in to paid-for membership resources too, including the SENCO Support Service, the Annual Webinar Pass and the Publication Subscription [Find out more: https://www.sendgateway.org.uk/page/about-nasen-wss]
SENCO Induction Pack
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We can make a difference! An example of feedback from one of our webinars:

“Thank you, it was inspirational. It has already had an impact as I phoned my friend last night, who had a meeting today about her daughter who has autism at her daughter’s school today. She has just told me it is the first meeting she has had at the school she (Mum) hasn’t cried- the mixture between her own ideas, the school’s plus some of the ideas I shared from the training has led to a positive review; thank you.”

WSS resources: Using data to inform best practice; Inclusive Maths; Inclusive Curriculum; The difference between SEND and Disadvantage in schools

There is lots more to come from Whole School SEND this year – look out for news of our new funded resources over the next few months! These include the eagerly awaited ‘Classroom Teachers SEND Handbook’, the Autism Resource Pack and the ‘Ask, Listen, Do’ leaflet on SEN Support.

Join our Community of Practice: https://www.sendgateway.org.uk/register – make sure you select the Whole School SEND options to keep up to date with all our developments!

Also read:


  • Neurodiversity Celebration Week
  • SNJ FLOW CHARTS
  • Books SNJ recommends
  • SEND Community Alliance Join us

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