What the DfE’s Rochford Review findings mean for schools [sector news]

Earwig Academic

Earwig Academic Timelines is a fresh and unique approach to bridge the gap between parents, teachers, students and OFSTED by creating timelines of achievement for every student.

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Emilie-Kate Kidd (pictured above), cofounder of Earwig Academic, trustee of SEN charity Parents in Need and parent to an SEN child, talks about the surprises within the Rochford Review and what its recommendations mean for SEN teaching…

It is a pivotal time for the SEND teaching world. Last year saw the publication of The Rochford Review, which was commissioned by the DfE to look into the way learning objectives for all special needs children are set and how progress against these is measured and reported.

The review was put out to consultation by the DfE this year and the government has just published its conclusions on the matter. As expected, most of the recommendations have been accepted and implementation will commence next year.

The Rochford Review made several predictable suggestions. But it also includes a few which are downright revolutionary, and it’s these which are causing some furrowed brows among SEND school SLTs.

The first surprise is that large and rigid curricula and assessment frameworks, like P Scales, are out. Instead the report wants to see teachers get creative, with objectives set specifically for each child so that progress is assessed against these individualised curricula. The panel goes even further, suggesting that each of these customised teaching schemes should have, as their foundation, the child’s Education Health and Care Plan, the content of which is negotiated between the school and the local authority for each special needs child, each year.

While this is clearly a sensible way to go, it does place an additional administrative load on the school to draw up these curricula, evolve them as the pupil progresses each year, and then record, analyse and report progress against them.

The recommendations then take one further step. They recognise that at all levels of disability, but particularly at the severe end of the spectrum, physical or intellectual progress is not the only measure of achievement. Another equally valid measure is the pupil’s level of engagement in the task. From the teacher’s perspective, progress is made if the child demonstrates any improved enthusiasm or commitment, even if they don’t make tangible physical or intellectual progress. So the panel recommend that assessment schemes should be creatively reconfigured to also include a measure of engagement, and consequently keep evidence records to verify these assessment judgements.

It’s easy to see why most are in support of a more tailored curriculum for each child, and agree that detailed tracking of both tangible achievement and engagement will enable even the smallest progression to be tracked. But the problem is the consequential workload.

Creating, editing, recording and reporting assessments can all be done using paper-based schemes or spreadsheets, but will require a lot of teacher hours to maintain.

Earwig have been working with Rochford Review panel members and DfE SEND advisers to develop software which will allow schools to import EHC Plans, generate individualised teaching schemes based on these, and enable teachers to capture their teaching evidence and make assessment judgements on the spot. Once all this information is in the system it is then relatively easy for a sophisticated software to generate analysis and reports to order. Which, of course, is where the bulk of time and stress will be saved.

Visit www.earwigacademic.com or contact info@earwigacademic.com / 0333 6666 166 for more information.

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