BMAT schools send to overhaul delivery of special needs

Burnt Mill Academy / Thu 29th Sep 2022 at 07:49am

A FAMILY of schools is overhauling its curriculum focus to ensure children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are at the forefront of education.

The BMAT multi-academy trust – with primary and secondary schools in Essex and London – is launching a new strategy this month which puts young people with SEND at the centre of everything it does.

Having appointed a director of SEND in April 2021, BMAT carried out a review of the work every one of its 12 schools is doing with those children with additional needs.

Marios Solomonides will this month launch a new SEND strategy for the Trust which will see all schools follow the same systems and procedures.

He said: “This is about us, as a Trust, making provision for children with SEND as simple and as impactful as possible. It is testament to the Trust that such a focus is being put on the provision for children with SEND.

“The main part of our new strategy is that to give children the best chance of life outcomes and academic outcomes, teachers need to become even more responsible. At all schools, the SENDCo is the font of all knowledge and teachers put their plans into action. That cannot work as the SENDCo cannot know every child and cannot possibly do the best for every child in their school. They will, of course, continue to have strategic overview at their school, but they can’t do it all.

“Instead, we are working towards teachers leading on the provision for at least one child each year. By doing that, their knowledge of SEND will improve, as will the teaching of all children.

“Just like safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility, so is SEND.”

Staff within BMAT will be offered the opportunity to become experts in different areas of SEND – such as autism or hearing impairment – so that whenever a teacher needs advice or guidance there will be a colleague inhouse they can turn to.

As well as getting teachers more involved in understanding and providing for children with additional needs, the Trust will also work more closely with parents.

Mr Solomonides said: “Parents are the key. They know their child better than anyone. We have got to do this with our parents. They are the most under used resource.

“We want to move away from this idea of being ‘inclusive’ and instead make every child and every family feel they ‘belong’ within our schools. Our curriculum needs to be designed with these children in mind from the beginning and not as an after-thought. We do not want to have to adapt our teaching because we have a child with autism; we want to plan with that child in mind from the start. If you think about the most vulnerable child in your class and plan with them in mind, it will benefit everyone.

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