Nicky Hepworth

Nicky Hepworth Programme Manager at Basingstoke Alliance SCITT and Assistant Headteacher at Dove House School Academy

The Initial Teacher Training (ITT) programme run by Basingstoke Alliance SCITT – led by Dove House School Academy, an outstanding special school for pupils with moderate learning difficulties – offers enhanced training in SEND.

Our training is underpinned by the ethos from the lead school of producing teachers who are educational problem-solvers, rather than just curriculum knowledge teachers, and planning for individual children in their classes. In 2016, Ofsted reported that trainees valued the series of training sessions about special educational needs and disabilities. It said a particular strength of the trainees was their planning for teaching that took into account the diverse needs and abilities of pupils, particularly those with SEND.

For leaders of the Basingstoke Alliance SCITT ‘progression and consistency’ are integral to the SEND ITT provision. The current structure and content of their programme is a result of experience and expertise from the lead school responding to feedback from trainee surveys and use of the valuable NASBTT SEND toolkit.

An introduction to SEND (development of the whole child, progression to adulthood, reforms and current regulations) starts as part of the three-day induction before the autumn term begins and is led by the Headteacher of the lead school and the SCITT Programme Manager.

Eighteen central training days include four days delivered across the academic year by an experienced specialist in SEND. Day one builds on the introduction during induction and extends this to understanding different learning profiles (including the four categories of SEND), how to begin to identify barriers to learning, and the range of external agencies that work to support pupils with SEN and/or disabilities.

Then, having ‘sowed the seed’, for day two of training in the spring term it is felt that trainees are better prepared and have more classroom experience to return in more depth to specific barriers to learning (based on the categories of need); including the strategies that can be used to support learning and the importance of ‘breaking down’ learning into small achievable steps to support progress and achievement.

In the summer term, the main topics of the third and fourth days include partnership with parents; the deployment, preparedness and practice of teaching assistants; and approaches to reducing the differences in outcomes between pupils with and without SEN and/or disabilities from national, whole school and classroom perspectives. This is complemented by the schools’ professional themes programme in the spring and summer term which supports the trainees putting the theory into practice.

These four days in central training are planned alongside school experience days. At the end of the first half-term there is a SEND mainstream school experience day and a day in Dove House School Academy. The SEND mainstream looks at collaborative and corroborative co-productive approaches to ensure all pupils’ needs are met with a focus on the graduated approach, individual support plans and the external agencies that schools use to support the pupils in their particular setting.

In the special school day, observations of maths and English lessons are completed, as well a learning walk with a focus on behaviour for learning. One outcome from the day is that trainees are asked to work in groups to produce a leaflet for one of the four categories of need for fellow trainees to use in the classroom.

Trainees also have a whole school data day which focuses on the use of data to assess, identify needs, refine and revise provision to support the pupil in making good progress and securing good outcomes. In the summer term, trainees return to the special school to focus on differentiation, personalisation, stretch and challenge and how Dove House School Academy uses positive reinforcement strategies to support motivation and resilience in learning.

The SEND focus continues to be an area for development for Basingstoke Alliance SCITT, drawing on the NASBTT SEND ITT toolkit and the expertise from Dove House School Academy so that our trainees become teachers that are prepared for ‘every classroom and every child’.

The NASBTT SEND ITT toolkit is available to view in the link below:

Nicky Hepworth is Programme Manager at Basingstoke Alliance SCITT and Assistant Headteacher at Dove House School Academy

Provider details: Basingstoke Alliance SCITT

Twitter: @bascitt

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