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Research and analysis

Leadership that promotes the achievement of students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)

Findings from a study into the nature and forms of school leadership that promote the achievement of students with special educational needs and disabilities.

Documents

Leadership that promotes the achievement of students with special educational needs and disabilities: full report

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Leadership that promotes the achievement of students with special educational needs and disabilities: support pack

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Details

This study focuses on the organisational conditions that schools which have had some success in promoting achievement appear to have in common and lessons that can be drawn from them. It looks at:

  • The culture and ethos of these schools
  • Their practices, particularly the emphasis they put on staff working together
  • Structures and systems and the roles of teaching and non-teaching staff
  • Management and leadership and how leaders model the behaviour they aim to promote

It also examines the implications for leadership development in the context of current government policy on widening access and promoting equity. It highlights in particular the need for professional development programmes which can help to develop system leaders who are focused on student diversity and who can use their expertise to support other schools to develop their own approaches to diversity.

The support pack gives ideas aimed at helping school leaders review and revise their approach to SEND. The first section of the pack establishes the difference between:

  • the whole-school approach to SEND, characterised by shared commitment to inclusion, collaborative problem-solving in teaching and learning, resources made available to all pupils and a strong emphasis on distributed leadership

and

  • the bolted-on approach, where SEND is the responsibility of a few specialists, leading to individual values and approaches to problem-solving, resources exclusive to SEND students, specialist leadership roles and fewer staff involved in leading.

It provides a framework of five key elements which leaders can use to analyse current approaches and to start thinking about strategies for moving towards a whole-school model. The framework covers:

  • Values
  • Approaches to teaching and learning
  • Resources for support
  • Specialist leadership roles
  • Approach to integrated services

Section two uses each element of the framework to present questions for reflection and discussion around:

  • How a school understands the nature of working with SEND issues
  • What might be done to improve the arrangements for addressing them

It also offers many examples of the approaches schools of all kinds have used to tackle different challenges around SEND issues, including strategies for curriculum development, monitoring, school-to-school support and working with external agencies.