We arrived on a snowy day in Salford, at Harrop Fold School. Miranda Rathmell, the school’s SENCO met us and explained a little of the school’s background: there are around 100 children on the SEN register, with 16 of those having an Educational Health and Care Plan. There are a large number of pupils who are in receipt of free school meals: 69%.
We did a quiz in SEN acronyms, and learnt that what used to be called a statement is now called a Educational Health and Care Plan. We then tried to match some conditions with descriptions of difficulties. Miranda discussed how the school ‘expands the parameters of what’s normal’ to accommodate pupils learning needs, such as pupils with Autism, or with Operational Defiance Disorder.
Miranda then gave us some more input about the policies surrounding SEN, and some of the types of support that schools can give, before thinking about how we as teachers can make text easier to read. We were then given case studies and asked how we might as class teachers differentiate a lesson to support these pupils .
After a buffet lunch, Miranda spoke about how her career had progressed from her time at Edge Hill, work as an RE teacher, to being SENCO at Harrop Fold. She described how to meet the needs of the most vulnerable and challenging Year 7 pupils, the school had created a special group. We were then invited to think a little more deeply about ADHD. This is often co-morbid with other difficulties, can lead to challenging behaviour. It was stressed that all behaviour is communication.
We finished with a tour of the school including the link room, the behaviour room, the SEN office and the Student development team. This was a great day in school and all students are now better equipped to understand SEN on their first school placement in May.