Our Chair and Founder, Sarah Driver delivered a keynote speech on SEND and leadership to over 200 delegates at the Whole School SEND Strategy Summit…
Sarah Driver, chair of DYT, delivered a keynote speech last Wednesday to over 200 delegates on sustainable and effective leadership in SEND provision.
Utilising expertise as a leader in Education and her personal experience as a parent of a child with dyslexia, Sarah’s speech addressed the need to implement sustainable change in the way we teach those with SEND – focusing on empowering those at the top to lead, and include SEND within the broader education agenda. The speech outlined issues facing all schools, and stressed the need to ensure accountability and responsibility from our education leaders. Following this, Sarah outlined the clear steps to effect sustainable change and merit the needs of those with SEND – ending with a call to action for everyone involved in education and SEND:
“lead the way, share your practice, continue to champion SEND and you will see the benefits across your school in countless ways”.
View the PowerPoint here.
Read Press coverage of the speech.
View a summary of the speech.
Below is a full transcript of Sarah’s Speech:
So, a quick background as to why I’m standing here today talking to experts in the SEND and education world – what have I got to add?
A solicitor by training, primarily I’m here as the Founder and Chair of the Driver Youth Trust – a charity that is dedicated to ensuring those who struggle with literacy are still able to access education. At DYT:
I’m conscious of time so, bearing in mind that this is a day about SEND and MATs, I think there are two core areas I’ve worked in that are relevant to today’s agenda.
1: I’ve worked on and developed our flagship programme, Drive for Literacy, over the past 7 years working with Ark in their schools. In a nutshell, DfL addresses school capacity and teacher capability from a whole school approach, with a focus on leadership and systems. We’re now rolling this out across the country. DfL embodies all the principles I discuss today.
Working with Ark, I’ve had a lot of experience of SEND in a MAT model- what works, what doesn’t.
2: I’ve been a Chair of Governors in a large school in Hastings that was in special measures. Again with Ark, I’ve seen SEND and MATs in action – this time looking at issues of capacity when schools are a distance away and when you’re looking at primary and secondary provision together in an area.
Also I’m a parent of 3 children who struggle with literacy, my youngest fundamentally so. He’s going to Manchester University to ‘read’ Economics and Politics – and he can’t read and write
and I’m going to talk briefly about… SEND provision.
This is an issue facing all schools – although I’m aware I may be preaching to the converted, it is important we understand how to effect sustainable change in the way we teach with those with SEND – We know the answers are out there, we know they’re not even rocket science – what we need to do is look at how we make changes in a sustainable way.
Throughout will be looking at the particular opportunities and also the challenges that face MATs.
When I’m talking about MATs, what I say applies equally to policy makers in government and to LAs – take these actions on board and the outcomes for those with SEND will improve dramatically.
Key Stage 2 for all pupils was 53% while for SEND pupils it was just 14% in 2016.
EPI have found: That even the higher-attaining pupils with SEND fall behind as they progress through school.
Training teachers at the end of a long day on the theories of reading isn’t as powerful as getting the Science faculty to understand what skills they are expecting of a learner with reading and writing difficulties and then giving them specific strategies to use in their classrooms
All of this leads to two primary outcomes:
Lost children who lose months if not years of their education
And, Frazzled staff – Teachers in England are working longer hours than in most other countries. Full time teachers over 48 hours per week – the third highest out of OECD, 19 % longer than the average elsewhere.
So …How to effect sustainable change in the way we teach with those with SEND?
Thought long and hard about articulating this and, having worked for a long time now within the system, working with head teachers, teachers, TAs, governors, trustees – I’ve looked at structures, processes and attitudes – I think it comes down one thing.
If we get this right at a policy level, at an LA level, at a MAT level, at a Head Teacher or Principal level – then at a learner level, we will have made all the difference in the world – and we will see that group of learners who have consistently failed to achieve, making real progress.
We need to get …
leaders to see the merit of addressing the needs of those with SEND – and it’s important to remember that 9 out of 10 pupils with SEND are sitting in mainstream classrooms across the country.
Everything stems from the 2 elements in this concept – leadership and seeing merit
Leadership –this is key and in this category I extend it beyond Trustees and Head Teachers to the Senior Leadership Team, Teachers within teams and Governors.
Without this leadership, we see a fragmented approach within schools, where those with SEND are dependent on the chance of having a teacher or TA with knowledge and skills.
Seeing merit in addressing SEND – Sadly, whilst I’ve tried in the past to argue this on moral grounds – it’s the right thing to do and on educational grounds – we’re about giving every child a good education and because good practice benefits all learners, I’ve found 2 main ‘hook’s to engage leaders to address the needs of those with SEND
But we need some ‘sticks’…
HOW to effect sustainable change in the way we teach with those with SEND?
How does doing this translate into practicalities?
Here I’m referring to putting into place strategic systems, which as MATs there is the opportunity of economies of scale, of the ability to put in systems and training across the board, which can be harder for stand-alone schools. However, for MATs with schools around the country, it can be challenging as I saw with Ark in Hastings.
Convey this expectation to your leaders in schools, Head Teachers, Principals, SLT, teachers in teams and Governors.
In my experience in a large school in special measures, this was hard to do with many competing priorities, but it needs to be done. In a practical way this would ensure that
Ensure accountability – this is where the ‘sticks’ come in ….
At DYT we’re working on developing the SEND review to include a section for Trustees and governors.
MATs should ‘ring fence’ their SEND funding and require schools to be accountable and show how they are spending the funds and produce evidence of the impact this funding is having.
The Ofsted framework says –
Inspectors will pay particular attention to the outcomes for the following groups:
But the document itself isn’t very concrete on the precise criteria of what good/outstanding looks like as far as I can see and inspectors are not trained to know what good looks like.
For MATs – it means collecting data on those with an SEND, ensuring you have specialists on your team when doing monitoring inspections who know what good practice looks like and it means asking the right questions. It’s about making the school accountable.
Teaching Staff – think …faculty training, think…. teaching secondary teachers how to teach learners to read. We want teachers with the skills in teaching their subjects in a way that’s creative, accessible and responsive to the needs of every child who walks through their door.
Look beyond this to career pathways for staff from
and give awards and recognition for this training
Specialists– here is where MATs really can make a difference employing specialist teachers and other professionals to use across the network – it’s a model we have at Drive for Literacy.
6 Governors – Interestingly the NGA don’t train SEND governors unless they’re in a Special School. Remember 9 out of 10 … Have a SEND governor and train them. There’s free resources to support you on our DYT website.
7 Parents – engage with parents – we’ve put resources on for parents on questions they can ask schools. As schools, look at these and be prepared to answer them.
8 Create ‘carrot’s’ for good practice – awards that recognize the great work that often goes unnoticed.
Finally, here’s my call to action:
It’s not rocket science; we can make systematic changes in the way we teach pupils with SEND in our schools
It just takes Leaders to decide to have the will to do so … if they do, they will see the benefits across their school in countless ways – not just results and better Ofsted outcomes, but in their staff, with all their pupils.