Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

An Untapped Source of SEND Support

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

An Untapped Source of SEND Support

Article excerpt

Charities are experts on conditions that can affect students, and they are eager to offer assistance to teachers who need help

When, after many years of teaching, I first took on the role of special educational needs and disabilities coordinator (Sendco) just over two years ago, I thought I knew quite a lot about the subject. However, I quickly realised that I had focused only on addressing the needs of particular children on a yearto-year basis. What I needed was a fuller picture of each child with SEND; their individual challenges, history and goals for the future.

Finding this kind of information is an ongoing challenge for Sendcos. Parents are an invaluable source of information, but they are also looking to you for guidance and support. It's a delicate balance, meaning that it can be difficult to ask questions, particularly if they find it painful to discuss issues relating to their child's future.

You can consult the experts, of course. The National Association for Special Educational Needs is an invaluable source of information, along with specialist texts and journals. If you are prepared to spend hours dredging through opinion and useless information to find credible sources, Google can be useful too. Yet sometimes you will need far more detailed information on specific conditions.

Reaching out

It is strange that Sendcos so often overlook charities as a source. Although I have information booklets filed away and have found websites helpful, I had never actually contacted a charity for help before I approached Muscular Dystrophy UK this year. I was working with a child with a complex muscle-wasting condition and needed extra support. I emailed to explain that I had read literature about muscle-wasting conditions, but that I had more questions and would like to talk to someone. Along with supplying information and phone numbers of professionals in the area who might be able to help me, the charity offered to put me in touch with a Muscular Dystrophy UK ambassador. All ambassadors have a muscle-wasting condition or a family member with one, and can help with practical support and advice.

Clear communication

The ambassador I was put in touch with was in his twenties and had the same condition as my pupil. …

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