Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Get to Know the Child

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Get to Know the Child

Article excerpt

Even experienced teachers can feel daunted when catering for needs they have not yet experienced, but if you meet the pupil where they are, instead of expecting them to come to you, then you will be off to a good start

A teacher friend rang me in a flap the other day. Usually, once the hamster wheel that is the school term is up and running, I wouldn't expect to hear from her, so her call was a surprise. I wondered what was wrong.

It turned out that she was worried about a girl in her class. I don't mean that the child was sick and had to be sent home, that sort of thing. No, she was worried because the girl had special educational needs.

Once the flapping had subsided enough for me to get a word in edgeways, we got down to business.

Yes, I had taught a similar topic to my Year 4 pupils with SEND a couple of years ago. Yes, I could dig my planning out and see if we could adapt any of it. I could suggest plenty of activities that worked with children with literacy difficulties, depending on their stage of development.

Then I asked some questions. Had she spoken to the school's SEND coordinator? Had she got a copy of an education, health and care plan or individual plan? What were the targets or outcomes? What could she do, within the confines of her subject, to work towards them?

We came to the crux of the matter: my friend had had a busy week. She had no specialised teaching assistant to call upon for advice. For a moment, she wondered how on Earth she was going to teach a class containing such diverse needs. …

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