By Anita Devi
Last month, as the busy end of term drew near, we intentionally invited SENCOs and SEND Leaders to celebrate. As a team, we also did something unusual in the last week of term … we set aside time to plan!
During the last week of term, I made time to strategically plan with SENCOs from two medium sized trusts and with my own team. In one trust, head teachers were invited to join us for part of the final afternoon, so SENCOs could present their ideas to their line managers, one-to-one.
The feedback was insightful:
“I usually leave this to the holidays. I do some planning in the holidays, but then I feel bad, because it’s my time, but if I don’t do it, I start the year in a panic and feeling guilty. Having planning time, at the end of term has been so refreshing. I was able to liaise with other SENCOs, who were also planning AND I’m going into the holidays knowing it’s done … so really able to switch off and take some me time. Thank you SO much.” SENCO
“Having some time with my SENCO at the end of the year was useful. It’s clear she had reflected on the year just gone and was able to use key learning points to plan the year ahead. Hearing her ideas, also gave me an opportunity to ask questions and reflect on how this could link into wider development areas of the school. It was useful for us to spend time thinking through the implications for SEND of EIF2019. Really great idea, let’s do it again next year!” Headteacher
We are all different and how we approach tasks also differs. For example, imagine you had three tasks to do. Do you do the easy tasks first and get them out of the way OR do you complete the difficult tasks first and leave the easy ones till last? There is no right or wrong answer. It’s about finding what works for you.
Too often I see SENCOs focus on the operational and yet we know making time for the strategic helps to accelerate the operational. It also enables SENCOs to make time for their own #wellbeing as well as engage the wider team.
So, what planning did we undertake at the end of term?
We focussed on three main tools:
- Strategic priorities. It is not possible to undertake more that three strategic priorities a year and still contribute to wider school development areas. The three focus areas need to be thought-through, so strategically they act as catalysts and impact several areas. The Pareto Principle of 80/20 rule suggests 80% results emerge from 20% input. The priorities need to be clearly defined, with clear outcomes and measurements for success. It helps to be clear on ‘who’ will make this happen, when and how plus what resources are required to make the priorities successful.
Let me give you a practical example from 2018-19. One primary school was very aware the paper trail system they had in place for SEND pupils was cumbersome and teaching staff did not take ownership due to the complexity. Working with the team across the school, the SENCO reduced three forms into one; which the staff all took on board and actively engaged with. Success meant better outcomes for the children and improved dialogue with parents/carers. An effective example of the Pareto Principle being applied.
To make choices about your time management, download the FREE SENCO Time Management Book entitled ‘Take control of your time’ #senco5aday
2. Continuous professional development (CPD) planner. A core part of the SENCO role is to train others. The best CPD model for SEND is a drip-feed approach. Planning this, as fully as possible before the year begins, gives SENCOS time and space to create a standard template, ensure there is breadth / depth and opportunities to delegate. It also means you can build in gap-tasks to measure impact. Many teachers deliver good practice in their classrooms and well thought-through CPD Plan gives others the opportunity to share what they do too.
3. Monthly key milestone plan. This is about plotting onto an accessible format, what’s coming up on the horizon and in which month. This includes annual reviews, data collection points, parents’ meetings etc. A good plan helps to identify time / pressure bottlenecks and when SENCOs need additional support. This is a vital communication tool for SENCOs and headteachers.
These are just three of the strategic planning tools, SENCO can use to enhance provision, practice and their leadership of SEND. There are others. Maybe that’s for another time!
The SENCO role is about very much about handling Plan B, C, D … Z, but it all starts with a plan!
If schools, multi-academy trusts or federations would like to find out more about how #TeamADL can facilitate SEND Planning Days for you, do get in touch www.AnitaDevi.com
… our new website with more info will be published in September 2019! We’ve already planned it 😊
Finally, we’ve been amazed by how many settings have bought into using the 2019-2020 SEND Leader Planner may be this can of use to you too. Happy holidays!