This project and its evaluation were affected by the 2020 and 2021 partial school closures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, the delivery has been delayed and the evaluation will be completed later than planned.
The SEND Review process has been manualised in a SEND Review guide, which was developed in partnership with the Department for Education and has been downloaded by over 5,000 schools. It aims to help schools to evaluate the effectiveness of their SEND provision, and then implement a bespoke action plan to target areas of priority and drive improvement.
The process consists of 6 stages:
- Identification: School identifies the need for a SEND Review.
- Self-evaluation: School completes a self-evaluation of current provision.
- Preparation: The peer reviewer requests preparatory information, analyses relevant data and confirms visit.
- School visit: The peer reviewer visits the school, collects evidence and delivers feedback.
- Reporting: The peer reviewer submits a written report within a timescale agreed with the school.
- Follow-up: Follow-up visits and support.
SENCos from participating schools will receive a day’s SEND reviewer training, then undertake a self-evaluation in their setting. Once the self-evaluation has been completed, schools will be paired up, and a peer reviewer from each school will work together to identify strengths and weakness in the school’s existing SEND provision. The SENCos will then work together to devise and implement an action plan within their own school, with other school staff, to address weaknesses and improve SEND provision. Examples of changes an action plan might suggest could include maximising the effectiveness of teaching assistants, developing more effective systems for tracking pupil progress, or increasing the level of staff expertise in social, mental and emotional health
NASEN will provide ongoing support through both visits to individual schools and two regional engagement days, in which participants come together to plan and exchange learning. These engagement days encourage peer-to-peer networking and provide SENCos with a space where they can talk openly about the challenges they are facing. The school visits will include members of the senior leadership team as well as the SENCos, to encourage high-level buy-in.
This area is of interest to the EEF because the impact of SEND on academic attainment is closely related to the EEF’s focus on economic disadvantage: 27% of pupils with special educational needs are eligible for free school meals compared to 12% of pupils without special educational needs.
The SEND Review process is based on the premise that excellent teaching for pupils with SEND is excellent teaching for all. The process signposts schools to the EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit when looking for evidence-based interventions to meet their needs and promotes well-evidenced approaches such as metacognition. However, the evidence base for specific SEND interventions is weak in secondary schools, because very few high-quality evaluations have been conducted with this age group. This project seeks to address this gap
NASEN has delivered the review training to over 600 practitioners, and so there is strong evidence that the programme model is feasible and scalable within the education system. In 2016, the University of Northampton conducted a review of the SEND review process, which found that teachers engaged in the process demonstrated a clear understanding of the importance of assessment for learning and targeted teaching for pupils with SEND, and that the review tool enabled schools to build on what they were already doing well for SEND pupils
Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) has been appointed as the independent evaluator on this programme. This will be a randomised controlled trial in 160 schools. Schools will be recruited across 5 regions (North East, North West, West Midlands, East of England, and South West). To be eligible for the trial, schools can’t have already taken part in the Whole School SEND training, or undertaken a review using the SEND guide on their own.
The primary outcome will be GCSE English attainment for pupils designated as SEND, using the June 2022 GCSE results. The secondary outcomes will be GCSE maths attainment for pupils designated as SEND, GCSE English attainment for the whole year group in June 2022, as well as attendance and exclusions data. Finally, an additional follow-up of GCSE data for a second cohort of students (who will be in Year 9 in September 2020) will also be undertaken and presented in a separate report, reporting in early 2024
The evaluation report will be published in Spring 2023