Research evidence suggests that the deployment of teaching assistants (TAs) is an important consideration for school leaders in mainstream schools who are concerned about the progress of pupils with SEND.
Previous research has shown that the use of teaching assistants can have a negative impact on pupils with SEND if the TAs are not properly supported and trained. However, a number of EEF trials have shown that effective deployment of TAs can have a positive impact. This research is summarised in our guidance report, Making Best Use of Teaching Assistants, which contains seven evidence-based recommendations to maximise the effectiveness of TAs.
The Department for Education's SEND Code of Practice, offering guidance for children and young people aged 0 to 25, describes broad areas of need. Three of these areas are considered below, with a description of relevant evidence from the EEF.
Communication and interaction
Students might have a communication need because they have difficulty saying what they want to, understanding what is being said to them, or understanding and using social rules of communication. Our Big Picture theme on language and literacy describes the EEF’s research on developing pupils’ language and communication.
The EEF has also funded the evaluation of more targeted and specialist interventions, including:
Cognition and learning
Teachers may need to provide extra support when children and young people are learning at a slower pace than their peers. Our Big Picture themes on language and literacy, mathematics, science, developing effective learners, and feedback present the research evidence on effective teaching and suggest actionable recommendations for practice.
When combined with careful consideration of a student’s needs and sound professional judgement, this research evidence offers a practical guidance for high-quality teaching for all pupils, including those with SEND, and can inform the design of more intensive support.
High-quality, structured interventions are key to supporting pupils who need additional support to learn. The EEF’s list of Promising Projects and the Institute for Effective Education’s Evidence4Impact database are useful repositories of the evidence on interventions. This evidence base is improving, but still patchy, and an 'off-the-shelf' intervention with a rigorous and positive evaluation might not be appropriate or available.
Schools may take the different approach of adopting, or creating, an intervention with the features common to other successful interventions. See the EEF's guidance reports on maths, literacy and teaching assistants for more on successful intervention in these areas.
Social, emotional and mental health
There is a growing evidence base regarding approaches that address social, emotional and mental health.
This evidence is summarised in the EEF’s literature review on non-cognitive skills, our Big Picture theme on character and essential skills, and our Teaching and Learning Toolkit strands on social and emotional learning and behaviour interventions.
Much of the evidence described in the Toolkit's entry on behaviour interventions focuses on pupils with specific and severe emotional or behavioural needs, rather than 'low-level classroom disruption'. Ongoing EEF research into the area of social, emotional and mental health includes trials of How to Thrive, Engage in Education and Changing Mindsets.