Supporting students with special needs when they leave school
As year 11s prepare for their final days in school, assistant head Alan Tilley reflects on what this means for students with special educational needs.
At the moment I am ticking off the days to when our year 11 pupils leave. Their departure sees not only the end of five years of teaching but most importantly the last three years having spent planning their transition post 16. This is an anxious time for pupils and their parents and the success of all the planning will not be felt until at least six months after they leave school.
When I started at Southbrook School – an 11 to 16 special educational needs school – more than three years ago, I was given the task of improving our pupil transition to post 16 colleges. Pupils in previous years would leave at 16 having filled in an application form and then turn up on day one of college. There was little exchange of information about the pupils and very few pupils had taster days or planned visits. Not surprisingly, pupils would be placed on inappropriate post 16 courses, they would not get the help and guidance they needed because information sharing had not taken place and so pupils were in effect starting all over again with their education. It was as if the pathway from school to college was totally separate. This situation had to change and quickly.
So, I set about meeting all the college leads at the further education providers our pupils went onto and building transparent working relationships. This took a little while but has been vital in transforming our transition process.
Once a year we hold a pupil-parent transition evening. Previously this had been a pretty formal affair, where information about post-16 options had been given out. For the past two years I have turned this evening on its head and made the colleges sell themselves to parents and pupils. The effect on the evening has been dramatic and the feedback from parents was really positive. It shouldn't be a given that colleges should just take our pupils – they should have to work for it, show what they can offer and why should we choose them over another provider.
Read more... (The Guardian - 6 June)