The educational landscape has always been a place of individual behaviours and learning styles, but the environment has continued to evolve with the inclusion of more children with SEN (Special Education Needs) than ever into mainstream education. Advanced care in the medical world and better detection of conditions such as autism, have meant that the number of children with additional needs has increased, at the same time as places within specialist educational settings have declined. That leaves colleges in the UK working with SEN students more than ever, often without much in the way of additional resources to support this.
In 2020, the Government reported an increase of 10% in just two years of the number of children given an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. It is likely that a growing percentage of each cohort a college admits will need extra assistance to achieve their potential. Parents, teachers, and carers must all work together to support these students to progress through college and on into the world of work. So, what can be done to make the college experience more inclusive of those with different challenges?
How can parents, teachers, and carers support SEN students to progress through college?
1. Treat each SEN student as an individual
Each student is an individual, regardless of their SEN status, and the key to a successful student journey is to recognise this. Your pupils will have their own aspirations and dreams, so making sure they understand all the options – and what they will need to do to get there – is key. Commitment to clear plan on both sides is absolutely vital. Pupils with some conditions can find it especially hard when a routine is interrupted, so the ongoing uncertainty caused by Covid-19 is a huge challenge. Keeping students always informed and connected with a digital tool such as Engage will support them to cope with changes to their teaching.
2. Help your students think about options for work
Standard careers offerings may not consider how hard it can be for SEN students to find their place in the world of work after completing college. Your focus on employability should reflect your inclusive values elsewhere. There are some specialist organisations which provide careers advice for SEN students and support them to get into work, it is well worth approaching them for guidance or getting them involved in careers events. Maintaining great relationships on the employer engagement side is more vital than ever. Better connections with industry can be helped a lot using digital systems that show you where to focus for maximum impact.
3. Use visual teaching strategies
For students with learning disabilities, visual learning strategies can be especially helpful in helping to explain a subject or when it comes to revision. These tools can also help SEN students to communicate what they need in terms of support. Being able to clearly signpost to useful resources and student support and maintain a safeguarded form of social contact is a clear bonus.
4. Provide SEN role models
It is incredibly important for SEN students to see success modelled around them by those who also have additional needs. Find speaker of interest who have overcome their own challenges to reach success and point to figures such as Sir Richard Branson – who has dyslexia – or athletic champion Michael Phelps who has ADHD. Pointing out examples of those who have used their differences to succeed in the world can make all the difference in raising aspiration and self-esteem for students going through their education with SEN.
5. Communicate effectively with your students
Tribal’s suite of digital solutions can help you to deliver a better experience for SEN students and supports effective communication between teachers and students. Contact us to tell us more about what your college needs.