An IEP is an Individual Education Plan that should be used to help everyone in a school plan and teach specific targets related to an individual child. It should be reviewed on a regular basis (once a term) to review the targets that have been set and consult with all those involved with the child on next steps. In the UK there isn't a standard format for IEPs but they should include targets that are SMART - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.
Note the word individual. I have worked in schools where there have been more than half the class on IEPs but there have been groups of at least six children with the same IEP targets – this is not IEP territory!! Provision Mapping for children on School Action (the first tier in Special Needs) is the way I prefer to do things – which means that those children who need some specific help in certain things e.g. learning phonic digraphs – are placed in smaller groups either within the class or given outside class support and therefore learn with others according to their needs but these are not individual needs. I am not a lover of paperwork - I prefer action – so wasting precious time on writing IEPs which will do nothing is not my cup of tea. Planning and timetabling extra support and resources for a group of children who can then progress through their particular learning difficulty is important and works well. My paperwork then only needs to record the provision I have created and the children who are receiving it. Parents are notified so that they can talk through any anxieties or concerns they may have and any extra support they may wish to give at home.
IEPs are therefore drawn up with the child in question to work on skills and learning objectives specific and individual to that one particular child. I am pleased to report that all twins at my school with the same diagnosis receive individual IEPs because all children have different strengths and weaknesses – they are INDIVIDUALS!!!!!I recently talked through an IEP that had been given to a child who has just transferred to our school with medical needs. My own initial response to it was that that it didn’t appear to match the child I had observed over the first couple of weeks at our school and I was not best pleased when discussing it with the child it came to light that they had had no say in what it proposed as targets! This child is an articulate 10 year old and quite capable of setting the goals they want to achieve and feel they need. Needless to say, she and I are much happier with the targets she has now set and when these were discussed with parents they too felt they reflected their child’s needs to a much greater extent. They were also proud that their own child had taken the lead on setting them! One of my main concerns is that the school the child has transferred from has been classed as Outstanding!!
This child also hi-lights what Inclusion should mean in a mainstream school. Talking over with them what they liked or disliked about school brought up a disturbing picture that this child had not been given opportunities to join in the same activities as their peers and had actually undergone bullying within their own class. In my own school, I am responsible for the spiritual, moral, social and cultural cohesion of our school and all of my children who exhibit special educational needs are vital members of their respective classes. The children are given a weekly dose by me in our assemblies of how we take care of each other, we celebrate our unique abilities, we take responsibility for our actions and we celebrate the wonderfulness of our world and our places in it. I am incredibly proud of the children at my school because of their caring nature and their love of all things – our future looks bright with them in it and many of them come from less than perfect backgrounds – and we are all included. No-one is left out and as I have previously blogged if provision does not meet the needs of particular children then other provision is sought out that does.
Inclusion means we are all together as a school – every child is equal – every child has rights and responsibilities – every child is given empowerment – every child is part of a class that supports one another and when there are problems for some children being able to do this we step in and support them to learn how to rebuild those bridges and make a cohesive unit. However, inclusion does not need to mean that we all do the same thing at the same time – as individuals we have different needs and so we are supported in accessing those and if this means time outside the classroom that is what we do (this goes for our gifted and talented children too so there is no stigma attached).
I’d be delighted to know your thoughts on today’s topics either as parents of children with SEN or as educators so please share.
Today’s resource is I for Interactive – get children learning phonics by reading and manipulating cupcakes on plates for a tasty treat in small group work (part of my Provision Mapping phonics programme) – Enjoy :)http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Cupcake-Phonics-Onset-and-RimeWord-Families-Phases-2-3-4-Preview-1135069