As I have previously blogged, funding appears to be decreasing for those children with special needs as more enter mainstream school so it is my job to ensure they are still getting or improving upon the provision they deserve. My goal has been to ensure that all children on my special needs register have greater than their “required time” i.e. a child on school action has no extra support than that given by their class teacher and assistant, a child on school action plus is entitled to 50 mins outside the classroom working on targets on their individual education plan and a child with a statement has additional adult support for hours specified within the classroom.
My main way to improve the provision for many of the children has been to allow mixed year groups for maths and literacy outside the classroom delivered by members of my team. Working in small groups of approximately six children or less automatically allows each child more time to interact with an adult, ensures less noise than in a classroom of 30 children so allowing better hearing and less distractions and disruptions and allows the focus to be on their specific learning needs rather than a one size fits all delivery which is inevitable when there is just one teacher in a classroom. Although children receive differentiated work in class, this is still often only 30 mins out of every hour lesson and a lot of the standard “teaching” is above their level. Small group work allows each child to have immediate feedback and praise over their success. The problem I still have is showing that this is accelerating their learning as most of my special needs children have problems with speech and language, short term memory, long term memory and cognition so their progress is tiny steps often not really measurable on a half termly basis. The reality is that many of them will not catch up with their peers and the gap continues to widen but for me my goal is that they will enjoy coming to school and they will have lessons that engage them and that they feel good about and that they are working hard in rather than at the back (or front) of the class disengaged and unable to get anything out of the lesson at all. In the past, it appeared to me that assistants seemed just to be getting the children to jump through hoops (telling them each thing to do) rather than help the children become independent in showing what they were learning. It also means that whether they are on school action, school action plus or a statement they all have meaningful lesson time and are learning. Also those children who have the capacity to learn quickly do make rapid progress in a small group situation and are able to return to class now secure in their phonics, their understanding of basic maths, their new found confidence or their ability to control their behaviour.
A major part of making learning fun has been making activities into games so that the children do not really know they are learning or practising their skills. I have to say a big shout out to all the teachers who contribute such freebie games on TpT (Teachers Pay Teachers) as this has made my life so much easier being able to download and then make these rather than think up new ones and design everything from scratch. I also tour our charity shops and visit car boot stalls each weekend to supplement games and activities at a fraction of the price of buying new and as it all comes out of my own pocket who can blame me – I so wish we could claim back from such places as we’d save a fortune on school supplies!
Come on – share your educational games and ideas here. What do you think of children being taught in small groups outside the classroom by a teaching assistant? What goals would you set for children with special educational needs?
TpT product for G is for Games is: