CIRCULATEDITEMBELFAST EDUCATION AND LIBRARY BOARDEDUCATION COMMITTEE (SCHOOLS/SPECIAL EDUCATION)THURSDAY 19 APRIL 2007Effective Use of Assistants for Pupils with Special Educational Needs inMainstream SchoolsThe above inspection survey report which can be read in full at www.deni.gov.ukwas forwarded to Belfast Education and Library Board (BELB) in January 2007.The findings reported relate to the 5 education and library boards (ELBs). Aspart of their ongoing efforts to improve the effectiveness of the provision forpupils with special educational needs (SEN) officers within pupil supportservices/BELB had already begun to address many of the issues raised in thisreport.The following paper identifies the main findings of the report and providesinformation on progress to date within BELB.1 Summary of Main Findings• Steady increase in pupils with statements• Different terminology is used across the 5 ELBs• Total costs for classroom assistants 2005/2006 estimated at £18.8 millionacross the 5 ELBs• Concern regarding attitudes of parents and schools ie “all statementedpupils need classroom assistants”• One to one support for pupils increased the potential for learnedhelplessness• Part-time nature of appointments were leading to recruitment difficulties• Some teachers expressed concern regarding boundary between classroomassistants providing effective support and engaging in ‘teaching’• Very few classroom assistants had received specific SEN training• Part-time hours proved difficult to manage• Best practice kept support discrete and helped pupils to meet targets andraise standards• Little evidence of classroom assistant self evaluation or in classroomassistant being involved in evaluating pupil’s targets set byteacher/special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO)• Best practice when evidence of joint planning with teacher/SENCO butlittle evidence of this happening• Few schools had policies outlining protocols for joint working or trainingfor managing classroom assistants
2• Majority of SEN assistants reported that they valued training• In 2 schools no training for classroom assistants in child protection hadtaken place• Very few schools had evaluated the quality of support provided byclassroom assistant• SENCOs concerned that lack of time inhibited their opportunity to workmore effectively with classroom assistants• Few schools monitor the time that pupils spend away from their peergroup; some pupils were spending considerable time outside the classroom2 Key Priorities for Schools• To more fully involve classroom assistants in the planning, reporting andreview arrangements for children with SEN• To provide access to additional relevant in service training (INSET) onSEN• Through school based INSET to promote a shared understanding amongstaff on the role of the classroom assistant• To produce guidance to inform all involved in the role of classroomassistants• To develop in house strategies for the management of classroom assistantswithin the school• To ensure teachers' workloads do not increase substantially but to addressliaison constraints• To develop monitoring strategies• To clarify line management responsibilities and establish regularmeetings with all involved• To revisit job specifications as pupil needs change• To communicate clearly the role of the classroom assistant to Boards ofGovernors, parents etc3 Key Priorities for Education and Library Boards• To challenge the perception of parents, principals and teachers thatallocation of a SEN classroom assistant is a prerequisite for entry of astatemented pupil into a mainstream school• To review the means by which SEN classroom assistants are allocated andfunded to promote forward planning and retention of staff• To give greater consideration to current complement of SEN classroomassistants before agreeing to additional provision• To develop a robust management system to provide a detailed over-view ofprovision and provide a means of quality assuring provision• To develop a more co-ordinated, accredited training framework forclassroom assistants linked to salary and career progression• To ensure that newly qualified teachers are trained to organise and workeffectively alongside SEN classroom assistants• Through ETI to continue to monitor systematically the impact ofclassroom assistant support on the quality of teaching and learning
34 Progress within BELB on the Management of ClassroomAssistantsWhile the above report is based on the inspection feedback on a regional basisthe following work is presently underway within BELB.Please note that within BELB the term additional adult support is used toinclude classroom assistants, general assistants and supervisory assistants.Board DatabaseDuring November 2006 questionnaires regarding additional adult assistantswere sent to all schools (see appendix 1). The information collated is being crossreferencedwith existing data provided by human resources and payroll and usedto create a robust database (see appendix 2). A senior administrative officer hasbeen identified for the overall management of the system and will providemonthly reports for the assistant senior education officer (ASEO) - pupil services.Information will then be disseminated to educational psychologists and specialistoutreach services in order that existing resources can be carefully consideredprior to any additional resources being provided. Patterns of spend can also bemore closely monitored across schools and across the different areas of SEN.Recording Duties of Additional Adult Support in SchoolFollowing concerns regarding the appropriate use of classroom assistants forpupils with SEN a form has been designed to identify how the classroomassistant will be used to support pupil’s identified needs (appendix 3, AdditionalAdult Support, (AAS) 1A). Monitoring and evaluation of progress is built intothe form. The form is being piloted in the summer term with an expectation thatall schools with board funded assistants will submit their forms to the boardduring the academic year 2007/2008. Any school or service requesting acontinuation or change in existing hours will be required to clearly demonstrateevidence of progress.Board officers are mindful of the workload of SENCOs and the form wasdesigned to minimize duplication. It is expected that the form itself can be givento the classroom assistant to clarify duties and support monitoring andevaluation. As such it fulfills many of the key priorities for schools and ELBsidentified in the Department of Education inspection report.Consultation with SENCOs and Policy DevelopmentDuring March 2007 all SENCOs were invited to a training day with substitutecover provided by the board. Along with other SEN issues the adult assistantform was discussed and well received. Using the expertise of the primarySENCO's time was also taken to write a ghost policy for the use of AAS. Thepolicy will be posted on the ELB website in order that schools can easily adapt itto their own situations in school (see appendix 4).
4TrainingFor some time BELB has provided classroom assistants with both accreditedawareness raising and SEN training. However, we acknowledge that this is anarea that continues to require development. The new database will identify thearea of SEN that the classroom assistant is working in and therefore facilitatetargeted training or where good practice exists shadowing arrangements fornewly appointed staff.There are difficulties in releasing classroom assistants to attend trainingsessions due to lack of funding and, if available, use of substitute cover causesdifficulties for the pupils with SEN. Twilight courses and shadowing usingexisting expertise is therefore being explored. Board officers are also liaisingwith other ELBs to deliver training during school exceptional closure days. Julytraining is being considered for those on 12 month contracts. It is likely thatthere will be a 5 ELB response to this area with online materials beingconsidered and resources shared. Board members will be updated on progress.ConclusionIt is hoped that the above actions will address many of the key points for actionraised in the inspection survey. During 2007/08 board officers will continue toaddress the identified issues.Proposed ActionFor members' information.JT/PM2 April 2007
5BELFAST EDUCATION AND LIBRARY BOARDDRAFT POLICY AND GUIDANCE FOR USE OF ADULT ASSISTANTS INSCHOOLPlease note the umbrella term adult assistant is used to cover all additionaladult support eg classroom assistants, general assistants, supervisory assistants,funded by BELB to support pupils with SEN.RoleIn school, adult assistants are a valuable resource for supporting the needs ofpupils with SEN. It is important that their role and remit is clearly understoodby all teachers in the school. This will be on the agenda of at least one staffmeeting per year and a paper on same provided for the Board of Governors. Therole of any additional assistants appointed for individual pupils throughout theyear will be circulated to all staff by the SENCO.DutiesAt all times the assistant should be working within school policies andpromoting inclusion and independence for the pupil. The class/subjectteachers should be vigilant to ensure that ‘learned helplessness’ isavoided.The assistant unless otherwise instructed will not liaise directly withparents and will observe confidentiality in line with all school policies.Specific duties in relation to pupil targets on education plan should beclearly recorded on additional adult support (1A) BELB form.Under the direction of the SENCO/class teacher the adult assistants willundertake a range of duties to support pupils with SEN including:• Supporting the class teacher in the delivery of the curriculum• Preparation of practical activities• Delivering one to one support as identified in education plans• Ensuring the health and safety of the pupil and other pupils• Working with small groups giving additional support• Assisting the pupil in moving round the school• Motivating and encouraging reluctant learners• Modifying and adapting materials• Promoting inclusion• Supporting planning and record keeping• Assisting with monitoring and evaluating pupil/pupils progress• Complementing supervision at break and lunchtime or providing separatearrangements if identified in plan• Toileting assistance
6• Medical procedures as specified by senior clinical medical officer (SCMO)• Preparing/supporting pupil during changed arrangements• Any other duties identified by class teacher/SENCOLine Management Arrangements(Insert school arrangements for reporting when absent due to sickness ormedical appointment etc.)In cases of absence the principal will ensure the SENCO and class teacher areinformed prior to registration in order that alternative arrangements can be putin place.Within the classroom the assistant is always working under the day-to-daydirection of the teacher and any deviation from recorded duties should be withthe agreement of the class teacher.Generally the SENCO will identify how the assistant can best be used to supporttargets on the education plan. The SENCO will also oversee any joint planningbetween class teacher and assistant and address any concerns in relation tosame.School Induction(Insert school arrangements)The principal meets with all new staff as part of induction and providesinformation on hours, renumeration, contract, school, school day etc. All staff willbe given school handbook/induction book, relevant policies and will meet withnamed child protection officer prior to starting in the classroom. An initialobservation of the child in class is desirable prior to the first planning meeting.The SENCO will meet with assistant and class teacher for identifying specificduties in relation to education plan, statement and general background issues. Ifappropriate the assistant will be introduced to parents with a clear remit ofduties outlined by SENCO/class teacher.SEN Training/School Based InsetAll assistants will be expected to participate in identified training. They will beinvited to attend school based INSET when appropriate and will be released toattend board training whenever possible. The principal/SENCO will arrange forspecific advice on individual SEN as required.At the request of the principal the senior clinical medical officer (SCMO) can beapproached for any specific training required for pupils with medical difficulties.If desirable, special schools can be approached for shadowing and/or observation.Assistants will be encouraged to access SEN information on www.education-
7support.org.uk/ and should approach the class teacher/SENCO regarding anyfurther training needs that arise.Planning and Record KeepingIn liaison with the SENCO/Class teacher the assistant will:• assist with the planning process for identifying targets in the educationplan;• be responsible for any record keeping to inform the SENCO as part of thereview process as identified on form AAS 1A.Monitoring and Evaluation• BELB additional adult support form 1A will be used to monitor andevaluate targets set for pupil• The assistant will be actively involved in the process and encouraged toengage in all school self evaluation procedures• Records of progress will be maintained by SENCO• Any request to BELB for continuation or change in hours of the assistantwill be accompanied by a completed AAS form 1A• As part of the monitoring and evaluation process the SENCO will meetwith the assistant on a regular basis to review records etcWorking Away From Direct Supervision Including Off SiteArrangementsAt times it may be desirable for child/young person to work with the assistantaway from the class eg for short one-to-one session for easily distracted child orcalming time for a pupil with ASD. The arrangements for this should be clearlyspecified on AAS form 1A. Any additional or unplanned time away from theclass should be recorded by the class teacher and forwarded to theSENCO/principal.It is likely that an individual risk assessment will be required for any off siteactivity involving a pupil with SEN who has an assistant. The assistant shouldbe given written guidance on his/her specific duties for the outing as appropriateand in line with school policies.Planning and Record KeepingIt is widely recognized that the involvement of the assistant in the planningprocess leads to enhanced outcomes for the pupil. This is particularly importantwhen the education plan is being reviewed and new targets are set. AAS form1A will identify what record keeping is required in order to communicateinformation to SENCO, class teacher, parents etc. All written information isconfidential unless otherwise stated. Planning time should be built into thehours allocated for the pupil unless health and safety issues dictate otherwise.
8Lunch time/Break time arrangementsLunch/break time arrangements will be in line with targets on education planand agreed with management and or SENCO/class teacher.Contractual Arrangements/Changes in Hours• A standard contract of employment will be issued by BELB• Human Resources BELB must be consulted if there is to be any alterationto working arrangements• Role and responsibilities should reflect the needs of the pupil(s) and beclearly defined• Alterations to hours of work should normally be addressed through annualreview. A BELB officer should be notified of any proposed changes inadvance of the annual review.JT/PM2 April 2007