SEND School Improvement Partnership Project
This project brokered relationships between strong primary subject leaders in English, Maths, Science and Humanities and four key teachers at Spa School, a successful secondary special school for pupils with a diagnosis of autism., and Charles Dickens Primary, a mainstream school seeking to develop its knowledge and skills to better meet the learning and wellbeing needs of pupils with autism.
Teachers first met to explore the outcomes they wanted from the project at a half day face-to-face session. Charles Dickens teachers then spent half a day observing in Spa classrooms to develop a better understanding of how the school meets the needs of children with autism. Following this, Spa teachers spent half a day observing good practice in their focus subject in strong mainstream primary classrooms at Charles Dickens. There was then a follow up half day face-to-face session, at which teachers explored their learning and decided on next steps for the project. The SENDCo at Charles Dickens and the Deputy Head at Spa also engaged with this process throughout.
The project therefore intended to explore impact on:
- Special school teachers’ knowledge and understanding of the primary national curriculum and mainstream provision
- Mainstream subject leaders’ understanding of how schemes of work might need to be adapted to better meet the needs of pupils with autism in mainstream classrooms
Project outcomes showed that what does enable mutual learning is time, for face-to-face visits and for discussion and reflection. Simply hearing about good practice is not enough. Overall there was important learning for both schools engaged in this project, but there was not a clear handover of ideas and strategies. Due to the very different nature of the special and mainstream context, and the very different levels of need of pupils in each, any strategies learnt had to be carefully tailored on both sides to meet the needs of pupils and teachers. The awareness the project generated was as much about the gaps between the two provisions as it was about the sharing of mutually beneficial strategies. Future projects across special and mainstream schools should consider this and not expect a smooth sharing of strategies and skills.
Read the full report here.