August 2018

The know zone

  • Summer term blues...
    'Common knowledge' has it that teachers not only spend a large proportion of the year on holiday but also have a full half-term to recharge their batteries in preparation for that big six-week 'sit-off'. If only it were that simple, says one head... More
  • Leaders' surgery
    Hotline advice expressed here, and in calls to us, is made in good faith to our members. Schools and colleges should always take formal HR or legal advice from their indemnified provider before acting. More
  • What's your favourite book?
    With the end of the summer term in sight, bringing with it a chance, hopefully, for you to unwind and maybe read a book or two, we asked what you enjoy reading. Fiction or non-fiction, novel or biography, here are a few suggestions from ASCL members and staff. More
  • Ready for transition?
    Kevin Gilmartin examines the proposed 'transition year' for 16 year-olds. More
  • Time for reflection
    Self-evaluation is almost always a useful process, but as with most leadership activities, the trick is to ensure the cost/benefit ratio works in your favour, says Stephen Rollett. More
  • Hub of expertise
    A new website, supported by ASCL, offers schools and colleges a valuable chance to share best practice and resources on special educational needs and disability (SEND). Anna Cole highlights the details. More
  • New starting point
    As the pace picks up on plans to introduce the controversial new Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA), Julie McCulloch looks at how the assessment will work and how it will be used. More
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A new website, supported by ASCL, offers schools and colleges a valuable chance to share best practice and resources on special educational needs and disability (SEND). Anna Cole highlights the details.

Hub of expertise

The implementation period for the SEND Code of Practice, introduced in 2014 alongside the Children and Families Act, has just ended.

Many of us are disappointed that what promised to be a positive, pragmatic approach to SEND, building on existing excellent practice to deliver high-quality support for children and families, has not materialised. Lack of resources, coupled with changes to the way that schools are held to account and an increasingly fragmented education system, have prevented many schools and colleges from carrying out the reforms effectively.

In this climate, ASCL remains absolutely committed to supporting members to do their best for all learners, including the most vulnerable and those with SEND. We think this means that all schools and colleges should be inclusive and determining what this looks like in practice is a major part of the work at ASCL Council’s Inclusion Committee.

Earlier this year we launched the ASCL Inclusion Know Zone, which makes clear our aim to encourage every school and college to be inclusive and to take a whole-school approach to inclusion and SEND (

We are launching a new interactive resource for members to share best practice: the SEND hub in partnership with ASCL It is an online space where professionals in schools, colleges and other parts of education plus health and social care can share information – resources, tools, videos, blogs, links – about current issues in SEND policy and pedagogy.

The idea for the hub was born in response to an entrenched problem: the difficulty of taking staff, and in particular teaching assistants, out of school for training in a SEND setting because of limited staff and a need for more one-to-one provision with students. But there are also big differences in the extent to which individual senior leadership teams (SLTs) are confident on SEND. A resource base that would enable schools to embed continuing professional development (CPD) in development without the need for extended time was the solution to both.

The hub was created jointly by Camden schools, who provided the funding, Swiss Cottage School, which led the project and Real Training, with content drawn from real practice.

There is a major benefit for senior leaders in that the hub acts as a repository for materials relating to issues, which ultimately feed back into how strategic school leadership engages with SEND. As such, it offers a useful resource to help senior leaders drive dialogue with staff and other parties as they can refer staff to it, while it also helps to highlight areas where Ofsted has an expectation in relation to SEND. In that way it fits into a whole-school approach to SEND, supporting leaders with strategy and staff with practice.

Our aim is for the hub to become the ‘go to’ place for school and college leaders, class teachers, special educational needs coordinators (SENCOs) and other educators to find and share brilliant resources and best practice. We want to support thinking about what will help schools strengthen their inclusive culture and also to empower inclusive teaching and learning in every classroom.

Your contributions

And to make it a success we really need your contributions. Please share what you are doing in school or college that makes a difference to inclusion and the resources you are using for children with SEND and for your most vulnerable learners. It’s very easy; just click on the ‘contribute’ button on the top right of the home page and write a short summary of the resource you recommend.

ASCL continues to make the case to government that more investment is needed in SEND provision. We make clear that the school funding crisis is having a severe impact on the level of support that schools are able to offer children with special needs, with many schools across the country already at crisis point. School business leaders are the latest to voice their concerns in a recent survey (

The new hub will not change the picture, but it offers, at least, a practical way for staff to develop their own skills on SEND and for leaders to deepen their understanding of the strategic issues concerned.

Anna Cole
ASCL Parliamentary and Inclusion Specialist.