Approximately 15% of the pupils in your setting could have an identified special educational need and/or disability (SEND). In order to effectively meet the needs of every pupil in your setting, you might want to adapt your teaching approach and the materials you use.
It is crucial to know your pupils well and treat them as individuals in order to fully meet their needs. This means that we cannot generalise when recommending adaptations to approaches or materials. We can merely make suggestions for you to consider in the context of knowing each pupil.
It is important to ensure that the curriculum provision is properly sequenced and well matched to each pupil’s needs. Some SEND pupils are unable to effectively communicate their educational abilities and needs, and they risk being misinterpreted. Careful assessment, analysis, observation and reflection should underpin decisions about what ‘progress’ and ‘success’ looks like for each pupil.
Some pupils with SEND may need longer to master particular areas of the curriculum, such as learning to read and write, therefore schools and parents have difficult decisions to make to ensure that the pupils are included in school life. They might need to follow the Rocket Phonics pace and progression at an even slower pace or revisit it more frequently to embed the knowledge and skills.
The aim of Rocket Phonics is that all pupils, regardless of SEND, are included in the main teaching input. Then, phonics provision for SEND pupils might include adapted lesson activities, additional resources, in-class teaching assistant support or out of class intervention teaching.
Be aware that too much time being taught outside of the class working with a teaching assistant can lead to potential challenges such as social exclusion and over-reliance on a single adult. Time spent almost exclusively with teaching assistants can inevitably mean less quality time spent with the main class teacher. To be successful, a strong collaboration is required between teachers and teaching assistants to ensure clarity of learning intentions for pupils. Out of class interventions can also result in other curriculum content, such as art or topic lessons, being missed – this is not an inclusive approach.
High expectations should be maintained for pupils with SEND and we should seek to develop pupil independence as much as possible.
Adaptations to support cognition and learning needs
Adaptations to support sensory and physical needs
Jake is 6 years old. He has autism and is largely non-verbal. He attends a mainstream primary school with the support of a 1:1 assistant. Jake’s teacher uses a ‘now’ and ‘next’ chart to remind Jake that it is time for the phonics lesson. Phonics is taught at the same time every day, and follows the same routine, so Jake understands and anticipates what is expected.
Jake receives the input of the same lesson as the rest of the class then works on individual practice (guided by his assistant) at his own targeted level. During a blending-focus phonics lesson Jake begins the lesson with his class as their teacher shows them the Big Book spread to introduce the new grapheme-phoneme correspondence. Jake sits near the front but at the edge of the group so that if he becomes overwhelmed, he can leave the carpet area with ease.
His teaching assistant then uses the same Big Book spread on an individual tablet and Jake’s individual set of flashcards to continue the lesson input. Jake engages with the digital blending and segmenting games. He responds to instructions and with support selects the answers on the screen. Jake and his assistant use the reverse of previously introduced flashcards to model and practice blending. Although he does not independently blend words, his engagement and some vocal noises show that he is actively participating in the learning.
Later Jake uses headphones to listen to a Target Practice Reader.
In segmenting lessons, Jake responds positively to using a mini whiteboard to practise writing letter shapes and words with support. He also responds positively to using his own set of laminated grapheme tiles to segment and spell words. At home, Jake’s family revisit the learning using his individual set of grapheme tiles, flashcards and Target Practice Readers. His family use a Pupil Practice Booklet for guidance with the content of activities they can try with him. In the classroom, in a quiet breakout area outside of the classroom and at home Jake has access to the wall frieze on display and laminated sounds mats.