04 Nov

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Graham
As we return from half term we have certainly hit the ground running.

I read with interest a piece in the Guardian from a colleague I know well, Jarlath O’Brien, a head teacher from Surrey. In his article (available here) Jarlath looks at a number of key issues that are a challenge to ‘the system’, some of which make particularly depressing reading. The main piece explores why a disproportionate number of young people with SEND are excluded from school.

The recently published statistics for 2014/15 make grim reading:

  • Pupils with identified special educational needs (SEN) accounted for just over half of all permanent exclusions and fixed-period exclusions
  • Pupils with SEN support had the highest permanent exclusion rate and were more than seven times more likely to receive a permanent exclusion than pupils with no SEN
  • Pupils with an education, health and care (EHC) plan or with a statement of SEN had the highest fixed-period exclusion rate and were almost seven times more likely to receive a fixed-period exclusion than pupils with no SEN

Jarlath goes on to explore some of the reasons this statistic is so worrying. One of the arguments he puts forward relates to the restrictions that many schools feel in relation to offering a more appropriate curriculum that is better suited to young people who have additional needs.

Our Group has placed curriculum design at the very centre of our school developments over the last number of years. We have seen work undertaken on specialist pathways, specialist departments, an emphasis on ‘living skills’, an acknowledgement that extra-curricular activities are as valuable as term time ones, improved transition to post 19 placements and a real partnership with communities and work providers through Bridging the Gap and Future Finders. We still have work to do, particularly with respect to a more appropriate use of ICT and new technologies within all our schools.

To enable us to better evaluate our overall effectiveness we have spent the last 18 months researching and writing our new assessment model. We are now at an initial pilot stage with our revised model, ‘The New Bridge Dashboard’. I know our teams are anxious to share our developments with families and young people in the next few weeks and will welcome your feedback.

Looking at some of the other areas reported in Jarlath’s critique, it would appear that we are all in for a busy few years.

Finally, I’m afraid I have to report that another member of our New Bridge family passed away last week. Ali, a popular and valued member of our IB group, sadly died following a very short illness. Many of us are reminded of Ali’s lovable, warm nature and his wonderful relationships with his classmates and staff. Ali’s family are very much in all our thoughts.

Have a safe weekend,

Graham