Special schools share a lot in common with all other schools- a focus on outcomes, professional roles, Ofsted rigour and funding streams for example. However, at the same time the needs of their students, and complex multi disciplinary, cross agency and parental relationships distinguish their work from the mainstream.
EdisonLearning has worked closely with special schools in the UK since 2005, evolving a Partnership that has woven together our knowledge and track record in school improvement with schools’ expertise in special educational needs.
The Partnership is based around five strands:
- Through the Leadership Strand we develop clarity of vision, distributed leadership, effective teamworking and the leadership skills of every staff member.
- The Student Experience strand focuses on the school through the eyes of the young person, particularly how values shape consistent constructive relationships, and extending the opportunities for learning in different life contexts.
- Pedagogy & Curriculum has largely been based around a quality framework, specifically designed with and for special school practitioners, that gives a shared language to describe good and outstanding teaching alongside developing approaches to tracking and supporting the growth of Key Skills for life beyond school.
- Assessment for Learning isbased on relevant measures for young people with complex and severe need, it ensures the responsive and effective use of assessment data to guide global improvement, focused intervention and the development of day-to-day classroom practices.
- Partnership with Families focuses on the ways schools can engage with parents/ carers around learning goals and strategies, integrating this support with that available from other agencies.
Schools usually work with two skilled Achievement Advisers who come to know the school and staff exceptionally well. They support the school through Academy Days designed for headteachers, and others for designated school ‘strand leaders’. Each term Achievement Advisers explore themes and content in strands and formulate a school specific plan set within each school’s development plan. Development Days then support key staff in the practicalities of following through their strategies. Very often the partnership works within a network of schools with the Academy days bringing together people in similar roles.