Council plans improvements for SEND pupils transitioning from primary to secondary school
27 June 2022
Plans are in place for parents of pupils with SEND to have improved and earlier access to information when their child transitions from primary school to secondary school.
Cheshire East Council’s SEND team has recently been working with the borough’s SENCO's to find ways to better help pupils and families between key stages two and three of their education - year six of primary school to year seven in secondary school.
A series of meetings between SENCO's from local primary and secondary schools has been held to look at ways to improve the system through better information sharing and earlier intervention.
The meetings provided opportunities for secondary school SENCO's to share detailed information to primary school SENCOs on the full range of high school SEND provision in the borough. This includes recent improvements and additions to enhanced mainstream provisions and resource provisions in local high schools. Resource provisions cater for pupils with EHCPs who require a specialist environment within a mainstream school to support their access to the curriculum and other activities.
The SEND team says the project will encourage more inclusive and supported transitions for pupils going forward. It has also provided an opportunity for primary feeder schools to improve how they network with high schools and how they access information.
In total the initiative saw 14 of Cheshire East’s secondary schools share information with over 44 primary schools.
Under new proposals which have emerged from the meetings, primary school pupils will now be supported to engage earlier in the transition process - with the SEND team encouraging schools to begin the process in year four when pupils often undergo SEND reviews. This should enable decisions about where to apply for a place to be made in year five - a full year before pupils transition to high school.
Kay Clarke, a SENCO in the Cheshire East Council’s inclusion and quality team, said: “This exercise, which we began before the Covid-19 pandemic, has been an excellent opportunity to look at all aspects of the transition process from key stage two to three for pupils with SEND . Conversations between primary and secondary SENCOs has always been an important part of the process, but with these changes we are ensuring they are much more coordinated.
“The process has shone a light on what we are getting right and also where we can make improvements. It’s fundamentally improved communication between our SENCOs in these two settings - which we are now hopeful will filter through to families who are going through the process of transition in the coming years.
“We hope the ultimate outcome of these improvements is that more pupils with SEND are placed in a secondary school which is more appropriate for them - so it better meets their needs and is closer to where they live. Where possible we want to reduce long distance travel to education settings for pupils - and we’re hopeful the changes we are putting in place will help us achieve that.
“There is now a variety of options available to parents of pupils with SEND in Cheshire East, some of which are in specialist schools and some of which are in mainstream schools. SEND provision in high school has changed a lot in recent years and it’s important families have all the facts before they make decisions.
“A pupil’s local secondary school is often well placed to meet a pupil's special educational needs and with this new approach we hope more parents will feel confident of choosing this as an option for their child. With this new process, which will be based on earlier intervention and better sharing of information, we hope parents and carers can make informed choices for their children.”
The SEND team will shortly be exploring ways to work with SENCOs to make similar improvements for pupils with SEND transitioning from the Early Years Foundation Stage of their education, for example nursery, to key stage one.