Advocating For Change

‘You can’t make changes if you’re not in the middle of it.’

This is what I said to someone I was having a conversation about SEND provision in schools. Over the years I have been a fierce critic of SEND provision in some of the schools that my children have attended but I do feel there is a clear distinction for me due to being both a teacher and a parent. Of course as a mum I want the best for my children but as a teacher I do understand that a lot of the difficulties currently in schools aren’t necessarily caused by teachers: it’s the government (of whatever persuasion).

The government don’t provide enough funding or training or resources to properly meet the needs of our SEND pupils. This isn’t something that has recently happened but a situation that has evolved over many years.

The conversation I was having was due to their total surprise that I was going back into school to work when I had home educated for 6 years and been, for so long, very anti ‘schooled’ education.

‘You can’t make changes if you’re not in the middle of it,’ was my reply. My sons’ have made their choices about how they wanted to be educated and chose to go back into school. My daughter had also wanted to give school a go and if it wasn’t for COVID I think she would probably be quite settled in the local village school. An opening came up for a learning support teacher within my children’s school and so I went for it and after a nerve-racking interview, I was offered the job.

For me returning to teaching wasn’t a decision about my children and their education and whether I agreed, or not, with what was going on in their school life but more of a professional decision based on what I thought I could do. Someone has to deliver learning support lessons so why not me?

Someone has to advocate for their SEND pupil; has to support teachers in helping them understand the needs of their pupils and someone is needed to be adaptable in their approach to tailor 1:1 learning support sessions to each specific student.

Why not me?

Someone has to be excited about working with pupils with SEND and want to do their very best for them.

Why not me?

During last year I got to scribe while a pupil dicated their English coursework to me and I got to identify just what was hindering my GCSE maths pupil in achieving that 4 that she desperately wanted (and she got it!). I enabled a dyslexic pupil who wanted to write with a pencil (he did not want to type) but was almost phobic about doing so because he was so worried about his spelling. He now talks to his iPad and asks the spelling of tricky words and this has given him the confidence to have a go at writing and boy did he succeed. He achieved a 6 in his end of year history exam with an entirely handwritten script.

When I heard about the opening for a SENCO in our prep school again I thought why not me? After another nerve wracking interview I was offered the job to work 3 days but to continue to work as a learning support teacher in the senior school.

And today I gave my first presentation, as SENCO to the full staff, of the changes I would like to make within the learning support offering of our school. I got to say that we will now be keeping pupils in their lessons and supporting them in their classes with their peers and that they will not be coming out for ‘special’ lessons (unless their needs dictates that) with a ‘special’ teacher in a ‘special’ room. I got to discuss the idea of changing the name from ‘learning support’ to ‘supported education’ which is something I’ve wanted for quite some time (and my Head is very keen to do this).

I have started making changes and I can’t wait to make some more.

Yes, it’s only one little school in the sleepy Cotswolds but it is change that will effect 220 children because pupils won’t go out for an LS intervention to be hidden away but seen in the classroom being supported making that a very usual thing to happen. This seeps into the other pupils and helps them learn about diversity and how we are all different and how this is okay and that we shouldn’t need to go to another room just because we need a bit of help with our handwriting or spelling.

‘You can’t make changes if you’re not in the middle of it.’


I’m right in the middle of a school and that’s exactly where I want to be.

I do realise I’m not the education secretary (but who knows in a few years…?) and neither am I a headteacher (or even deputy) but in my little job in my little school I can help our pupils access their learning in a way that suits them.

Who on earth wouldn’t want to do that?

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