In this blog, I explore my own experiences and share advice on how to manage change within your school setting and also how to implement the changes in a positive way.
Managing change is not easy and I aim to share what I have learnt about leading new SEND projects within various settings.
Change in education seems constant, whether there is a change in legislation, new teaching strategies to adapt, new curriculum changes to implement or even just changes in staffing. I have tried hard over the years to never expect perfection but to expect progress and reflection. I have also always tried to give enough preparation time for change and then enough time to implement it.
In a recent Ofsted inspection, the school and I were praised by the inspectors for ‘ensuring staff take ownership of the support and progress of pupils with special educational needs’ and they noticed how ‘staff are imbued with a desire to do the right thing for these pupils.’
This was something that I had worked hard to establish and had taken more or less 3 years to do. So what was it that I did?
1. Go back to the whole school development plan
I ensured the changes that I wanted to make linked directly to the whole school development plan. It is really vital that the SLT and Governors also buy into the changes you want to make and understand why. You can’t do this alone and the team of staff that are going to help you complete these changes are vital. I made sure I shared the vision and expected collaboration from all staff, in order to complete the changes; otherwise, I knew it just wouldn’t work.
2. Complete a SWOT analysis or RAG rating
A really quick and easy way of getting everyone to feel they play a part in the development of the changes is by asking staff collaboratively to complete a SWOT analysis or RAG rating on the changes in mind. In my experience, the staff were able to see quickly why changes needed to happen. Working in small teams also allowed everyone to have a voice and feel included.
3. Timings are everything
Time and timings are vital in the implementation of change. It pays to plan out an appropriate number of meetings, allowing enough time for proper discussion and reflection. No one enjoys being ‘consulted’ at the end of a busy day in a ‘5 minute add on’ during the staff meeting. Equally, there is no need to meet face to face too often if what can be said in an email will suffice. So long as there is a health warning on the number of emails too – a balance of both would be best.
4. Be invested in your changes
Be passionate and believe in the changes you are making. There is nothing worse than making others feel that you are only making changes because something/someone is behind you driving it. Make staff fully buy in with your enthusiasm and own commitment to the project. Make sure you reflect upon problems and embrace challenges along the way, without being too quick to throw in the towel.
The most important lesson that I have learned is that as a SENDCo you can’t do it alone; to have an impact on pupils, your teaching colleagues need to be on board. In order to establish change in SEND return to these things; ‘collaboration shared vision, collective responsibility and shared ownership (Ekins, 2010).
About our Community Expert
Rachel has over 21 years of teaching experience in a range of primary, junior and special provision settings. Rachel has held various leadership roles including Deputy Head Teacher and is currently Head of Inclusion in an outstanding Junior School in Maidenhead. Rachel has held the title of SENDCo for over 20 years and is passionate about helping every individual reach their full potential.
Recently recognised by Ofsted as having the skills to ensure staff take ownership of the support and progress of pupils with SEND, they also praised her ability to imbue staff with a desire to do the right thing for these pupils.
Her drive and ambition continue to improve the exceptional support within her own setting and Rachel’s satisfaction comes from seeing children with SEND thrive.