The Role of Governors
Duties of Governing Bodies for SEN
- Governing Bodies have statutory responsibilities for pupils with SEND – they are set out in primary and secondary legislation
- The governing body must do its best to ensure that the school makes the necessary provision for every pupil with SEND
- As part of its policy for SEND, the governing body should let parents know how they can raise concerns about provision for children with SEND and how their concerns will be investigated
- They also have responsibility, in reviewing the schools' budget, to consider the employment of SEND support staff and monitor the levels of resources spent on supporting pupils with SEND. The governing body thereby assists in the development and monitoring of the school’s policy and strategy for SEND
- The governing body also has a responsibility not to discriminate against disabled pupils and prospective pupils, to plan to increase systematically the access of disabled pupils and prospective pupils both to the curriculum and to the facilities of the school and to make reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils to have access to the curriculum and facilities of the school.
Guidance on the role of the SEN Governor
- There is no statutory rule that governing bodies should appoint a special educational needs (SEND) governor. However, governing bodies of maintained schools have legal duties in relation to pupils with SEND. The Governance Handbook says that if a governing body delegates this responsibility to the headteacher it is advisable to have one other governor with an interest in SEND.
SEND Governors have a strategic, rather than operational role
- The role should not be concerned with day-to-day management - a SEND Governor should not intervene in the teaching of individual pupils
- If parents approach a Governor with a complaint or a problem, they should be encouraged to talk to the Headteacher first. If the problem leads the parents to make a formal complaint, the first appeal is to the governing body. See further information about how to make a complaint to you child's school.
- An SEND Governor does not have the right to see a pupil’s Education Health and Care Plan without permission of the parent / young person (over the age of 16).
- SEND Governors should not normally need to identify which children are receiving support
- It would normally be expected that when an SEND Governor visits the school, the visit would be led by the SENCo or whichever member of staff takes the lead on SEND. This visit should be conducted with a view to discussing the school's systems and processes for supporting pupils with SEND, rather than assessing and commenting on provision for individual children
- It may be appropriate to discuss a particular child where specific concerns have been raised by a parent. It might also be appropriate where a child’s needs require extra equipment, and this would draw upon the school budget.
Carrying out a SEND Governor role
When carrying out a SEND Governor role the following may be helpful:
- Be aware of council policies
- Attend courses devoted to SEND
- Get to know the SEND Code of Practice and the language of SEN and disability
- Meet termly with the SEND coordinator to discuss how the SEND strategy is going in the school
- Ask about resources from the school budget allocated to SEND and the school’s Accessibility Plan
- Discuss with school staff the outcomes of the school’s monitoring and evaluation of the provision made for pupils with SEND
- Observe first-hand what happens in school, both inside and outside the classroom, to ensure that pupils with SEND are actively involved in all aspects of school life
- Take opportunities to meet and talk with parents of children with SEND
- Keep informed about developments in the area of SEND, nationally, locally and within the school
- Agree with the governing body and the Head Teacher the indicators that demonstrate whether the policy is working and agreeing the timescale for reporting these to the governing body
- Encourage the governing body to ensure that all school policies are consistent with the aims of the SEND policy
- Report on a termly basis to the full governing body on the implementation of the school’s SEND policy
- Be able to talk about, if asked (for example by an OFSTED inspector), how the school’s SEND interventions have made a difference to outcomes for young people
- Agree with the governing body and the Head Teacher the indicators that should be reported on by the school to the governing body to say whether the policy is working, and the timescale for that reporting
- Ensure that funds are allocated each year within the school budget specifically to cater for SEND pupils and to support the implementation of the SEND policy; be aware of the various headings under which the schools spends the SEND budget each year (i.e. resources, training, support assistants, medical time etc.)
- Monitor and evaluate the use of these funds and other resources, considering cost effectiveness and best value for money in terms of increased progress for pupils with SEND.
How can the Governing Body Support the SEND Governor?
- It is important that the governing body both understands the role of the SEND Governor and supports them in carrying out that role
- The governing body will need to:
- Establish the responsibilities the SEND Governor should undertake and provide support for the role
- Take an informed interest in SEND issues
- Monitor, evaluate and review the SEND policy on a regular basis
- Ensure that the other school policies fully support the principle of inclusion for all pupils
- Provide an opportunity for any outgoing SEND Governor to pass on information and relevant paperwork.
Some Suggested Questions that SEND Governors Should Ask
Some suggested questions for SEND Governors to ask and issues to discuss with the SENCO:
- Does the SEND approach reflect current practice?
- Who else is involved in the review process?
- Does the approach reflect and meet the needs of pupils? What are those needs?
- How does the school’s SEND approach link with its other policies, such as those for behaviour and health and safety?
Profile and Provision
- Current numbers on the SEND Provision Map at different levels of intervention (but not their names). How does this compare to other Islington schools e.g. through school census returns?
- Identification procedures for pupils with SEND
- Staffing arrangements for pupils with SEND
- Staff training
- Use of resources
- How pupils with SEND are ensured access to the curriculum
- Liaison with external agencies and support services
- Links with special/mainstream schools
Communication with parents.
Budget – value for money
- How confident are you that money for SEND pupils is being used efficiently and effectively compared to other pupils?
- Is the notional school budget for SEND being used effectively to meet the needs of all pupils?
- Is there a suitable range of provision to meet all SEND pupils’ needs?
- Are there any new government developments I should be aware of?
- What is the progress and attainment of SEND children compared to other pupils? What do we do about this?
- Are there any recommendations from the last OFSTED visit on SEND children?
- How does the attendance of pupils with SEND compare with the attendance of the school as a whole? If significantly lower, why is this?
- How does the number of pupils with SEND excluded compare with that of all pupils excluded?
- What is the main area of need of pupils with SEND who are excluded e.g. specific learning difficulty, social, emotional and mental health needs? How does this inform future provision?
- How are parents informed that their child has SEND?
- Is information for parents available in accessible formats?
- Are pupils doing better in certain subjects than others?
- Do pupils with a particular area of need do better than others e.g. do pupils with specific learning difficulties make better progress than pupils with general learning difficulties? Why?
- Are pupils in particular year groups doing better than others? Why?
- Are there significant differences in results between boys and girls?
- How does this data analysis inform future practice and provision?
- When were SEND-related staff skills last reviewed?