Optimus Education provide a number of school improvement awards and conferences, one of these awards is focused on Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) - the SEND Inclusion Award (SENDIA). It helps schools identify their strengths and areas for improvement. One school who recently completed the award is the Harris Academy Beckenham. The award also helps schools determine where current provision is having high or little impact on the progress and outcomes of pupils with SEND.
The Harris Academy Beckenham is a secondary, non-selective coeducational sponsor led academy that also includes a thriving sixth form. The award also helps schools determine where current provision is having high or little impact on the progress and outcomes of pupils with SEND.
Harris Academy Beckenham applied for the SEND Inclusion Award as they felt it was a robust way of auditing, improving and rewarding the work of students, parents and staff with regards to the provision of teaching and learning for SEND students at the academy. They knew that their provision already encouraged students with SEND to be successful, however, their ethos encourages continuous reflective practice and they wanted to ensure that their specialist and universal provision was continuously improving and responding to the developing needs of its students.
The self-evaluation process enabled the academy to highlight that further work with parents would help to encourage outstanding outcomes by their students with SEND. By highlighting areas in their provision that required further development, they were able to make more robust links with the parents of students with SEND and encouraged their attendance to the academy on a more regular basis.
Parents have now been offered half-termly meetings with members of the SEND team and these meetings have focused on:
providing parents with more detailed information about provision at the academy
offering strategies to support parents with homework and revision
offering sessions focused on the specific needs of their children.
Since achieving the SEND Inclusion Award, the academy have continued to work tirelessly with their students, parents and teachers. They have joined up with The Skills Network, to provide free Level Two courses on specific SEND needs to parents and teachers. Many parents and teachers have embraced this incredible opportunity as a way of better understanding the needs of SEND pupils. This involvement will enable the academy to continuously develop and ensure they are able to continue to provide inclusive learning environments where every student is able to succeed.
The Head Teacher of the Harris Academy Beckenham said: “The award process, while rightfully challenging, demanding and at times testing in its very nature, was an incredible journey for all stakeholders in our academy. The journey has meant that our students, the most important stakeholders in any educational setting, now benefit from the best possible provision in every area of academy life - a goal that was always within our sights, but one that the award process helped us to realise through a clear focus on specific standards. When reflecting on the 15 month process with the award in our hands, and analysing the development of our provision, we are able to say with confidence that the SEND Inclusion Award was a worthwhile and valuable experience for all.”