LEARNING TO TEACH PUPILS WITH SEN / DISABILITIES

STUDY AIMS
1. To examine how and what one-year PGCE trainee teachers learn about teaching pupils with SEND in their placement schools. 
2. To compare three kinds of school based approaches:
 i. a personalised SEND teaching task: trainees working with a pupil with SEND over 6-8 hours, carried out in-class or through withdrawal.
 
 ii. an alternative non-teaching pupil-focused SEND task, for example, a classroom pupil observations around inclusion or a pupil pursuit study.
 
 iii. where there was no specific pupil-focused SEND task other than class teaching practice.

 

GENERAL FINDINGS

What trainees learn about teaching pupils with SEND is strongly interlinked with what they learn about teaching in general.
A planned pupil-focused SEND task, when carried out in favourable conditions, can make a contribution to pedagogic knowledge, especially in understanding personal learning needs. This is something that was less likely to be learned from only whole class teachingexperience.
 
Trainee experience around SEND is variable in school based work depending on:
·         the values and ethos of the school;
·         organisational practices: pupil grouping, deployment of TAs, lesson planning templates;
·         attitudes of individual staff members;
·         the presence of pupils with SEND in teaching practice classes;
·         the nature of supervision –
best where it is carried out by a teacher who teaches the same class/es as the trainee and has ‘good practice’ in teaching pupils with SEND.
 
FINDINGS: Value of planned pupil-focused tasks
 
The value of the planned pupil-focused tasks was that they enabled trainees to become aware of individual pupils’ perspectives and learning needs that goes beyond differentiation in terms of sub-groups.
 
In spending specific time focusing on a pupil, the trainee may be better introduced to the interactive nature of the teacher-learner relationship and to the importance of planning appropriate learning processes.
 
This enables them to understand greater pedagogic complexity beyond what can often be regarded as a ‘mechanistic and piecemeal’ curriculum coverage approach.
 
 
 
FINDINGS: Value of planned pupil-focused tasks
 
The value of the planned pupil-focused tasks was that they enabled trainees to become aware of individual pupils’ perspectives and learning needs that goes beyond differentiation in terms of sub-groups.
 
In spending specific time focusing on a pupil, the trainee may be better introduced to the interactive nature of the teacher-learner relationship and to the importance of planning appropriate learning processes.
 
This enables them to understand greater pedagogic complexity beyond what can often be regarded as a ‘mechanistic and piecemeal’ curriculum coverage approach.
 
Hazel Lawson, Tricia Nash and Brahm Norwich
 
 
Graduate School of Education
University of Exeter
Heavitree Road
Exeter EX1 2LU
H.A.Lawson@exeter.ac.uk