What is DSPL?
Delivering Special Provision Locally is a Hertfordshire initiative that is all about local schools, provisions, parents and other stakeholders, taking responsibility for the services for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in their own area. These are the people who know the areas best and who recognise the unique challenges that each area presents. DSPL will secure a range of provision, support services and resources in each area that:
- meets the needs of children and young people with SEND aged 0–25 as close to home as possible
- improves outcomes for wellbeing and attainment
- widens choice for children and parents/carers
- removes barriers to learning
- uses resources effectively
For further information please view the following links: From The Grid: thegrid.org.uk/learning/sen/dspl/ From Hertsdirect: hertsdirect.org/services/healthsoc/childfam/specialneeds/educ/dspl/ hertsdirect.org/services/healthsoc/childfam/specialneeds/ Or contact: Debbie Orton, Head of ISL – firstname.lastname@example.org Sue Westgate, Business Manager for ISL – email@example.com
Learning Without Limitstop ⤴
The idea you can put a number against a child’s ability is flawed and dangerous
“Headteacher Alison Peacock believes labeling children by ability leaves some trapped by low expectations. That’s why her school doesn’t do it” – Guardian Education Online, 29th March 2015.
For the past 14 years Alison Peacock has run an unconventional school. Grades are not the focus; children aren’t told attainment levels and the information is only disclosed if parents ask.
As head of the Wroxham school in Hertfordshire, Peacock is the perfect addition to a new commission set up by school reform minister, Nick Gibbs, to explore new ways for primary schools to monitor pupil progress after levels were scrapped.
Peacock sees the demise of levels as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change how children are assessed nationally. But instead of simply replacing the old structure with a new one, she’d like to focus on enabling children to learn in a meaningful way so that assessment becomes “a tool for improvement rather than judgment.
At the end of the year in Wroxham, students write their own report, detailing their successes and challenges. The teacher then has a conversation with them to extend this further. Those in year 5 and 6 also give a presentation on their work from the year, which parents attend. The child is at the centre of a discussion on how they can be helped to progress.
“What a pupil needs to do to be graded a 4b, for example, is a meaningless conversation,” she says. “Whereas talking about how to improve their multiplication of decimals is helpful.”
Thirty years ago, before its Educating Essex fame, Peacock taught at Passmores Academy in Harlow. While there she was shocked when her manager said her lower-level English class couldn’t be given anything higher than a grade D on their report card because that was the level the group was considered to be at. “To class them all at one grade, when some could do more than others, just felt so wrong,” she says.
The children at the school were the most deprived of any that she’s worked with. Some of the teaching staff thought that because a student came from a certain family or housing estate they could only achieve so much, she says. Putting people into categories and making assumptions on how intelligent they are enforces a pre-set limit on what they can achieve.
A lot of her concerns around ability labeling are rooted in her parents’ education. Peacock’s mother had wanted to go to university, but her family couldn’t afford to send her. And, although her father passed his 11 plus, he was unable to attend grammar school because his parents couldn’t pay for the uniform. Both later became teachers.
“From the earliest days as a teacher, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t doing anything that could stop children believing in themselves.”
When Peacock joined Wroxham school in January 2003 it was in special measures; Ofsted described the children as “unteachable”. By October of that year it had moved up a grade and in 2006 it was judged to be outstanding – an award it achieved in 2009 and 2013.
How did she turn the school around? “The first thing I did was talk to the teachers about how they thought the school could improve,” Peacock says. “Nobody had ever asked them.”
From there she worked on enlivening the curriculum. “Behaviour management had been about battening down the hatches and occasionally a pupil would break out of that and hurl a chair,” she says. “It was about giving the pupils experiences that they couldn’t help but be excited by.” This included a teenage rock band performance and workshops run by artists and poets.
It was during this time that the University of Cambridge asked if researchers could come into the school to write about what was happening. Peacock had appeared in a previous book by the university, Learning without Limits, which looked at the classroom practice of nine teachers. But this new proposal was daunting as it was was solely focused on her school.
“It’s one thing to talk a good game, but it’s quite another to have a load of people observing lessons and talking to children and parents,” Peacock says. The result, Creating Learning without Limits, was an international success, and Peacock is now negotiating a book deal on Learning without Levels.
The headteacher says she never set out to get rid of ability labelling at the school. It grew from conversations with staff, and when it worked the idea was developed. Pupils are never set tasks by ability. Topics are taught to the whole group and students are then choose from a range of activities of varying complexity. If they begin a piece of work and think they could try something more difficult, or need something easier, they can change.
“This is not about being soft and fluffy. It’s about believing that listening to pupils matters,” she says. “The assumption that you can reliably put a number against what a child is capable of is flawed and dangerous. Potentially, it leads to the individual and the people around them having a very limited set of expectations.”
She believes it is detrimental even if the student is given a high grade, pointing to research by Carol Dweck from Stanford University to illustrate this. When two groups of children were given a complex mathematical task, the group that was told they had good problem-solving skills progressed much further than the group that was simply told they were very good at maths.
Peacock’s criticisms of ability labelling extends to how schools and teachers are treated too. “I’m proud to tell you we’re an outstanding school, but I don’t think it helps,” she says. Rather than Ofsted dishing out grades, she’d like a benchmark that says whether a school is good enough and for there then to be an open dialogue on how it can improve.
“If teachers feel constrained, judged and labelled, then they can’t lift the limits on pupils,” she says.
DSPL Area Group 6top ⤴
There are nine DSPL Area Groups across the county that meet regularly to discuss what services are available and to influence how services are shaped and developed to ensure the children and young people with SEND in their area receive the right support in their educational activities. The Wroxham School is the lead school in Area 6, and through our alliance we are keen to maximise opportunities for professional learning across our DSPL Area Group. Our DPSL Area Group 6 lead contacts are as follows: Alison Peacock, Chair – firstname.lastname@example.org Chery Mence, Manager – email@example.com
Outreach Information – The Park ESCtop ⤴
Outreach – What we do?
From time to time children may encounter emotional, social or behavioural difficulties that affect the way they can effectively and positively access learning, the curriculum and positive experiences. We provide an Outreach Service to primary and secondary schools in the Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield, Potters Bar and Borehamwood area supporting children, schools and parents to overcome these difficulties.
A team of qualified teachers, behaviour support workers and a nursery nurse, provide support programmes covering a range of issues. Advice and strategies for children and their parents/carers and the school, is part of the provision. Our involvement with a child may last from between half a term to a year.
To read more about Outreach, please view or download the following:
Professional Learning Opportunitestop ⤴
Below are all the professional learning opportunities that are currently being run by the Wroxham Transformative Learning Alliance in relation to Developing Special Provision Locally.
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Area Group 6 Settings and Contact Detailstop ⤴
|Potters Bar||Brookmans Park Schoolfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Potters Bar||Chancellors Schoolemail@example.com|
|Potters Bar||Cranborne Primary Schoolfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Potters Bar||Cuffley Schoolemail@example.com|
|Potters Bar||Dame Alice Owens Schoolfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Borehamwood||Kenilworth Primary Schoolemail@example.com|
|Potters Bar||Ladbrooke JMI Schoolfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Potters Bar||Little Heath Primary Schoolemail@example.com|
|Borehamwood||Meryfield Community Schoolfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Potters Bar||Mount Grace Schoolemail@example.com|
|Potters Bar||Northaw C of E Primary Schoolfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Potters Bar||Oakmere Primary Schoolemail@example.com|
|Borehamwood||Parkside Community Schoolfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Potters Bar||Ponsbourne St Mary’s C of E VC Primary Schoolemail@example.com|
|Potters Bar||Pope Paul Catholic Primary Schoolfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Potters Bar||St Giles’ C of E Primary Schoolemail@example.com|
|Borehamwood||St Nicholas Elstree Cof E VAfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Borehamwood||St Teresa’s Catholicemail@example.com|
|Potters Bar||The Wroxham Schoolfirstname.lastname@example.org|