Member blog: how nasen has supported me in my role as a Learning Support Co-ordinator in Northern Ireland

News - 12 February 2020

Do you spend your time as a teacher or Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) / Learning Support Co-ordinator (LSC) wrecking your brain for ways to meet the diverse needs of pupils with SEND? Or how often have you Googled something that starts with “How do I…” I know I certainly have!

I have been a SENCo for the past 18 years and  throughout that time, my job has evolved from that of supporting groups of low-achieving pupils to one of supporting pupils with increasingly complex needs as well as providing advice to class teachers and coordinating support throughout the school. As you are well aware, class teachers are always having to think of creative and innovative ways to support pupils with SEND. Given the demands of the working day, we all know that this is a daunting task.

“The Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 will reform how children with Special Educational Needs are identified and supported.” Sounds amazing but at the same time, instils curiosity making me wonder how??? We, as Educational Practitioners now face the challenge of ensuring that the right SEND provision is given, to help each pupil fulfil their potential. It has become increasingly difficult to keep up to date with all the new training based on reputable research, whilst at the same time creating resources which are appropriate and useful.

In October 2018, a group of educationalists from Northern Ireland (The nasen NI SEN Advisory Group) was formed to share their expertise and support nasen (National Association for Special Educational Needs), a charitable membership organisation. The aim of this group is, in these very challenging times, is to provide more relevant support for Educational Practitioners in Northern Ireland and to ensure that resources and publications are appropriate for a Northern Ireland audience.

I must admit I welcomed the idea of a website where relevant, high quality resources were available and could be accessed immediately, therefore I enrolled as a Gold Member. I know there are a lot of websites which provide educational resources however I discovered, the nasen website provided new resources which adhered to the legal requirements of the new SEND Act 2016 and they are also high-quality. In addition to this, on the SEND Gateway I accessed a resource for ADHD which not only provided me with guidance and advice on both pupils who were sensory seeking and sensory avoiding but led me also to a external website where all relevant materials could be accessed and easily purchased.

The nasen website not only provides resources but also online training and CPD opportunities and advice and information for all educational practitioners. It also complements the training and support from  the EA; keeping me up to date with all new SEND developments and legal requirements. Another key benefit of the website is that it gives practitioners in Northern Ireland an insight into what is going on in schools in other parts of the United Kingdom and provides an opportunity for sharing good practice.

The buzz word now in all our schools is “reasonable adjustments” and with the diversity and complexity of needs in schools at present, a trustworthy and reliable website like this is a very welcome and is certainly a useful resource. The real bonus is that it is being developed to better suit the needs of schools in Northern Ireland, especially as we embrace the new legislation. I have started to use it! Give it a try, there’s lots of useful resources and more to come. All the new resources can be found on this page: www.nasen.org.uk/northern-ireland

Written by a nasen member who is a Learning Support Co-ordinator in Northern Ireland.