Laura Purser, Aldenham School’s Director of Learning Support shares her research here.
How can personalised differentiated literacy interventions impact on the progress on students with special educational needs?
This research investigates differentiation interventions for Literacy in Secondary aged special educational needs students, taking into account inclusion groups. The need to explore the meaning behind pupil progress and the value of measuring progress through quantitative and qualitative data highlights the need to consider the effectiveness of interventions.
This research focused on Year 8 and 9 students and found the older students, with social, emotional, behavioural difficulties were the most significantly affected cohort. This suggests the need to use qualitative data when measuring true progress with children who have been identified as having a special educational need.
In conclusion, the intervention resulted in improvements across all SEN sub groups, but the results showed the greatest improvements in (SEBD), suggesting that the interventions worked on a social/emotional level rather than relying solely on traditional academic teaching methods. This further emphasises the need to personalise differentiated teaching and learning.
Introduction, Rationale & Literature Review
With teaching and learning becoming increasingly focused on rigorous monitoring and heightened expectations, strategies that include a variety of personalised aspects are needed in order to fully develop inclusion within the classroom. Recent reports from Ofsted (2011) have emphasised that the ‘curriculum is directly relevant to pupils’ needs’ and needs to be implemented to enable them to make ‘exceptionally good progress’. This focus on the essential need for inclusion seems apparent in research literature under the concept of Achievement for All – The Department for Education (2011) and Every Child Matters –The Department for Education (2003) initiatives. Frederickson and Cline (2009) recognise the complex nature of special educational needs (SEN) and place a firm emphasis on inclusion and diversity. They demonstrated through extensive research that that the quality of inclusive programmes is crucial and recent research has been shifting emphasis to identifying the characteristics of effective inclusion. This study aims to implement a successful intervention as part of an inclusive programme to improve performance within a school. The effectiveness will be assessed and critically evaluated to determine if interventions are a useful practical tool for an Inclusion / SEN department.
‘The majority of learners with SEN, including those who are working below age-related expectations, should be able to achieve this rate of progress.’ (DCFS, 2009:32) This umbrella statement for ‘all’ students and belief of how they should progress, regardless of need, suggests a closed minded view of student learning. In practice it seems that these levels tend to vary on expectations across schools and across age ranges e.g. Key Stage (KS) 1 & 2 compared to Key Stage (KS) 3 & 4, where it begins to slow down. It seems students that do not make this ‘expected’ progress are considered underachievers, no matter where they fall on the spectrum of need. Does that student then need to still meet the expectations of their peers, even if their level of learning is slower; even if their needs in themselves interpret progression in a different light to the ‘mainstream’?
In summary, this research is intended to lay the foundations for the effectiveness of interventions. Further research should build upon this, using the findings to help target groups of students who would benefit most. The quality of the interventions are largely dependent on the quality by which they are led and implemented, and the individual differences of students. Attempts to replicate these findings may therefore prove to be difficult on a small scale, but as previous research also supports the findings on a larger scale it can be summarised that tailored interventions do improve the progression of students compared to being left in their normal teaching environment.
For more information contact Laura on her email