Three new Integrated Resources opened this year at Beck, Hucklow and Whiteways primary schools, run by the Cascade MAT. Lisa Whitehead, Inclusion Lead, talks about the first year:
“The number of children within our IR has grown from 12 in September to 29. All children have a primary need of communication and interaction difficulties, with the predominant need being ASD.
The first term was very much a period of transition for the children, and we spent time getting to know each child as an individual, as well as establishing routines.
We have built strong relationships with them and their families, developing provision that reflects their needs and preferences. Staff have developed each base so that visuals and routines are key in supporting the children to build independence. Language development, emotional regulation and building attention to sustain learning are at the heart of everything that we do.
Looking back over the past year – how we have set up each base, resourced each provision, recruited staff, identified children, transitioned them and are now working with them each day on bespoke provision – is a real achievement (particularly throughout national lockdowns). Getting to know the children has been a delight.”
- It’s been essential for us to get to know each child as an individual. Our staff now know our children so well that we are confident that each child is getting the provision that they need.
- We have tried different ways to engage parents as we know how important it is for them to feel confident that we are supporting their child in partnership with them.
- We have also worked hard to build relationships with outside agencies so that they can offer support for the IRs as a whole, but also for individuals when we are finding it difficult to find a way forward.
Learning points for other schools setting up Integrated Resources:
- Do - identify a clear approach or ways of working and apply them consistently. Consistency is the key!
- Don't - forget to see how far you have come. The small steps of progress can be missed if you don't reflect back on a starting point.
“Know that you can't do everything at once. Our IRs started out with a one-year plan and it quickly became evident that that we needed longer to implement all things.
We have taken a full year to implement and embed the SCERTS approach for example, and staff now have a much clearer understanding of this. It takes time to learn and translate this in to practice. We learn every single day and that's what we love about our job.
The children smile every day and whilst there are challenges, there are so many rewards. It's hard to describe the look on a staff member's face when a child says a word for the first time or interacts during an activity. The parents' confidence that a school is able to meet their child's needs and can see the progress that their child is making is a huge positive. It's so rewarding when a parent says that they can see a difference at home.
We are keen to improve all of the time and the advice shared by others is invaluable in our growth.”
Future increases in provision
Sheffield City Council is increasing provision to meet the needs of children and young people in Sheffield.
- We are increasing specialist support in mainstream schools by providing advice, support and training to SENCOs and city wide training initiatives to build the capacity of mainstream schools.
- 30 new Integrated Resource places were created in 2020/21 and a further 40 are being planned over the next 18 months.
- An extra 100 special school places were created in September 2020, and a further 122 are being created for September 2021.
- Two new special schools are planned for 2022 and 2023. These will cater for children with ASD and Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs and will provide a further 160 places.
- Over the next five years, further places will be needed to meet forecast demand. The developments outlined above are part of this plan to provide extra places.
- Schools interested in finding out more about developing an Integrated Resource should contact SENDcommissioning@sheffield.gov.uk