It is now, in fact it has been for a while, a legal requirement that new SENCOs study and pass the Masters level SENCO Accreditation course within 3 years of taking up post. This year is my year. I quite like studying. I have studied at Masters level before. This is using aspects of my job and so should be easy. Wrong!
The course hasn’t quite been what I expected; it is not how to do my job, it is not even this is what you have to do. It is a lot of reading – the first part of the first assignment was 1000 words “Critical review of a specific national policy/government document or research report in the field of SEN in relation to your role as SENCO”. How thrilling does that sound? I had to read a lot of government documents to even find one that I felt was slightly interesting and that I could relate to my school in a useful manner. Then to write a critical review I had to do even more reading of even more government documents to support and disagree with the one I’d chosen (Chapter 1 of the 2009 Steer report into the perceptions and reality of behaviour in school).
The second part of the first assignment was a bit better – “Carry out a small scale study evaluating one aspect of SEN organisation relevant to your role as a SENCO in the context of your school. (2500 words)” Something practical and relevant. No great problem choosing what I wanted to do. It required some data collection – I wrote questionnaires, I sent them out and with only a slight doughnut incentive, I collected the data. I had yet more reading to do to find academic people who supported or not what we did or should have been doing. It’s OK, I had nothing better to do over the Christmas holiday.
Final part of the first assignment, “Critically reflect on your understanding, and the use of, one aspect of data relating to SEN in your context. (1500 words)” I’m not sure that I can critically reflect on my understanding. At present my understanding is low, it was fine until I tried to understand how much I understood. Fortunately I have a good tutor and a chat with him has shown me that I do understand, but critically? I’m not sure.
The second part of the course will be to complete an action research project (and a 3,500 word essay), I’m looking forward to doing this, it is what I am doing as part of my job anyway. I’m guessing that there will be lots more reading – it’s a shame that P.D. James (or other such writers) didn’t write the academic journals and government papers.
In my spare time I also need to complete a portfolio to evidence an awful lot of statements – yet again I’m assured I’m doing all of these things anyway. What if I’m not.
Having seen some of last year’s cohort talking to us so confidently today they all said that it is helpful, useful, a lot of work but very valuable. I do hope so.