The basis of this report is to view the effects and impact that ICT has had in Secondary Comprehensive Schools in the area of Special Educational Needs. As ICT in education is a large and growing area, I will be focusing my research on the areas of Data Analysis and Provision Mapping.
The report will look at what a provision map is, how a provision map fits into the scheme of a Secondary Comprehensive School's Special Educational Needs department; what a provision map is used for; what makes a successful provision map. The report will continue on to look at what data analysis is and how the data used to create provision maps can be analysed to see whether or not the provision map has been successful.
Subsequent to the initial research within the two areas of Data Analysis and Provision Mapping, it has become apparent that Provision Mapping is still in fairly early stages of integration into the area of ICT and Special Educational Needs. Therefore to develop my research further, the report will consider the impact of collaboration between the two areas and how advantageous it would be. Therefore I will be producing a piece of software that will not only be able to create a successful Provision Map, but will also incorporate a system that can analyse the data/information that is already collected in schools. By integrating the two areas of provision mapping and data analysis ensures that the provision that is established is successful for the 'whole child', across the curriculum.
What is Special Educational Needs, What a Provision Map is and how it is used
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Special Educational Needs is for children who have difficulties with learning and will often require additional educational intervention to support their learning. The aim of this additional educational intervention is to allow progression of the learning ability that cannot be achieved in the normal classroom environment. If significant progress has not been achieved through such differentiated teaching methods, a meeting would take place between the child, the child's teacher, the Special Educational Needs Coordinator and the child's parents to discuss an IEP (Individual Education Plan), as a means of recording the main learning objectives and the provision that would be provided to achieve these targets, which permits reviews of the agreed targets to see if the agreed provision was successful. Stockdale of Nasen Special (2010) describes this as "Provision maps should provide an overview of the strategic response planned to meet the needs of pupils. They are a mechanism to identify the allocation of resources and to monitor and evaluate the success and impact of interventions."
The purpose of a provision map is to visually map out where each child is receiving additional provision. A provision map is segmented into different waves of intervention, with each wave showing different intensities of support. Wave one of a provision map my therefore be whole class support, where wave two is small group work and wave three specifies one to one work. The waves of support show types of progressed provision for children with learning difficulties. The need for wave three interventions may be reduced when effective support is provided at waves one and two. Wave one interventions concentrate on environment change, rather than providing specific interventions directed at changing the child. Stockdale of Nasen Special (2010) backs this up with "provision maps focuses on the classroom environment as well as on developing specific skills and it supports teachers in developing a friendly environment by providing information on quality first teaching. Provision maps should provide an overview of the strategic response planned to meet the needs of these pupils. They are a mechanism to identify the allocation of resources and to monitor and evaluate the success and impact of interventions".
Waves two and three concentrate on the skills the child needs to develop as more of an individualised intervention.
There is also a five stage model for additional intervention for special educational needs students which some schools choose to opt into their Special Educational Needs process. The first three stages are interventions which take place within the regular school environment, the same as waves one through three, if none of these interventions have had any success, then the 'Statement' is put into place. Stages four and five of the five stage model is initiated, these remaining two stages involves the LEA (Local Education Authority). It will be important to establish what is causing the child's learning difficulties. The LEA must then consider that the pupil's mainstream school can meet the child's necessary needs without additional resources. "The LEA should ensure clear distinctions are made between the child's relevant levels of functioning, emotional state and interests and how these represent resources and deficiencies in relation to the educational demands which will be made on the child." (Mazurek and Winzer, 1994) If the LEA feels that the mainstream school does not have the required resources to ensure significant progress to the child's education, then a special school placement would be required. If a 'Statement' is issued to a special educational needs student, the 'statement' must be reviewed on an annual basis. The review is carried out by school staff, external agencies who have been involved with the child, and the child's parents. "All future plans for SEN development, should provide clarity in terms of responsibility and coordination, and incorporate details of planned arrangements for regular monitoring and evaluation". (Bate and Gardner, 1999) The purpose of the review is to examine the previous year of education, to establish if any changes need to be made to the 'statement' and to establish the educational goals of the coming year.
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The purpose of the provision is to try to ensure the child with a disability or disorder makes significant progress. The child is supported by resources which are normally available within a school; this is classified as 'School Action'. If using this form of provision the child is not achieving a significant success rate, additional support from outside agencies are provided to aid the progress of the child; this is classified as 'School Action Plus'. If this additional form of provision is not achieving the desired success rate, then either the child's parents or school can apply for the child to be given a statutory assessment to see if a 'Statement of Special Educational Need' is required. The 'Statement' specifies the child's special educational needs, the proposed provision; the place where the child is to be educated; the non-educational needs and the non-educational provision.
In order for a provision map to be as successful as it can, the need for a provision map should be discovered and assessed as early in the child's life as possible. Provision mapping is an essential part of the special educational needs environment of a secondary comprehensive school. Stockton of Nasen Special (2010) illustrates this when they state that "Provision maps allow schools to identify, assess and match provision to meet the needs of children and to document this range of provision." Provision maps are created around the individual pupil more so than the special need, as each child has different levels of learning difficulties, therefore a generic provision map would prove less effective. Wiltshire County Council (2010) states "Provision Mapping is a succinct and inclusive way of showing the range of provision available to pupils throughout the school." One of the important components of creating a successful provision map is the necessary involvement of the parents. The intervention of the parents knowledge regarding the needs of the individual students are an essential key into producing the correct form of special education provision. This provision must show some form of reflection as to what is the normal home educational life, as severely different home and school life may have a negative effect on the educational growth of Special Educational Needs student. The relationship between parents and the school which their child is attending has a crucial bearing upon the child's educational progress. If the parents are to support the efforts of teachers they need information and advice from the school about its objectives and the provision being provided for their child. The child's special needs cannot be adequately assessed and met in school without the insights from the parents, and from more intimate experiences that the parents are able to provide. A child's progress will be diminished if their parents are not seen as part of the education process.
The role of the SENCo requires a vast knowledge of a wide variety of areas included within the field of Special Educational Needs; the SENCo must not only have extensive knowledge on a range of disorders and difficulties, they must also be able to provide differentiation structures to support the teaching and learning within a classroom environment, alongside this they must coordinate the involvement of numerous external support agencies and target students individually to ensure that their barriers towards learning are overcome. The integration of ICT allows for this information to be collated and accessed more quickly and easily, therefore the SENCo can use this technology to the advantage of the student, to the management and to the wider teaching staff their workload. The information ICT can draw together can support the teachers in making for an effective lesson plan to include the SEN pupils into the mainstream lessons. Nasen Special (2010) reported that "All mainstream teachers and Special Educational Needs Coordinators need to be able to access knowledge about different forms of SEN in inclusive classrooms."
Any child that has any kind of difficulty with regarding accessing education in any way is said to have Special Educational Need (SEN) or an Additional Educational Need (AEN), these needs may be a permanent condition for example SLD (severe learning difficulties) or they may have a temporary condition such as a broken leg or arm, either way some form of provision is required to be implemented for that child in order for that child to still be able to access education as easily as possible. Forth and Redwood states "Provision for a child with special educational needs should match the nature of their needs." Mazurek and Winzer describe this provision as "education provision which is additional to, or otherwise different from, the education provided made generally for children of his age in schools maintained by the local education authorities concerned; and in relation to any child under that age, educational provision of any kind". Provision could be in the form of a room or rooms equipped according to the needs of the pupils of that school. Although the each individual provision should be different, the overall outcome of the provision maps should ultimately be the same. The concept of educating various Special Educational Needs students may remain constant, but its interpretation will be widely different with different Special Educational Needs children. It would be impossible for the many different combinations of individual need that occur to be matched exactly by a generic setup for each individual Special Educational Need.
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Lists of students are usually kept by the SENCo (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator) in order to retain manageable provision maps for each child, as some of these maps may be temporary maps, the lists of students could change sporadically. According to Florian and Hegarty (2004) "Under the earlier 1994 Code, schools were required to keep a SEN register, or list of pupils with SEN. This is no longer required, but most schools continue to keep 'lists' to record which pupils have SEN, as well as the level and form of provision required to meet pupil needs." Statistically up to one in five students are likely to require some form of special educational provision at some time during their school career means that the majority of children with Special Educational Needs will have to not only be identified but also helped in some way. Schools should keep a register of all students with special educational needs. They should also record the steps taken to meet the needs of the individual child. "There should be careful recording of a child's special educational needs, the action taken and the outcome."(Forth and Redwood, 1994) The SENCo should have responsibility for ensuring that the register and records are kept properly and are available as and when are needed.
As mentioned in a previous statement; it is not a legal requirement to hold a register for all Special Educational Needs pupils, but most schools hold lists of pupils who have special educational needs, and as also mentioned earlier, these lists are subject to change throughout the year. ICT can make it very easily to make amendments to pupil's details, add or remove pupils from these lists, whereas using some form of ledger to hold this information could get very untidy, and very unorganised very quickly, which could lead to mistakes when producing Provision Maps. Florian and Hegarty (2004) states that "Administration role of maintaining a register of SEN pupils is often time-consuming. If ICT is to play a key part in the management of SEN provision, programs which support the SENCo in writing IEPs and in the administration of provision are welcome support." With the introduction of ICT to replace this ledger the information can be kept neat and tidy to help prevent these mistakes being made; Warnock (1978) commented "Records of an individual child's progress should be clear, factual, up-to-date and reliable." Systems of accountability depend significantly on the analysis of data. "Key data systems omit significant numbers of disabled children and children with Special Educational Needs. Many disabled children and children with SEN are not visible in the key stage threshold measures because they are working below these levels. "(Lamb, 2009)
What is Data Analysis and how it is used
"Data analysis is a practice in which raw data is ordered and organized so that useful information can be extracted from it." (Smith, 2011) There are two main areas of data research for which I will be looking in to, quantitative and qualitative. Additional to these two data research concepts, I will also be touching on the concept of longitudinal data analysis. The main concept of quantitative research is to be able to take the data conceived in the research so that it can be modelled statistically. This is to give a clear and accurate perspective of the whole picture before and after key events have occurred. The results of quantitative research are a collection of numbers which can be subjected to a number of statistical analyses so a number of results can be realized. Qualitative research on the other hand is a more subjective form of research which allows bias to complete the whole picture. Therefore the data that is achieved from the research will be interpretive of the whole picture but will not give a true and accurate account of what has happened, so any statistical analyses that were to be done would on this research would give inaccurate results. The analysis of qualitative data led to the development of a qualitative data system called NUDIST. NUDIST stands for 'Non-Numerical Unstructured Data Indexing Searching and Theorizing' "NUDIST formatted text and put references to it in the separate index database of categories developed by the researcher" (Bryman and Burgess, 1994). A much improved NVivo system was produced almost twenty years later which contains unique tools specifically for fine, detailed analysis and qualitative modelling.
The most successful coding systems that were used prior to ICT implementation was the development of a card indexing system with categories and subcategories. These cards systems had their own problems as discussed by Bryman and Burgess (1994) "moving between files became a formidable task when several categories of data were explored. The system worked adequately so long as the material to be filed or retrieved was limited in size and generally in single topic data segments". Coding represents a key step in the process of data analysis if data analysis is to be completed manually. The process was defined by Charmaz (1983) as "simply the process of categorizing and sorting data". The initial coding of data would be done through the process of "breaking down, examining, comparing, conceptualizing, and categorizing data" (Strauss and Corbin, 1990).
Hammersley and Atkinson (1983) and others all describe that the creating of typologies and taxonomies are very important component of qualitative data analysis. Qualitative data analysis typology is the process of setting up and selecting categories to organize and analyse data. Qualitative data analysis taxonomy is the practice of classification. These areas are useful in verifying the differences in data and can help with the clarification of relationships between data areas. Further classifications of codes given by Miles and Huberman (1984), who differentiate between descriptive, interpretive, explanatory and astringent codes. The listed areas allow for the data that has been collected be separated into the relevant areas to allow for a successful and unambiguous data analysis.
Longitudinal data analysis primarily looks at the data that is collected and how the data can change over time, this includes growth and aging. A time period is set for the length of time required for each study, data is collected at the outset of the study period, and data can be collected again and again throughout the time period in order to achieve a successful analysis of the data, the time period for longitudinal data research can last over a vast number of years. The main disadvantage for this type of data analysis is that it takes a long period of time to gather the data needed to be analysed, however; due to the nature of this report this type of analysis is not only unavoidable but it is a necessity.
Introducing ICT into Special Educational Needs
The introduction of ICT into the Special Educational Needs department has many positive factors, some of these factors were printed in Nasen Special (2010) "Three aims for introducing ICT, are to improve the achievement an progress of children and young people with SEN, to improve the engagement of parents of children and young people with SEN with their schools, to improve the wider outcomes of children and young people with SEN." The principle of engaging parents of children with SEN was a central principle of the 2009 Lamb Inquiry which investigated the confidence of parents towards the schools and counties in the level of provision provided for their children. Previous to the implementation of ICT, the provision offered by schools alongside that of external agencies was centralised through the SENCo and their paper files and therefore often hidden, however unintentionally hidden, from those with parental responsibility. Through the employment of ICT programmes and the consequential collation of such information, the provision offered by schools became more transparent to parents and therefore parental confidence was raised due to a greater awareness of the support being offered to their children.
There are numerous ways of creating and implementing successful provision maps, but the number of children being diagnosed with some form of special educational need is increasing. With this increasing number of children, the volume of work which comes with provision maps will also increase. To manually go through each child individually and compare each level that was at, at the start of the academic year to what they are at the end of the academic year would be a very time consuming task. The introduction of ICT would help with this time consuming and non-cost effective and laborious task, Nasen Special magazine (2010) published "Without harnessing the power of digital communication technologies, the cost of engaging the wider workforce in research outcomes which require changes in practice are astronomical." Schools began realising this and with the availability of ICT becoming more and more widely available, they began the transition into using ICT to create, monitor and assess provision maps.
In an ideal situation, in order for a provision map to be successful, every teacher should have a copy of the Special Educational Needs Register detailing which students will be in their lessons with which Special Educational Need, in order for each teacher to plan their lesson so that it integrates the SEN pupils, every time that the Special Educational Needs Register gets updated which could be a numerous amount of times in a week, the redistribution of these lists would become tedious very quickly impacting on several areas within the school structure, the workload for the administration department who has to print and distribute would increase, the amount of paper used in printing countless documents would increase and therefore incur some serious financial implications could follow. The introduction of ICT could solve some of these issues, whereas the Special Educational Needs register would still need to updated regularly, there is no avoiding that, putting the Special Educational Needs register into a shared area of a computer network system, can allow every teacher to access this information at the touch of a button, therefore saving time from an administrative point of view, not printing and distributing the documentation, and also from financial point of view not spending money on a lot of paper and ink to print off the documentation.
When considering the transition into ICT for Provision Mapping, there are certain considerations that have to be made, there is no use implementing procedures in which only the SENCo can understand and apply, "the need to develop systems that are familiar to colleagues, and have a good balance between formal and informal procedures that are not too bureaucratic. The purpose of these procedures is to enable children to learn and make progress. Such procedures need to record and track progress if the system is to promote learning rather than be a summative record of achievement." (Florian and Hegarty, 2004) From my initial research, the rationale behind implementing ICT is clear, but further investigation into the consequential advantages of ICT when such a system as referred to by Florian and Hegarty is implemented.
Implementing the use of ICT in the practice of Provision Mapping
The implementation of ICT has advantageous properties in a variety of areas with Special Educational Needs, it is imperative that it is not only Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator that reaps the benefits of these advantages. Florian and Hegarty states "To promote the use of ICT in the management of SEN, colleagues need to be convinced of the merits, usefulness and efficiency of any software programs. There are two key areas within the role of the Special Educational Needs Coordinator that could draw on ICT programmes: writing plans for individual or groups of pupils and the management and maintenance of records." In a system which is in so many ways characterised by variation, parents need an objective view of the quality and effectiveness of different forms of provision. Accountability needs to be robust enough to give parents confidence that, where standards fall short, they will be challenged.
These areas are fundamental in the successful management of the Special Educational Needs area within a school. Florian and Hegarty also states that "The use of ICT can enhance the role of the SEN coordinator in the management and provision for SEN." The use of ICT, if used successfully can play a crucial role in the way information regarding Special Educational Needs it distributed. The successful distribution of this information can aid teachers who are to produce a lesson plan which can include the Special Educational Needs pupils in the mainstream lesson in their classroom. "Information and communications technology enables staff to tailor their approaches more effectively to meet the individual learning needs of children." (Clarke, Eagle and Ladyman, 2004) This is backed up by North and McKeown who states "ICT makes a significant contribution to teaching and learning across all subjects and ages, inside and outside the curriculum."
As ICT becomes more accessible and easier to use, the data stored, can be manipulated and presented in various way to produce various reports. "More and more schools are now accessing computerised systems with banks of targets and related strategies, which allow large numbers of IEPs to be produced and the click of a mouse." (Florian and Hegarty, 2004)
The inauguration of ICT within the Special Educational Needs department of school can also be beneficial towards the administration side of the department; data can be stored using one system, i.e. a database of student details, different data can be stored using a second system i.e. curriculum levels of students and the effective use ICT intersperse the two systems for reports and assessment purposes. "ICT can improve the efficiency of information keeping, linking curriculum and administration systems to support assessment and reduce bureaucracy." (Clarke, Eagle and Ladyman, 2004)
Taking the three areas of qualitative data analysis, quantitative data analysis and longitudinal data analysis into consideration, in order for a successful piece of software to be produced, there is going to have to be elements of all data analyses. There are certain issues encountered when integrating the two concepts of qualitative and quantitative data analysis. Ensuring that the questions asked in order to retrieve the qualitative data are correctly understood in order to ensure that there is as little ambiguity as physically possible. If a high level of unambiguity can be achieved from the qualitative research, then fluid integration into quantitative data analysis can be achieved with a high level of success and accuracy. The software will be looking at this data over a number of years which is where the longitudinal data analysis comes in.
All children through their years within the school environment take a number of tests to see what current level that child is working to and to ensure that they are meeting the standards set by the National Curriculum. These tests are done before a child enters a secondary school so the secondary school that the child will be going to is aware of the ability of that particular child.
If a child has been diagnosed with some form of Special Educational Needs, then depending on the school selection, additional tests would be completed to what provision is required. As part of the software package that I have put together, I have suggested that they key elements of the National Curriculum levels, such as Maths, English and Science, (which are they key subjects within school and they are also the key subjects that employers look for when the child in making the transition from school life into adulthood) be recorded at the beginning of their Secondary School career, as they leave key stage two and enter key stage three. These various abilities of each child which require testing, these tests need to be completed at the start of the academic year. Alcott (2002) states "accurate assessment of a child's learning difficulties are essential if the correct provision is to be made." Staffordshire County Council (2003) composed documentation which also backed up this statement "There should be clear evidence of assessment processes enabling the pupil's progress to be measured within a given time-span and the specific measures of progress to be used should be identified."
The various levels of the child are tested again at the end of the academic year, this is completed to show what the current various levels of the child are compared to the beginning of the academic year. This is done so a comparison of levels can be achieved and an assessment can be made of whether or not the provision that was put in place that academic has been successful. "Necessary data should be recorded for each individual pupil who has been diagnosed with a SEN requirement, this data is required to compose a successful provision map and also to analyse the data for each pupil or multiple pupils successfully."(Mazurek and Winzer, 1994)
If for whatever reason the provision provided had not been successful, easy changes can be made to the provision to improve the impact that is has on a child's educational needs. As stated by Florian and Hegarty (2004) "The management of special education needs provision is a key part of meeting the needs of individual and groups of pupils and raising levels of achievement for all." The main reason for what the outcome of a successful provision map should be is that a successful provision map should enlarge the knowledge of a student with some form of learning difficulties and it should also prepare that student to be able to enter the world after formal education to enable that the student is ready to progress into either further education or work.
Alcott, M. (2002) An Introduction to Children with Special Educational Needs. 2nd Ed. London: Hodder & Stoughton Educational, a division of Hodder Headline Plc.
Anon. (2003) Staffordshire Criteria and Guidance for Special Educational Needs School Action, School Action Plus and Statutory Assessment. Staffordshire: Staffordshire County Council
Bate, D. and Garner, M (1999) A Review of Special Educational Provision in Staffordshire. Staffordshire: Staffordshire County Council
Clarke, C., Eagle, M. and Ladyman, S. (2004) Removing Barriers to Achievement: The Government's Strategy for SEN. Nottingham: DFES Publications.
Charmaz, K. (1983) The Grounded Theory Method: An Explanation and Interpretation, Contemporary Field Research. Boston, Massachusetts: Little, Brown
Forth, E. and Redwood, J. (1994) Code of Practice on the Identification and Assessment of Special Educational Needs. London: DFE Publications
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Miles, M. and Huberman, M. (1984) Qualitative Data Analysis. California, USA: Sage
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Stockdale, S. (2010) ICT Guide. Nasen Special. March (2010), p43.
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Strauss, A. and Corbin, J. (1990) Basic of Qualitative Research. California, USA: Sage
Warnock, H. (1978) Special Educational Needs: Report of the Committee of Enquiry into the Education of Handicapped Children and Young People. London: Her Majesty's Stationary Office.
Wiltshire City Council (2010) Provision Mapping: A Guide to Developing a Provision Map. [online]. [cited 30th November 2010]. <http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/provision-mapping-guide.pdf>.