Experiment 6: Managing school and mentor SEND capabilities

In previous experiments, we focused on:

  • schools adding school placements
  • schools managing mentors
  • ITT providers finding school placements

Throughout these experiments, it became apparent that it was essential for us to explore how we collect and show school and mentor special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) capabilities.

This is because we need to support trainees who:

  • are studying a course with a SEND specialism
  • need additional help because they may have a disability

Experiment goals

The experiment had 2 goals:

  • general fact-finding about school placements and mentors
  • understanding how a school might collect and show SEND capabilities

General fact-finding about school placements and mentors

The fact-finding part of the research included:

  • a general discussion about the participant’s role, their organisation and their ITT provider relationships
  • a run-through of their pain points, core needs and any specific challenges they face with school placements and mentors

Understanding how a school might collect and show SEND capabilities

We showed participants a prototype journey of how a school could collect and display school and mentor SEND capabilities to support trainees who:

  • are studying a course with a SEND specialism
  • need support because they may have a disability

Mentor information

Image showing the flow diagram for editing mentors
Editing mentors flow

Mentor details

Image showing mentor details
Mentor details page

We split the mentor details page into 2 sections:

  • basic details
  • additional details

Basic details

The basic details section is the information about the mentors added when registered.

The information includes:

  • first name
  • last name
  • teacher reference number (TRN)
  • email address
  • subject
  • age range
  • key stage

Additional details

The information includes:

  • date qualified as a teacher
  • qualifications
  • date started mentoring
  • provider training
  • special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) training
  • subject networks and associations
  • other experiences

Edit mentor

In this experiment, we added information about:

  • special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) training
  • subject networks and associations
  • other experiences

Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) training

We based the SEND training options on Get information about schools (GIAS) school SEND provision data.

In future, we will update the list to include the types of SEND training teachers can do.

Image showing the mentor special educational needs and disabilities training question
Mentor special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) training question

The list of SEND training includes:

  • Autistic Spectrum Disorder
  • Hearing impairment
  • Moderate learning difficulty
  • Multi-sensory impairment
  • Physical disabilities
  • Profound and multiple learning difficulty
  • Sever learning difficulty
  • Social, emotional and mental health
  • Specific learning difficulty
  • Speech, language and communication
  • Visual impairment
  • Other difficulty or disability

If the user selects ‘Other difficulty or disability’, we show a free text field so they can give details.

We also include a ‘None’ option.

If the user has not answered the question, we show an error message:

Select at least one SEND training or select ‘None’

Subject networks and associations

This question allows users to add information, including if the mentor works as part of an exam board, if the mentor is working with a subject network in their area, and more. This allows the ITT provider to understand more about the mentor when setting up new school placements.

Image showing the mentor subject networks and associations question
Mentor subject networks and associations question

We show a text area for the user to add information about the mentor’s subject networks and associations.

If the user has not answered the question, we show an error message:

Enter details about subject networks and associations

If the user cannot answer the question, they can select ‘Cancel’ or return to the previous page.

Other experiences

This question allows users to add information about a mentor’s vocational experience. This information enables the ITT provider to understand more about the mentor when setting up new school placements.

Image showing the mentor other experiences question
Mentor other experiences question

We show a text area for the user to add information about the mentor’s other experiences.

If the user has not answered the question, we show an error message:

Enter details about other experiences

If the user cannot answer the question, they can select ‘Cancel’ or return to the previous page.

Organisation information

Organisation details

Organisation details is a summary of information from on Get information about schools (GIAS).

Image showing organisation details
Organisation details page

For schools, we split the organisation details page into 5 sections:

  • basic details
  • additional details
  • special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)
  • Ofsted
  • contact details

Basic details

Basic details include:

  • organisation name
  • UK provider reference number (UKPRN)
  • unique reference number (URN)

Additional details

Additional details include:

  • group
  • type
  • phase
  • gender
  • minimum age
  • maximum age
  • sixth form
  • religious character
  • admissions policy
  • urban or rural
  • school capacity
  • total number of pupils
  • total number of boys
  • total number of girls
  • percentage of free school meals

Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)

SEND details include:

  • special classes
  • SEND provision
  • training with disabilities

Ofsted

Ofsted details include:

  • rating
  • last inspection date

Contact details

Contact details include:

  • email address
  • telephone number
  • website
  • address

Edit organisation

In this experiment, we added information about:

  • special classes
  • special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) provision
  • training with disabilities

Special classes

We based the special classes question on Get information about schools (GIAS) data.

We allow users to update the information in case GIAS data is incorrect.

Image showing the organisation special classes question
Organisation special classes question

The options include:

  • Has special classes
  • No special classes

If the user has not answered the question, we show an error message:

Select if the school has special classes

If the user cannot answer the question, they can select ‘Cancel’ or return to the previous page.

Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) provision

We based the SEND provision question on Get information about schools (GIAS) data.

We allow users to update the information in case GIAS data is incorrect.

Image showing the organisation special educational needs and disabilities provision question
Organisation special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) provision question

The list of SEND provision include:

  • Autistic Spectrum Disorder
  • Hearing impairment
  • Moderate learning difficulty
  • Multi-sensory impairment
  • Physical disabilities
  • Profound and multiple learning difficulty
  • Sever learning difficulty
  • Social, emotional and mental health
  • Specific learning difficulty
  • Speech, language and communication
  • Visual impairment
  • Other difficulty or disability

If the user selects ‘Other difficulty or disability’, we show a free text field so they can give details.

We also include a ‘None’ option.

If the user has not answered the question, we show an error message:

Select at least one SEND provision or select ‘None’

If the user cannot answer the question, they can select ‘Cancel’ or return to the previous page.

Training with disabilities

We based the training with disabilities question on a question we have in Publish teacher training courses (Publish), and it is displayed on the course details pages on Find postgraduate teacher training (Find).

The purpose of the question is for schools to describe how they support training with disabilities. For example, they could use it to describe the accessibility of their facilities, what equipment might be available for people with access needs, and more.

Image showing the organisation training with disabilities question
Organisation training with disabilities question

We show a text area for the user to add information about training with disabilities.

If the user has not answered the question, we show an error message:

Enter details about training with disabilities

If the user cannot answer the question, they can select ‘Cancel’ or return to the previous page.

Further considerations

We considered some changes that we did not implement. These included:

  • finding the mentor’s details using the Database of Qualified Teachers (DQT)
  • improving the language used in questions based on GIAS information
  • aligning SEND training options for mentors to available training
  • giving options for subject networks and associations based on the mentor’s subject

Finding the mentor’s details using the Database of Qualified Teachers (DQT)

In the add mentor flow, we ask for a mentor’s name, email address and TRN. We can use the name and TRN to look up the mentor details in DQT, so we do not need to duplicate information, for example, the date they qualified as a teacher and their qualifications.

Improving the language used in questions based on GIAS information

We have several questions based on information we import from GIAS, for example, ‘Special classes’, ‘Religious character’ and ‘Urban or rural.’ We need to consider if this language is well understood and what we should name things if it is not understood.

Aligning SEND training options for mentors to available training

In the prototype, we use the school’s SEND provision options in the list of SEND training options for mentors. These options are not correct. The list should contain a standard set of SEND training options for mentors.

Giving options for subject networks and associations based on the mentor’s subject

The ‘Subject networks and associations’ question collects answers as free text. This means we need to guide users so they know what to write. A better option may be to provide standard options based on what we know about the mentor’s subject.

What we found

In general, participants found the collection and display of SEND capabilities helpful if it improved the quality of their school placements and the trainees they received.

Mentors

Mentor qualifications are helpful as schools can use them to showcase mentor capabilities.

There needs to be more mentors with specific SEND qualifications.

Where mentors have some form of SEND training, it might have been via local or online seminars. The training is informal with no specific qualification at the end.

Schools

There isn’t a single definition for a school’s capability to support trainees with additional needs. This is likely because these types of trainees are less common.

‘Training with disabilities’ was ambiguous. A better term might be ‘Training with additional needs.’

We need to differentiate how the school supports students with special educational needs and how they support trainees with disabilities.