The law in relation to SEND : A summary of our online discussion on 7.3.18 #SENexchange

We are grateful to @Claire_Ryan12 for suggesting the Law in relation to SEND as a topic for one of our Wednesday evening discussions on @SENexchange  which we held on 7.3.18 and to @bjpren for bringing her knowledge and experience to co-host with us.

It was an interesting and useful discussion and we therefore felt that colleagues might appreciate the key questions and points raised to be put together in a blog – so here it is!

You can find and follow the full chat by searching the hashtag #SENexchange for tweets on the evening of 7.3.18

Q1. Who is the SENCO at your school and what training have they received to support them with their role? ( NB reference to mandatory qualification Code of Practice page 108).If you are a teaching SENCO how many planning hours do you get?

 A range of responses were received for this question including some colleagues who had completed the SENCO qualification and others that had not. Colleagues had received variable amounts of training in their role and some  contributors did not know what training their SENCO had received. Colleagues who are SENCOs had variable amounts of time in order to complete their role. @bjpren reminded everyone that information about the school SENCO should be included in the SEN information report which is a requirement of all school websites. She also reminded us of the school’s duty to ensure the SENCo is qualified  (SEN Reg 51/schedule 1). We were also reminded of the difference for FE providers (FE sencop 6.84)

Q2. What training have your school staff had on the SEND Code of Practice?

Contributors spoke of the training / meeting time which had been given to CoP and revised legislation in a positive way.

Q3. How do you ensure the staff involved in leading annual reviews at your school are familiar with SEND law?

Most contributors spoke of members of the senior leadership team or the SENCo in the school leading all annual reviews and spoke of this being a strength of what they do in terms of the person centred approach used.

Q4. How do you effectively liaise with the statutory assessment team in your LA regarding ensuring effective EHCPs for the pupils in your school?

There was variable experience of involvement / support of LAs / statutory assessment team in EHCP work however some really good practice in some LAs shared where members of the statutory assessment team will attend reviews for example.

Q5. How do you ensure the ‘SEN Information report’ on your website is up to date with requirements and is meaningful and useful to your parents / carers?

Many contributors spoke of their SEN information report being reviewed and updated annually including one contributor who spoke of governor role in monitoring this. There were some contributors who were frustrated as they could not find SEN information report on the school websites or were aware that theirs were not compliant so were taking this back as an action. This included some parents / carers who wanted to know some information about the school their child attends.

Q6. How do you ensure you work effectively with other agencies so that the plan is truly an Education, Health and Care plan?

Unsurprisingly there was variable experience of this including alot of frustrations in relation to the engagement or apparent lack of it from some agencies in some areas. Equally there was some really good practice out there involving positive collaborative working

Q7. Any parents / carers out there – where do you find the best support in relation to legal issues relating to your child’s SEND and their provision?

 Contributors spoke of the help and support they have had from both and including the advice , support and training they can offer to schools.

They also spoke positively of both @bjpren and  

Q8. How do schools and parents / carers best work together regarding ensuring EHCPS are relevant, meaningful and legally compliant?

Contributors commented on the importance of this task and on the open and transparent relationships with parents / carers in relation to making sure the child’s needs are met.

Q9. What about school governors – how do your governors ensure your school is compliant with the law in relation to SEND in your school?

We were reminded by @steveBroach that Governors have a really important ‘best endeavours’ duty to ensure that special educational provision that children in their school need is actually made (s 66 CFA 2014)

Thank you again to all of the contributors to this discussion  – we were delighted that during this chat we reached over 4000 followers! We want to continue to ensure SENexchange is relevant and useful to all of our followers so do keep the discussion topic ideas coming in and do keep sharing your free ideas , resources and good practice.

We are grateful for all of your support

Mary and Cherryl 


New Year, New Start.

As we enter 2018 we would like to wish all our friends and followers a very happy, healthy and successful new year. It is with great pleasure that we are proud to have almost reached three years of hosting #SENexchange chats. We have surpassed our expectations in terms of followers and are pleased to notice our follower count growing on a weekly basis. We firmly believe that we are stronger together and that through SENexchange we can be a supportive force for each other.

We would like to thank each and every one of you who participates in our chats and helps to make them successful each Wednesday. We are proud that we have rapidly become a well known edu-chat and a place to share ideas and knowledge to contribute to the well being of children and young people with SEND. We would also like to thank everyone who requests specific topics for our chats as this helps us stay relevant to the needs of our community. Lastly, we would like to thank the people who keep us up to date by sending us information as it becomes available. As we are both in schools full time it helps us enormously when we are sent important news hot off the press.

As we enter the new year we are going to make a small change to our routine. Our discussions will continue as usual which is Wednesday at 8-8 30pm weekly during school terms. Storify is to be discontinued and therefore we will not be able to archive our chats to refer to at a later date. This is unfortunate but is not of our choosing. We are aware that there is an alternative method of archiving our discussions but we have taken the decision not to move forward on that. Starting with our next discussion there will be no Storify. We thank you in advance for your understanding.

Please join us on January 10th for our first discussion of 2018 when we will be joined by @reachoutASC

Thank you for reading and we are looking forward to another successful year #SENexchange

#SENexchange: Reflection and celebration

photo SEN exchange

As we have reached 3000 followers on @SENexchange we would like to take this time to thank and celebrate the contributions of our followers. The key thing that makes #SENexchange so successful is the contribution of our range of followers who are willing to share their knowledge and ideas. To mark the occasion of us reaching 3000 followers we decided to ask a few of our most regular contributors to our weekly discussions for their thoughts about #SENexchange. We would love to hear your views too so why not write us a message in the comments section at the end of the blog!


Jo Grace


“One of the wonderful things about SENexchange is who you can bump into in the ether. There are brand new teachers keen to learn and experienced practitioners willing to share. There are experts in their field professional trainers and specialists. There are parents, some with children newly diagnosed, others with tons of experience under their belt willing to share, and there are individuals with special needs and disabilities themselves giving their first hand insight into the discussions. Where else would you get such a mix? 30 mins on a Wednesday evening can be like a whole week’s worth of CPD.”

Helen Weston

“SEN exchange has been a revelation for me, firstly the fact that there IS great SEND practice out there in schools and there are staff who genuinely care and want to have the best outcomes for these children. On top of that, these wonderful Professionals STILL want to learn more and enjoy sharing and collecting new ideas.
If I am honest, some of the chats I have watched from afar as they are so unreflective of my experiences that I have found them difficult to read, it is hard when you feel you are fighting a system that could and should work well for your children but you find obstruction every step of the way. However, the huge learning experiences I have had from SEN exchange outweigh this and it has given me the extra confidence in school meetings to question decisions and poor inclusion / communication in a more specific way to ensure accountability. “

Joe W


#SENexchange was one of the first twitter chats I took part in. It presented an unparalleled opportunity to discuss important issues with a range of experienced practitioners from across the world.

You hear a lot about the negative side of twitter but I have never had a problem or issue during #SENexchange that has not been resolved through a challenging but beneficial professional dialogue. Unlike the complaints of twitter feeds becoming echo chamber a chat is open to all. Whilst there are multiple opinions shared every week there is a common theme of respect. It is clear that care and the dignity of any child is at the centre of every contributor’s ethos & practice.

Having a sounding board of experienced professionals, carers, parents and #actuallyautistic tweeters has been invaluable in broadening my thoughts and improving my practice.

Starlight McKenzie


I have found SENexchange to be a welcoming and friendly space for teachers, leaders in education, parents, home educators from early years to post 16, (as well as adults with SEND who share their experiences of receving education) to come together to discuss some of the issues that impact on meeting the needs of children with SEND and share solutions. The chat is inclusive and welcoming of a variety of perspectives and all views are respected and encouraged. There hasn’t been a single chat that I have participated in where I haven’t learned something useful or found something to think about in greater depth. I think t is a real positive for parents to see some of the real thought and care that goes into meeting the needs of children with SEND in schools and for professionals to have a non-confrontational perspective from parents on their practice.

Ed Psych Insight


“I think the #SENexchange chats are great at eliciting people’s thoughts and feelings on a wide range of everyday issues in education. They help to generate practical ideas for managing a child’s special educational needs. Above all, they reflect the many practitioners and parents who have a vested interest in learning more about how to help children fulfil their full potential.”

Integrated Brain


“Often we are so caught up with the act of doing processes and methods that have been tried and tested over the years. Over a cup of tea and with HolbyCity going on in the background I am both relaxing after a long day and thinking with peers on new ways to look at solutions we think we know about. It is a strange platform to talk, however the retrospective thinking about the topic, the replies and your own thoughts make you think and consider new possibilities. It is this reflection that I find most valuable. The idea that others out there can have a profound impact on my everyday work.”

Maria Ramsay


Why do I follow @SENexchange? It’s simple, a community of innovative thinkers in the SEND field that share practices offering honest reflections and guidance.”



“The community of #SENexchange are very welcoming. They challenge me to think about my own practice and inspire me to be a better practitioner. The discussions each week are always worthwhile. The community of #SENexchange are very supportive. I would recommend #SENexchange to any tweeting practitioner, parent or carer.”

Helen Causier


“Wow! When I take part in the discussions I never think of our tweets being seen by so many followers! It’s a great achievement.
For me, #SENexchange was a great find. A community of professionals, parents, and some members able to contribute their own lived experience, all contributing to bring about understanding and share ideas or concerns. It’s different from other online forums because there isn’t the ‘them and us’ feel that I’ve come across elsewhere. Everyone contributes because they want things to be done properly for children, whatever their role. I’m proud of my job and I honestly think I work for a service that gets things right most of the time. However, concerns and ideas that I’ve come across in #SENexchange discussions have prompted me to talk to my managers about how we could improve, and been well received and acted upon. Also the support I sense when I contribute is very welcome – it’s always nice when people like what we do! I look forward to each week’s discussion. Thank you for hosting it”

Lynn MCann


SENExchange has been a great way for me to get to know other SEND practitioners from all over the UK and to learn from them.  I’ve made new friends and professional contacts that I would have never found just through twitter.  The range of topics covered each week have been wide ranging and always focussing on the practical. I particularly like how they welcome and include parents and people with different conditions to give their point of view.  We can all learn a lot from each other. Having the chance to host a chat was a challenge for me but I received so much help and support from Cherryl and Mary that it went really smoothly and I learned lots.  I’m looking forward to this chat continuing to help mainstream and specialist SEND teachers, parents and others come together and share knowledge and good practice for the sake of SEND children everywhere.  All the more important as the budget cuts hit schools and force us to be more inventive with less resources.

Callum Wetherill


What I like about Exchange: I love the fact that it builds a family of parents and professionals who go out of their way to support each other; first on a Wednesday night and then whenever anyone has a problem. You can learn so much from others on the different topics and it is usually anecdotal evidence to back up the theory. On a personal level, as someone who recently left the classroom, it is my opportunity to help others no I can’t do it directly
As for the future, it would be great to see some sort of conference/teachmeet. Continue to explore a range of topics and hopefully introduce new professionals and parents along the way”

And a note from each of us:

Mary Isherwood 


When we started #SENexchange, we aimed to establish a forum for sharing knowledge, ideas and resources relating to SEND. We are so grateful to the growing number of people who have joined us to do just that! The #SENexchange community is now rich with practitioners including schools and therapy services, with parents / carers, training providers, students and service users who all bring an important perspective to the discussions we have. The positive feedback we have from our followers is very much appreciated and helps us to ensure we keep #SENexchange relevant and useful. 

A huge thank you to all of you for working with us to make #SENexchange so successful for the last 2 years – onwards and upwards to the next 2!

Cherryl Drabble


Since we began #SENexchange two years ago I have enjoyed witnessing the increasing popularity of our weekly chats. We encourage anyone and everyone with an interest in those with special educational needs and disabilities to share their knowledge with us. Mary and I are on a mission to keep the chats as relevant as possible to the SEND community and we regularly request our tweeters to send us their chat topics. 

One particular chat regarding post 16 stands out as memorable as it was exceptionally busy. Another busy chat was our ASC and girls which we all found to be very informative. 

Over the two yeas we have had a few guest hosts and I would like to thank them for their expertise. I would also like to thank everyone for their contributions to our chats and for helping us to make #SENexchange successful. 

Our new Storify collection – 2016 – 2017 #SENexchange

We have really appreciated the support and involvement of our growing number of followers over the last year and know from the feedback given how useful people find the record of our weekly discussions on storify.

SENexchange has only been established for just over a year and we have a full collection of our discussions over that time in our previous storify collection. We thought it was now time to start a fresh!

Here it is then – our new collection of storify records of discussions from September 2016 – July 2017. We will periodically update this record to keep everything in one place for your reference.

We continue to want our discussions to be useful to you so please continue to keep your discussion topic ideas coming into us by tweeting us at @SENexchange  or on the comments boxes after this blog. Mary and Cherryl thank you very much and look forward to hearing from you.

On 7th September we held a Paralympics themed discussion.  The #Storify of our discussion is here

On 14th September we discussed ‘ What does good staff induction look like?’  The #Storify of our discussion is here

On 21st September we discussed ‘ The important features of a school ethos to support  SEND‘  The #Storify of our discussion is here

On 28th September we discussed ‘What specialist training do you have in your school to support SEND?. The #Storify of our discussion is here

On 5th October we discussed ‘Post – 16 education for our learners with SEND‘. The #Storify of our discussion is here

On 12th October we discussed ‘The essential ingredients of an SEND friendly classroom’The #Storify of our discussion is here

On 19th October we discussed’ Positive behaviour support for pupils with SEND‘. The #Storify of our discussion is here

We then took a break for our  half – term holiday

On 9th November we discussed pupil record keeping  – you can read the #Storify of our discussion here

On 16th November  we discussed how we can support our students with learning difficulties to understand and be safe from bullying  – you can read the #Storify of our discussion here

On 23rd November  we discussed how can we best encourage teachers to communicate with parents.  You can read the #Storify of our discussion here

On 30th November  we discussed how we ensure effective staff training for working with pupils with SEND  – you can read the #Storify of our discussion here

On 7th December  we discussed food and eating for pupils with SEND – you can read the #Storify of our discussion here

On 14th December  you shared the best thing that’s happened to you, your class or child with SEND since last Christmas – you can read the #Storify of our discussion here

We then took a break for Christmas

On 11th January we discussed How you meaningfully involve pupils with SEND in a school councilYou can read the #storify of our discussion here

On 18th January we discussed How do we promote independent playtimes?’ . You can read the #storify of our discussion here

On 25th January we discussed Children and young people with ADHD. You can read the #storify of our discussion here

On 1st February we explored What advice you would give to your younger self in terms of working with children with SEND?. You can read the #storify of our discussion here

On 8th February we discussed What you would include in ITT for working with learners with SEND?. You can read the #storify of our discussion here

On 1st March we discussed Assessment and SEND. You can read the #storify of our discussion here

On 8th March we discussed How you plan inclusive tripsYou can read the #storify of our discussion here

On 15th March we discussed Understanding and supporting emotional behaviour. You can read the #storify of our discussion here

On 22nd March we discussed Girls with ASD You can read the #storify of our discussion here

On 29th March we discussed How we can effectively use total communication to support our learners with SEND?You can read the #storify of our discussion here

We then took an Easter break

On 26th April we discussed How can we manage our own well being whilst supporting the needs of those with SEND? You can read the #storify here

On 3rd May we discussed How do we best communicate with parents / carers about SEND? You can read the #storify of our discussion here

On 10th May we discussed How much physical contact is appropriate between staff and pupils in the context of SEND? You can read the #storify of our discussion here

On 17th May we discussed How do we ensure maintaining high standards for SEND when facing a reducing budget? You can read the #storify of our collection here

On 24th May our topic was Let’s discuss speech and language therapy You can read the #storify of our discussion here

We then took a half term break

On 14th June we discussed How do we  best support our pupils with SEND to manage change? You can read the #storify of our discussion here

On 21st June we discussed Teens and girls with ADHD. You can read the #storify of our discussion here

On 28th June we discussed How we best support teachers who are newly qualified to work with pupils with SEND. You can read the #storify of our discussion here

On 5th July our topic was Helping children with SEND to sleep well. You can read the storify of our discussion here

On 12th July we discussed Supporting our pupils with SEND to develop their personal independence skills. You can read the #storify here

in our last discussion of this academic year on 19th July we had a “Celebration of achievements”. You can read the #storify here

We are taking a summer break from our Wednesday evening discussions. We will keep @SENexchange updated with news over the summer and return to our regular discussions on Wednesday 6th September.

Thank you so very much from us both for your continued contributions and support.

Please do keep your topic requests coming into to us  – tweet us at @SENexchange any time – we love to hear from you!

With all of our very best wishes

Mary and Cherryl 






‘Measure what you value not value what you measure’ . A special school context — maryisherwood

The context In my last blog I shared the presentation delivered by Mary Rayner HMI when she spoke at a recent Greater Manchester leadership conference about the implementation of the Common Inspection Framework in the special school context. One of the key messages we all took away with us was that in our schools there are […]

via ‘Measure what you value not value what you measure’ . A special school context — maryisherwood

Our first anniversary blog #SENexchange


It was one year ago now when Mary Isherwood @Mishwood1 and Cherryl Drabble @cherrylkd first launched SENexchange @SENexchange and we felt we wanted to mark our first anniversary with a blog!

Our aim and mission has always been for @SENexchange to be a place where people either working in the field of SEND or those who have an interest in SEND can share information, resources,news, ideas, ask for help…….. Both of us were regularly contacted by others about SEND related issues and we felt having a forum to ‘exchange’ information more widely would be beneficial for the SEND community.

The world of education never stays still and the same is true of the world of SEND and it has been a particularly turbulent year with the implementation of the revised Code of Practice and it’s implications for schools, our children and young people and their families. It has been good that people have felt able to share their views and experiences about what is happening relating to SEND either in schools and at home and at times. Having discussion and debate is good and we have always reminded contributors that it is fine to disagree and to offer other perspectives, as long as it is done politely and with respect.

We started our weekly discussions on a Wednesday evening a year ago and have always included topic ideas suggested by our followers.  Did you know you can find a Storify collection of all of our discussions in one place?  It is important to us that we reflect the issues of interest to all of you so keep your suggestions coming in to us!

We are going to return to our weekly discussions after our Easter holiday break on Wednesday 27th April with a chat to mark the anniversary of  @SENexchange “Share your success stories relating to SEND over the last year and tell us your hopes and plans for the the coming year” 

Here at  SENexchange, we feel that over the last year we have established a group of supportive colleagues in the field of SEND and we look forward to our continued collaboration as we move forward into our second year. Thank you to each and every one of our 1758 followers for their continued involvement and support.

Mary and Cherryl





A sincere Christmas thank you from #SENexchange

photo SEN exchange


Mary and Cherryl started @SENexchange  on Twitter in April 2015 with a wish to create a place where ideas, news, information and resources relating to SEND could be shared.

We are delighted that since then we have:

  • 1451 supportive followers
  • published 8 blogs
  • Held 28 weekly discussions on a range of topics suggested by our followers

A huge thank you to everyone who has supported us over the last 9 months. We appreciate the Re-tweets we get and the people who send us links to free resources to share with others.

We want #SENexchange to respond to and reflect the needs and views of the SEND community and to stay up to date with current issues pertinent to those working in the field so we are grateful to those who have suggested topics for our Wednesday evening discussion. We #Storify our discussion each week and have a Storify collection which holds the records of our discussions in one place:

Please do continue to suggest topics for us to discuss in the new year when we resume our weekly chats on 6th January 2016

To read all our other blogs check out our wordpress site

We sincerely wish you all a very happy, healthy and enjoyable Christmas and look forward to more #SENexchange together in the New Year

Mary and Cherryl