Anyone that has either attended or led a SEN annual review will know all too well about the pitfalls and inefficiencies that can crop up.
In the average school, a review can take 90 minutes – and sometimes much more.
But in my view – it can and should last about 25 minutes.
We need to remember the purpose of the review:
- to assess where the student is at
- whether their needs are being catered for
- any new action plans that need to be made
Of course, there should be zero major surprises in the meeting – if education and progress measures are happening throughout the year, this should simply be an opportunity to review home-school communication and future plans.
‘25 minutes?!’, I hear you say in an incredulous tone. Well, here’s my SEN Annual Review Timeplan:
Pre-meeting discussion with TA, specialist teacher and key teacher to answer the question: ‘What three points do we need to cover today and are they for information-sharing, exploring and/or decision-making? Are there any speciﬁc points the parent or guardian would like to discuss?’
Informal discussion, coﬀees and warm welcome.
Clarifying the purpose and time frame for the meeting.
Ask the parent or guardian to conﬁrm they have had regular communication with the TA and they are fully briefed about this review. Have they gone through the key points with the TA on the phone? Have you shared any points you would like to discuss in this meeting?
Say, ‘The three points I would like for us to focus on in this meeting are…’, then have a discussion about each one.
‘Let’s follow this up with these next steps…’
‘Thank you so much for coming. Please chat with your link TA about this and [turning to the TA] make sure I am fully updated after every phone call.’
The meeting may feel brutally short. I can appreciate that.
It goes against the grain of most SENCOs’ and pastoral leaders’ idea of a review.
However, parents, staﬀ and other agencies aren’t big fans of looooooooong meetings.
Nor is it the case that long meeting = good meeting.
Instead you should be double-checking that everyone shares the same understanding, and making some collective decisions.
For more information about managing meetings, please take a look at my new book Leading on Pastoral Care: A Guide to Improving Outcomes for Every Student.
Let me know if your first Annual Review using this timeframe is a success! I’d love to hear from you.