SEN: Moving Beyond the Label

Are the knowledge and skills learners with SEN acquire through years of education enough to maximise on their potential? Do we really know their aspirational potential if we continue to define them through the parameters of their SEN labels?

With over 1.3 million learners identified with SEND, school leadership and teachers needs to be prepared with philosophies for optimal inclusion, pedagogy to drive aspirational expectations, and reflective thinking skills to view the individual behind the label.

The use of static strategies associated with a SEN label to engage and include should be a method of the past. This was an approach for differentiation, which was effective at times but lost the overall vision for these learners. It promoted inclusion within a lesson and task, but lost sight of what needs to be done to prepare the learners of SEND for their wider role in the community beyond 19.

We need to embrace the current SEN reforms to redefine the holistic priorities for learners with SEND.

Working with the label of SEN and moving beyond it is a way of driving personalised learning that can have true impact. Ensuring the needs of the individual are met is one objective.

Developing crucial behaviours for learning (curiosity, perseverance, and resilience) alongside skills for lifelong learning (thinking, reflecting, problem solving, and social interaction) takes clarity of the individual beyond that label.

It equips our learners and their families to recognise their potential and pursue meaningful roles amongst the wider community. It bridges our educational priorities with the vision beyond 19 for learners who want to be engaged in lifelong roles.

The Future of SEN conference brings the legislation to the frontline. Let’s take this opportunity to shift approaches within the classroom to drive meaningful learning.

Vijita Patel


The Future of SEN Conference is taking place on March 4th at the Crystal building on Royal Victoria Dock in London. Click here to find out more about the event where an array of inspirational speakers will discuss the future of SEN provision.

Vijita Patel is the Vice Principal of Swiss Cottage School’s Development and Research Centre

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Date: 
22nd February 2014
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