Recent Research Projects

"Commitment to inclusion: A review of SEND provision across mainstream secondary schools in Southampton" - Clare Cecilia Rose Belli

This short piece of action research seeks to identify the strengths of secondary school provision for students with SEND, in order to provide a city wide overview in which good practice and expertise can be shared. It also considers the particular barriers faced by secondary schools and examines how schools are working to overcome these barriers. The research suggests that despite the challenges of reduced funding, some schools are developing innovative ways to maximise resources and provide flexible pathways of provision for pupils with SEND. These include establishing a graduated approach to support with clear mechanisms for early identification of need, ongoing monitoring of progress and robust systems for self evaluation leading to school improvement. In addition, some schools have sought to design a modified and enhanced curriculum for more vulnerable students, with flexible access to short term interventions and alternative provision. However, there is evidence to suggest that an emphasis on summative attainment data with a lack of specificity around target setting, sometimes leaves pupils unclear about the progress they are making and what they need to do to improve. The research suggests that schools should consider how a vision for SEND needs to be driven by senior leadership teams and how the role of the SENCo can be strengthened by adopting the principles of distributed leadership to bring about collective influence. Consideration of how schools can work together to share expertise and develop structured opportunities for continuous professional development, could help to secure positive outcomes for pupils with SEND and create long term sustainability.

"Behaviour for Learning: The Skill Card Programme" - Stuart Bonney & Robert Gale

This Independent Study has been completed by the programme authors in conjunction with Vermont School, Southampton Advisory Outreach Service for SEND and Southampton Inclusion Partnership. This research seeks to identify the impact of the Skill Card Programme on ‘Behaviour for Learning’ and the factors that affect its successful delivery. It considers how schools can use the programme to establish and embed behaviour for learning for individual pupils and focus groups. The research suggests that using the programme to focus on a small range of skills and using a pupil profile to measure progress, can demonstrate progress across a wide range of behaviour for learning skills. The research identifies some key areas where progress has been achieved for an individual and at whole school level. Furthermore, the research considers how schools can use the programme to support a pedagogy of learning so that pupils can gain generalisation, fluency and mastery over the behaviour for learning skills required to become successful learners.

"Successful outcomes: sustainability over time" - Clare Belli

This short piece of action research seeks to identify the characteristics that ensure impact from external interventions delivered by Southampton Advisory Outreach Service for SEND can be sustained over time. It considers how the service can work with schools to establish self sustaining systems that reduce dependency, thereby freeing the service to focus resources where there is greatest need. The research suggests that sustainable progress is dependent on the continued setting of specific targets that allow progress to be measured and evidenced over time. However, it also suggests that schools need to consider the wider progress made by pupils that cannot be captured by narrow progress measures. Furthermore, the research identifies some key factors that ensure pupils continue to make progress once external support is withdrawn. These include consistency in how support is delivered and effective communication systems that help to maintain consistent approaches to support and allow for adaptation as part of the cycle of ‘assess, plan, do and review’. Furthermore, the research considers how schools retain motivation to continue with recommendations once external support is withdrawn and the conditions that are needed to foster ongoing commitment.

"Identifying the factors that impact on short term interventions delivered by Southampton Advisory Outreach Service for SEND: Maximising pupil progress and building school capacity." - Clare Belli

In September 2015, outreach services working separately out of Southampton special schools, amalgamated as one service. Leadership and management of the new Southampton Advisory Outreach Service for SEND (SAOS) were assigned to Springwell School, due to its role in the city as lead for Southampton Inclusion Partnership, an accredited Teaching School focusing on special educational needs. This led to a clear need to agree a method for evaluating the impact of the service, to identify the strengths of new service delivery and inform future developments. This research investigates the challenges for SAOS in measuring the impact of short term interventions for pupils with special educational needs and seeks to identify the factors that contribute to successful intervention. It was carried out with mainstream schools accessing support from SAOS for identified pupils with special educational needs. Data was gathered using the Target Monitoring Evaluationsystem to measure pupil progress against specific targets, collating the views of service users through an on-line evaluation survey and gathering the perspective of the service provider using the Nominal Group Technique. The report identifies some of the factors that lead to successful intervention and provides a focus for future service development. Moreover, it highlights considerations for enhanced partnership working between the Southampton Advisory Outreach Service for SEND and city schools in order to ensure that the service continues to affect positive outcomes for pupils with special educational needs.

“Listening to the voice of pupils with complex learning difficulties” - Clare Belli

Since The Children Act (1989) which strengthened children’s standing in law, legislation has sought to ensure that children have a right to have their voices heard. Such aspirations have been particularly challenging for those with responsibility for eliciting the views of children with complex needs. This research investigates the barriers that prevent children with complex needs having their voices heard and the processes by which schools can listen to the views of their most vulnerable groups. The report concludes that whilst it is not possible to eliminate all the factors that reduce the authenticity of children’s voices, children with complex needs do have the capacity to express their views, provided they are given the appropriate tools. Furthermore, they can do so with a certain amount of autonomy.

“The impact of the Attention Autism approach on joint attention skills in a Key Stage One class in a special school” - Kate Buckingham

Joint attention is an important skill that plays a vital role in the development of both social and language skills. For children on the autism spectrum this skill is often absent and this impacts on their general development. However, there are few interventions and approaches that focus on teaching and developing joint attention skills to these children. This study analyses the impact of one intervention, the Attention Autism approach, on the development of joint attention skills of pupils in a key stage one special school classroom. The development of joint attention skills is assessed, alongside the ability to transfer these skills to other contexts.

The intervention is put into place for six weeks and an assessment sheet is used fortnightly to assess a baseline score and then three further scores. Qualitative data is also collected in the form of a reflective journal and classroom observations. It was found that the Attention Autism approach had a positive impact on the development of joint attention skills for all pupils, although at different levels. The skills learnt were beginning to emerge in other contexts for most pupils at the end of the six week intervention, but it is felt that this area needs more time to develop.