Welcome to your December Bitesize.

How are you doing? It is a question that we often open with as a version of a quick hello but an essential one. When we have asked it, we should take the time to listen carefully to the other person’s response. Especially as we experience our second national lockdown!

I’ve certainly tried to use my lockdown experiences to walk a mile in the shoes of others to hopefully feel more empathy and understanding. The initial and sometimes ongoing feelings of uncertainty about change and the unknown that lockdown causes has made me more aware of what some autistic pupils may feel on a permanent basis in life in general. The wearing of masks to share human interactions with others has made me more aware of the challenges our children and young people that experience difficulties with social communication on a day-to-day basis. Having to quickly learn how to deliver training and hold meetings online and not ‘getting it’ quickly without lots of help from others has made me even more aware of how the classroom might feel to some pupils with learning difficulties.

Despite the challenges of lockdown there are many strengths that I have noticed and try to reflect upon when I’m not doing so well. The biggest is the resilience of my colleagues and the children that they support in the many schools I have the pleasure and privilege to work with. No matter how quickly guidance changes and how suddenly new systems and approaches there is a constant ‘can do’ approach from you all and a determination to continue to provide the best possible quality education and happiest experience of school possible. The best bit of all of it as ever is the children. They continue to smile, laugh and do life! This drives us all on.

Keep doing what you are doing!

Beccie Hawes x

Service Pupil Premium (SSP): Information for schools

Service Pupil Premium (SSP): Information for Schools

Updated on the third of September 2020, the DfE produced guidance on how much Service Pupil Premium (SPP) funding a school gets, and details of which children attract the funding was been updated. State schools, academies and free schools in England, which have children of service families in school years reception to year 11, can receive the SPP funding.  The SSP is designed to assist the school in providing the additional support that these children may need and is currently worth £310 per service child who meets the eligibility criteria.

Pupils attract the SPP if they meet one of the following criteria:

  • One of their parents is serving in the regular armed forces (including pupils with a parent who is on full commitment as part of the full time reserve).
  • One of their parents died whilst serving in the armed forces and the pupil receives a pension under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme or the War Pensions Scheme.
  • They have been registered as a ‘service child’ on the January school census at any point since 2016.

This link will take you to the full diagram:


The Engagement Model

There are several free apps which develop this important prerequisite skill available from https://www.sensoryapphouse.com/

Look under ‘App Type’ and select:  ‘Cause and Effect’.

A range of other apps are available from this website which help learners to explore relaxation and sensory stimulation

    Eating Disorders


    NEDA – The National Eating Disorders Association (an American association) has produced an Educator Toolkit which explores eating disorders.  It is available from:


    The forty-four page toolkit contains:

    • General information regarding eating disorders,
    • Strategies for schools and educators,
    • Signposts for useful resources.

    Social, Emotional and Mental Health – Positive Graphics

    North Star Paths supports positive and possible futures. As part of their website a number of free positive focused and downloadable graphics are available in the ‘Graphics-Free Downloads’ section. The graphics would make great posters to be displayed around your setting (including the staffroom) and focus upon things such as:

    • Child friendly strategies for mindfulness,
    • Positive affirmations,
    • Prompts for staff about well-being.

    You can find these at: https://northstarpaths.com/graphics-free-downloads/

    Toolkits for Regulation

    Lincolnshire Behaviour Outreach Support Service have created two ‘Toolkit for Regulation’ resources with support strategies to help children regulate their feelings and emotions. A primary and secondary version are available from the resources section of:


      Provision Mapping

      From the SEND Code of Practice 2015:

      ‘Provision maps are an efficient way of showing all the provision that the school makes which is additional to and different from that which is offered through the school’s curriculum. The use of provision maps can help SENCOs to maintain an overview of the programmes and interventions used with different groups of pupils and provide a basis for monitoring the levels of intervention.’ (6.75)

      ‘Provision management can be used strategically to develop special educational provision to match the assessed needs of pupils across the school, and to evaluate the impact of that provision on pupil progress. Used in this way provision management can also contribute to school improvement by identifying particular patterns of need and potential areas of development for teaching staff. It can help the school to develop the use of interventions that are effective and to remove those that are less so. It can support schools to improve their core offer for all pupils as the most effective approaches are adopted more widely across the school.’ (6.77)

      A Provision Map:

      • Is an on-going self-review process.​
      • Is dynamic – underpinned by robust and consistent assessment and tracking.​
      • Evidences additional to and/or difference from provision. ​
      • Validates successful intervention. ​
      • Takes into account the full scope of provision in order to identify and overcome potential barriers to learning.​
      • Helps you to meet needs effectively.​
      • Addresses value for money. 
      • Helps you to know how well pupils are doing compared to their peers and national standards.
      • Shows what works to prevent underachievement.
      • Identifies potential barriers to learning.
      • Shows you what else needs to be done now and in the future to meet the needs of pupils.
      • Supports you to continuously review all provision and its impact.
      • Supports EHCP requests.

      To develop your provision map you should take the following steps:

      • Review your current provision to identify what is already in place.
      • Audit the current needs of pupils.​
      • Identify what staff training is required.​
      • Identify the resources you have available and the current provision on offer.​
      • Decide if what you have on offer is effective: do pupils progress as expected?
      • Examine the quality of delivery.
      • Be clear about the impact of external support.
      • Compare your current provision with projected needs.
      • Identify the resources and funding that you have available.
      • Identify what is required.
      • Plan monitoring and review.

      What could your provision map include?

      Your provision map could take the format of a simple table that could include all or some of the following:

      • Name of intervention​
      • Pupils accessing the intervention​
      • Start Date​
      • End Date​
      • Time required​
      • Duration​
      • Staff cost​
      • Resource cost and other overheads.​
      • Total Cost​
      • Cost per pupil

      To aid with analysis of impact of SEND provision you could also include:

      • The targets for each intervention​
      • Entry data​
      • Exit data​
      • Previous provisions​ accessed by pupils
      • Qualitative information​ such as pupil descriptions
      • Attendance and punctuality​
      • Mid-term review​
      • Final review

      This will help you to identify:

      • Which interventions are effective? Why?​
      • Are there now any gaps/overlaps in provision?​
      • Repeat ‘offenders’?​
      • Value for money?

       COVID-19 Catch-Up Premium

      This DfE produced guidance provides information for schools about the catch-up premium and the National Tutoring Programme. It includes funding amounts and how funding should be spent. In addition, information about how much funding schools will get and how it should be spent is detailed. Schools’ allocations will be calculated on a per pupil basis, providing each mainstream school with a total of £80 for each pupil in years reception through to year eleven. Special schools, Alternative Provision and hospital schools will be provided with £240 for each place for the 2020 to 2021 academic year.

      The full document is available from:


      Department for Education SEND Review

      Launched in September 2019, the SEND Review was designed to explore progress made since the SEND reforms of 2014/15 and to support the ensuring that these reforms are being implemented as well as possible. The Review was also designed to inform the revision of the SEND Code of Practice – also planned for 2020.

      Gavin Williamson has announced that the review will be delayed meaning that any revisions to the Code of Practice will also be delayed. The Review is now planned for release in early 2021.

      This following article taken from the Times Educational Supplement contains further information: 


      Summer-Born Children: School Admissions

      Updated in September 2020, the guidance about school admissions for children born in the summer has been updated. Three documents are available:

      • Admission of summer-born children: advice for local authorities and school admission authorities,
      • Summer-born children starting school: advice for parents,
      • Updated statement on admission of summer-born children 2020

      All documents can be found at:


      Making relationships and sex education work for children with SEND (Sex Education Forum)

      Making relationships and sex education work for children with SEND (Sex Education Forum)

      To coincide with relationships and sex education (RSE) becoming compulsory on 1st September the Sex Education Forum, together with Image in Action and Mencap, have published a new guide for teachers about how to teach RSE in an accessible way to ensure pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are not left behind.

      A short guide short guide designed as a starting point for schools wanting to review their RSE provision for disabled pupils and those with SEN to ensure accessibility and quality is available. It includes answers to frequently asked questions, practical top tips and signposting to further resources. You can find it here:




      Reducing Cognitive Load in the Classroom – Strategies

      Developed by John Sweller in the 1980s, cognitive load refers to the amount of information that working memory can hold at one time. Sweller proposed that since working memory has a limited capacity, instructional methods should avoid overloading it with additional activities that don’t directly contribute to learning.

      Cognitive load theory separates cognitive load into three types: intrinsic, extraneous, and germane:

      • Intrinsiccognitive load is the level of difficulty associated with a specific topic that a learner is working on. For example, single-digit addition has a lower intrinsic cognitive load for most than long division. (You’ll notice easier for ‘most’, because the difficulty of a topic can be subjective.)
      • Extraneouscognitive load refers to the way in which the information or tasks are presented to the learner. This is the easiest type of cognitive load to control inside the classroom. Extraneous cognitive load takes into account the quality of teaching materials. For example, this could be how relevant the content is in relation to the topic, or the complexity of the wording in the teaching resource. It also accounts for distractions in the classroom that might affect students’ learning.
      • Germanecognitive load refers to the work put into creating a permanent store of knowledge when a student’s working memory is able to link new ideas with information in their long term memory. If a student already has knowledge of a subject stored in their working memory, this makes the germane loading stage more effective.

      When exploring the three elements of cognitive load It is important to consider balance. It’s important to think about each type of cognitive load equally, so that pupils are able to successfully transfer knowledge into their long term memory. This is the magic moment when your pupils not only learn, but hopefully retain new information for life.

      So that our pupils can focus on the key learning ‘take-aways’ of a lesson we need to put supportive strategies in place to limit cognitive load. This is especially true when we work on complex or new learning. The more we can lessen the demands on working memory the more effective teaching and learning will be. If what we present is greater than the pupil’s processing capacity cognitive overload can occur resulting in lost learning. The following strategies work by optimising the load on our pupils’ working memory:

      1. Offer a simple visual task timeline to support your pupils in working through a series of smaller sub tasks to arrive at the bigger picture. This will support place keeping in the task meaning that the pupil doesn’t have to ‘hold’ all of the steps to task completion in their mind.
      1. A ‘worked example’ is a problem that has already been solved for the student, with every step fully explained and clearly shown. Provide several worked example to refer back to. Each example should contain less information than the example before to achieve ‘handover’ to independence. This will help with ‘holding’ the process for the pupil so that they can focus upon learning and application.
      1. ‘Bin’ any information that is extraneous and non-essential. Sometimes we assume that providing our pupils with additional information is helpful, or at the very least, harmless. However, presenting pupils with non-essential l information can hinder learning as pupils hone in on the learning that is not the most important aspect of the lesson. This sort of information can include what the pupils already know, additional information that is not directly relevant to the lesson, or the same information presented in multiple forms. Decide on what the most important learning is and only offer that.
      1. Offer all of the essential information together. Cognitive overload can occur when pupils have to split their attention between two or more sources of information that have been presented separately, but can only be understood in reference to each other. Try to avoid splitting by time, for example: explaining how to do something such as solving a mathematical equation but not showing an example until minutes later. Ensure that diagrams are accompanied by explanations at the same time.
      1. When two or more sources of information can only be understood in reference to each other, cognitive load can be managed by presenting information both orally and visually. For this strategy to be effective, we should break down spoken explanations into short, simple statements. Using long, complex sentences in spoken language places large demands on working memory because the student has to retain lots of information in order to understand each sentence. This does not leave much available capacity for absorbing new information. We should also use visual cues to indicate which section of a visual we are referring to. This could be done simply by pointing to the relevant section of the diagram. This is important because, if pupils have to listen to a verbal description while also searching for the relevant section of the diagram, they are likely to experience cognitive overload.
      1. Encourage pupils to visualise what they have learnt to better understand and recall information. Once pupils have a good grasp of content, the mental process of visualising helps them to store the information more effectively in their long-term memories. This strategy should only be used once pupils are familiar and confident with new content, as visualising can impose a heavy cognitive load.



      Dysgraphia is a specific learning difficulty that can impair handwriting, spelling, finger sequencing and the speed of writing. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), dysgraphia is described as a learning disability in the category of written expression when an individual’s writing skills are below those expected given their age compared to capacity for learning and age-appropriate education. The DSM is not clear in whether or not writing refers only to the motor skills involved in writing, or if it also includes orthographic skills and spelling.

      Research to date has shown that orthographic coding in working memory is related to handwriting and can be impaired in those that experience dysgraphia. Orthographic coding is the ability to store written words in the working memory while the letters in the word are analysed for spelling or the ability to create permanent memory of written words linked to their pronunciation and meaning. Children with dysgraphia do not have developmental coordination delay (or dyspraxia), another potential cause of poor handwriting, but may have difficulty planning sequential finger movements such as the touching of the thumb to successive fingers on the same hand without visual feedback. Children with dysgraphia may have difficulty with both orthographic coding and planning sequential finger movements.

      The following approaches can help pupils that experience dysgraphia to be more successful:


      1. Building strength in the hands, arms, core and shoulders to develop a firm foundation of postural stability. Activities such as:
      • Lying on the tummy to read and complete activities,
      • Yoga,
      • Playing on climbing frames,
      • Dynamic seating such as sitting on a gym ball or seating wedge,
      • Pushing and pulling activities,
      • Playing with playdoh or Theraputty,
      • Playing with resistive or snap together toys such as construction,
      • Using writing a slope,
      • Kneeling up and drawing/writing on a chalk board.
      1. Use of Adapted Writing Tools:
      • Short pencils, crayons and chalk to provide an easier grip and control,
      • Explore smooth flowing ink pens such as gel pens,
      • Use of pencil grips – offer a variety to find the most comfortable and impactful one.
      1. Use of a different paper to record on to limit visual sensory issues:
      • Darker, well-spaced lines,
      • Double spaced lines,
      • Explore the impact of different coloured paper,
      • Guidelines that make clear where letters that are ascenders (such as l, b, d) and descenders (such as g, y,p) sit.
      • Check that the paper feels smooth against the hand/arm.
      1. Adopt a multisensory approach:
      • Explore a variety of mediums to trace in such as sand, foam, cornflour, glitter, paint.
      • Make letters three dimensionally out of pipe cleaners and Wikki Sticks.
      1. Provide additional support for spelling linked to handwriting rehearsal. This could include:
      • Offering a structured, cumulative and multi-sensory phonics approach.
      • Exploring morphology.
      • Learning spelling rules and their exceptions.
      1. Limit cognitive load and processing demands when focusing upon writing tasks:
      • Offer use of a voice recording device to ‘hold’ sentences/intentions for writing.
      • Provide graphic organisers to support organisation and recall of content.
      • Offer word mats with spellings of more complex/technical words on.
      • Visual task timelines to support task maintenance.

      Specific Learning Difficulties: current understanding, support systems, and technology-led interventions.

      In January 2019, the Government Office for Science commissioned a series of 4 rapid evidence reviews to explore how technology and research can help improve educational outcomes for learners with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs). The findings were subsequently published in October 2020.

      This review examined:

      • Current understanding of the causes and identification of SpLDs.
      • The support system for learners with SpLDs.
      • Technology-based interventions for SpLDs.

      A case study approach focusing on dyscalculia to explore all 3 themes.

      The full document can be accessed via the following link: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/926052/specific-learning-difficulties-spld-cst-report.pdf

      The authors identified the following key conclusions and recommendations.

      Review 1: Current understanding of the causes and identification of SpLDs:

      • There is a disconnect between the needs-based identification used in schools and the formal diagnosis required by universities and employers, and also the ‘identification pathways’ used by health services. It would be useful to align these systems more.
      • As most children show difficulties in school as some of the early warning signs for SpLDs, teachers and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Coordinators (SENDcos) need to be much better equipped to identify and support SpLDs. In particular, all teachers should be aware that SpLDs are very common, there are no clear dividing lines between typical and atypical learners with respect to SpLDs, cooccurrence of SpLDs is high, and all children should be supported according to their needs, which will change over time.
      • No single method of identification of SpLDs is ideal. Identification needs to be an ongoing process, gaining information from multiple sources (parents, teacher, standardised measures) over a period of time.
      • Further research is needed on the role of identification in the progress of SpLDs over time. This requires longitudinal approaches.
      • Focus on a single area of processing for identification and diagnosis is not helpful, because of the interactions between different risk factors and the high levels of cooccurrence of different disorders.
      • Early identification is useful but should be accompanied by regular updates and reassessments to understand how needs change over time.
      • Recent research findings indicate that studies including multiple methodologies (e.g. combining genetic, neuroimaging and behavioural measures) and levels of explanation are a fruitful future research area in SpLDs.
      • The National Pupil Database is a precious resource that should be used for largescale longitudinal data analysis of SpLDs. It also provides an opportunity to understand the divisions between research and practice in more detail.
      • With respect to learners with SpLDs, more studies are needed to understand how and why response to intervention varies across learners, and it may be that genetic and neurobiological factors play an important role in this. One approach may be to combine intervention studies with longitudinal cohort studies to allow these types of analyses.

      Review 2: The support system for learners with SpLDs

      • Central government and local policy should clearly define expectations on parents in devising support programmes/interventions for their children. For example, alternative formats (e.g. video) for parents’ and children’s contributions should be supported.
      • Need for procedural consistency in identification and support for young people with SpLDs across Local Authorities in England: it was impossible to outline procedures in England, due to regional/local operational, policy and accessibility differences.
      • Support parents/teachers through workshops to provide training on interventions used to support learners with SpLD.
      • For parents of children with SpLD, ensure interaction with schools is accessible.
      • Initial Teacher Training (ITT) frameworks should include instruction about Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), which specifically addresses the needs of learners with SpLD. This should be developed through liaison between the DfE, professionals and third sector bodies such as the British Dyslexia Association and the Dyspraxia Foundation, amongst others.
      • PG (level 7) standard professional development for teachers relating to areas of need within the SEND Code of Practice, linked to SENCo training routes. SENCos locally could develop skills networks; this needs further research and development. This should be developed through liaison and appropriate research with third sector organisations, professionals and DfE, as well as education and training providers.
      • Investment in accredited training for teaching assistants/working with pupils with SpLD to facilitate schools’ access to highly trained individuals to support pupils with SpLD.
      • Training for professionals/parents/carers on accessibility features of information and communications technology already available in school such as MS Office, Adobe, inbuilt features of Apple devices, etc.
      • Research into efficacy of intervention programmes, both technological and staff-led, to form a high-quality evidence base.
      • Research into the efficacy of diverse technologies, with consistent language and methodology for comparability of results.
      • High-quality research into experiences/views of parents/carers whose children have SpLD.
      • Exploration with the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) of development of regulations and hardware apps to facilitate use of pupils’ own technology in public examinations, such that the examination is not compromised (i.e. internet access blocked), but so that pupils ‘reasonably adjust’ materials congruent with their normal way of working. This will also support the efficient deployment of staff.
      • Research on the use of mobile technology in the classroom whilst maintaining online safety but allowing for ‘reasonable adjustments’ to curricular materials by pupils.
      • Encourage use of e-readers/eBooks through text-to-speech features already available e.g. Office 365, or mobile technology.

      Review 3: Technology-based interventions for SpLDs


      • The challenging teacher recruitment situation in the UK can be ameliorated for learners with SpLDs through the leveraging of technology to support both early diagnosis and effective learning support. • The evidence about the way that technology can be used to support education for people with SpLDs summarised in this review is still relatively embryonic, patchy and lacks consistency and scale. Unless this paucity of evidence is addressed, there is a risk that the potential benefits of technology will not be effectively expedited for people with SpLDs. More evidence needs to be generated and a set of widely accepted methodologies agreed.
      • If developments in AI technology and in our understanding about how people with SpLDs learn continue to progress as they have in the last decade, and we leverage them effectively, the potential for increasing educational achievements for people with SpLDs is great.
      • A clear SpLD educational technology ontology, as described in section 5 of this review, will enable the application of data science and help the government to leverage technology effectively for the education of people with SpLDs.
      • If academic researchers were required to make their findings accessible both to educators and to technology developers, there would be an improved prospect for technology suitable for learners with SpLDs to be developed and effectively applied in education.
      • The generation and accessibility of large datasets about people with a SpLD is a challenge, but as more people are diagnosed earlier in their lives, datasets should be collated and made available to those developing machine-learning AI techniques for both screening and support of those with SpLDs.
      • The potential and increased use of AI presents ethical obstacles to the widespread data collection and algorithm design involved in using machine learning AI. These obstacles must be addressed in order to ensure that the education of learners with SpLDs benefits from advances in science and technology.
      • Early intervention and support for reading and writing difficulties should be given priority.

      Circle of Friends

      A Circle of Friends is an intervention approach designed to enhance the inclusion of a targeted individual who is experiencing difficulties in school by setting up a peer support network. Designed to mobilise the young person’s peers in providing support and engaging in joint problem solving, a successful circle will tackle isolation whilst developing empathy and identifying the strengths of all who participate.​

      The main aims of a Circle of Friends are:

      • To create a support network for the focus young person.​
      • To provide the targeted pupil with encouragement and recognition for any achievements and progress made.​
      • To identify difficulties and devise practical ideas to help deal with these difficulties.​
      • Putting ideas into practice.​
      • To facilitate inclusion.

      How does it work – The introductory session?

      Consent is sought for and from the focus pupil and an introductory class meeting is held. During this meeting the whole class but not the focus pupil are present. Ground rules concerning confidentiality, respect and good listening skills are established. Relationship Circles are completed and explored:


      The ‘missing person’ is sensitively discussed to identify their strengths and areas for development.

      How does it work – intervention session one?

      The selected group and the focus person meet with an adult facilitator. In this session the following takes place:

      • The purpose of the group and the principles of confidentiality are restated. ​
      • A group identity is established – a name and supportive ground rules.​
      • A unifying group game is played.​
      • The focus young person’s strengths and areas for development are shared.​
      • An area for development is selected and support strategies that the group will use are agreed. A target for the coming week is set.​

      The group work to support and met the target over the coming week.

      How does it work – follow up sessions?

      In each weekly follow up session the following takes place:

      • Group rules, purpose and confidentiality needs are restated.
      • Unifying games are played.
      • The week is reviewed to explore what went well and what support was needed. A judgement about how and if the target was met is arrived at.
      • Areas for development are revisited and, based on this, a new target and supportive strategies are agreed for the coming new week.

      Fading out the Group

      Gradually the group can be faded out in line with success. The adult facilitator will work to encourage more independent application of strategies. The group can continue to meet informally but the adult facilitator role should decrease.

      Measuring Success

      The following approaches could be useful in measuring the impact and success of a Circle of Friends:

      • Group meeting minutes.​
      • Before and after pen portraits.​
      • Look at the young person’s academic progress, engagement, participation, attendance and punctuality.​
      • Scaling activities. ​
      • Pupil voice and family voice.​

      Further Reading: