Discussing Progress for pupils with SEN with ChatGPT

by | Apr 29, 2023

Discussing Progress for pupils with SEN with ChatGPT

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is an AI you can chat to. You can ask it questions, and it will answer you, using all the information at its digital fingertips. You can ask it to create lesson plans, adapt lesson plans for pupils with dyslexia etc. You have probably heard about ChatGPT in the news. Universities are worried that students are using it to write their essays for them. There are many other concerns surrounding AI.

To me it is a tool that we can choose how to use, and it should be used! It can help us understand things, you could give ChatGPT a complicated message and ask it to simplify it. I think it has huge potential for helping improve support for pupils with SEN. Here are some of the questions I have asked ChatGPT about progress for pupils with SEN.

Asking ChatGPT Questions

Below you will see the questions I put to ChatGPT. The questions are the headings, the response from ChatGPT in italics and then my brief opinion on its answer.

What is a good way to assess progress for SEN pupils?

“Assessing progress for SEN (Special Educational Needs) pupils requires a tailored approach that takes into account the specific needs of each individual student. Here are some general suggestions for assessing progress for SEN pupils:

  1. Establish clear learning goals: Set clear, achievable learning goals that are specific to the student’s needs and abilities. These goals should be aligned with the student’s individual education plan (IEP) and should be reviewed regularly.
  2. Use a variety of assessment methods: Use a range of assessment methods, including observation, performance tasks, and self-assessment, to gather information on the student’s progress. This will give a more complete picture of the student’s strengths and weaknesses.
  3. Adapt assessment methods: Adapt assessment methods to suit the student’s individual needs. For example, a student with visual impairments may require alternative assessment methods such as oral testing or braille materials.
  4. Monitor progress regularly: Monitor the student’s progress on a regular basis and make adjustments to the learning goals or teaching strategies as needed. Regular feedback and communication with parents and other professionals involved in the student’s care can also help to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
  5. Celebrate successes: Celebrate the student’s successes and achievements, no matter how small. Positive reinforcement can help to build the student’s confidence and motivation, which can in turn lead to further progress.

Ultimately, assessing progress for SEN pupils requires a flexible and individualized approach that takes into account the student’s unique needs and abilities. By setting clear learning goals, using a variety of assessment methods, adapting assessment methods as needed, monitoring progress regularly, and celebrating successes, educators can help to ensure that SEN pupils make meaningful progress towards their learning goals.”

I love this answer. It is about what is important for the pupil. It hasn’t mentioned Reading, Writing or Maths. Reading, Writing and Maths is a lens we all seem to automatically look through in schools, with everything else coming second. This needs to change. Assess the progress the pupils are making in an appropriate way and celebrate the progress they are making.

How would you talk about progress when a pupil’s abilities are vastly different in different areas?

“When a pupil’s abilities are vastly different in different areas, it can be challenging to talk about progress in a meaningful and accurate way. In this case, it may be helpful to focus on progress in each individual area of ability separately, and to develop specific goals and strategies for addressing areas of weakness.

For example, if a student is able to decode text well but struggles to understand what they are reading, progress might be measured by improvements in comprehension skills such as identifying key ideas, making inferences, and summarizing information. Teachers might set specific goals for the student in these areas, and track progress over time through regular assessments and informal observation.

It may also be helpful to consider the student’s strengths and interests when developing strategies for addressing areas of weakness. For example, if the student enjoys visual learning, teachers might use graphic organizers or other visual aids to help them better understand what they are reading.

Overall, when talking about progress for a student with vastly different abilities in different areas, it is important to focus on individualized goals and strategies, and to celebrate progress in each area separately. By acknowledging and building on the student’s strengths, and by providing targeted support to address areas of weakness, teachers can help the student make meaningful progress and achieve their full potential.”

This is what we at B Squared describe as non-linear progress, when pupil have different abilities in different areas. This is another great answer from ChatGPT. Progress should be looked at individually and it suggests not looking at subjects like reading, instead looking at the areas within if it is a more effective way of looking at progress.

What are the barriers to progress for pupils with SEN?

“There are a number of barriers to progress for pupils with SEN (Special Educational Needs), which can include:

  1. Lack of appropriate support: Pupils with SEN may require additional support, accommodations, or modifications to the curriculum in order to make progress. When this support is not provided, it can be a major barrier to progress.
  2. Limited access to resources: Pupils with SEN may require specialized equipment or resources in order to fully engage in the learning process. When these resources are not available or accessible, it can hinder progress.
  3. Negative attitudes and stereotypes: Pupils with SEN may face stigma, discrimination, or negative attitudes from others, which can impact their confidence and motivation to learn.
  4. Communication barriers: Pupils with SEN may have difficulty communicating their needs, thoughts, or ideas, which can impact their ability to fully engage in the learning process.
  5. Health-related barriers: Pupils with SEN may have physical or mental health conditions that can impact their ability to learn or participate in school activities.
  6. Unsupportive learning environment: The learning environment, including the physical space and the social and emotional climate, can impact a student’s ability to learn and make progress. An unsupportive or unsafe environment can be a barrier to progress.
  7. Poor teacher training and awareness: Teachers may not always have the necessary training, knowledge, or awareness to support pupils with SEN effectively, which can be a barrier to progress.
  8. Overall, addressing these barriers requires a collaborative effort between teachers, school administrators, families, and outside specialists to create an inclusive and supportive learning environment that meets the needs of all pupils. By addressing these barriers, pupils with SEN can have a greater opportunity to make progress and reach their full potential.”

This is a really great answer. All of the bullet points apart from 4 and 5 are about the school, the environment, the teaching and the support given to the pupil. Bullet point 4 talks about communication barriers, this is reflecting the student’s ability, but also how the school supports the pupil. Bullet point 5 can be a big barrier for pupils and is the only one that is solely about the pupil. This list highlights, we can remove a number of barriers by changing how we support SEN pupils.

If we know how to judge progress for pupils with SEN, what are the reasons we aren’t doing it?

“There are several reasons why progress for pupils with SEN may not always be assessed in the most effective way, including:

  1. Lack of training: Teachers may not have received adequate training in how to assess progress for pupils with SEN or may not have been given the necessary tools or resources to do so effectively.
  2. Limited time and resources: Teachers may feel overwhelmed by their workload and may not have the time or resources to devote to assessing progress for pupils with SEN as thoroughly as they would like.
  3. Misconceptions about SEN: There may be misconceptions among teachers, parents, or school administrators about what progress looks like for pupils with SEN, which can impact how progress is assessed and measured.
  4. Focus on standardized testing: There may be a heavy emphasis on standardized testing and academic achievement, which can overshadow other important aspects of progress, such as social and emotional development, communication skills, and independent living skills.
  5. Lack of collaboration: Effective progress assessment for pupils with SEN requires collaboration and communication between teachers, parents, and outside specialists. When these parties are not working together effectively, it can be difficult to accurately assess progress and identify the appropriate support and resources needed.

Overall, addressing these challenges requires a collaborative effort between teachers, school administrators, families, and outside specialists to ensure that progress assessment is carried out in a meaningful and effective way that meets the needs of pupils with SEN. It is important to recognize that assessing progress for pupils with SEN is a complex process that requires ongoing evaluation and adjustment in order to support their individual learning needs and goals.”

I am loving the answers ChatGPT gives. It uses all the documents, websites, books it has access to, to create a summary of the information. It is crystal clear and I agree with everything here.


ChatGPT uses a wide range of information to give its answers including the latest research and best practice around special educational needs. It is confirming what we already know is best practice, but a number of schools aren’t doing it. We already know the pressures from local authorities and league tables have a negative impact on pupils with SEND. We also know that limited funding and teacher workload really limits what we can do in our schools. It is important to remember what we should be doing and if we are unable to do it within our settings, understand the reasons why and discuss this as a school.

More Information

This blog is a summary of a longer document I have written about my conversations with ChatGPT on this subject.

You can download the full document here – https://www.bsquared.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Discussing-Progress-for-Pupils-with-SEND-With-ChatGPT.pdf

If you have any questions, feel free to email me – [email protected]

Find out more about B Squared here – www.bsquared.co.uk

Dale Pickles

Dale Pickles

Managing Director of B Squared

I am the Managing Director of B Squared. I work with schools all over the UK to help deliver best practice, reduce teacher workload and help schools move forward with assessment. I am the host of the SENDcast the #1 podcast for Special Needs. I also set up the Training for Education online training portal to provide affordable training for schools. I have spoken at conferences such as the Autism Show and Tes SEND Show.

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