Managing Staff Absences in SEND

by | Oct 30, 2023

Picture a tightrope walker, balancing with grace, each step measured, as the crowd below watches in awe. Now replace that tightrope walker with our steadfast SENCO, and the rope with the delicate balance of managing staff absences in SEND. Not quite as glamorous as the circus, but equally, if not more, challenging! While sudden gusts of wind or unplanned absences might threaten to topple our balance, meticulous planning and agility can ensure a smooth performance. Let’s dive into the intricacies of managing staff absences while ensuring SEND provisions remain unfaltering.

 

Understanding the Impact

 

  1. Consistency is Crucial

 

Frequent changes in staff can disrupt the routine for SEND pupils, potentially affecting their learning experience and emotional well-being.  However, this does not mean person for one child.  It is unhealthy and setting up for failure to only have one TA that a student works with.  Consistency in the team that is involved is more important.  This then helps when a member of the team is absent.

 

  1. Skill Specificity

 

Certain staff members bring specialised skills to the table. Their absence might affect the delivery of specific interventions or support.

 

Pre-emptive Strategies

 

  1. Forward Planning

 

Where possible, pre-plan for known absences like training days or scheduled leave. This could involve adjusting timetables or rescheduling interventions.

 

  1. Skill Sharing and Cross-Training

 

Regularly organise training sessions where staff can share specific skills or techniques. This ensures a more flexible workforce that can cover a range of roles.

 

  1. Maintain a Substitution List

 

Have a list of trained substitutes or support staff who can step in during unplanned absences. This could include teaching assistants, retired teachers, or part-time staff.

 

During the Absence

 

  1. Communication is Key

 

Ensure that the substitute or covering staff member is fully briefed on the needs of the pupils they’ll be supporting.

 

  1. Adapt and Adjust

 

While maintaining routine is essential, some flexibility in the schedule or teaching methods might be required based on the skill set of the available staff.

 

  1. Monitor and Feedback

 

Regularly check in to understand how things are progressing. Address any challenges immediately and adjust as necessary.

 

Post-Absence Transition

 

  1. Debriefing

 

Once the regular staff member returns, ensure there’s a thorough handover about what transpired during their absence.

 

  1. Feedback Loop

 

Gather feedback from pupils, substitute staff, and other teachers. Understand what went well and where improvements can be made.

 

Contingency Measures

 

  1. Digital Provisions

 

Consider incorporating digital tools or online resources that can support pupils during staff absences.

 

  1. Peer Support

 

Train older pupils or those more adept in certain skills to support their peers during these periods, fostering a sense of community and shared learning.

 

Navigating back from our tightrope analogy, managing staff absences in SEND might seem like a daunting balancing act, but with the right strategies in place, it’s a challenge that can be gracefully surmounted. So, dear SENCOs, as you tread this path, remember to balance with confidence, trust your training, and always keep your eyes on the goal: ensuring the best for our SEND pupils. Happy balancing!

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