As a non-selective trust, the Great Schools Trust (GST) academies provide an inclusive classroom for all students regardless of their strengths or needs.
The Trust believes in offering those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) opportunities for success.
To support this, GST has launched the “Breaking Barriers: Excellence in SEND education” initiative to share best practices and experiences across the Trust’s academies.
Amanda Wright, lead trustee at GST for SEND, who is also Head of Whole School SEND at the National Association for Special Educational Needs (nasen), and GST’s Director of Education Katie Sharp introduced the initiative to 300 teaching, pastoral and support staff attending the Trust’s annual conference.
They outlined the importance of a strong SEND strategy for schools as recent figures show that there are now 1.5 million – 17% of students - defined as having SEND is up 9.5% since 2022, with 4.3% of all pupils now having an Education, Health and Care plan. There is a 4.7% increase to 13% of pupils without an EHC plan.
Amanda said: “GST’s mission is to give SEND pupils a sense of belonging within their peer group. We do this by creating an environment based on integration, inclusion and equity to help students reach their potential.”
A series of interactive seminars and workshops at the conference shared experiences and best practices across the Trust’s academies.
The issues covered included teaching SEND in a mixed-ability classroom, building confidence for those with prior learning gaps and considering strategies for supporting students with dyslexia, ADHD and autism.
Katie Sharp added: “Sharing knowledge and experience is important for our SEND pupils. We are building on these solid foundations so our academies are places where those who need SEND support can unleash the potential they have and across the Trust, we are seeing some fantastic results.”
As part of the “Breaking Barriers: Excellence in SEND education” initiative, the Trust will share key approaches to supporting SEND students on its news page over the coming months.