The concept of individual education plans for children with special needs, is good because it means that when a pupil is experiencing difficulties, those issues can be properly identified appropriate action decided on and taken and then a review carried out to assess the usefulness and effectiveness of the programme. For Alan, a pupil in his last year of primary school, an IEP was a good way to help him move forward and help his parents and teachers to work out why his behaviour was becoming increasingly challenging.
Individual plans play an important role for children with significant difficulties, and for these pupils, and in Alan’s case, a tailor made approach may be needed. At one time, IEPs had a bad press as many tended to be too generic and didn’t always adequately assess each individual child.
An individual plan is a working document, that all staff involved with the child’s education have regular input into and its design should allow for regular updates and comments (scribbled notes) by TAs, teachers and parents. In some schools, an extra sheet is attached to the IEP for daily/weekly updates, rather than waiting for the scheduled plan.
When staff decided to create an IEP for Alan, they spoke to his parents at length and explained how it was going to work to help him.
Plan of Action
Alan’s mum Elaine said: “It was made clear to us that the targets set for Alan would be achievable, short-term and specific, and that he would be involved in the setting of targets whenever possible. We were worried that we wouldn’t understand what all the jargon meant, but the IEP was written in a really clear and concise way that was easy to understand.”
To make sure that Alan was really benefiting from the IEP, new words and vocabulary were always explained, and he was encouraged to practise saying and writing new words, especially those with tricky spellings. Alan was allowed extra thinking time for answering a question, and checks were also made to make sure that he was wearing his glasses and that were clean so he could actually see out of them!
Outside of the Classroom
Targets were also set for behaviour outside the classroom, during breaks and lunchtime, when supervisors may also need to be aware of expectations and how to register achievements. Alan was actively involved in his IEP and given a lot of support. Elaine added: “We were so relieved when the teachers at Alan’s school suggested an IEP, we had no idea what one was but the plan sounded perfect to us.
“The fact that Alan was really involved in making the plan made a big difference to all of us. He suddenly had a great sense of responsibility and ownership and his behaviour in relation to his obvious difficulties started to make more sense to all of us. The root of Alan’s problems were linked closely to frustration because he has poor sight and vision and finds learning hard. The teachers keep a close eye on him and he is often asked for his feedback, which is excellent.”