There has been a lot of talk recently about progress and what it looks like, how do we measure it, should we measure it, why do some make it and others don’t, how can we close the gap…
But within the context of Special Education the debate is being somewhat stifled as we still have the P-levels, indefinitely.
Whilst the mainstream is looking for alternatives to the National Curriculum levels, in Special schools we still have to report against a statutory tool that is of questionable quality.
Others have developed approaches, both school led, such as MAPP and government led such as Routes for Learning. But these supplementary tools still focus on a measure of progress within the context of taught education. What they don’t measure is the impact of that progress.
Within the context of an educational system which is sharply focussed on economic outcomes, the social justice models which underpin so much of Special Education have become somewhat undervalued. We talk of progress with an eye to potential employability at the expense of the wider contribution to society that education can bestow upon the young. But in Special schools that relationship with society, of which employment is part, is key to ensuring that our young people are able to make an active contribution to, and access, the societies in which they live, in order to have enriched and fulfilling lives.
So how do we know whether or not what we do matters? How do we know whether the impact of the education we provide is good enough? We might know what ‘outstanding’ looks like in school, but do we know what it looks like once we have gone home or a young person has reached 19?
As Government beings to look at the nature of assessment and the tools available to define progress, through opportunities such as the Assessment Innovation Fund, should we in Special schools begin to consider how we evaluate our impact on our pupils’ lives beyond the movement from one developmental level to another. Should we be conceiving of ways to establish the extent to which our pupils realise their potential once they have left us?
Answers on a Postcard please…