Set up a SEND friendly classroom

What do you need to consider in order to ensure that children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are comfortable learning in your classroom? Get some top tips here.

Get the new term off to a good start with this essential advice

Know your students

Every child is different, and every child with SEND is different, so take the time to look at the individual needs of the children in your class. Who has visual or hearing issues? Which students struggle with concentration or staying in their seat? Who has sensory issues and may easily become over or under-stimulated? Understanding the individual needs of your students is the first, and most important step to setting up a SEND friendly classroom.

Plan seating accordingly

Once you understand the needs of your class in more detail, it’s time to devise a suitable seating plan. Perhaps those with visual or hearing impairments need to sit close to the front? Maybe those who become distracted easily shouldn’t sit close to the window, sink, resources trays or anything else which may present an easy diversion from the task at hand. When considering sensory needs, students who may become upset by noise could be sat on the periphery of the classroom so that they are not surrounded on all sides by other noisy children during group or whole-class activities. Children with ADHD, for example, may not do well when sat together. You may choose to seat these children next to peers who will help them to stay settled rather than close to other students with similar needs. A good seating plan is a great starting point for a SEND friendly classroom.

Consider sensory input

Do you have children in your class who are easily over-stimulated? If so, what by? If bright colours and busy images are difficult for them, consider having pared-back displays on your classroom walls. Or if noise is a trigger, having a “quiet corner” they can retreat to when they need 5 minutes to themselves could be a valuable addition to your classroom. Similarly, children who crave stimulation may benefit from a box of sensory toys they can dip into and use for a few minutes when you can see they are struggling to sit still and stay on-task. This might include stress balls, fidget cubes/spinners etc. Lighting can also be a useful consideration – do you have bright lights? Flickering lights? These things can be stressful for some children so are worth thinking about, too.

Keeping tasks clear

It goes without saying that if a student doesn’t understand what they are meant to be doing during your lesson, that can be a key trigger for stress, distraction and resultant poor behaviour. However, many children with SEND may struggle to follow long and complicated explanations or lists of tasks. So how can you overcome this issue? Visual timetables or “now and next” boards can be brilliant for this. They give a clear and concise outline of what your class are meant to be doing at any one time. Now and next boards can also be really useful for children on the autism spectrum because these individuals may require more processing time – and having the opportunity to see the lesson as a whole rather than one discrete task at a time can be helpful for them in mentally preparing for what is coming next.

“You Clever Monkey” has a great article and some free downloads for helping you to create visual timetables.

What else?

How do you set up your SEND friendly classroom? Is there anything you do which we have not covered in this article? If so, we’d love to hear your ideas so why not add them in the comments section at the end of this blog?

Need a SEND job or SEND staff?

If you’re looking for a SEND teaching or support job in England or Wales, why not register with Axcis, the SEND recruitment specialists? Or perhaps you need to recruit staff for your school or provision? If so, why not take a look at the Axcis Website, or get in touch today to find out how we can help?

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