Audits of current/good practice
Often services and schools feel they are working well but are concerned that practice may have stagnated or bad habits crept in. Our Consultants can undertake audits on different levels to appraise current practice and identify areas for development. There may be particular aspects of provision that schools identify as being of concern (eg communication in the classroom) or they may want an overall appraisal of their work. Having an objective view of current practice often helps identify ways to improve outcomes for deaf pupils.
Teaching and learning observations
At a basic level, one of our Consultants can spend a day observing provision for deaf pupils throughout a setting. Using a pro forma checklist, we can observe deaf pupils being taught in one-to-one or small-group situations as well as in mainstream or discrete classes. Such observations take account of differentiated materials; use of audiology equipment; respective roles of mainstream teacher, teacher of the deaf and teaching assistants in the classroom; teaching style; classroom management and pupil participation.
A Ewing Foundation Consultant was invited to observe the teachers working in a primary school resource base. The observations took place throughout one typical school day, using a pro forma checklist, and included:
- Routine audiological checks before school.
- Withdrawal – Year 3 and 4 deaf pupils working in a small group in their resource base classroom for Numeracy, and Year 1 and 2 pupils working in a small group in their resource base classroom for Literacy.
- Mainstream lessons – team teaching and communication support by teachers of the deaf; support for small groups by specialist teaching assistants.
- Use of technology – hearing aids, cochlear implants, personal FM systems, interactive whiteboards and soundfield systems.
- Communication – use of oral, written and signed communication.
- Roles of adults – the division of work between mainstream teachers, teachers of the deaf and specialist teaching assistants during lessons.
Feedback was provided verbally and in writing to the individual teachers of the deaf and a summary provided to the mainstream Head and the teacher in charge of the resource base. Outcomes were:
- Individuals were able to identify professional development needs
- The team considered how practice and provision might be improved
- Mainstream school staff considered how inclusive practice could be more effective.
- Awareness was raised of how assistive technology could be integrated for more effective use.
- The team decided to implement a strategy of peer observations throughout the year.
Policy into practice
We can look at policy documents, records of deaf pupils’ assessments, statements, IEPs and targets and observe how effectively these are implemented in typical teaching situations.
Audit of current practice
A full audit may require multiple visits and involve ourselves and other specialists. It includes an evaluation of policies, records, assessments, statements, IEPs and targets; classroom observations of mainstream and specialist teaching and support staff; observation and evaluation of communication; use of assistive technology; one-to-one interviews with key staff, pupils and parents; consultation with external agencies such as audiologists, feeder schools and destination schools and colleges.
Audit of provision
Two Ewing Foundation Consultants plus three co-opted specialists undertook a rigorous review of practice in a secondary resource base for deaf pupils, managed by the central service.
The audit process took place over several days in a three-week period and comprised:
- Stakeholder interviews – semi-structured face-to-face interviews with seven out of eight current pupils; two parents at home; 10 out of 13 resource base staff; mainstream Head, senior tutor, Head of Year 7 and two subject teachers (and informal chats with others), plus eleven external agencies.
- Teaching and learning was assessed through observation of mainstream lessons, direct teaching and support teaching; one-to-one and small group lessons in the resource base.
- Communication was observed in different situations, including the use of audiological equipment.
- Review of policy documents and pupil records
Feedback was provided orally to individuals, in a written document provided to senior staff, and a presentation summarising our observations was given to resource base staff. This information allowed the resource base staff to consider the future development of provision, including staff development needs; audiological practice; transition practices; the relationship between the resource base and the mainstream school; implementing more effective inclusive policies.