SEND interventions – 6 ideas to ensure students aren’t left out

Abstract illustration of student and teacher sat in a private office, representing SEND interventions

The way to make inclusion really work within the classroom ultimately comes down to tailored interventions, advises Gary Whall…

Gary Whall
by Gary Whall
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All children learning in front of a subject-specific teacher. Every subject teacher ably adapting their teaching to meet the needs of the whole class…

…is how things would be in an ideal world. Is this achievable? Yes, up to a point. As individual teachers, we can’t resolve the recruitment crisis but we can implement SEND interventions that enable vulnerable students to arrive at their lessons in a low anxiety state, ready to access their learning. How? It’s actually quite simple.

SEND interventions

Before the school bell

Any SEND interventions or procedures will need to commence as soon as the child arrives at the start of the school day. This might include having a separate school entrance for vulnerable students to remove any anxieties related to crowds.

Greeting students at the door can offer reassurance, and allow opportunities for parents/carers to share any concerns.

Setting up a ‘Start Right’ Club, where students are able to get any worries off their chest before the day begins, can also work wonders.

Walking the corridors

Vulnerable students may be worried about noise, crowds and misreading social situations. Escorting more vulnerable students to their classrooms will aid their anxiety levels, allowing them to arrive at lessons ready to learn.

In the classroom

In-class support is vital if we are to deal with social misunderstandings as they arise. There will also likely be several students that you need to reassure about what you expect of them in terms of their work and behavioural conduct.

Shared support works extremely well in these situations. It also allows you to take students out of the classroom for two minutes to calm down and receive reassurance, before re-entering to continue with their work. It’s important that teachers and support staff work together and communicate throughout the lesson, so as not to undermine each other.

Toilet breaks

If there isn’t a separate toilet in school that students with SEND can use, then if at all possible, consider setting one up. School toilets are highly unsociable places. Bear in mind that some of our most vulnerable students may not be used to locking or shutting doors, thus making them more vulnerable still.

Break times

The playground can be another unsociable place, particularly for students with autism. Amidst hundreds of students in the playground, I’ve seen some very lonely children.

A staffed ‘Buddy Club’, providing vulnerable students with a safe space to encourage social interaction, can be hugely effective, aiding interactions through board games and social groups.

Don’t forget that dinner halls can be another problem area, especially with all the queuing. If possible, allow students with SEND to go to dinner 10 minutes earlier, and let them take their food to the ‘Buddy Club’ – again, reducing anxieties stemming from crowds, noise, pushing and so forth.

Home time

It’s just as important to ensure you release students to their parents/carers at the end of the school day with low anxiety. Introduce an ‘End Right’ Club where students can talk through any problems/concerns from their day.

It can also be a good idea to release any students not staying on for after-school activities five minutes early. This allows them to leave before the crowds.

Where extracurricular activities are concerned, offer a range that will support your students with SEND and appeal to them. Homework Clubs and Life Skills Clubs are often popular, but there can be little time available to support such development.

A whole school approach is vital for making inclusion work. However, it’s important to remember there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach. Having identified what works best for you and your students, concrete steps will enable everybody to move forward.

Gary Whall was awarded Teacher of the Year at the 2023 nasen Awards; recently retired, he previously managed Bristnall Hall Academy’s SEN provision for 27 years.

For more information about the 2023 nasen Awards, visit or follow @nasen_org.

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