SEN Personalised Learning Task


The SEN Personalised Learning Task is designed to build primary and secondary trainees' confidence and competence in teaching pupils with SEN and/or disabilities. It requires trainees to work intensively with a pupil with SEN and/or a disability over an extended period during their placement, assessing the pupil's individual needs, planning the best teaching approaches for them, teaching them and assessing their progress.

The SEN task has been a fascinating insight not only into the close provision of one student but it has provided me with a broader and deeper outlook within my own teaching.
(secondary PGCE trainee)

Task overview

Aims of the Task

The aims of this task are for you to:

  • find out in detail about the educational needs of a pupil with SEN in a particular subject area,
  • learn more about the origins of additional educational needs in the interaction between the pupil’s difficulties/disabilities and ‘environmental’ factors,
  • learn how to assess the additional educational needs of a pupil in a particular subject area, and
  • develop your skills in planning and teaching to meet the pupil’s identified educational needs and monitoring the progress that the pupil makes as a result,
  • form a teaching relationship with a pupil having a special educational need / disability and have experience of how they learn.

I have learnt a range of strategies to support children who struggle with reading and writing words. My knowledge about the process of addressing the needs of a child with SEN has improved and I now feel more prepared to deal with other children with SEN in the future.
(primary PGCE trainee )

Rationale for the Task

This Task provides an intensive learning experience about special educational needs as one part of your wider learning about special educational provision during the PGCE.

I found the experience of looking at learning from a single perspective very useful as it allowed me to consider tasks in greater detail than is possible when planning for a whole class. I found that this helped other pupils as I became more aware of individual differences than I had been before. 
(secondary PGCE trainee)

It will enable you to develop a depth of understanding and some practical knowledge and skills that cannot easily be learned from whole class teaching nor from learning in general terms about the range of different types of SEN and disabilities. It will enable you to learn about individual educational needs, something which is important for inclusive pedagogy.

You also need to learn about differentiation as regards whole class teaching and the various areas of special educational needs as they relate to your phase and subject of teaching. There will be opportunities to learn about these from campus sessions, from your teaching practice, from reading, and from the subject specific material (primary and secondary), self study materials and other resources linked to this website.

How to carry out the Task

A one page printable version of How to carry out the Task is available at the end of this page. There are also videos which show the SEN task in practice.

The key to this Task is to get started as soon as possible.
While you are in school in the autumn term:

  • make arrangements to meet with the school’s SENCO
  • print out and give the SENCO the Information for SENCOs/School Tutors 
  • discuss a possible choice of pupil with the SENCO and/or the class teacher so that you are ready to start the task at the beginning of the spring term placement

Carrying out this Task involves observing others working with the pupil, conferring with those who know the pupil, consulting the pupil, reading, planning and recording as well as direct teaching. Though your focus is an individual pupil, this does not generally mean individual tutoring; you may focus on the pupil during your whole class teaching or in small group work.  

There is additional guidance for trainees working in schools where there is a low number of pupils with SEN.

1. Liaising with SEN coordinator and pupil's class teacher

  • You should liaise with the SEN coordinator (SENCO) in your placement school and the class or subject teacher of the pupil.
  • Provide the SENCO with the Information for SENCOs and School Tutors and draw her/his attention to the website.
  • The SENCO can brief you about the pupil's strengths, difficulties, educational needs, IEP, targets etc. and the provision that is already in place to meet her/his needs.
  • If there is no SENCO in the school, you need to seek support from others (class /subject teacher, ITT coordinator).
  • Over the period that you are working with the pupil, you should liaise with the class teacher and the SENCO about any issues or concerns that arise.

2. Deciding on the pupil

  • Identify a pupil  - this pupil will usually be on one of the three stages of the SEN Code of Practice (school action, school action plus or with a statement of SEN), preferably someone in one of the classes you will teach.
  • The selected pupil may have an individual educational plan (IEP) and/or be receiving some additional provision either in-class or withdrawn, from the class teacher/ assistant or specialist teacher.
  • Consider ethical issues around consent to participate in the task.
  • Choose a pupil where you are going to learn as well as help the pupil learn.

3. Duration

  • You will be expected to undertake the Task for a total of between 6 to 8 hours during the time you are in the school.
  • This period covers collecting information about the pupil through: reading pupil records; observing the pupil in various teaching and learning contexts; meetings with the SENCO and/or class teacher; perhaps direct assessment; planning; consultation with the pupil; providing ‘personalised’ learning opportunities; and recording. Of this 6-8 hours, you will be providing learning opportunities (tutoring and/or small group/class work) for at least half, so 3-4 hours.
  • The tutoring or small group work focussed on your pupil is best done in short periods of time over the placement.

4. Settings for individual or group teaching 

  •  The teaching part of the Task can be completed in-class, in small group work, in a withdrawal setting or in some combination of these. It is preferable to work as close as possible to typical classroom settings and use withdrawal from class as little as possible. Be sensitive to how your pupil might feel about any individual teaching and their visibility to their peers.
  • The setting or combination of settings should be agreed with the class teacher and the SENCO. The exact pattern of sessions will need to fit with the class and school routines and timetable.

5. Carrying out the Task

Assessing and planning phase

  • Discuss the concerns/problems, the targets, strategies etc with the SENCO, class teacher and/or teaching assistant.
  • Observe the pupil in various teaching-learning contexts depending on the circumstances, including when working on targets over several occasions (keep records). If possible, find the time to talk with the pupil about learning in general and specifically about any focused target-based learning.
  • Discuss with the SENCO and/or other teachers:
    o To what extent are the recorded targets, approaches etc. the ones being used?
    o Is the pupil making progress towards these targets; and what kind of progress is this?
    o Are the setting (where, when), grouping (with whom), teaching approaches (how learning is promoted), resources (with what) and targets (objectives, goals) relevant to and supporting the pupil’s progress in learning?

Direct work with pupil

  • It is likely that the targets are appropriate, so your work with the pupil will support learning towards these targets. Liaise with the SENCO, class or subject teacher about your plans. Record briefly how the teaching–learning went, how the pupil responded, signs of learning and progress, any changes that you have made to support the learning.
  •  It is possible that targets need reviewing in some way, and you may (with the SENCO, teacher and pupil) set and work towards new targets.

6. Learning from the Task and writing the report

  • Reflecting on your experiences of undertaking the Task and consolidating your learning from it will be supported by consulting with school based staff including the SENCO. You may also have an opportunity to discuss the process and outcomes of the Task with other PGCE trainees in school and during campus-based work.
  • Towards the end of the 6-8 hours work with your selected pupil, you should bring together your notes about doing the Task to evaluate what you have done. Write a short report, using the writing frame, maximum two sides of A4, including any recommendations you may have for future interventions. Guidance on writing your report is given on the website under Writing up the Task.
  • Share and discuss your report with the SENCO and others as appropriate. Ask the SENCO to sign the QA form and place your report in your IDP.