Supporting additional learning needs with Step-back

Step-back is a whole school approach. Created to support additional learning needs (ALN). To support the learning and teaching of all children and young people with ALN.

Sarah Hughes is Head of SenCom Vision Impairment Service, Torfaen. Tracey Pead, ALN Transformation Lead for South East Wales. Both have been instrumental in the creation and development of the Step-back principles. It has been a pleasure to work in partnership with them. We have also worked with a variety of educational settings throughout this region. All with the goal of supporting ALN transformation in Wales


Why Step-back?

The Step-back Approach places the needs of learners with (ALN) at the heart of the school improvement planning process. It has often the case that the needs of those with ALN, are often seen as additional planning needs for the teachers. In some cases even the senior leaders of the education setting. Adopting the Step-back Approach means adopting a set of resources and training. Implemented across the setting they will demonstrate the links to policy and practice. Thus allowing ALN to act as the starting point for planning, rather than, as is often seen, the final point.

What is the purpose of supporting additional learning needs with Step-back?

Its purpose is to support a whole school approach to creating independent learners. Step-back assists Practitioners to understand their role in maximising learners independence. It considers several questions;
Do the teacher, teaching assistant and learner understand the purpose of support?
Do practitioners create learners with additional learning needs who are effective problem solvers?
Is the learner over supported and over helped?
Does the learner have a voice, are they listened to and responded to?

Easy Easier Learner’s Voice Resource forms an important part of this approach. Using statements and asking the CYPVI whether they find something Easy or would like to find it Easier.


How does the Step-back approach link to the Additional Learning Needs Act?

The Step-back Approach will help settings to develop effective practice. To bring them in line with the new ALN Act requirements. The ALN Act adopts a rights-based approach. Central to the planning and provision of support are the views, and wishes of the learner or parent. Thus, enabling the child, child’s parent or young person. Allowing them to take part as much as possible in the decision making processes.

Additional Learning Needs Act – Wales

Article on outcomes from Step-back at King Henry VII Comprehensive School, Abergavenny

What are the key strengths of Step-back?

A Person Centred Approach is a key strength of Step-back. This whole school approach includes ready to go activities. So accessible for the school/college/service to use. Activities include Easy Easier, promoting the voice of the learner. Plus strategies from the Step-in, Step-back planning documents. Adopting this approach sends the clear message that this is everybody’s business.


How does Step-back support workforce development?

The ALN Act Workforce development states there is a need for settings to use a programme of skills development for education practitioners. The Step-back approach is specifically designed to assist education settings. To help them embed core skills development for ALL education practitioners. Supporting them to understand how they can support a wide range of low complexity, high incidence ALN.


How does Step-back link to the Estyn Common Inspection Framework

Step-back includes explicit links to the Estyn Common Inspection Framework. Step-back includes explicit links to the Estyn Common Inspection Framework. Making it simple for school leadership teams and governors to adopt and incorporate the Whole School Step-back approach into their setting.

How does Step-back link to Successful Futures?

The intention of Successful Futures and the Welsh Government is to benefit learners from experiences at school. Ones that will support them as they become young adults. The Step-back Approach will challenge the need to consider WHY. Not just WHEN, WHAT and HOW to deliver support. At the same time being mindful of what is important to the learner.
To fulfil the principles of Successful Futures they need to develop the skills for success. The principles of the Step-back Approach are complementary to these curriculum goals. Without being taught how to ask for help when they need it. As a result recognise when they are meeting success without extra support. Crucial to their long term success in life and ultimately work.


Step-back School Status

Schools participating in Step-back must reach and maintain a set of School Standards. Once achieved maintenance of this Status is renewable every three years.

Find out more about the Whole School Step-Back Mark and how to apply for it here.

supporting additional learning needs

How can your school/setting access the resources and training required to implement the Step-back Approach supporting additional learning needs?

Visit the Step-back Training Information page to find out how

Download the Step-back Overview Flyer here