Guerrillamum's Blog


More thoughts on the Green Paper for SEN and Disability…

The green paper for SEN and disability states that those children who currently have a statement, less than 3% of children with SEN, will have an education, health and care plan (EHCP) under the new system. There are also plans to improve achievement for children who are disadvantaged through pastoral care. So far, however, there are only very vague indications about how SEN will be provided for in children who fall into neither of the above categories and have less severe SEN. There will be a lot of children in this lower level category of need! Many of these children will have very real SEN requiring specialist support.

I have commented regularly about the limp and woolly provision currently available to unstatemented children with SEN through the school action and school action plus categories of the graduated response process of our current system for meeting SEN. Yet the new system promises to scrap these classifications replacing them with a new tier of provision. Children will be ‘lumped together’ in this category, with some receiving pastoral care because they are disadvantaged, and others receiving support for SEN through ‘better teaching’ and schools sharing best practice. Also, the voluntary sector will be brought in to carry out so far unspecified roles. Remember, this new system will be implemented by health and education services that have undergone savage cuts and will draw heavily on untrained support from the voluntary sector. I don’t believe it is possible to improve provision for children with SEN and disabilities by cutting specialist services and replacing these with an untrained voluntary sector.

I can see a lot of children who need specialist intervention for their SEN receiving little more than pastoral support if the school has nothing else to offer, leading to misery and failure for thousands of children. How do I know? This is exactly what happened to my son under the deeply flawed but infinitely more robust graduated response of our current system.

The lack of clarity surrounding this is simply not good enough. Everyone has the opportunity to influence these policies by taking the opportunity to make representations to the consultation, and write to their MP to ask how, in detail will the plans be funded and implemented.

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Pupils ‘should be sent to private instead of free schools’

Falconer, whose association represents more than 500 schools in the UK, will call on the government to give parents the amount it costs to educate their child through primary school – £6,000 – and allow them to choose the school they wish. He will say that parents should be able to supplement the sum if they want to educate children in the private sector.’ See the article here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/sep/27/private-schools-free-schools?showallcomments=true#end-of-comments

Hmmm, if Mr Gove has said that the Coalition wishes to improve education for everybody, I fail to see how handing out £6,000 to individual parents will do this.

Perhaps a better route would be to provide better teaching and pastoral care for children in all schools. Sound familiar? It should, it was all over the Press last week in relation to OFSTED’s controversial report (which everybody seems to have forgotten about) about special needs. Now, surely if improved teaching and pastoral care is good enough to improve standards for children with SEN, it should also be good enough for everybody else.

If we were to go ahead with this scheme, how would we identify or assess those suitable? What if everybody wanted £6,000 per child? Mr Falconer, I’ve got no objection to private schools existing. I have no objection to parents purchasing either a better standard of education (or social exclusivity) for their offspring. However, in these days of austerity I have to say that there are many many institutions and organisations more worthy of a £6,000 freebie per child than yours.

Furthermore, it is our experience that private schools don’t really want children with SEN, or want to charge higher fees to cover TA’s and specialised teaching. Some of their SEN policies make dark threats to ask children to leave if SEN is identified and they believe parents have withheld this information.

Any head teachers out there? Would this not be an administrative and funding nightmare? How would you go about extricating £6,000 from your funding scheme once a child’s parents decide to place them in the private sector?