Filed under: Education and the new government | Tags: Academies, Academyworld, Bad Behaviour, Benefits, Cuts, Free Schools, Green Paper, Michael Gove, playing the system, SEN, sharp elbowed parents, special educational needs and disability tribunal, spending cuts, Toby Young, vulnerable children
Over the past months I have watched the campaign to discredit children with special educational needs unfold with increasing alarm. I have listened as the spin doctors eased into the public consciousness words and phrases such as ‘over diagnosed’, ‘sharp elbowed parents’, ‘too many children have statements’, and (a real corker this one) ‘SEN is simply bad behaviour’. In terms of schools, Toby Young and others like him want something better than what is currently offered to all children in their local areas. Rather than improve or expand these schools for the benefit of all, the government is handing extremely large amounts of money over so they can set up Free Schools for the few that are more to their liking. Suddenly, it appears that the children of already well off and motivated parents are deserving of government money to boost their educational opportunities, and those who are disadvantaged either by economics or special educational needs are no longer deserving of the investment of public money. I predicted that children with SEN and disabilities would soon become the ‘benefit cheats’ of education, and here they are, apparently ensconced in schools that are ‘playing the system’ so they can gain extra funds for their schools.
In today’s Education Guardian Fran Abrams writes: ‘A green paper is expected to set out the future of special needs education this month – and there have been suggestions that ministers could use Ofsted’s findings to justify cutting the numbers classified as needing extra help.’ See the article here:
If this were to happen, as I worry it will, simply brushing students with special needs under the carpet is a very poor strategy indeed. They will still be there, and they will go through the education system unrecognised and un-helped, and a whole cohort of our youth will under achieve in their education. As if that wasn’t bad enough, vocational courses and newly ‘non-humanities’ subjects such as Music that suit some children are being simply rubbed out of existence due to the requirements of the English Baccalaureate. In Academyworld, all routes of redress that parents could previously take when they felt their children’s needs were not being met have been eliminated: the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal can no longer deal with appeals from parents of children who go to academies and parents can no longer complain to the council about admissions. All routes of redress for children attending academies lead to Gove. There is something very wrong about placing so much power with one person.
When I look at the narrowed curriculum so suddenly in vogue at the Dept for Education, I worry about our most vulnerable children and I wonder what the future holds for them. I hope that one day this government will be consigned to history as an administration which shaped and paid for education for a narrow elite and consigned the rest to second best. The nature of this is very short term, as children with special needs will not take their place as wage earners but will become dependent on health, social services and benefits, their potential and prospects for fulfilment untapped. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Filed under: Education and the new government | Tags: Bullying, education, state schools, Toby Young
Yet another example of Toby Young twisting a story to meet his own ends. Bullying is not ‘an appalling indictment of the English state education system’. In fact if you look in the media you will see stories of bullying in private schools as well. One such private school that comes to mind had to have a change of Head when it was found that there was no effective policy in place to deal with bullying. Bullying can happen anywhere and private schools are certainly no better than state schools at its prevention. However, state schools are actually required to have an anti bullying policy in place, and I have yet to hear of a Head of a state school who had to leave their post simply because they did not have clear processes for dealing with bullying.
You disappoint me Toby; you have called for schools to reinstate classic literature in their curricula, being clearly well read yourself. Your vision for your Free School is more than a little reminiscent of ‘Biggles’ and ‘PG Wodehouse’. Surely you must have read ‘Tom Brown’s School Days’ too?
Filed under: Education and the new government, Uncategorized | Tags: education, Free Schools, Michael Rosen, privilege, status quo, Toby Young, two-tier education system
This is the link to Michael Rosen’s comment on an article about ‘Free Schools’ in The Guardian today. I wholeheartedly agree with his sentiments.
It’s worth reading the article and all the comments that go with it.In fact there is probably more debate and argument in this one article than the government allowed in Parliament before it forced the Academies Act through!!!!!