SEN Reform Aspirations – You Decide!

19 May

So, yesterday, I appeared alongside little man, in one of our local newspapers! This was for two reasons, #1 in celebration of my success at becoming a Mad Blog Awards finalist for the Second year running, and #2 the governments (Department of Education) update on its pending plans for Special educational needs (SEN) known as the “Green Paper – Support and Aspirations”

It’s this I wish to expand on, here on the blog today!

OK, the government published it’s progress report on the above paper, earlier this week. Reading the report I still find myself worried on a number of different levels.

Now, although I’m up for the whole idea of children with a disability or SEN receiving support up until their early adult years (25 years of age) the overall majority of this progress report still strikes me as worrying.

Excuse me but I can’t seem to shrug this niggling feeling I have at the back of my mind, that this is either some kind of money-saving tactic, a way of shrugging a degree of responsibility on to somebody else, or just an ill thought out process! What’s more it’s in my opinion that some of the most important issues remain unresolved or somewhat unclear let alone progressed!

Actually it would seem that some of these proposed changes, are anything other than changes at all!

For example: section 2 giving parents control!

“parents will have a clear Choice of school with equal rights to express a preference for any state funded school”

Ok, so we can make our preference known and the local authority has a duty to meet those preferences… Right?

Hang on a minute… That is unless

#A It’s unsuitable to the child age, aptitude, ability or sen

#B Incompatible with the education of other children of whom the child would be educated

and lastly… the all important factor, the get out of jail free card…

#C An insufficient use of resources

Mmm… Isn’t that how the system is meant to be working already?

Does this system actually get families anywhere currently? No

That’s why I thought we were meant to be changing it!

Scanning through the entire proposal, it seems a lot of the stuff we need changing isn’t actually changing at all, wheres the things we don’t want changing (just slightly amending) are being scrapped altogether!

These seem to be the things us parents cling to when trying to obtain efficient education for our children (remember the law states efficient is all our children require)!

A great example of this would be the graduated approach (School action & action plus) which is all set to be removed leaving parents of unstatemented children quaking in their boots, and rightly so!

So, why has the government made such a decision? This is due to their worries concerning labelling or should I say “Over labelling” Although to some degree, I agree that this is a problem to some extent, I’m also worried that this will stigmatise those that have a genuine need for additional support, support that only that of a statement can offer.

Yes we’re hearing about extra funding to train sencos and teachers but is this really enough assurance for the parent of the unstatemented child, the one that has no legal rights if support is offered or not?

We just can’t categorise these children, it’s not one size fits all! Regardless of a child’s disability, special educational needs or even attainment, every child is different! Not every child with autism requires SALT, not every child with dyslexia requires extra TA support. I remember my son always being compared to a fellow child with Aspergers in his “then” mainstream school! My child badly needed extra support with speech and language mainly due to his literal understanding of language, but because the other boy didn’t require such help, I was told little man didn’t either! I fear many will be over looked just as they are today with the scrapping of school action and school action plus. Both needed to be amended, as to allow the parents more confidence in the system, but this… I cannot see the benefits to the parents, just the governments budgets as the numbers of children with statements (soon to be EHCP) falls the piggy bank belonging to the government will fill up nicely!

I remember what it was like fighting for that statement, it was tough, I really don’t see much in the way of making that fight any easier when reading this proposal.

Looking at how the government has so far messed up in nearly every other area, it looks like its gonna be a bumpy ride ahead, so hold on tight parents, you can’t afford to let go.

4 Responses to “SEN Reform Aspirations – You Decide!”

  1. Violets Diary May 19, 2012 at 9:17 am #

    Totally agree with you. I have expressed the same sentiments. The existing system was by no means perfect, but I can’t see how these changes will make anything better, except possibly for the few who get the joint care plan – although I expect the effectiveness of those will still be fraught with resource and co-ordination problems. I am very concerned about loosing the little mechanisms i have for working with the school to monitor and set targets for my children’s progress through School Action Plus.

  2. Special Needs Mum May 19, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    Nice post, Claire. It’s all really up in the air though. I’m on the workstream for the EHCP pathfinder in Surrey and we’re still working out the details of what an EHCP will look like, let alone having any families actually trialling it. When it’s ready, I’ll be writing a new book for parents – will be sending you a review copy (in 2013!!)

  3. Kelly Barrett May 19, 2012 at 7:18 am #

    Really interesting blog, I share your concerns wholeheartedly. This is mainly penny pinching in disguise. i fear that an awful lot of families are about to have the rug pulled from under their feet.


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