Wednesday 14 October 2015

Charity: Education fragmentation threatens quality special needs provision

I know that special educational needs provision in Brent is an issue of concern for many parents and teachers as funding becomes tighter and schools are pressured by high stakes testing. This report from the BBC may be of interest:

 A new code for special educational needs and disability came into effect last year. Even so, a series of changes has left pupils in England with special educational needs and disability (Send) in a "fragmented" system, a charity has said. The Driver Youth Trust report says the changes have caused confusion and a greater variation in the quality of help offered. The charity calls for a review of support for children with Send.

  The Driver Youth Trust outlines a number of changes since 2010 that have affected children with Send and their families. It highlights the Academies Act 2010, which enabled more schools in England to become academies, free from local authority control, as well as changes in 2012 aimed at ending disparities in school funding. Also, in September 2014, a new special educational needs (SEN) code of practice came into force in England, with the stated aim of putting pupils at the centre of their education planning.

   Changes under the new Send code of practice include: 

  covering young people from birth to the age of 25 - previously it was from the age of two to 19
  parents and children are supposed to have a greater say in decisions that affect them
  local authorities have to publish a "local offer" for Send - details of what support services they have available
  SEN statements and learning difficulty assessments (LDAs) have been replaced with education, health and care (EHC) plans taking children and young people through to the age of 25
  a new system for categorising pupils' needs, so that support can be more graduated
  young people and parents of pupils with an EHC plan can ask for personal budgets, which give them more say in how money for their provision is spent

  The charity says some schools are struggling to provide high-quality teaching and support.

The Driver Youth Trust says these changes have contributed to a fragmentation that means "navigating the system has become incredibly challenging for students, parents, schools and sector organisations". And with school increasingly expected to meet children's needs in the classroom rather than through specialist provision, teachers "more than ever need training and accurate information about their pupils".

 The outcomes for Send pupils are increasingly dependent on a school's leadership, it says.

The charity is calling for school leaders to regard Send pupils' achievement as a whole-school priority, not just that of specialist staff. It calls on the government to reform school admissions so that all schools are part of the same process and subject to independent appeals - whether or not they are an academy. And it urges councils to engage parents and young children in the development of their local offers.

  The DfE said it had received positive feedback about the changes from many families. A spokeswoman said: "A year ago we introduced the biggest reforms to the Send system in a generation. These are ensuring that support is focused on needs and aspirations - and we know that when parents and young people are properly involved with the development of that support, their experiences improve. We are already seeing a real difference, with parents telling us the process is much more straightforward - but we want these experiences to continue improving.

"That's why we are providing more than £1.5m between 2013 and 2016 to the Driver Youth Trust and the Dyslexia Specific Learning Difficulties Trust to provide expert advice and training to schools, ensuring that good practice is shared and the best support possible is available.

No comments: