Oh dear. We've always said communication is an issue with the SEN reforms but it's fairly obvious that it spans education as a whole.
Can someone please let David Laws and Nick Clegg know about the reforms going through and let them have the memo about "promoting inclusion".
When the Department for Education launched the Green Paper, two of their proposals were to give parents a real choice of a range of schools and give children with statements the right to express a preference for any state-funded mainstream or special school.
However, this morning Mr Laws and Mr Clegg have announced a consultation about plans to change performance measures for schools.
- Pupils aged 11 would be ranked in 10% ability bands across the year group
- Test results would be divided into bands of 10%
- Parents will be told how their child "measures up" to their peers
- A tougher minimum level of achievement for schools (below which an Ofsted inspection would be triggered
- This is currently 60% for Sats tests but would rise to 85% under the proposed change
So, let's just consider this.
- Would a mainstream school realistically welcome children with SEN if this could risk bringing their minimum level of achievement below 85%?
- As a parent of a child with SEN, I already know that my child is not achieving at the same rate as their peers. Will introducing a new measurement help them to do better?
- How would a young person with (or without) SEN, who has tried to the very best of their ability, feel when they find out that their hard work wasn't good enough and they were banded in a low percentile? Will introducing a new measurement help their often already-fragile self-esteem?
- Is it just a rumour or do all children develop at different rates, based on their age and family dynamics? Will introducing a new measurement put a stop to that nonsense?
Speaking on BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Schools Minister, David Laws said he thinks that levels such as 2a, 3b, "Mean almost nothing to parents,"
Well, here's a suggestion, why not just explain to parents what they do mean? That would be an awful lot cheaper and as a parent of three children, I found out what they meant (and any parent who is interested in their child's progress will have done the same).
Therein lies the issue, there will always be parents who are more engaged than others and introducing new methods of measuring children's achievements won't encourage parents who are not engaged to suddenly become the type of parent who pushes their child to do better.
Mr Laws also said that the individual score won't be published nationally and children won't be told the results, only the school and parents will know. How does he think parents will find out how their child measures up? Would that be a letter being sent home via their child's school bag because we all know that children will never look at them? Or are we going to put the results online and password protect them - because no child can ever access the information that way, can they?
And parents are not going to discuss it with each other or their friends within ear-shot of the kids? And the kids aren't going to just ask outright? Or brag if they got a great score within the hearing of less able or SEN children?
This has to be, in our opinion, one of the worst thought-out proposals to have come out of Westminster for quite some time! Transition to Secondary is an issue for all children, especially those with SEN. However, the proposals being presented today show a real lack of understanding of children, SEN, parents, schools and inclusion.
If I was to score this proposal, in the manner being proposed, it would definitely be in the 0-10% band. Mrs Laws and Mrs Clegg, I am sorry to have to tell you that your sons are performing way below their peers (but don't worry, we won't tell them if you don't).