A brief update today. Despite it being the middle of summer, the Department for Education is still pumping out information that you, perhaps being on hols, might have overlooked.
The first is a response from the Education Secretary, Damian Hinds to Dame Christine Lenehan's residential special school's review, "Good Intentions, Good enough?",
The previous encumbent, Justine Greening, had already given an initial response in November 2017, pledging to:
- establish a national leadership board for children and young people with high needs, reporting to the minister for children and families.
- publish updated guidance for local authorities, making clear their statutory responsibility to visit children and young people with SEND or health conditions in long-term residential settings
- improve how schools and colleges support children and young people with SEND by publishing a new resource, developed by ASK Research and Coventry University, setting out evidence on effective approaches for these children and young people, and examples of current practice in good and outstanding schools and colleges. You can find this here.
This most recent response from Damian Hinds, follows on by running through some of the changes that have been made such as
- Revised statutory guidance on Working together to safeguard children (top link)
- Reviewing minimum standards for residential special schools
- The new workforce contract for Nasen and Whole School SEND
- Working with the SEND Tribunal on how to "best share learning from cases with local authorities"
- Supporting newly-qualified teachers to develop their SEND expertise (though surely this should already be well underway after the Carter Review?)
- Continue to "gather evidence on the really good practice that we know exists on short breaks to inform our future thinking"
- Take forward Dame Christine's recommendations about mental health support for children with SEND and how accountable care systems can lead to more "coherence" across education, health and social care.
Of the quote above, it's good to read that Mr Hinds will "continue to fight for resources", but what astounds me is that this letter had to be written at all. Why are we still STILL in this position of "listening and learning" instead of having done all this vital work thoroughly during the reform process to start off with? "We had to act or miss the opportunity," was the government narrative in 2011/12 after the Lamb Inquiry. That may well have been the case, but unfortunately, SEND is complex and multi-layered. It's not about neat packages of data, it's about vulnerable people and their, often desperate, parents.
Why is it that time and again, politicians and officials "listen" to families and then come up with policies that dilute what they have been told to such an extent that local authorities can pretty much ignore them without too much fear of redress. Why is it that today, as much as it ever was, the disabled children of those who are the least able to fight (for whatever reason), are the most likley to lose out?
This is why families are angry and launching judicial reviews and protesting cuts. Even in 2016, head teachers were telling the government that children with SEND were being failed by cuts.
Information for young people with SEND who aren't happy with their provision
Entitled SEND Disagreement Resolution - When People Can't Agree - A Guide for Young People in Education, it's a guide for young people on how to resolve SEND disagreements at school or college. You can download the publication here.
It's probably most useful for organisations offering support to young people with SEND but I would hope that local authorities will also include this on their Local Offer sites.
If you're interested in increasing your learning about EHCP experiences and best practice, you should also bookmark EHCP Journeys website, bourne of much research from Amy Skipp. You can read an SNJ post about it here.
You can also read about the new plans for parental support from Dame Christine Lenehan here.
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She is also an experienced broadcast and print journalist & author. Tania also runs a PR, web & social media consultancy, SocialOro Media. She is a Rare Disease & chronic pain patient advocate with Ehlers Danlos syndrome.
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