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Briefings prior to 2009

Briefing on the Education and Skills Bill - New Sanctions - No New Rights

The Government has described the recently published Education and Skills Bill as the 'biggest reform to education, training and skills in a generation'.
One of the proposed changes to current education law is raising the education and training leaving age from 16years to 18years by 2015 which will mean that young people will have to remain in full time education, training or a combination of the two until they are 18yrs. Other proposals include strengthening the provision and support available to young people and adults to meet the ambition set out in the Leitch Review of achieving 'world class' skills by 2020. The Leitch Review of Skills, published in December 2006, recommended that radical action needed to be taken to stop the sharp decline in the number of low skilled jobs from the present 3.2 million to 600,000 by 2020.
The Bill also includes the transfer of the Connexxions service to Local Authorities and there will be a new requirement on Local Authorities to promote young people's participation and to support them to find appropriate education and training opportunities.

Key aspects of the Bill include:

Raising the education or training participation age to 17 years by 2013 and to 18 years by 2015 - ensuring that every young person is in some form of recognised education or training until they are 18. This will involve placing a duty on young people and their parents to participate. Despite what the Government says about no young person being forced to stay at school, failure to participate could result in a fine or legal action.

Adult skills - giving adults better access to basic and intermediate skills. The Learning and Skills Council will have a duty to ensure the proper provision of free courses for basic literacy and numeracy programmes and courses leading to a first full level 2 qualification. It also means that 19-25 year olds who are undertaking their first full level 3 qualification do not have to pay tuition fees. However with a stronger emphasis on education and training opportunities that lead to employment outcomes there is a danger that these courses will only be open to young people who need little in the way of additional learning support or flexibility of course time table and curriculum.

The Bill also gives the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority additional powers, to enable it to recognise and accredit a wider range of awarding bodies, thereby reducing bureaucracy and increasing the transparency of the accreditation process.

Information, Advice and Guidance - local authorities will be required to have regard to the new Quality Standards for Information, Advice and Guidance. There will also be a duty on schools to provide impartial careers education to help pupils to make the most appropriate future learning and career choices.

Planning and funding of 16-19 provision to transfer to to local authorities (subject to consultation and legislation). This also includes funding for Connexxions Services

New role for Employers - provision of Apprenticeships and other work-related learning. There will be no requirement if they employ a 16 or 17 year old for less than 20 hours a week, or provide accredited training; otherwise, they will need to ensure that a young person is in learning or will be required to provide or arrange accredited training, or release them from work for the equivalent of one day a week to train elsewhere (with no requirement to pay them for that time). There will be support for employers to accredit good quality training schemes and a brokerage service to help the choice of appropriate training

Transport - changes in the Bill mean that local authorities will have to ensure that when they provide transport to schools they not only take into account distance, but also time. This has been in response to complaints that many young people have to take very long bus rides when the journey could be done much quicker by train.

Independent schools will no longer have to consult the Secretary of State on minor changes, nor will they have to apply separately to be an approved special school. Independent schools will now be overseen by Ofsted rather than directly by the Secretary of State.

Extension of an existing power for governing bodies of maintained schools in England to exclude students to receive provision to improve their behaviour; This is a deeply worrying clause and can only result on schools increasing the numbers of exclusions of young people with 'behaviour' labels. We believe it is no coincidence that within the Government's new Children's Plan there are proposals for new 'studio' schools, being new smaller schools but, says very little about who will attend or why. These new plans to increase segregated education provision fly in the face of the Government's commitment to inclusion which it recently renewed by signing up to the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Government believes that raising the education/training age participation age will potentially benefit the economy by around £2.4bn per year group. It is the Government's hope that by 2015 every young person will be in some form of education or training until the age of 18 and there will be a range of free training beyond that.

Whilst the Alliance for Inclusive Education welcomes the opportunity the Bill creates to look at the education and training requirements of young people, we are concerned that the changes needed to improve the experiences of education for disabled young people has not been given a high enough priority. For example, there is nothing in the Bill that supports the need for any new provision to be inclusive or education and training provision that promotes equality.

We are concerned that the sole focus is on getting into paid employment which, for a number of reasons, may not be appropriate for some disabled young people who may require more time and different support to achieve a broader range of outcomes. These outcomes may include paid work but may also involve contributing to their local community in different ways.

The Bill's proposals do not to get to the heart of the current education system which fails so many of our young disabled people, in fact the Bill could be very easily seen as a cynical move to addressing the large numbers of disabled young people who are not in education, employment or training, rather than genuinely wanting to support disabled young people to learn new skills.

Disabled people aged 16-18 are twice as likely as non-disabled peers to be not in education, employment or training. By 26, disabled young people are far more likely than their peers to feel that there is nothing they can do to change their lives.
Also with such a heavy focus on employment and employability those disabled young people who do not easily 'fit' within the proposed 'work focused' education and training system, will be forced out of mainstream courses where eligibility is based on ability to achieve existing academic qualifications within the same time frame. For this group of disabled young people the future is very likely to continue to be focused on a merry-go-round of 'life skills' courses which by their very nature reinforce much of the disempowering messages that disabled young people hear about themselves.

Many disabled young people, particularly young people with learning difficulties or differences, and those segregated into special schools, have had a negative experience of what the current education system can offer them so without the Bill giving more enforceable rights to 'person-centred' and inclusive support across all aspects of post 16 learning. It is difficult to see how the low aspirations for disabled young people fostered in special school settings will be tackled after 16 if the young person is forced to remain in the same disempowering environment.

Although the Alliance supports the Government's desire to for young people in England and Wales to achieve 'world class' skills by 2020, we are deeply concerned by the narrow 'work-focused' definition of 'world class'. The Alliance believes achieving 'world class' skills should mean that ALL young people will have the right to develop existing skills and learn new skills and for those achievements to be recognised as having equal value. 'World class' skills should enable disabled young people to seek out opportunities to contribute to their communities and to have equality of life chances alongside their non disabled peers.

However, to really accomplish this the Government will need to radically rethink the way in which young people have their educational outcomes tested or accredited. Currently testing and assessment systems are all set to a non disabled standard which has meant that many disabled young people, particularly those with learning differences, have been denied the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and learning in a way that is equally valued. This has resulted in these young people being thrown on the 'NEET' scrapheap.

The Alliance is calling for the Government to include in its 'biggest reform for a generation', a strengthening of the right to an education that is inclusive of ALL young people. This must include person-centred support for learning. This also means education and learning institutions, as well as qualifications and awards bodies, addressing their existing disablist practices in a much more pro active way so that disabled young people feel they will be welcomed by education providers and can be sure that they will genuinely benefit from the proposed 2 extra years of compulsory education or training .

The Alliance will be working with other organisations to make the following changes to the Education & Skills Bill:

Remove the possibility of sanctions for non participation

Recognition that support should also be made available to those young people who have not reached a Level 1 qualification

Guaranteed support for disabled young people accessing inclusive post 16 education and training

A right for young people to have access to accessible information about what their options are for post 16 education and training

A duty on schools, colleges and other education and training institutions to removing the barriers to learning for disabled learners

Please contact Tara Flood at the Alliance for Inclusive Education if you want to be part of the campaign. We are very keen to hear from disabled young people who have stories about their experiences of education and training course after they have left school. Tara can be contacted on tel: 020 7735 5277 or email:

Tory SEN Report Press Release

Tory SEN report takes education for disabled children back to the dark ages

The Conservative Party have, once again, deliberately ignored the voices of disabled people and many parents in the writing of their 'Commission on Special Needs in Education' 2nd Report - those disabled people and parents who have experienced, firsthand, an inclusive education. Instead the report has listened to the same voices as used in the first report - voices that have a vested interest in keeping the 'special is best' myth alive. These are the voices that have whipped up by the moral panic about special school closures - a moral panic fuelled by the Conservatives.

The report also chooses to ignore the many good practice examples where disabled children with SEN labels are being included in their local mainstream schools. We assume this is because it does not support David Cameron's desire to turn the educational clock back 30 years to a time when the vast majority of disabled children were banished to the wastelands of special education.

It is fundamentally untrue that inclusion is a 'failed ideology'. The Alliance has many fantastic examples of schools who have embraced inclusion which has benefited both disabled and non-disabled children. Such examples can also be found in the Government's "Implementing the Disability Discrimination Act in Schools and Early Years Settings" resource pack.

Tara Flood, Director at the Alliance said:

"This report demonstrates flawed thinking at every level and a total lack of understanding as to the lifelong damage done by segregated education. The Conservative solution to what the report describes as the 'grevious damage' done by inclusion, is to return to the time when disabled children were segregated from society but, evidence now shows that the lifelong impact of segregating disabled children into the special education system leads to poor educational outcomes, low self esteem and low aspirations for the future as compared with their non-disabled peers."

Tara Flood, Director of Alliance for Inclusive Education

Further reading:
"Snapshots of Possibility", shining examples of inclusive education.
Published by the Alliance for Inclusive Education

New disability convention signals a global commitment to inclusive education for ALL disabled people

Joint Press Release from Alliance for Inclusive Education, Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education, Disability Equality in Education and Parents for Inclusion 30th March 2007

A dawning of a new era of inclusion for disabled people arrives today, because the UK Government will be signing the new United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The UK Inclusion movement which includes the Alliance for Inclusive Education, Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education, Disability Equality in Education and Parents for Inclusion are delighted that the UK Government will be one of the first member states to sign up to the new Convention. We warmly welcome the UK Government signing the Disability Convention. This will significantly help the Government in a gradual transition from segregated 'special' schooling to fully resourced and well supported inclusion in mainstream education'.

The Convention, which is the first human rights treaty of the 21st century, promotes respect for the inherent dignity of all disabled people and safeguards all disabled people's human rights and fundamental freedoms. The educational rights of disabled children and young people are directly addressed in Article 24, which stipulates an inclusive education system at primary, secondary and tertiary level. In particular, Article 24 specifies that States Parties shall ensure "an inclusive education system at all levels", that "persons with disabilities receive the support required, within the general education system, to facilitate their effective education", and that essential staff training "shall incorporate disability awareness and the use of appropriate augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication, educational techniques and materials to support persons with disabilities."

The organisations also welcomed the call by Vernor Muñoz Villalobos, the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, for UN Member States to increase efforts to ensure that all children, regardless of differences, learn together. The four bodies said it supported the vision of inclusive education for all which would mean capacity building the mainstream system to provide for ALL and phasing out of segregated 'special' schooling. Mr. Munoz Villalobos told the Human Rights Council in Geneva last week that educational systems should stop seeing disabled children as problems, but rather as an opportunity to enrich schools. Obstacles to inclusive education, he noted, include limited resources and the lack of genuine political will.

Members of the UK Inclusion Movement who were involved in the Ad Hoc Committee negotiations in New York, have issued this joint statement urging the UK Government to begin developing an implementation strategy so that this ground breaking, global opportunity becomes a reality for the 600 million disabled people across the world.

Allfie, CSIE, DEE and PI urge the Government to:

Acknowledge that disabled people continue to face barriers in their participation as equal members of society.

Acknowledge the importance of accessibility to education in ensuring disabled people can fully enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Acknowledge that segregated provision can lead to profound social disadvantage for disabled people.

Reaffirm a strong commitment to inclusive education for all children and young people.

Take measures, including legislative measures, to promote inclusive education
engage in constructive dialogue with the disabled community, acknowledging the diversity of disabled people by consulting widely.

Establish a mechanism for a co-ordinated, thorough and far-reaching review and restructure of current provision, so as to render all mainstream schools capable of adequately providing for all children and young people.

Establish and support a nationwide professional development initiative which will enable all school staff to access training aimed at disability awareness as well as practical skills and resources for inclusive education.

Adoption of UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Press Release from UK Inclusion Movement on Adoption of UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by General Assembly 13th December 2006

The adoption today of the Convention on the 'Rights of Persons with Disabilities' by the United Nations General Assembly marks an historic day for improving the human rights of 650million disabled people around the world.

The Inclusion Movement in the United Kingdom is particularly enthusiastic that the Convention contains a clear commitment to inclusive education for all disabled children and young people ( Article 24- Education).

The process of making this Convention fully involved disabled people and their allies and reached broad agreement on implementing inclusive education for all.

The arrival of this new convention-the first in the C21st-confirm the imperative for change to reduce unnecessary segregation of disabled pupils in the school system.

The Inclusion Movement in the UK is now keen to work with the Government to implement this new human rights convention.

Alliance for Inclusive Education - contact Tara Flood 020 7735 5277
Centre for Studies in Inclusive Education - contact Mark Vaughan 0117 328 4007
Disability Equality in Education - contact Richard Rieser 020 7359 2855
Parents for Inclusion - contact Jo Cameron 020 7735 7735

UN Convention
Briefing for the 8th Session of the Ad Hoc Committee
August 14 - 25 2006 New York

The Alliance for Inclusive Education is a UK-based national network lead by disabled people and supported by allies that include, parents, educators, Head Teachers. The Alliance has campaigned successfully, over the last 15 years, to remove the legal conditions which have served to limit the rights of children with Special Educational Needs to secure a supported mainstream placement. We have also been very influential in bringing education into the remit of the UK Disability Discrimination Act, strengthening the right of disabled young people to protection from discrimination within the education system.

The Alliance for Inclusive Education has welcomed the commitment from the United Nations General Assembly to the protection of disabled children's and adult's human rights. And that there is now a global appreciation that existing human rights instruments are not offering disabled children and adults adequate protections from abuses of those rights.

We hope that the elaboration of a UN Convention protecting the rights and dignity of ALL disabled persons will offer us the same rights and protections currently available to others.

Only with such a body can the Convention be properly monitored and implemented, thereby upholding the commitment of governments to promoting the rights of persons with disabilities.

Existing treaty bodies do not have sufficient expertise on disability rights and because 'disability' or 'disabled persons' are only mentioned specifically in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (and even then only in relation to health), our rights are often ignored in states parties' reports to monitoring bodies. In fact, in an analysis of concluding observations of all human rights treaty bodies it was revealed that there is, at best, minimal attention afforded to the rights of disabled people.

As a UK based national campaigning network for the right of ALL disabled children to an inclusive education, the Alliance for Inclusive Education, is particularly concerned to ensure that the proposed Convention gives us additional legal power to lobby our own Government to create the necessary changes in the UK education system that will support the inclusion of ALL children in mainstream schools and will therefore make segregated schooling a thing of the past.

It is therefore important that Article 24 on Education is sufficiently progressive in its language on inclusion as to mean that segregated schooling must no longer a reality for any disabled child, where ever they live in the world. The calls from some states parties for 'choice' of provision suggests an unwillingness to see beyond existing educational practices and desire to set in stone (by way of this Convention text) language that reflects the current situation and not disabled peoples aspirations for an inclusive future for ALL.

The Alliance therefore supports the amendments to Article 24 submitted by the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education, and those of the IDC, to ensure that all support measures available to disabled learners are "consistent with the goal of full inclusion".

Tara Flood, the Director of the Alliance will be attending the 8th Session to support and strengthen the voices for inclusion.

OFSTED Report Press Release

OFSTED report rebalances the "Inclusion" debate

At a time when we have been bombarded with hyped up "bad inclusion" stories and biased reports which have ignored and taken against the possibility of inclusive learning for all children, the Alliance is delighted that this report has found that "there was more good and outstanding provision in resourced mainstream schools than elsewhere".

Once again, Local Education Authorities (LEAs) come under attack for their unwillingness to properly support the additional learning requirements of disabled children and young people with SEN labels, and for the over bureacratic nature of the SEN statementing process made worse by LEAs who place restrictions of the numbers of chidren eligible for assessment.

The Alliance has many fantastic examples of schools who have embraced a diverse pupil community and at long last we have an evidence-based report that supports the value of disabled children and young people with SEN labels being included in properly resourced mainstream.

The Alliance will endeavour to work with all education stakeholders to make the reports recommendations a reality.

Tara Flood, Director at the Alliance:
"this a brave report given the current attacks on inclusion - we must use this evidence to convInce the Government that it must focus on capacity building mainstream schools so they can better include a more diverse range of learners"

Contacts for press enquiries: Tara Flood, Director of Alliance for Inclusive Education - 07932 750 667

Further reading:
"Snapshots of Possibility", shining examples of inclusive education.
Published by the Alliance for Inclusive Education

Education and Skills Select Committee Press Release July 6th 2006

Select Committee report identifies some practical steps to inclusion but, fails to recognise its lifelong value.

Whilst the Alliance for Inclusive Education and BCODP broadly welcome the Education & Skills Select Committee report, particularly with regard to the call to review the existing and overly bureaucratic statementing process, better training for teachers, and a focus on pupil centred planning. However we are concerned that the Inclusion good practice that does exist, once again, has been ignored in favour of the moral panic about the closure of segregated 'special' schools.

It is a fact that those of us working in the inclusion movement had to fight very hard to have our voices heard, during the evidence gathering process, and we think that the resulting report which focusses on the negative experiences of parents and has effectively ignored the very real and postive experiences of the many disabled young people who have had the opportunity to learn alongside their non disabled peers in mainstream schools that are successfully delivering inclusion on a daily basis to a diverse pupil community.

The Select Committee report talks about 'effective partnership with parents and communities' but, this must take into account the forthcomming public sector duty to promote equality for disabled people, and properly involve disabled children and young people.

Tara Flood, Director at the Alliance says "we are very disappointed that the Select Committee has failed to highlight the many many good examples of early years centres, schools and FE colleges that are sucessfully including all learners, and in particular those with SEN labels"

Contacts for press enquiries:

Tara Flood, Director -

NUT Press Release 16th May 2006

NUT wrong to attack inclusion when integration is the problem

The Alliance is appalled that the MacBeath report, published today on behalf of the NUT suggests that inclusion is 'abusive'. It is the Government that is committing abuse by failing all children considered to have 'special educational needs' because it talks the language of inclusion but, is delivering second rate integration.

Of course, we have some empathy with NUT members who are struggling to support the learning needs of a more diverse range of learners but they must understand that real inclusion is about disabled children and young disabled people with special educational needs being supported in mainstream provision, where there is a commitment to removing all barriers to the full participation of each child as a valued, unique individual. And when we talk about barriers, we mean more than just the physical environment. It means better training and resources for teachers, a more flexible and creative curriculum that supports a range of learning outcomes that are not driven by unrealistic outcomes and league table targets and that education is broader than academic achievement.

Delivering real and lasting inclusion will mean a fundamental shift in the Government's current Education agenda which properly recognises the lifelong benefit to society, of a fully inclusive world where prejudice and disablism has been eradicated because all its citizens' contributions are considered to be of equal value.

"Segregation in childhood will almost certainly mean lifelong segregation".

Tara Flood, Director -

Heading for Inclusion Press Release - Responding to Warnock

Heading for inclusion is a group of Headteachers and senior school leaders dedicated to the ideals of a fully inclusive mainstream education system.

Inclusion Works!

Headteachers and senior school leaders up and down the country are dismayed at the negative portrait that has been presented of inclusive education over the past weeks following Baroness Warnock's recent unfortunate comments. We, of all people, are the first to admit that inclusion is not always easy; does not always provide quick fixes and needs to be properly funded. Equally, we have daily experience of seeing how inclusion is powerfully changing the world for the next generation of young people - for the better. Inclusion for us is ultimately about building a society in which all people are valued for who they are; where young people learn to throw away the prejudices with which we were brought up and can work together to create a new 'inclusive' world. Some of us are well on the way to modelling internationally renowned school environments which respond to the needs of each child - and develop them into the creative, intelligent, loving, thoughtful human beings that is their birthright. Many of us are at various stages on the way.

Baroness Warnock is wrong when she says inclusion is not working. We know that there are parents, children and indeed schools who are not completely happy with the current situation. We need to remember, however, that the alternative Eugenic model of segregated education has failed many more children - through very low expectations, ghettoisation - and most seriously - an impaired ability of its receipients to engage in mainstream society when they leave. Our system of segregated education must end!

There are, of course, dedicated professionals with highly valuable skills in special schools. As special schools close these people need to come and work in the new inclusive mainstream schools and bring their expertise to support all children. There are numerous examples of mainstream schools adopting new practice to respond to the needs of a child with special needs and finding that many other children also benefit from the change.

One school, which included a child with Downs syndrome, taught all the children and staff Makaton only to find that many of the children were able to benefit from receiving information in that way.

In one school with provision for children with Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties the children repeatedly elected a child with an EBD statement to represent them on the school council because they knew he would not be afaid to put their views to the Headteacher. When he first started at the school many children had been afraid of him. Because of inclusion he put his temper and violence behind him and became a valued member of his society.

School Councils, circles of friends, peer counselling, circles of support are just some of the ways inclusion is improving the lives of children - every day.

Inclusion is a radical agenda - we are talking about changing the whole of society. Barones Warnock would do well to come and talk to Headteachers to see how wonderful those changes are proving to be. We look forward to meeting with her.
Chair of Heading for Inclusion

Salamanca Statement

The Salamanca Statement of the UNESCO World Conference On Special Needs
Education: Access and Quality (June 1994) states that:
Every child has a fundamental right to education and must be given the
opportunity to achieve and maintain acceptable levels of learning;
Every child has unique characteristics, interests, abilities and
learning needs;
Education systems should be design and educational programs implemented
to take into account the wide diversity of these characteristics and
those with special educational needs must have access to mainstream
schools which should accommodate them within a child-centred pedagogy
capable of meeting these needs;
Mainstream schools with this inclusive orientation are the most
effective means of combating discriminatory attitudes, creating
welcoming communities, building an inclusive society and achieving
education for all. Moreover, they provide an effective education for the
majority (without special needs) and improve the efficiency and
ultimately the cost-effectiveness of the entire education system.
The statement went on to urge Governments to:
Give the highest policy and budgetary priority to improve the education
system to enable them to include all children regardless of individual
differences or difficulties.
Adopt as a matter of law or policy the principle of inclusive education,
enrolling all children in mainstream schools, unless there are
compelling reasons for doing otherwise.
Develop demonstration projects in conjunction with LEA's in every
locality and introduce a teacher exchange programme with countries
having more experience with inclusive schools.
Establish decentralised and participatory mechanisms for planning,
monitoring and evaulating educational provision for children and adults
with special educational needs.
Encourage and facilitate the participation of parents, communities and
organisations of disabled people in the planning decision making
processes concerning the provision for special educational needs.
Invest greater effort in early identification and intervention
strategies, as well as in vocational aspects of inclusive education.
Ensure that, in context of a systematic change, teacher education
programmes, both pre-service and in-service, address the provision of
special needs education in inclusive schools.
The statement was adopted by 94 Governments and over 20 NGOs. In October
1997, the UK Government gave its support in the Green Paper Excellence for
All. NUT adopted this as a policy in 1996.

© Disability Equality in Education.

We Know Inclusion Works Press Release

The 'We Know Inclusion Works Campaign' says:
"Less parliamentary debate and more action on inclusion"

On Thursday 26 October at 2pm disabled children and young people, and their families are marching with a request to meet Alan Johnson the Secretary of State for Education and hand in a collection of powerful first hand accounts of inclusive education.

The Government's response to the Education and Skills Select Committee report on Special Educational Needs is being discussed, during a parliamentary debate, on the same day.

The Education and Skills Select Committee report, published in July this year, states that inclusion isn't working and recommends a 'continuum of flexible provision' which inclusionists fear will allow for the segregation of disabled learners to continue.

However, on every occasion the voices of inclusion have been IGNORED - disabled children, young people and their families who know that inclusion can work and does work. Over the last few months the inclusion of disabled children and young people has been ATTACKED by teacher's unions, academics and the Government.

Now the Alliance for Inclusive Education has collected real-life stories from up and down the country from disabled children and their families which prove INCLUSION WORKS. These stories describe disabled children's own positive experience of being included at school, and parents' experiences of getting their disabled child or young person into a mainstream nursery or school. These stories explain the genuine difference the inclusion of a disabled child has made to the lives of families, communities and schools.

Tara Flood, the director of the Alliance for Inclusive Education says:

"These stories represent the voice of many children and families who have up to now been ignored by the government. The government has a clear commitment to inclusion and must start to implement its policy rather than backtrack in response to the current moral panic on special school closures."

Maresa McKeith, a disabled young person says: "Inclusion for me is about a society which respects the humanity of its people."

Disabled children will be delivering volumes of these stories directly to Alan Johnson at the Department for Education and Skills so we can make sure that instead of being ignored, the voice of disabled children and young people will be heard.