Special Educational Consortium Green Paper: Outline of possible headline response
By the Special Educational Consortium (SEC)
The Special Educational Consortium have laid out 20 asks for the Send Review and Department for Education (DfE).
The Special Educational Consortium (SEC) welcomes the overall ambition of the Green Paper to identify needs early, provide consistent support and improve outcomes for all children and Young people with SEN and Disabilities. Although the ambition is welcome, SEC is not persuaded that the proposals will deliver the intended improvement or, for some of the proposals, that there is sufficient detail to know whether they could. In the context of successive rounds of legislation since 1981 (or arguably 1970), which have failed to deliver the intended outcomes, nothing could be more important than getting these proposals right.
SEC is committed to working with the DfE to contribute to the development of the proposals throughout the consultation process.
SEC’s initial response to the Green Paper is to welcome:
- Proposals for a national template for EHC plans;
- The focus on co-production;
- The broad intention that schools and settings will become more inclusive;
- Proposals that each area will have a local inclusion plan.
- We do not see any analysis that informs the DfE about what is needed to enable schools and settings to become more inclusive. We are therefore unable to see how this will be achieved;
- We can see nothing about the importance of specialist local support services that supplement and complement what schools can do on their own, nor can we see how services will be funded, though we hope this will be part of local inclusion plans;
- Little detail is provided in many of the proposals and so it is difficult to form an opinion about their possible contribution to improving the progress and outcomes for children and Young people with SEN and Disabilities.
There is significant concern in SEC about:
- The significant inequalities in the education system, particularly with regard to the over-representation of children and Young people with SEN and Disabilities in exclusions and absence figures, and their increasing placement in special schools, AP and home education. There is no reference to the duties in the Equality Act relating to this and no objectives to address these inequalities.
- We do not see how a matrix of tariffs will make schools and settings more inclusive; a focus on needs and costings distracts from the discussion about provision which is where solutions lie.
- SEC does not believe the proposed restriction of parental choice of placement has any role in making sure children’s needs are met at an earlier stage, nor that restricting access to the Tribunal helps when things have gone wrong.
- There are welcome proposals on training and qualifications but none of the proposals go far enough ‘upstream’. This is because proposals on training are about SENCOs, not about subject teachers. More Level 3 qualifications in the early years are about SEN and not about child development for all practitioners. There needs to be a greater focus on meeting a wider range of needs within the mainstream of mainstream provision.
- There is widespread concern about accountability in the system, yet the ‘top down’ approach proposed is unlikely to make an impact on individual and local decision making.
- Social care support through Early Help, Family Support and short breaks is vital to keeping children in their local school, with their family and in their local community. There is concern that there are no proposals on social care in the Green Paper. These cannot wait for the Care Review and need to develop alongside the other proposals in the Green Paper.