Inclusion Now 62

The SEND Review: Wrong Support, Wrong Place, Wrong Time.

By Richard Rieser, World of Inclusion

Published almost 3 years since its first announcement, this distinctly underwhelming report, which is linked to the Schools White Paper, is highly ideological. In fact, a better title for it might be ‘Wrong Support, Wrong Place and Wrong Time’.

The Government is wedded to ‘Good Multi Academy Trusts’ and ‘Excellent Teachers’ in a bid to level up GCSEs (4 to 5) and aim for KS2s achievement targets of 65% to 90% by 2030. This is the wrong solution and the wrong target! The Tory think tank brought in to advise them, The Education Endowment Foundation, which produces non-peer reviewed, suspect research, will further displace University Education Departments. Certainly, there are some small improvements including possible national standards of provision and Early Years improvements. Yet there is no coherent Professional Development for all Staff.

The Green Paper acknowledges that mainstream schools are more inclusive environments but does not mention what this requires, as defined by the UN CRPD Committee Gen. Comment No4 Para. 11 (on inclusive education).

“Inclusion involves a process of systemic reform embodying changes and modifications in content, teaching methods, approaches, structures, and strategies in education to overcome barriers with a vision serving to provide all students of the relevant age range with an equitable and participatory learning experience and environment that best corresponds to their requirements and preferences. Placing students with disabilities within mainstream classes without accompanying structural changes to, for example, organisation, curriculum and teaching and learning strategies, does not constitute inclusion. Furthermore, integration does not automatically guarantee the transition from segregation to inclusion”.

The right to inclusive education starts with identifying and resolving barriers to Disabled students. The Green Paper shows no understanding of this basic principle despite exhorting schools and teachers to be more inclusive.

The knowledge based, proscriptive and narrowed curriculum provides no assessment system with added value. It also marketizes standard testing and increases widening gaps in achievement, exclusion and mental health issues for staff and pupils.

There is evidence that Academies fail students labelled with SEND by excluding more, identifying less and reducing the proportion of their students with SEND compared to community schools.

Local Authorities who have statutory responsibility for all Disabled pupils/students and students with SEN must be held accountable. This is the only fair way to get the right support to every Disabled student.

The amendment below, written by the author, was carried as part of an urgency motion on the White Paper at the National Education Unions 2022 Easter Conference. It forms a good basis to organise.

“The conference further notes that the SEND Green Paper does not relate to Right support or Right place. It has little relation to supporting schools or meeting the needs of Young people with SEND.”

The Union feels that an inclusive education system must make changes to the wider framework that schools operate in. This includes; the rigid and narrow mainstream curriculum, behaviour policies and ignoring diversity and difference. School accountability measures, particularly Progress 8, are not set up to recognise the progress of children with SEND and they end up penalising inclusive schools.

The union commits to building a broad-based campaign on these issues and to achieving a system which promotes inclusion with adequate funding and career-long staff training. This would produce a person-centred approach, allowing every Young person’s achievements to count.

Based on various amendments, the conference instructs the Executive to:

  • Circulate the NEU analysis of both the White Paper and Green Paper to MPs, councillors, headteachers, governors and others to build a campaign.
  • Work with parents, unions and others to demand democratic involvement in schools.
  • Work with SEND members to share existing good practice and information to create an exemplar EHCP template.
  • Work with sister unions, parents/carers and other stakeholders to campaign for needs-led funding in all settings and to campaign against the introduction of banding.
  • Work with Initial Teacher Training providers to ensure that trainees are equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to support students with SEND.
  • Campaign to:
  1. a) Reject Standard Funding Bands.
  2. b) Make mandatory Local Authority specialist teacher teams.
  3. c) Anticipate reasonable adjustments for Disabled students.
  4. d) Ring fence funding for those on SEN school support.
  5. d) Co-operate locally with parents/carers and schools to determine funding.