Letter to Robin Walker MP, Chair of the Education Select Committee
ALLFIE’s letter to the the Education Committee Chair regarding the importance of inclusive education and our concerns with the current education system, including the absence of a fully implemented Article 24 (on inclusive education) of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
Dear Mr Walker,
Firstly, congratulations on your newly elected position of Chair of the Education Committee. As you will undoubtedly be aware, your predecessor Robert Halfton had previously written a letter raising concerns about the SEND Review. The concerns highlighted included; the impact of the Government’s proposals on addressing the adversarial nature of the current SEND system, parental choice, accountability, and funding. While we have similar concerns, we would urge the Government to centre the review’s implementation on inclusive education and align its values to those outlined by Article 24 (on inclusive education) of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
ALLFIE has over 30 years of experience and is the only Disabled People’s Organisation (DPO) focused on campaigning for inclusive education within mainstream settings. We passionately believe that inclusive education is a fundamental human right, as set out by the UNCRPD and is the basis for all Disabled people to develop, achieve and thrive.
Much like the previous witnesses heard by the committee, both our members and SEND Review submission have expressed our concern about the significant pressures on the SEND system, and the extent to which the Government’s current proposals will address those pressures.
Furthermore, recent reports from the office of the Children’s Commissioner seem to frame the education of Disabled people as a form of service provision for being cared for, rather than a mainstream inclusive learning environment. The approach taken in this report aligns to practices based on supremacy of ability. This ability-led framework deeply entrenched the barriers and ableism facing Disabled people trying to access inclusive and equitable education within their own mainstream settings in the community ALLFIE also knows that this ability-based approach disadvantages people from marginalised communities because of the social oppression.
We are concerned that previous funding proposals have steered away from inclusive education and towards increasing segregated provision. For example, 280 million pounds1 had been allocated to increasing segregated placements, improving facilities and which included the building of 35 new segregated ’special’ schools2. While cost is only meant to be relevant within EHCP assessments when comparing two suitable schools, data used by Independent Provider of Special Education Advice (IPSEA) in their training, reveals that local authorities will operate a financial presumption that funding will equate to £6,000 per pupil labelled with SEN, while special school placements are base line funded to £10,000 per child. Meaning that not only is a larger proportion of funding being invested into segregated provision than into more inclusive mainstream support, but IPSEA training data also suggests that Local Authorities make savings from residential placements in terms of respite and direct payments. This means that educational choices are being used to balance budgets rather than find the best educational outcome for a Disabled child. The further use of education as being synonymous with care within the Children’s Commissioner report on SEND, risks further entrenching this practice. The SEND Review currently includes no measures to prevent a child’s right to education being overlooked.
We ask that the Education Committee commits to working with DPOs and organisation such as ALLFIE to secure Disabled people’s right to inclusive education within mainstream settings. The committee should align its principles with article 24 of the UNCRPD and ensure these are at the heart of the government’s agenda for education.
Director to Alliance for Inclusive Education