‘Meeting the Challenge of the New SEN/ Disability Framework: Protecting the Entitlement of Disabled Children, those with SEN and their Teachers.’
Speech given by Richard Rieser at Conference Fringe Meeting Monday 21st April 2014 in Brighton Centre, 12.45.
The new framework will adversely impact on all teachers and children and reverse current practice of inclusion.
Countering the bias to Inclusive Education was the stated Manifesto commitment of the Tories, personally written by David Cameron and adopted by the Coalition. This ideological stance combined with the wider commitment to privatisation and ‘choice’ in the accelerated introduction of free schools and academies has provided a toxic background to the framing of the Children and Families Act, Part 3. This will be implemented in all English local authorities school, Early Years settings and FE colleges from September 2014.
There have been some potentially positive moves:
- There must b a local offer for those with SEN and disability, produced by local authorities and subject to consultation with parents and young people with SEN/ disability.
- The provision is from 0-25. Education Health and Care Plans (EHC) cover this period.
- Health Service has to provide what is required to meet the needs of those with SEN.
- There will be an EHC Plan to replace a statement-transition will be 3 years from September 2014, but no effective means of enforcing the non-educational health and social care.
- Further Education and Post Schools provision will be part of same legal framework, though Higher Education is excluded.
However, there are far more potentially negative impacts on children and teachers:
- The School Action/School Action stage is being replaced by one SEN school-based stage.
- All teachers, not the SENCO, will be responsible for the progress of these children, including recording and meeting with parents. This has major workload implications.
- The Individual Education Plan is going and there will be no agreed format for recoding interventions
- The presumption of inclusion is significantly weakened by more caveats which schools can use to object to admitting a pupil with SEN.
- Children without an EHC plan/Statement can be placed in a special academy or special free school and have none of current legal protections of children with a statement- this will lead to dumping as parents can be misled by managements who don’t want their children.
- It will be much harder to get an EHC plan than getting a statement. This has been made more difficult by new school funding arrangements- funding consists of AWPU, school top-up funding for special needs to £10,000. The school will have to demonstrate it is spending £10,000 on the individual pupil before many local authorities will give an assessment for an EHC Plan and access to the Higher Needs Budget, even though this will be unlawful. The Higher Needs Budget funds all individual Special Needs expenditure, above £10,000 per pupil/student and covers Early Years, schools including special and residential special schools, colleges, special colleges and other provision. The local authority holds this budget.
- Families and young people will be able to have personal budgets for services, which will cause many issues in schools.
- The legislation is not as specific and parents have lost some of their current legal protections.
Schools are also under a duty to provide auxiliary aids and services to disabled pupils/students as a reasonable adjustment. This is an anticipatory adjustment which means it needs to be in place before the pupil arrives and certainly from when they are in the school. Schools need to keep funds for these adjustments. This is at odds with the graduated approach being suggested for the school stage.
Support Motion 30 and the updating amendment from Hackney which gives the NUT policy on the above and instructs the Executive to initiate urgent policy discussions with the Opposition and other interested parties in the voluntary sector, trade unions and parents’ organizations, to develop a strategy of damage limitation and to ensure alternative mechanisms are developed to enable all children and young people with SEN to have their needs met and to maximise the development of inclusive practice throughout the education system. This is backed up by an action and campaign strategy to defend current provision and to fight for a more inclusive ‘local offer’.
NUT 2014 Policy overwhelmingly adopted by over 1100c delegates representing 330,000 teachers in England and Wales. Sunday 20th April 2014
SPECIAL EDUCATION AND INCLUSION
“Conference reiterates its policy of 2011 of supporting inclusive education and developing disability equality in mainstream schools.
Conference recognises that Part 3 of the Children and Families Bill (though expanding the protection of a Statement through the Education Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan) to 0-25 year old children and young people), does not provide adequate safeguards for the large majority of children and young people with special educational needs at the school/college based stage.
Conference is further concerned at the damaging impact and pace of change envisaged by the government, in particular:
1. The introduction from April 2014 of mandatory changes in school funding and the higher needs block;
2. The negative impact of these funding changes on both mainstream and special schools additional needs block and Age Weighted Pupil Unit, that will lead to a reduction in funding for special educational needs (SEN);
3. The proposed change over from Statement to EHC plan of three years from September 2014;
4. Notwithstanding the late incorporation of disabled children/ young people without SEN into some of the statutory duties, there remains a significant disconnect between SEN and Disability Equality Duties which cover many of the same pupil/student population.
5. The increased statutory responsibility on Local Authorities at a time of reduction in Local Authority budgets, in particular reductions in specialist and advisory teachers in SEN and disability; and
6. Proposals to phase out teaching assistants.
7. The weakening of the presumption of inclusion by conflating previously different tests that will make it far harder for those children and young people with SEN who want a mainstream placement to secure one ;
8. The loss of the Individual Education Plan and the new Draft Code of Practice placing the responsibility on class and subject teachers for recording progress and meeting parents of children at the School Stage. This has significant increase of workload implications;
9. The right of Special Academies and Special Free Schools to enrol children and students with SEN on an indefinite basis, without an EHC Plan, which is not permitted for maintained and non- maintained Special Schools.
Conference recognises the negative impact of the above changes on the inclusion and education of disabled children and young people and those with SEN.
Furthermore, Conference condemns comments from The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) that Inclusion is only right for some disabled children.
Conference therefore instructs the Executive to enter into urgent policy discussions with the Opposition and other interested parties in the voluntary sector, trade unions and parents’ organisations, to develop a strategy of damage limitation and to ensure alternative mechanisms are developed to enable all children and young people with SEN to have their needs met and to maximise the development of inclusive practice throughout the education system. Following these discussions and not later than January 2015, Conference instructs the Executive to launch a public campaign to ensure this plan becomes a General Election issue.
In order to safeguard the provision for disabled children and young people and those with special educational needs and to ensure that teachers’ workload is not increased in meeting these needs, Conference instructs the Executive to carry out the following:
- Produce guidance for all members on the impacts the above changes will have on students and staff;
- Provide advice and support to Divisions urging them to ensure the Local Offer fully reflects the choice of a range of quality inclusive mainstream provision with sufficient places, for children and young people, with the whole range and severity of impairments.
- Launch a publicity campaign on the impacts and the possible alternatives;
- Support for members on a school-by-school basis and across Local Authorities in balloting for sustained industrial action to protect existing provision, jobs and conditions.
- Campaign for a fully inclusive education system which ensures that disabled children are not excluded from education on the grounds of disability”.