Here to help with questions relating to learning disability and its impact on family carers
The following email was sent by a Rescare member (Z) in the North of England, who has considerable practical experience in the classroom of Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision. Z emphasises the reality of the current situation – in stark contrast to the situation aspired to in policy statements and proposed legislation e.g. the Children and Families Bill.
Z addressed this email to Matthew Dodd at National Children’s Bureau, but sent copies to his local MP, the Archbishop of York, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, appropriate contacts at Ofsted and the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, and to relevant ministers at the Department for Education.
Sent: 31 January 2014 00:09
Subject: SEN Policy and bullying scandal in schools
FAO: Matthew Dodd – SEC Policy Officer, National Children’s Bureau
I am extremely concerned by the impact the Government s new procedures for SEN and categories of need replacing Statements and the ill-informed and bogus report from Ofsted about the supposed over-identification of children with SEN in schools. These have had the disastrous consequence of pressuring schools into assertively avoiding the identification of children with special educational needs at all; avoiding obtaining SEN Statements for children who need them a considerable time before they are officially abolished and also before the new arrangements for the combined Education, Health and Care Plans are in place. It is resulting in children with obvious autism, severe dyslexia, dyspraxia, speech and language difficulties, etc in mainstream schools not being assessed, not being identified or diagnosed and not receiving any specialist support or recognition of their disabling conditions and special needs resulting in no provision for them. A whole cohort of children are now passing through the primary phase and some are already in the secondary phase of education resulting in a timebomb of unmet need.
The prison Reform Trust did research showing a disturbing increase in the numbers of young people with special needs, learning disabilities and / or difficulties and autism, in addition to other complex and multiple needs and disabilities ending up in prison, young offender institutions, secure hospitals or otherwise embroiled in the criminal justice system having, in many cases, accidentally collided with the system, not because they are dangerous criminals, but rather as vulnerable young people who, in addition to their family carers, did not receive the recognition and support to which they were entitled in the education system.
What can be done about this disaster?
Some mainstream schools have been encouraged to get rid of as many special needs children as possible to save money as a result of the budget cuts and as a means of improving their league table and Ofsted inspection results. Children with SEN, their parents and the staff with the experience and expertise in teaching and supporting them have all, in some schools, been subjected to bullying and intimidation by headteachers and school governors, apparently with the full knowledge and support of local authority Children s Services Officers and Ofsted inspector approval. (By getting rid of skilled staff who can teach children with SEN, it discourages parents from sending their children to those schools.) Staff who have expressed concern or complained formally about this appalling situation have found themselves bullied, intimidated, victimised and subjected to compromise agreements and gagging clauses very similar to the NHS / CQC scandal and cover-up. The situation seems to be worse in some areas in Church of England primary schools, but the Church seems to be in total denial about the unlawful and discriminatory actions of some of their headteachers and foundations governors selected from local churches serving on school governing bodies.
There will have to be some form of public enquiry and all the statutory and other agencies involved in covering up this situation will have to work out a plan of how to make amends for the damage caused to pupils, parents and school staff.
Note: Rescare also publishes news of developments in SEN provision on the Service Provision – Edcation page within this website