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The Authorities Are Right- For A Change!

December 12, 2008

Government ministers have finally admitted what I, and too many people I know, have been saying for too many years.


At last, an inquiry is being conducted into special needs education in England. Early findings suggest that parents feel the system is not on their side.


Inquiry chairman Brian Lamb has said some local authorities in England are not meeting their legal obligations.


Ministers accepted his concerns and announced a £38m package to raise expectations and give support.


Schools Secretary Ed Balls ordered an investigation to tackle “the failure of some local authorities to comply with their SEN [special educational needs] duties”.


In a letter to Mr Balls, Brian Lamb said: no-one discussed with parents what their hopes and aspirations were for their children.


I’d just like to say that I’ve always known that all of this was true twenty years ago, when my friends and I were in school. This might give you some idea of what Local Education Authorities used to be like with Special Needs children. I thought things were better now, though, but the news of this  inquiry has shown me how wrong I was. What a shame that parents still feel this way.


At least now, though, Special Needs children and their parents have something that we didn’t have twenty years ago. Ed Balls is on their side. He has said that he agrees with Mr Lamb that the government needs to “act now to improve the outcomes for children with special needs and to increase parental confidence”.


“Every child should have the opportunity to reach their full potential, including those with special educational needs, but all too often parents tell us they have to fight the system to get what their children need,” said Mr Balls.


“I am determined that this will change. I see today as the start of a new and more ambitious vision for SEN. I want to eradicate the presumption that mediocre achievement is the best this group of pupils can hope for.


I agree with every word.


Of the £38m promised to boost SEN provision, £31m would be spent on a pilot project involving 10 local authorities.


The scheme would aim to get all schools to rethink their expectations for children with SEN and develop approaches to focus more on their outcomes, he said.

The remaining £7m would be used to support pupils in schools and to boost leadership.


The Lamb review also said there was “a failure to consider SEN and disability issues in some mainstream policies and programmes”.


Leading disability charities have welcomed the inquiry.  The chief executive of The National Autistic Society, Mark Lever, said: “We hear day in day out from families affected by autism who have to go through lengthy and stressful battles to get the education support for their children which should be theirs by right.


Too many families we work with find that they are unable to access the support and information that they are entitled to, so we particularly pleased that the department will be investigating how local authorities and schools are complying with their legal responsibilities to children with special needs and disabilities.


Autism affects one in 100 children in the UK and the right support at the right time can make the world of difference to a child’s experience at school and their future outcomes.”


Jennifer Owen Adams, from the British Dyslexia Association, said: “Much more needs to be done to help parents and families with dyslexic children get the help their child requires. Recognition of this is just the first step.


We will continue to support the work of the Lamb inquiry and look forward to the report’s conclusions.”


The final report is due in September 2009. If it helps even one child to get appropriate Special Needs support and, as a result, to benefit fully from their education, then I think it will come on time.

This post is part of the Inclusion Rules! debate at Same Difference.


One Comment leave one →
  1. December 13, 2008 1:06 pm

    Lovel,keep it up

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