The following article extract is taken with permission from SEN Magazine, the UK's leading special educational needs magazine.
The SEN Green Paper: history repeating
More than three decades after her influential report, Baroness Warnock fears that the Government’s SEN proposals will deliver little meaningful change
The subtitle to the long awaited Green Paper is “A new approach to special educational needs and disability”, and the document promises that all those children and young people who would now have statements of SEN should have one statutory assessment and be issued with an education, health and care plan, which would be agreed between all the professionals involved and the child’s parents (and where appropriate, with the child him/herself).
There would be a statutory obligation on the various authorities to provide the specified services, and it would be clear which authority was to fund which service. Voluntary and community organisations would also be involved in the single assessment so as to provide a measure of independence from the service providers. This new system, at the heart of the “new approach” of the report’s title, is promised for 2014, after a period of consultation and some local tests by “pathfinders".
When I first got the Green Paper in my hands, I was optimistic. This was because the foreword, signed by Michael Gove and Sarah Teather, and presumably written by the latter, was agreeably frank about the urgent need for reform of the system, and seemed to have taken account of the numerous recent reports, including those of Graham Adams and Frank Field, as well as the earlier critical reports from Ofsted and the all-party Commons Select Committee on SEN. Moreover, since one of the worst features of the present situation is the number of cumbersome assessments by different professionals that a child may have to undergo, and the fact that all of them are dictated by the then availability of funding, rather than the true needs of the child, the single assessment with an independent element seemed a good way forward, especially if the overall plan could be carried from one local authority to another if a family were to move.
But as I read on, my spirits sank...
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