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Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by billandsplodge, Mar 9, 2011.
Or is it being discussed elsewhere?
I think it's probably being read elsewhere!
It's good that 16-25 year olds are to be given parity with children in the assessment / Statementing process (we can't call it that for much longer, presumably) and that care plans are to be treated as an equal part of the assessment. But apart from that, if Statemented children really will have the same statutory protection, why does the process need to change. Very hard to see what's on offer that is radically new or different except for the age-range. Very hard, too, to see how the funding for those who are School Action Plus at the moment can be protected when there is no distinction between those children and those at School Action. The way I read it, there will be specific criteria for SEN in school (standard scores below a cut-off point or a diagnosed disability) and that will be that. Interesting times...
You have until June. Doubtless many will share their views before then.
The comment about "reversing the drive towards inclusion" worried me - that sounds like a return to special schools being the default. I do think inclusion has gone too far in some cases, but the phrasing concerned me.
Parental choice of school worried me, partly for the same reason as you but also because mainstream schools with a good rep for inclusion will get inundated with SEN kids and tip the balance of the school - mitigating the point of inclusion!
And the role of the voluntary/charity sector - another way of saying doing it on the cheap?
The stuff about reducing beaucracy and streamlining the system would be fantastic - hope it actually happens in practise!
I share your concern about the language- there's too much room for people to misinterpret in my opinion. I'm worried that the fact that the way that things are being worded (ie. reducing the number of SEN children), means that there are people with responsibility for children who may oversimplify that message and be reluctant to provide support for the children who desperately need it.
Obviously, there are cases of children being given the SEN tag where it's needless and I agree that there could be stricter guidelines, but I do feel that this may be the beginning of a worrying move away from providing children with SEN with the opportunity to succeed.
I think there is a case to be answered for the lower expectations that some professionals have of children with SEN and I certainly think there are far too many children put on our SEN register that shouldn't be there. But then without the wrap around support services it's hard to remove them.
For example, a lot of our families desperately need help with parenting (getting children to school on time, helping with homework, discipline, etc) and with this help their kids may well not be behind at school. But our home/school liaison service is being cut so where is this support going to come from.
I am very concerned it's all a cost cutting exercise dressed up to look like something else, but I will try and withhold judgement.
Agreed re: reduction of the state as lots of talk of parents of SEN children being responsible for deciding on their school .
Not quite sure how that's going to work in practise!
Anyway, still haven't had a chance to read much more as the bloody job's got in the way!
What impact do you think it will have on primary teaching?
I'm a T.A. by the way wanting to train as primary teacher.
Do you have to teach any of these "included" children. And by teach I mean in a class of 30 children. Have you considered the impact some of these children can have on the education of the majority? Have you considered the wisdom of the typical provision in mainstream education for some of these children? The wisdom that has resulted in many children going through school with an often unqualified, badly-paid TA in a large class taught by a teacher ill-equipped and with no time to deal with the often complex needs of such children. Whether the "drive towards inclusion" was the result of New Labour ideology or money saving or both, the fact is many children, both with and without special needs have been short-changed. A reversal of this drive is very welcome indeed.
My concern is their ambition to reduce the number of children defined as having SEN and the means by which they intend to reduce this number. They appear to be proposing to replace the definition of SEN currently in the code of practice which states that a child with SEN will
<ol>[*]have a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of children of the same age; or [*]have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of educational facilities of a kind generally provided for children of the same age in schools within the area of the local education authority </ol>with a much woolier definition as follows
a child with SEN will have needs which exceed those normally available in school.
This just seems so subjective and a ridiculous basis for an assessment of need. It seems to me that the withdrawal of support for children with less complex needs is going to fund the reforms for children with more severe needs. I can see that in their ideal world when all teachers have specialist training and can meet the needs of all different learning styles and varying support needs within every classroom, that this definition may be adequate. Sadly I fear the reality for now will be that school action and school action plus support will be withdrawn under this criteria long before the retraining of teachers and support staff has taken place and many of these bright and creative children that can't record and report what they've learnt without support will be swept back into remedial classes where they can be forgotten about as they were 20 years ago. In our school of 400 we don't have one teacher who has any in depth specialist training for Dyslexia or ASD for example and it would take years for all staff to be fully trained.
I think in it's current form this green paper could prove disastrous for less severe disabilities such as Dyslexia but I do think that children with more complex needs could be very well served by these new proposals so there are some positives.
The 'drive towards inclusion' started under a Labour government (with the Warnock report published in 1978), was enacted under a Conservative government in 1981 and has been supported by successive governments of various ideological persuasions since then. At the time of the report, significant numbers of children were deemed 'ineducable' and many children with visual, auditory and mobility impairments and medical conditions were not realising their potential because they couldn't access mainstream education, not because they couldn't cope with it.
The biggest problem - as you've pointed out - is the training of teachers and TAs. Statistically, we know that around 15% of the school population will
have learning difficulties of some sort, and the Warnock committee
recognised this. But at that time, teachers were being trained to gear their teaching to the learning needs of children - and there wasn't a national curriculum to 'deliver'. Also, there was considerable SEN expertise within the education system as a whole because of the numbers of teachers doing SEN courses - and that knowledge got disseminated. What's changed since 1978 is that we now have a curriculum-centred,
rather than child-centred, education system with attainment targets
derived from the performance of the child of average ability - not from
the performance of the whole range of children in mainstream schools. And an implicit assumption in education theory and in policy-making that all children in mainstream schools can access the national curriculum if only teachers 'differentiate' it. And no mainstream teacher training, as far as I can work out, in why specific children might have specific learning difficulties. And a significant reduction in the availability of SEN courses.
What Warnock had in mind was inclusion in the form of mainstream schools making reasonable adjustments for academically capable children who had physical disabilities being taught by teachers with complete control over what they taught and how - not for the inclusion of children with complex developmental or behavioural disorders struggling to cope with a curriculum that wasn't designed with them in mind.
'Inclusion' isn't the issue, IMO. The issue is ensuring that each child receives an education suitable to their age, ability, aptitude and special educational needs - and designing an education system around that requirement, not designing the system for children of the normal ability range and then expecting the 30% of the school population that aren't in the normal range, to fit into it, and then having to do an awful lot of head-scratching when they don't.
They are not talking about children with significant and genuine special needs. They are concerned about how schools inflate their SEN registers artificially to excuse low achievement and poor teaching. In most primary schools there will be children on the register who simply haven't been taught well. Recording them as having some sort of vague SEN excuses the school and, in my experience, often results in a lack of expectation as they go through the school.
A system has to be designed to meet the needs of the majority. (and how can 30% of a sample not be "within the normal range" - how are you defining normal?) That is basic common sense. Inclusion IS the issue. There are children in mainstream education who need specialist teaching and care. Velcroing them to a poorly trained TA in a school where nobody has expertise in these areas simply does not achieve this. Inclusion, in many cases results in exactly the opposite.
A lot of the debate on inclusion seems to centre around the child with SEN, but what about the impact on the other children? If there are 4 children with statements in a class, plus a number of other children with varying SEN, poor attainers (but not necessaily SEN or only mildly so) are not going to have support; class teaching might not address the needs of high flyers as things have to be appropriate for the vast number of children with difficulties; middle ability children might not get pushed on because focus is on the SEN children.
Or what about a class with a child with autism who is constantly disruptive and taking up the teachers and TAs time? What is the effect on the rest of the class and their learning when lessons are interrupted? There is also the issue about whther mainstream is suitable for a child who is obviously so stressed / overloaded by the mainstream school environment, however my point is that while these children are in school, it is the effect on the other children.
Not to mention the impact on teachers and TAs stress levels!
Whilst I am in favour of inclusion in the majority of instances, and it can have very positive effects having a variety of children with differeing needs within the school, sometimes we need to look at the wider impact that some children have on the school community.
I still maintain that much of the 'impact' of children with SEN in a class stems from the way the system is designed. If there is a great deal of whole class teaching, and classes are expected to attain specified targets in relation to specified skills and knowledge, and teachers are not trained to teach children with learning difficulties, then children with SEN will fall through the gap and 'impact' on everybody else.
When inclusion was first mooted, what and how schools and/or teachers taught was largely up to them. If you have class of children all working on different aspects of a project at their own pace, and nobody has any targets to meet (although you might have learning objectives for the children) then disruption is unlikely because you can tailor activities around each child's strengths and weaknesses and interests. So the inclusion of children with say, visual, auditory or mobility impairments was a matter of working with teachers of children with these disabilities and then modifying what you did anyway to accommodate them.
Our current highly-structured curriculum-centred education system has been introduced since then. Because it's predicated on the attainment levels of children of average ability, it actually acts against inclusion, but no one in government appears to be looking at the education system as a whole systems problem. They all think they can make it work by dictat. It doesn't work like that - it's an ecosystem and you need a good knowledge of how systems work to void unexpected and unwanted outcomes.
Should be to 'avoid'.
I am wondering if the NC is going to be more inclusive - and I agree that as a Teacher - most students work at a different pace - what can we do to be more inclusive? The green paper do you have a link as I thought it was just a white paper currently?