Parent view: This is what SEND practice should look like

Like most parents of children with additional needs, my children have experienced both highly skilled professional practice and diabolical, abusive practice. Both have been life-changing. A mother and nurse writes in Tes

Educational practices sit within a context and environment that moulds them. It is this environment – and not usually the individuals – that have been integral to our experiences.

I have been shocked at the ingrained culture of perverse incentives in education, which I believe have been made worse by the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015. In our current system, if a school provides skilled support for children with additional needs, it will attract many more of them…but its funding will remain identical to the school down the road that leaves needs unmet and encourages families to seek education “elsewhere”. It makes no sense to me. But then again, I am a nurse, so what do I know?

This system of perverse incentives seems to trickle down to the class teachers. I wonder how welcoming their senior-leadership teams are if they work hard to identify additional needs early on – you know, so that long-term outcomes for children are better? Are they supported if they report that a child is not able to “achieve their best”, or are they blamed for not being able to demonstrate “progress”? Where does the greatest incentive lie?

Does your organisation support a blame culture? Just how prevalent is gossip in the staffroom, corridors and online “chats”?

I’d never before experienced the level of shock I did when I read the contents of my son’s files. To say there was a lack of professionalism recorded for all to witness would be an understatement.

The documents contained woefully inadequate safeguarding records, downright dishonesty, slander and everything in-between. The fact that this poor practice spanned a number of organisations, without reproach, is shocking and reflective of a truly sick system.

Imagine if, instead of blame and judgement (of teachers/parents/children/other professionals) in all communications, there were professionally recorded and communicated observations and assessments.

Parents would like to see SEND plans in place that clearly demonstrate a culture of accurate identification of barriers, careful assessment, appropriate use of experts, thoughtful interventions and regular reviews – to support the child to achieve their best, with the child and carer at the heart of the process.

We want to feel that teachers are confident and competent at developing collaborative relationships with all types of family, an absence of feeling judged, and apparent diversity in staff recruitment.

Read more to find out what this mother thinks should happen Parent view: This is what SEND practice should look like

Have you had similar experiences? Do you have any more ideas? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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