Being the parent of a child with special needs and facing the education system’s serial obstacles and complexities can leave you bereft of hope. The world of special educational needs and disabilities – or SEND – is a sea of acronyms, arcane officialspeak and labyrinthine processes, to the point that those of us at its heart often feel completely lost. Parent and journalist John Harris writes in The Guardian.
But if there is a key cause for optimism, it is the recent report by the Commons education select committee into the SEND system. What a tremendous relief to pick up the report last week and be instantly be hit by its bluntness. The product of 18 months of work by cross-party MPs, its 127 pages focus on the practical results of the 2014 Children And Families Act, and drastic changes to special needs provision in England against a background of cuts and political confusion and paralysis.
One key challenge is to ensure SEND systems can accommodate those who want to be active participants in their child’s education, but not marginalise those who do not have the time or resources to do the same.
The report makes the case not only for more money, but for increased accountability, partly though Ofsted and the local government ombudsman, and a drive to ensure that schools’ special educational needs co-ordinators – AKA Sencos – can do their jobs properly. Perhaps most helpfully of all, it proposes that parents and carers entering the system ought to be supported by neutral SEND specialists who can guide them through the system’s mazes.
Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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