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January 2011



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 School Playground - Wirral, England

Ed Balls to announce new measures providing more help for disabled children and those with special educational needs

Monday, 28 September 2009

Ed Balls, the schools secretary, will today announce new measures to provide better support for disabled children and pupils with special educational needs.

The proposals will aim to make the process of assessing a child’s needs easier and more independent, responding to complaints from parents that getting extra help for their children is often a difficult and protracted battle.

The government will look at taking assessment of pupils with special educational needs (SEN) out of the hands of local authorities, which, according to parents’ groups, consider the cost of a child’s education when assessing their needs.

The government recognised parents’ desire for clearer, more transparent assessments, said Balls. “I am keen that we look at greater communication between local authorities and parents on how we can make the process less stressful and whether an assessment process which is more independent can improve parental confidence,” he said.

A recent government-commissioned review of SEN services, conducted by Brian Lamb, recommended improving information for parents and highlighted major concerns about the system of “statementing” children with SEN.

In a letter to Balls, Lamb wrote: “Too many [parents] reported that the system was not on their side and said they had to ‘fight’ or ‘do battle’ with the system to get what they needed for their child.”

New pilots would give parents greater confidence in the system by introducing greater independence and more advice, said Lamb. “Accurate and transparent assessment is a crucial part of promoting parental confidence in the SEN system and ensuring children get the right support to achieve and thrive,” he said.

With children with SEN eight times as likely to be excluded from school, the proposals will also crack down on schools that exclude high numbers of students with SEN.

New statutory guidance will push behaviour and attendance partnerships (groups of secondary schools in one area that have come together to challenge poor behaviour and attendance) with high levels of exclusions of children with SEN to address the problem quickly.

Balls said: “The new behaviour guidance will make tackling exclusions of SEN pupils a priority. I expect behaviour partnerships to work hard to address the specific needs of pupils, and draw on the support of partners to tackle behaviour issues early.”

Lamb welcomed the move to counteract what he called the “worrying level of disproportionate exclusions” of children with SEN.

The new measures will also attempt to ensure there are enough teachers to meet the needs of pupils with severe learning difficulties. Benet Middleton, director of communications and public affairs at the National Autistic Society said: “So many tell us it’s a constant battle to get their child assessed and the right support in place for them in the right school.

“They find it confusing, intimidating and stressful and tell us they want a system that’s transparent and independent. All too often their child’s behaviour is put down to naughtiness or poor parenting rather than recognising that it arises as a result of a disability.”

Source:   http://u.tv/News/Special-needs-system-shake-up-to-improve-support-of-pupils/4d96027f-5039-4d9b-985d-ebf935ade4a4

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