SEN Green Paper Campaign
This page summarises some of the key areas of concern for the Union with regard to the SEN Green Paper Consultation and encourages members to submit their own responses to the Department for education.
The SEN Green Paper “Support and Aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability” consultation closes on 30th June 2011. You can download the consultation document and response form here. The NUT is urging its members to respond to the consultation using our agreed policy documents as well as examples from members’ own experience within the classroom or central SEN support services. You are not required to answer all or any of the questions in the response document. If you wish you can just comment on the areas about which you have concerns or which you welcome.
Some areas of the Consultation which the NUT will be addressing in its response are:
- Removing the bias towards inclusion
This has been promoted as giving parents more choice over which school their child can attend but raises concerns about the segregation of pupils with SEN and disabled pupils and the NUT is concerned that an increase in special school academies and free schools will create choice for a few rather than all parents of children with SEN and disabled pupils. The NUT has always argued that inclusion will only work effectively if it is well funded. Current funding levels for SEN inclusion are inadequate.
NUT policy, as adopted at the 2008 Annual Conference and reaffirmed in 2011, states that the Union has a “commitment to the goal and development of inclusive education.”
Early Identification and Assessment-Chapter 1
The consultation document suggests that the proposals made would mean that ‘high quality early education and childcare is accessible to all children’ and Children’s Centres are advocated as the hub for this throughout this chapter.
But the Government is allowing the closure of children’s centres by not ring-fencing their funding. This will have a serious effect on the high quality early intervention work which has been developed over recent years through Children’s Centre provision in both the most deprived areas and those which are not deemed to be deprived but have significant pockets of need which would otherwise be overlooked.`
The Green Paper (p32) states that ‘high quality learning and a skilled early years workforce have a positive impact on children’s development’ but there is no mention of teachers anywhere in the section on staffing for the early years. According to the Effective Provision of Pre-school Education (EPPE) research the quality of staffing made the most difference to those children requiring the most support.
Learning and Achieving-Chapter 3
Training for teachers
The NUT has welcomed the proposal to fund additional SEN training for teachers but has concerns that this will mean that teachers are then expected to deal with all SEN pupils within a mainstream classroom with little additional support.
On-line training will not give all teachers the kind of experience they need to identify pupils and support them in the way specialists from the local authority currently do. On-line training does have merits but as the solution to expanding teacher training with regard to SEN and disabled pupils it is not acceptable and is more of a tick box exercise than a way of imparting in-depth knowledge.
Working collaboratively with special schools and sharing expertise already takes place regularly but with more special schools becoming academies and possibly free schools the NUT has serious concerns about the partnership working of local communities of schools being lost.
In addition, the use of collaborative working between schools must not be seen as a substitute for local authority central SEN support services. Special schools have wide-ranging expertise but this should be seen as a complement not a substitute for local authority SEN support services.
Single assessment process
The NUT is concerned that the proposal underlying the Green Paper is for the voluntary and community sector to co-ordinate the SEN assessment process. Many such groups are losing funding and expertise and will not have the capacity to take on such a role. Also the NUT believes that the expertise for assessment is already based within local authority central SEN support services and these should be kept and strengthened not replaced by the voluntary sector.
Links to relevant NUT policy documents:
You may choose to respond to the Green Paper “Support and Aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability” using all, some or none of the points listed here. You may have concerns or wish to raise issues about other aspects of the consultation. You may also wish to include personal examples as evidence if you have them as this adds weight to the response.
The NUT urges you to respond, however, either individually or as a school or setting to the consultation because its proposals represent a fundamental shift in educational values and principles with the suggested move away from the bias towards inclusion. Many within the NUT have worked hard to achieve this principle within the education system and it must not be lost.
A supplementary consultation to the Green Paper “Support and Aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability” is also taking place. The consultation is entitled “Developing Sustainable Arrangements for the Initial Training of Educational Psychologists” and it runs until September 2011. You can download the consultation document here. If you are an educational psychologist or have views on this consultation the NUT also urges you to respond to this consultation by September 2011.