Thursday, 24 April 2014

NUT Annual Conference 2014: A Lottery in SEN Provision – Who Will Pay the Price?

Commenting after the debate on the resolution of Conference entitled: A Lottery in SEN Provision – Who Will Pay the Price?, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said:

“The needs of SEN pupils are being severely, negatively impacted by the Coalition Government’s education policies. The fact that free schools and academies can employ non-qualified teachers is unacceptable for any pupil, but does not bode well for SEN provision in schools. All too often school and local authority budget cuts mean that the most vulnerable pupils in schools are not receiving the support needed.

Free schools act as their own admission authorities and analysis of their intakes shows they are not representative of the communities they serve. Academies have excluded pupils and carried out fixed term exclusions at a far greater rate than state maintained schools. This is a pattern that has been evident over a number of years and one which needs to be addressed. For the NUT every child matters.

Schools should have access to a curriculum that engages all pupils and recognises all abilities. Vocational education needs to be recognised alongside academic subjects and the methods of testing and examinations revised. For many SEN pupils the change to a one-off three hour exam for GCSEs will not give a true reflection of their abilities.”

NUT Annual Conference: Special Education and Inclusion

Commenting after the debate on the resolution on Special Education and Inclusion, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said:

In the context of cuts to local authority budgets there is a great deal of concern that the special educational needs of pupils will suffer.  Lack of funding or cuts to the external support services available to SEN pupils have been an issue for some time. 

Local authorities play a vital role in co-ordinating provision of education for SEN and disabled pupils, backed up by high quality specialist advice and intervention.  The fragmentation of the education system through the academy and free schools programme provides a direct threat to this SEN provision across local authorities.

Inclusion of all children is a principle to which the NUT holds dear.   The Education Health and Care Plan is likely to create significant increases in workload for class teachers and SENCOs as it requires a greater level of detail than the current Statement. 

In some local authorities staff have been required to change all statements to EHC plans during the summer term.  The Government needs to make clear to local authorities that there is a clear lead in time for the changes and statements only need be changed to EHC plans once they are due for revision.