Tuesday, 31 May 2016

SEND Reforms: After the Conference debate

Commenting after the debate on Motion 40 (SEND Reforms) , Christine Blower, General Secretary said:


“The Government is missing the point with the focus of its SEN reforms. “Hooked on top-down reform, the Government has spent recent years requiring every local authority to overhaul the method of statementing children’s additional needs. Meanwhile, they have ignored the impact of a heavy and narrowing curriculum, bulging class sizes, and the loss of specialist SEN services. Funding is key to this." 
“In a survey this Easter, 97% of primary members told the NUT that the Government’s policy on curriculum and assessment is not working for children with special educational needs. “In a parallel survey, 65% of secondary teachers said they have seen a negative impact on the educational achievement of their students from a lack of specialist services for SEN. 70% of secondary teachers believe that Government policies are actually making it more difficult to include SEN pupils."
“England led the world on developing inclusive education for many decades, and has exported these principles and values. The principles of competition and deregulation revealed in the new White Paper will let down pupils with special educational needs and is a risky experiment.”


Read the full text of the motion by clicking here

SEND Reforms Motion at NUT Annual Conference


SEND REFORMS

Conference notes that the number of students who have Special Educational Needs has decreased by nearly 6% since 2010.  Conference further notes that nearly half this decrease has occurred since the SEN reforms of September 2014. 

Conference also notes that the proportion of students with a Statement of SEN or an Education  Health and Care Plan, taught in mainstream schools in England, has  declined from 61.1% in 2001 to 54.8% in 2010 and to 50.8% in 2015.

Conference reiterates its support for inclusive education and recognises the urgent  need for training for all teachers in SEND and inclusive pedagogy and the need for  the removal of a narrow results based curriculum and league table culture which is  damaging the implementation of inclusive education”.

Conference is concerned that, since the introduction of the new Code of Practice in 2014, many students, who were previously considered to have SEND, are being denied access to additional funding and specialist teaching.  Conference also condemns the cuts to public services which have resulted in many local authorities abolishing specialist SEND support teacher posts.  Conference believes the fragmentation of the education system, through the increase in academies and free schools, has made it virtually impossible for local authorities to plan, deliver and review the provision needed for students with SEND. 

Conference is also alarmed that classroom teachers now have greater responsibilities in meeting the needs of students with SEND, but they have received no additional resources or training. Conference believes that this has increased teacher workload and reduced the number of support staff posts in schools. 

Furthermore, Conference believes the incessant push, by the Government, to “raise standards” is having a detrimental effect on students with SEND, who are falling further behind their peers.   

Conference is particularly alarmed that students who fail to gain a grade C or higher in English and Maths GCSE are required to resit it until they are 18 years old.  Conference believes that education should be enjoyable, relevant and useful.   

Conference believes that the Government’s agenda of accountability and standards is at odds with a democratic and inclusive education system. The SEND reforms were not undertaken with students’ needs in mind; they are merely a cover for further funding cuts to the most vulnerable in our society.  Conference believes that all students, including those with SEND, deserve to have a broad and balanced curriculum, which embraces their abilities and allows them to develop at their own pace. 

Conference is most concerned about the proposed negative impact on SEND of  introducing a single National Dedicated Schools Grant, which includes the Higher  Needs Block and will lead to drastic cuts in provision. Conference supports levelling  up to get rid of differences in funding, not taking money from the historically better  funded urban  areas

Conference instructs the Executive to: 

1. Work with other trade unions to stop further job losses in central services and to school support staff, including taking strike action;

2. Lobby the Government to restore spending on services for students with SEND to pre-austerity levels;

3. Demand that all trainee teachers, including those on school-based training, such as Teach First or School Direct, receive comprehensive training on SEND as part of their course;  

4. Campaign against mandatory English and Maths GCSE retakes;

5. Work with other interested organisations to design an alternative, meaningful inclusive curriculum, which celebrates achievements of students with SEND; and

6. Campaign to end the constant testing regime that causes many students with SEND to feel marginalised and failed.  

7. To build the campaign up to and including strike action  against the imposition of a National Funding Formula and to highlight the dramatic  impacts the proposals will have on SEND provision.