The challenges resulting from the rise in numbers of pupils presenting special educational needs is a common topic of concern raised by schools. In the last year alone, there was an national increase of 9% of young people with an EHCP, and the current admission protocols mean that this increasing level of need is not evenly shared amongst schools. The national reforms in 2014 do not seem to have been successful in improving opportunities for pupils with SEND or in providing sufficient resources.
Earlier this month, the Local Government Association called for a cross Government strategy and legislative changes to start to fix the problem, and it was interesting to see The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) in Ireland publishing a policy advice paper on special schools and classes for the Irish Government last week. This paper sets out the moral principles for an inclusive education system drawing from the values set out by the UN, UNESCO and the European Agency when emphasising the importance of inclusion in education, alongside the place of this in the creation of an inclusive society. It acknowledges that there needs to be a continuum of provision with specialist classes and schools for children with significant needs but also provides support for the proposition that in the right environment students with special educational needs can achieve good outcomes in inclusive mainstream settings without affecting outcomes for all students.
As Building Back Stronger recognises, to be inclusive we must help individuals with particular needs to overcome barriers and learn from these changes for the benefit of students more widely. Both the LGA and NCSE papers agree that for the vision of an inclusive education system to be a success there needs to be a re-organisation of resources, and a significant increase in support with effective collaboration between Health and Education to ensure students’ needs are met effectively. In the meantime, we must draw on our collaborative expertise in both adaptive teaching and in responding to the organisational demands that these challenges are placing on schools. In the next week we are hosting our Primary (1 February) and Secondary (8 February) SENDCO forums and have recently opened up access to NASEN on-demand training materials for all Camden schools, which I hope will prove helpful.
Its only now 2 weeks now until the Spring half term. Enjoy the weekend!
Chief Executive Officer, Camden Learning