SEN & disability Green Paper

Yesterday I wrote about the Ofsted view on Special Educational Needs in education. You may recall that they suggest that good teachers would solve the problem.

The Children’s Minister Sarah Teather has asked all those involved to contribute to the Government’s Green Paper on special educational needs(SEN) The Green Paper will cover a multitude of issues including school choice, funding, identifications and assessment.

All very plausible, but the body tasked with standards in schools has indicated that it’s teachers that are the issue. The agenda would appear to be less about the bureaucracy that control the funding of children with special educational needs or it’s early identifications but more about the issue of identifications of what constitutes a SEN child and the panacea is good teachers.

There is no doubt that good teachers can have a significant contribution to the education of our children, so can parents who have a positive view of education and schools in general. However, a child that is unable through a cognitive problem to learn will find little benefit from a good teacher in main stream classes.

Fundamentally the child is wired differently and only by the use of specific interventions can the child be assisted in the learning process. This is unlikely to occur, in the first instance, in main stream classrooms, but in an area with smaller class numbers and with greater one to one attention. Here is where Ofsted’s ” good teachers” will be of the greatest benefit to the child.

Again I ask the question, ” as most schools will have had at least two inspections since Ofsted’s inception there should only be “good teachers” left in the system or is Ofsted failing?

My own experience, in a school that has a SEN unit is that the teachers are “good”. They use a variety of methods to engaged the children in stimulating activities that contribute to their ability to learn.

Because of the way funding is made available to the school for SEN children they are integrated into the main stream in classes of 30 plus as early as is practical. Whilst this is an attempt to assist them in adjusting to the traditional approach to learning, it often requires one to one mentoring, which even a “good teacher” will be unable to do effectively without detriment to the remaining pupils in the class.

Is perhaps Ofsted suggesting that the increase in  the number of children being classified as special needs is the problem? There is no doubt the there appears to be more children “statemented”  now than 10 years ago. Is this because the test are now more sophisticated or because symptoms are now better defined and therefore easier to identify?

Now we have a Green Paper that will take all of this into consideration, including the all important funding. No doubt there will be an opportunity to redistribute funding as a result of the consultation. My hope is that the additional bureaucracy that is at present attached to SEN will be reduced and the saving will be channelled into an increased provision for these children.

2 Responses to “SEN & disability Green Paper”

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    Jon McNamara SEN…

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