Welcome to the EQUALS News and Discussion Forum

Here you can view articles and reports for Special and Mainstream schools involved in the teaching of pupils with learning difficulties and disabilities. You can also read about new and exciting developments from the EQUALS charity such as new curriculum and assessment materials, training workshops and national conferences. We also welcome contributions from members, so should you wish to contribute an item, please email members@equalsoffice.co.uk
 
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Where are we now?

Policy Paper Summary

This policy paper is based on a whole day seminar which enabled an early review of the new SEN / disability policy and legislation and which was organised by the SEN Policy Research Forum in June 2016.

Impact of the legislation on parental assurance by Brian Lamb (Consultant): Brian concluded that the reforms are in the context of a major squeeze on LA and Health budgets. Limits to the ability to deliver a reasonable level of provision could undermine some clear gains intended by the reforms. Early evidence suggests that while there is more to do to achieve a decisive shift in culture, parent carer forums are having a positive effect on strategic planning through the Local Offer and the Schools Information Report. For new recipients, the EHC Plan process is working for a majority of families in improving confidence and co-production. However, evidence from wider parent carer surveys and the recent acceleration in tribunal cases indicates some doubts about whether the system has secured the confidence of a significant number of families.

Impact of the legislation on school practices and SENCO role by Kate Browning (SENCo trainer): Kate concluded that the reforms for the most part have had a positive impact on the SENCO role and school practices, particularly when school leadership embraces the reform principles, such as collaboration with parents and carers of children and young people with SEN and recognition of the importance of the SENCo role. However, the SEND reforms are affected by shifts in mainstream educational policy and practice that are not aligned with improving SEND outcomes. Individual schools, multi academy trusts and local areas are taking different approaches to the implementation of the reforms which calls for more detailed research.

Impact of legislation from a national perspective by Andre Imich (SEN and Disability Professional Adviser, DFE): Andre concluded that implementation was moving forward positively; the varied evidence indicating that the vision for the new system was starting to be embedded. The examples of success need to be celebrated, but there remain significant roads to travel as the process involves an evolutionary process of change. The volume of transfers from statements to EHC plans, the capacity of local authorities, and difficulties in fully realising joint-agency working continue to challenge the system. Nevertheless, most of those involved in the SEN system believe in the new ways of working, in co-production with families and in embracing collectively the opportunities afforded to achieve improved outcomes and life chances.

Impact of the legislation on local authorities by Chris Harrison (SEND consultant): Chris concluded that reforms had sparked welcome changes by shifting ways of working through engagement with families. Though the reforms are ‘the right thing to do’, their implementation has proved a major challenge with uneven change across LAs. The reforms came at a time of austerity which has led to financial constraints, restructuring and the refocusing of LA attention away from schools. He suggests some simple ways to prevent LAs slipping into a negative cycle.
 
Peter Imray ( November 2016)
EQUALS Director of Developments

 

The paper is also available for downloading at:

SEN Policy Research Forum – blogs.exeter.ac.uk

 

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Click here to view Peter Imray’s report on

The Rochford Review Recommendations: An Analysis.

Firstly, a slight warning; these are recommendations not definites. Other previous government sponsored reviews have made recommendations that have not been carried through – The Salt Review of 2010 recommended distinct teacher training for SLD and PMLD for example. However, given both the DfE’s and Ofsted’s significant involvement in the deliberations and the fact that there are no real cost factors here, I would be very surprised if they were not accepted.
 
Peter Imray (October 2016).

 

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We were delighted to hear that Bernadette Knill and John Ayres two of the founding Trustees of EQUALS were awarded OBEs in the 2016 New Year’s honours for their services to Special Education.

Bernadette recently retired as Head Teacher at Priory Woods School. 

click here to read more at Teeside News – Gazettealive.co.uk

John continues to serve as Principal of The Eden Academy. 

click here to read more at West London News – Getwestlondon.co.uk

(February 2016)

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