Driving home the SEN/D reforms: a note for the new government

We have a pure Tory government for the next 4-5years, so we better make the most of it and hold them to account. Last September the SEN/D reforms started, after being bulldozed through parliament and before they were matured. The SENCoP was amended only 3 months later & the system appears to be in melt-down. LAs who said ‘yes, we’re ready’ clearly have no clue, judging by what I’m hearing….

I’ve decided to pick up a case & see how the landscape is looking, and it is grim, really, really grim. A couple of years back I had the delights of being handed my son’s LDA. The local ‘person in charge of LDAs’ had been waxing lyrical about how much better the LA were in writing them now (why did it take so long????) and yet what I was handed was total pants. The EHC plan I’m currently looking at is worse, much, much worse. In fact, it is arguably worse than my son’s original statement back in 2002, and that was nothing more than a flimsy piece of paper.

I am saddened that the reforms initially promised so much, but appear to be delivering so little. The fact that there is no standard template is adding to our woes. If I am talking to an English literate parent, I expect him/her to be able to, at the very least, identify the various sections, but even this appears much harder than needs be. Section F (provision) seems to be elusive when it should sock you in the face. There should be absolutely no doubt what is going to be delivered, by whom and when. If you can’t even find the section, what hope do you have?

So, Tories are in with a majority. What we need is a majority of parents hammering home any inadequacies of the SEN/D reforms, and doing so with the support of their children’s schools. Teachers need to get behind parents if we are to make this all work, and to make this all work, we need to be adequately funded. The Tories promised us that the views, wishes and feelings of children, young people and their families will drive the reforms. They promised us the ‘best possible educational and other outcomes’. Now they are in, they must be made to abide by the law they created.

Educational provision must be written into a plan without consideration of resources, unlike Health and Social Care. If anything within H & SC ‘educates or trains’, it MUST be placed in part F – educational provision. No if, buts or ands. If the LA runs out of money then what? Well, it is for them to put pressure on the government to ear-mark SEN/D funding.

In short – parents, keep up the pressure. Schools, support parents to keep up the pressure & LAs, you’re just going to have to pressurise government. After all, if schools have to demonstrate where the money has been spent before applying for top-up (element 3) dosh, so you should demonstrate why you need more from the government. I’m not a lawyer, but surely if there is a business case to show that the reforms are undeliverable without extra/ear-marked funding and the government refuses, isn’t that cause for a Judicial Review?

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