Oct 27, 2019, Guardian: The Guardian view on special needs education: restore confidence in a failing system, Editorial https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/oct/27/the-guardian-view-on-special-needs-education-restore-confidence-in-a-failing-system MPs have rightly criticised a poor set of reforms but have not come up with a solution for vulnerable children Are England’s 1.3 million children with special educational needs and disabilities – which range from dyslexia through to severe medical conditions – being failed by the reforms introduced by the Conservative education secretary Michael Gove in 2014? In a long-awaited report, the Commons education select committee, chaired by the Tory MP, Robert Halfon, concludes in damning terms that they are. In their report, the MPs say that “the 2014 reforms have resulted in confusion and, at times, unlawful practice, bureaucratic nightmares, buck-passing and a lack of accountability, strained resources and adversarial experiences.”… The issue has risen up the political agenda, with thousands earlier this year protesting about cuts, as government funding failed to keep pace with soaring demand for additional support required for children with Send. … Ministers have belatedly realised that cash is the issue, setting aside an extra £700m for children with Send by 2021. However, the committee does not suggest earmarking the Send funds given to local authorities, which in the past have spent the money on other priorities…. Local authorities use byzantine procedures to suppress demand for Send places. Parents who want special provision for their children at school have to fill in complex forms; each council gets to draft its own, often in as daunting manner as possible. Experts are hired either to prove or disprove the case. Applications seem to be turned down routinely. According to the lawyer and author Melinda Nettleton, these decisions are overturned “97% of the time” in the tribunals that her firm deals with. England must move to a less confrontational system. The solution is not another layer of DfE bureaucracy. The system needs to be more responsive and simpler to access. It would be better to have one standard application form for all councils, which would be easier for parents and schools to navigate. ….
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