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(UK) Tories' "dramatic" plans to expand SPED schools, crackdown on discipline

Aug 27, 2019, Guardian: Leaked documents reveal Tories' dramatic plans for schools Exclusive: crackdown on behaviour coupled with more money for schools and teachers https://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/aug/27/leaked-documents-reveal-tories-dramatic-plans-for-schools A raft of dramatic and controversial education measures including billions of pounds in new funding, a crackdown on student behaviour and a further wave of free schools are to be announced by the government within days, according to a confidential briefing paper seen by the Guardian. The briefing document, dated 22 August and marked “Official-Sensitive”, details policy proposals for schools in England designed to be rolled out over the coming weeks in an attempt to seize the initiative on education before a possible autumn election. While proposals including a £3.5bn funding announcement and plans to increase teachers’ basic pay may be broadly welcomed, there will be concern in some quarters over a package of disciplinary measures that include a renewed emphasis on exclusions and allowing teachers to use “reasonable force” to improve behaviour. The paper, which is under discussion between Gavin Williamson’s Department for Education (DfE) and No 10, is understood to have been inserted into the government “grid” of announcements, as families prepare for the new school year in England. The headline figures include £2.8bn for primary and secondary schools up to the age of 16, including £800m [$982M U.S.] for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The details for an extra £800m for sixth form and further education colleges are still under discussion with the Treasury…. Aside from funding, the DfE paper includes a major focus on poor behaviour in schools, said to be driven by No 10’s view that recent polling has shown strong public support for policies taking a tougher line. The announcements will include explicit support for headteachers who use “reasonable force” in their efforts to improve discipline…. While the DfE expects members of the public will welcome “a harder narrative on discipline”, the document warns key stakeholders will be worried the policy could result in increased rates of permanent exclusion, which have in any case been climbing since 2012. The document notes police and crime commissioners “worry about rates of exclusion driving knife crime” and acknowledges concerns it will impact disproportionately on children from some ethnic minority backgrounds, in particular black Caribbean boys, and those with special educational needs (SEN). …